']It is true to say that Essoldo had a lot of acquired 'dumps' around the country, but they also had the odd purpose built 'supers' (Newcastle and Blyth in the North East).
I was Manager at the Newcastle venue for a few years after its acquisition by the larger ABC Circuit.
Essoldo in many locations played 'first run', particularly in towns where there was an Odeon but no ABC and the Essoldo would play the latter's product; conversely, first run Rank product would play at the Essoldo in towns with an ABC but no Odeon.
In Newcastle upon Tyne, the big Essoldo played 'road show' for much of its life with extended runs of 'The King and I', 'Ben-Hur' (this played concurrently with the Empire Leicester Square, where 'Ben-Hur' was the last presentation prior to its subdivison into a smaller cinema and a ballroom), 'My Fair Lady', 'Doctor Zhivago', 'Battle of the Bulge', 'Far From The Madding Crowd', 'The Bible', 'Paint Your wagon' and many others.
When the 'blockbusters' were drying up and the writing was on the wall for 'road shows', Essoldo asked ABC if they wanted to buy the Newcastle Essoldo (ABC's Haymarket Theatre - very large and very busy - had been compulsorily purchased by Newcastle University and was operated on short term leases by ABC) but the offer was refused.
Essoldo told ABC that the Essoldo would be converted to luxury twin cinemas and that application would be made to the Board of Trade for an allocation of product. The twinning duly went ahead and an allocation of 20% was granted; this entailed that every 5th West End release would play at Newcastle Essoldo.
Essoldo were very fortunate with the allocation and it 'stole' films like 'Love story' from ABC and 'Diamonds Are Forever' from Rank after the trailers had been screened for several weeks in those organisations' Newcastle venues!
ABC did eventually buy the twinned Essoldo (at a premium price!) and the allocation remained for quite some time before being revoked. This enabled ABC to play their own releases at the Haymarket while certain Rank product would play at the ABC Westgate Road (as they renamed the Essoldo) - much to the fury of the Rank Organisation.
The week ABC aquired the Essoldo the presentations were 'Papillon' in ABC1 (which would have played at Newcastle Odeon) and 'The Exorcist' in ABC2 (which would have played at ABC's Haymarket).
As a young boy the Essoldos I remember well in South Durham where I lived and went to school were :-
Essoldo (Hippodrome), Bishop Auckland (the only remaining theatre building in Auckland)
Kings, Bishop Auckland (this played the 3D films in the 1950's such as 'House of Wax')
Eden Theatre, Bishop Auckland (this had been owned and run by Stan Laurel's father)
Essoldo, Shildon (built as a Mechanics Institute by the Stockton and Darlington Railway)
The Bishop Auckland cinemas shared first run ABC release (there was a modern Odeon in the town) and National release (what Rank did not want!)
Shildon played mainly second run Rank (usually a week or so after Bishop Auckland Odeon) as there was a large Hippodrome in the town which played mainly ABC release.