The Savoy Cinema is the oldest operational cinema in Dublin, and it is the preferred cinema in Ireland for film premieres.
The cinema was built in 1929 on the site of the old Granville Hotel. The luxurious auditorium, housing 2,789 seats, opened to the public with the American colour talkie On with the Show. It was altered in 1954 to incorporate a large CinemaScope screen, and showed Ireland’s first widescreen feature, The Robe, at the time owned by Odeon Ireland Ltd.
It was reported in February 2012 that the cinema was in danger of closing. In the previous decade, audience numbers fell from 740,000 to 250,000 per annum.
The Savoy is the most altered cinema in Dublin’s history, and in 1969 the cinema was converted into a twin cinema. In 1975, the Savoy’s restaurant was converted into a third screen, holding 200 seats, followed in 1979 by further sub-divisions, creating five screens in all. In 1988, the cinema was given its sixth screen. In the process, the Savoy had lost a third of its capacity.
In 2004, renovation work was carried out, moving the box office from the two booths located on either side of the entrance to what used to be an adjoining shop. The confectionery counter has also been moved many times, but is now at its original location, between the doors of Screen 1.
The cinema has hosted the Irish premieres of many films, most of them having an Irish connection. Films shown here have included Alexander, Once and The Man in the Iron Mask. The cinema was used until 2017 during the Dublin International Film Festival, primarily for big-event screenings such as opening and closing night premiers. It also hosts the surprise film, which in 2006 was the first Irish screening of the film, 300.
In December 1934, Republicans demonstrated against the screening at the cinema of a newsreel of the marriage of Prince George, Duke of Kent, to Princess Marina.