A chain of cinema
s across Europe
, the company was started by Oscar Deutsch
, with his first "picture palace" opening in Birmingham
. By 1936 there were over 150 Odeon cinemas in the UK and the firm was starting to expand internationally.
The company's name is a clever play on words, alluding both to the ancient Greek
theatre (see Webster 1919
's definition) as well as allegedly being an acronym
for Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation
In the UK most Odeon cinemas were purpose-built by the company, catering for an audience who relied on this medium as a cheap means of entertainment and news, back in the days when television sets were luxuries only the extremely wealthy could afford. Many of the cinemas were lavishly designed and used architectural styles that were daring and ahead of their time. Some of the finest examples were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War and others still were pulled down in the immediate post-War years, but most of those remaining now have "listed" status, meaning that at least some of these fine buildings are likely to remain within Britain's towns and cities.