Cannon Cinemas – An Outline History charts the rise, and fall, of one of Britain’s fastest-growing cinema groups which, at its height, controlled nearly 900 screens – the largest in the UK and Netherlands, together with substantial theatre operations in Germany, Italy, Israel and the United States. Established in 1979 by American-Israeli film-making cousins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus out of the faltering Cannon Group Inc., the circuit’s primary acquisitions had included Classic, Star, and ABC Cinemas; in addition to Granada, Gaumont Italy, the Canadian Cineplex Odeon subsidiary, Gallery; and US number six exhibitor, Commonwealth Theatres. However, spurred on by a runaway zest for film-making, massive overspending – itself fuelled by a burning desire to become the UK’s premier exhibitor – and ‘optimistic accounting practices’ the Cannon Group, by now a major US independent and still expanding, succumbed to crippling debts and subsequent rescue via Italian financier, Giancarlo Parretti a later, albeit brief “custodian” of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Operating under the auspices of Pathé Communications and MGM Cinemas, the company had suffered from a string of box office disappointments and, against a backcloth of international scandal and double-dealing, duly lapsed into the ownership of its principal backer, the French state-owned bank Crédit Lyonnais, prior to being bought out by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in July 1995.
Cannon Cinemas – An Outline History looks at the Cannon Group’s beginnings, and at some of the people and factors behind the group’s meteoric rise. Additionally, there is illustrated examination of the circuit’s picture houses highlighting some of the more definitive trademarks of the Cannon legacy including the cinema frontages and façades, the foyers, auditoria and projection equipment using many previously unpublished photographs. Included, too, is a surface account of the Frank Verity-designed Haymarket flagship, the former 1927-built Carlton Theatre acquired by ‘Cannon-Classic’ in 1982. Written by BFI/National Film Theatre and Cinema Theatre Association member, Philip Turner with the co-operation of former Cannon/MGM management, notably Barry Jenkins and George Rymer, CANNON CINEMAS – a limited edition of only 1000 copies worldwide – kicks off the Brantwood “Outline History” series which, amongst others, will include outlines also of Odeon, Warner, UCI, and Showcase Cinemas; MGM, Classic, Star, and Cinecenta; Cineplex Odeon, and Granada; Mainline Pictures; Robins, and Coronet; also ‘New’ ABC’, Cine-UK, and Virgin Cinemas.