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Goldfinger at the London Pavilion June 1968

ABOVE: Piccadilly Circus 1968. Goldfinger is re-released at the London Pavilion on June 20, 1968. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is also shown on an advertising hoarding. '2001' opened at the Casino Cinerama cinema in Old Compton Street on May 1, 1968 where it ran for 47 weeks! The 'Casino' cinema reverted to its original name as the Prince Edward Theatre in 1978, opening with the world premiere stage production of Evita, and has been host to many successful West End musicals in subsequent years.
BELOW: Thunderball then replaced Goldfinger at the London Pavilion from 4 July, 1968 and the pair then formed a double-bill which played at selected provincial cinemas from late July.

Thunderball London Pavilion July 1968

“A Bond-Buster of a Programme!”
With You Only Live Twice still playing across the country a year after its initial release, United Artists then reissued Goldfinger at the London Pavilion on June 20, 1968 where it played for three weeks. It was replaced on July 4 with Thunderball which remained until July 16 to make way for the premiere of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. In July 1968 Goldfinger and Thunderball could also be booked as a double-bill to play in the evenings as part of a new programme with Thunderbird 6 in the afternoons. The original Thunderbirds Are Go had premiered at the London Pavilion in December 1966, where it was something of a box-office disappointment. The National Screen Service once again produced an Exhibitors' Campaign Book and new poster for this re-release. Although not technically a triple-bill (Thunderbird 6 was designed to play matinees for children as a ‘U’ certificate; and the two Bonds for adults as ‘A’ certificates in the evenings), a full-colour quad-crown poster was produced and used in those cinemas which chose to play all three films. Many cinemas chose to simply book Thunderbird 6; whilst others across the country opted for the 007 double-bill. A separate quad-crown poster was available for the two Bonds, but due to its uninspired design was rarely used. Some enterprising cinema managers simply created their own foyer display using two single double-crown posters (20" x 30") also available from the National Screen Service. Thunderbird 6 and Goldfinger/Thunderball played at cinemas on the Rank circuit in London during July and August 1968.

United Artists concept of ‘A new idea in entertainment’ was a very short-lived experiment and lasted only six weeks (the length of the UK school summer holidays) in 1968. The idea of two different programmes on the same day was not repeated, although a few provincial cinemas did revive the programme just after Christmas 1968, where once again they had a captive audience. This was generally in those cities which did not originally book Thunderbird 6 in the summer, and could therefore advertise it as a premiere engagement.

Thunderbird 6 - Goldfinger/Thunderball quad crown poster 1968

ABOVE: (top) UK Exhibitors' campaign book produced by the National Screen Service to aid cinema managers in the promotion of their programmes. (bottom) UK quad-crown poster [30" x 40"] for those cinemas who chose to screen Thunderbird 6 and Goldfinger/Thunderball. The 'triple bill' played across London in July and August 1968.

Manchester 1968
Goldfinger/Thunderball quad crown and double crown posters

ABOVE: (top) Thunderbird 6 and Goldfinger/Thunderball played in Manchester in July and September 1968. (bottom left) The extremely rare UK quad-crown poster available for those cinemas who chose to play the Goldfinger/Thunderball double-bill. (bottom right) Goldfinger and Thunderball double-crown posters [20" x 30"] for those cinema managers wanting to create their own foyer displays.
BELOW: Dr. No/You Only Live Twice quad-crown poster displayed when the two films played at the London Pavilion in April 1969. An alternate double-bill of You Only Live Twice/From Russia With Love was released simultaneously and played across the UK in provincial cinemas in 1969, and again in 1972/73.

Dr. No/You Only Live Twice London Pavilion April 1969

On Her Majesty's Secret Service newspaper advertisement
On Her Majesty's Secret Service poster Shaftesbury Avenue 1969

ABOVE: Shaftesbury Avenue 1969. Advertising hoardings announce the forthcoming release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service at the Odeon Leicester Square and The Lion In Winter (1968) which was currently playing at the Odeon Haymarket. Both films featured a soundtrack by John Barry who would win a second Academy Award for his outstanding score for The Lion In Winter; the film also marked the screen debut of a 22 year-old Timothy Dalton playing opposite Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole.

“Far Up! Far Out! Far More!”
You Only Live Twice was released again on a double-bill with Dr. No at the London Pavilion in April 1969, and also played across the country in the following months. An alternate double-bill of You Only Live Twice/From Russia With Love was also playing at the same time in selected cities. Both had a new quad-crown poster available from the National Screen Service. Since Sean Connery's announcement that You Only Live Twice would be his last James Bond film, no official advertising for the double-bills connected his name with that of James Bond, and these posters simply stated ‘Starring Sean Connery’. It was not until his return in Diamonds Are Forever was announced in 1971, that posters once more linked him to the character.

James Bond films were then absent from London's West End until December 18, 1969 when On Her Majesty’s Secret Service had its Royal Charity Premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square. New Bond George Lazenby attended the event alongside co-star Diana Rigg. Also attending were producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, director Peter Hunt, composer John Barry and Thunderball producer Kevin McClory. The premiere's after party was held at the Café Royal on Regent Street, where among the invited guests were Ian Fleming's widow Ann and son Caspar. 

On Her Majesty's Secret Service Odeon Leicester Square 1969

On Her Majesty's Secret Service then had a trade show at the London Pavilion on Friday December 19th at 10.30am, with the first public screening at the Odeon Leicester Square at 11.35am on the same day. The Odeon also hosted a late-night charity show on December 20, 1969. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service then transferred to the London Pavilion in early 1970, before moving out to provincial cinemas in March.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service premiere

ABOVE: (left) George Lazenby arrives at the Odeon Leicester Square accompanied by actress Polly Williams. Lazenby had announced his resignation from the role of James Bond on 23rd November 1969 and the producers then refused to pay him to do any publicity for the film. In early December the actor undertook his own self-funded press tour to promote the film in the USA and arrived back in England on 18th December sporting a full beard, which he refused to shave off for the premiere. (top right) The spiral-bound On Her Majesty's Secret Service premiere brochure bore no mention of Lazenby's name on the cover. (bottom right) George Lazenby and co-star Diana Rigg at the On Her Majesty's Secret Service premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square on the evening of Thursday December 18, 1969.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service broke the all-time house record at the Odeon Leicester Square set by You Only Live Twice, taking £22,883 in its second week of release - a fact United Artists were only too happy to celebrate.

George Lazenby’s only Bond outing was also hugely popular across the UK and was still on release provincially nine months after its initial opening. The lack of new films meant that some cities such as Manchester were playing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service at three cinemas simultaneously in September 1970. This no doubt contributed to its overall success at the box-office during the initial release. United Artists succeeded in luring Sean Connery back for Diamonds Are Forever and in a 1971 interview for the BBC he commented on the lack of success of its predecessor. The US release of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was initially hampered by the New York Times listing it as one of the 10 worst films of 1969, although many other US newspapers gave the film more positive reviews. A disastrous US TV showing in 1976 (re-edited and screened over two nights) didn’t help matters. The myth that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was a box-office disaster perpetuated for many years resulting in it becoming the black sheep of the franchise, only being finally restored to the position it now holds through the emergence of Bond fandom in the early 1980s, and its continued championing in 007 MAGAZINE.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service box-office

On Her Majesty's Secret Service made a brief return to the West End when it played at the Cinecenta 1-2-3-4 in Panton Street just off Leicester Square, for three weeks commencing Sunday March 22, 1970. For the first week it played on the 138-seat Screen 1, then moving to the 145-seat Screen 4 from Sunday March 29th. Opened in January 1969, the Cinecenta was Europe's first four-in-one cinema. After several take-overs and name changes the cinema is now called the Odeon Luxe Haymarket. On Her Majesty's Secret Service also played concurrently at the small 187-seat Cameo-Poly cinema on Regent Street (part of the Classic chain) for seven days from Sunday March 29, 1970.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service London Pavilion 1970
ABOVE: Piccadilly Circus 1970. On Her Majesty's Secret Service plays at the London Pavilion following its initial engagement at the Odeon Leicester Square.

Although On Her Majesty's Secret Service continued to be shown across the UK throughout 1970, it would be another nine-months before it was seen again in London's West End. George Lazenby's only outing as 007 then played for seven days at the Classic cinema on Baker Street from Sunday January 10, 1971. The Kensington Post newspaper commented at the time that this was a rare opportunity to see the film with Bond Mark II, who wasn't as bad as the critics made him out to be. The 400-seat Classic cinema on Praed Street then screened On Her Majesty's Secret Service for seven days from Sunday March 28, 1971 after which the film became increasingly hard to see until its 1974 re-release with Live And Let Die.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service London Pavilion 1970

Unlike Casino Royale (1967), which was more popular in London than in the suburbs, On Her Majesty's Secret Service proved more successful in the provinces, with many cinemas holding the film over for several weeks. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was only shown for one week in March of 1970 at most suburban London cinemas, and was re-issued twice more on double-bills with Live And Let Die in 1974, and Diamonds Are Forever in 1976. Although George Lazenby had announced that he would not be playing 007 again, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service went on to become the highest grossing film of 1970 in the UK. Cinema attendance across the world was by then at an all-time low, and many box-office failures in genres that were normally hugely successful, had changed the way films were made and marketed in the next decade.


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