In 1938, Limited built the Carib, in competition to Palace.
So Palace has, in effect, become what they initially fought against. A very typical situation with monopolies, at least in the Jamaican context thus far.
Odeon is by no means unique. A drive through Downtown will also reveal signs on now dilapidated buildings which clearly, if not brightly, state that they were once movie houses. However, not all the old theatre buildings bear reminders of what they once were. It has probably begun to slip from memory that there were actually four cinemas in Cross Roads not too long ago (a perspective which may vary, depending on your age).
Sharing space with Carib was the Regal theatre. It used to be housed in the building which Azan's now occupies. The more recent closing was that of the State theatre. Up to last year it was home to the Kingston Church of Christ and, at the end of last year, the seats were up for sale. Its days as a theatre are long over and there is no sign that they will return.
The other, almost directly across from Courts, now also hosts a church.
Movie buff extraordinaire, Orville Clarke, reflects on the days when there were cinemas in every parish. An avid moviegoer since the 1950s, he names several theatres which existed throughout Kingston. Among them is the very famous Rialto (also of The Harder They Come fame), along with Kings, Gaiety, Queens, Majestic, Ritz, Tropical, Globe and Deluxe. The names of the cinemas seem to reek of the glitz and glamour which they used to hold.
Outside Kingston , The Del Mar (Port Antonio), Empire (Morant Bay) and Capri (May Pen) all added to what helped to create the movie culture in Jamaica. The second city, Montego Bay, had four cinemas strand, The Roxy, Palladium and Coral.
It appears that only Carib is left from that golden era. The grand white building still stands boldly defiant in the middle of Cross Roads. Now Carib 5, the cinema has changed from the single screen set-up that could hold well over 1,000 people at once. Devoured by fire in September of 1996, the cinema managed to arise phoenix-like from the flames. It was also able to do what so many others were unable to do. Change.
Ms. Melanie Graham, marketing manager for Palace Amusement Company, attempted to explain why she believes none of these cinemas were able to last. "They all closed because they were the old type of movie cinemas. Not air-conditioned, very sparse seat, and I think with the advent of video... that added to their demise," she said. She went on to explain that in order to continue to thrive, cinemas needed a lot of investment. "I don't think at the time they were willing to spend to upgrade," she stated, also noting that the admission rates were not very profitable.