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Firms: Thomas Moore & Sons
Previous Names: Black's Theatre Royal
Located in Sunderland, County Durham. The Theatre Royal was opened by Roxby & Beverly in December 1855. It was designed by architect G.A. Middlemiss. On 15th June 1883 it presented Hamilton’s Diorama (a forerunner of moving pictures). In 1888, alterations were carried out by architectural firm Thomas Moore & Sons 1889 it was taken over by Richard Thornton and in 1906 it screened films as part of the programme. The Theatre Royal was closed as a variety theatre in 1933 and for a while it became a boxing stadium.
In August 1936 it was taken over by George Black. In 1939 it had a complete interior reconstruction in an Art Deco style to the plans of architect Edwin M. Lawson and reopened as a cinema named Black’s Theatre Royal on 11th November 1940 with Charles Laughton in “Ruggles of Red Gap” & Cary Grant in “Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife”. It had been equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system. It had a 44ft wide proscenium, a 28ft deep stage and 10-dressing rooms. During World War II live Sunday concerts were staged. It was taken over by Odeon Theatres Ltd. on 5th October 1959 and returned to the Theatre Royal name and later became part of the Rank Organisation. The Theatre Royal was closed on 19th September 1964 with Kenneth More in “Sink the Bismark”.
It was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club. Around 1983 the bingo club closed and transferred to the former Odeon Sunderland (formerly Black’s Regal Cinema). The former Theatre Royal became a nightclub named the Blue Monkey. In 1994 it was damaged by a fire and was demolished in 1997. The site became a petrol station.
On 27th November 2004 the 12-screen Cineworld opened on an expanded site (now renamed Empire Cinemas which has its own page on Cinema Treasures).
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