Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on November 1, 2019 at 3:30 am

Having recently paid a visit to the IMAX auditorium, the sidewall IMAX signs now fade in/out—however, the fade is extremely “stepped,” obviously sequencing through a handful of different levels, rather than smooth.

The sidewall signs were also (irritatingly!) turned on as the end credits started.

CF100 on August 16, 2019 at 5:53 pm

In addition to the Superscreen sidewall signage mentioned by Zappomatic, similar signage has also been added to the IMAX auditorium. (Photo uploaded.)

In the photo, this signage doesn’t look so bad; however, the illumination is uneven, particularly for the white “Leicester Square” section, and the kerning (spacing) for the IMAX type (“Microgamma” typeface) is incorrect, with the “X” in particular too far from the “A,” and the second letter “e” in “Leicester Square” is slightly rotated anti-clockwise, rather than being straight.

Also, the quality of the LEDs used does not match those used for the concealed LED bars or house lights of the auditorium (OSRAM.)

Worst of all, for the screening I attended (matinée performance of “Once a Time in Hollywood,”) they remained fully illuminated until the start of the main feature, and then simply switched off.

IMO they look completely ridiculous, and, it hardly seems necessary to remind patrons that they are in an IMAX, when its logo is plastered on all 723 seats.

(Just noticed a correction to the CT description—the seat count given for the IMAX auditorium of 751 seats is incorrect—the 2016 licensing plans state 723 seats [plus 6 accessible spaces.])

In every other respect, the cinema was absolutely fine, with the usual excellent picture/sound from the IMAX with Laser GT installation, effective air conditioning, and all lights were off during the main feature.

CF100 on July 8, 2019 at 10:23 pm

An application [dated received 20th March 2019] to replace the three banner adverts on the LSQ frontage with LED display module screens has been refused by Westminster Council.

(Note that this application was for Caesars Entertainment UK, i.e. the casino operator.)

The document listed as “DELEGATED REPORT” makes for some particularly interesting reading.

In summary, it turns out that none of the existing three banner adverts is approved; although the applicant claims that “Deemed Consent” was obtained by virtue of the high level banner being displayed for more than 10 years, the report shows archival photos demonstrating that it was not continuously displayed for this period; and, the two side banners (which made their first appearance at a later date) constitute an increase in the quantum of advertising which in any event voids this claim.

Apparently, Westminster have, over the years, issued enforcement notices in respect of removing these adverts; however, they were removed and then reinstated at a later date

(The report states that, in relation to advertising, Westminster Council only proceed with legal action as a last resort.)

According to the report, Cineworld advised the cinema’s use of the banners was “entirely at the discretion of Caesars.”

Last Friday, i.e. 5th July 2019, no banners were in place. The “rods” for the side banners remained, and, it looks like some “making good” is needed to the upper parts of the façade.

Presumably, then, Westminster have (again!) taken enforcement action.

Of particular note from the report:

“The theatre is a very significant building architecturally and its status as an unlisted building of merit reflects this. There are a number of architectural features at the main elevation to Leicester Square, including the original ‘Empire Theatre’ sign to the parapet, a tri-partite arch, classical columns and coffered ceiling within the arch.”

This may be of some relief to anyone concerned about future alterations/additions.

In my view, notwithstanding the desires of the casino operator to add advertising of greater promenance—and surely this use should not overshadow the cinema aspect?—the upper/wide banner typically used for movie advertising was a reasonable compromise. The two side banners looked awful, and this scheme, to “bolt on” LED display module screens, is now demonstrably ill-conceived.

Meanwhile, the canopy remains in desperate need of being reimagined…

CF100 on June 29, 2019 at 1:18 am

Zappomatic: Possible effects on the sound could be at the subtle “audiophile”/“fusspot” level. ;–) Although, I suppose, your comment does suggest that the sound quality hasn’t been ruined!

Too bad that they distract from the picture—and one would certainly hope that Cineworld would notice this issue?

Zappomatic on June 29, 2019 at 12:49 am

I didn’t notice any effects on the sound but they certainly were noticeably reflective in brighter scenes in the film.

CF100 on June 28, 2019 at 10:58 pm

Zappomatic: Thanks for the update/photo. Positioning looks dreadful—and acoustically not a good idea to be sticking reflective surfaces up that close to the screen on straight sidewalls (lateral reflections affect dialogue intelligibility [perhaps not too much of a concern here?] and stereo imaging.)

Alarmingly ill-thought out for a premier screen in their flagship site, with this auditorium having a very highly specified sound system!

By the way, do you, or anyone else reading this, know if Cineworld have or are planning on installing laser projection in the LSQ Superscreen?

Cineworld are definitely rolling them out:

Cineworld Group and Cinionic strike 1,000+ unit deal to roll out acclaimed Barco laser projectors to theaters worldwide .

Zappomatic on June 25, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Superscreen logos have been added to the side walls of the Superscreen

CF100 on May 26, 2019 at 3:16 am

Addendum: Ironically, the application for the “advertising” aspect has been approved.

(“Display of two internally illuminated fascia signs measuring 1.00m x 6.25m and 2.49m x 1.15m, a non-illuminated projecting sign measuring 0.60m x 0.60m and retractable awning.”)

Thus, Cineworld may now, for instance, add an awning advertising non-existent “Hotdogs, Jacket Potatoes, Nachos, Hot & Cold Drinks.”

CF100 on May 25, 2019 at 11:47 pm

Westminster Council have refused permission (22nd May 2019) for the food kiosk, on the basis that customers queuing outside would block pedestrian traffic, and as all customers would be served off the premises, it would result in negative environmental/amenity effects (“late night activity, noise and smells.”) Obviously, Cineworld have the opportunity to appeal this decision.

CF100 on April 13, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Zappomatic: Indeed, and I bought ice cream from there myself from the kiosk in the linked image! However, the unit’s current use class remains the one in place for the Bureau de Change that previously operated there, so Cineworld still need permission for the change of use to allow the operation of a takeaway.

Zappomatic on April 1, 2019 at 10:24 pm

This unit has in the past been used as an ice cream kiosk (as seen here

CF100 on March 24, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Cineworld have submitted planning applications for changes to the frontage and a new takeaway counter in the old “Ritz”/“Empire 2” entrance in 1-4 Leicester Square. (I suppose strictly this should go under its separate page on CT, but to my mind it reads as part of the cinema as a whole?)

The main “FULL” application is dated as received 8th February 2019, with the (sloppily written!) “Design and Access Statement” summarising the scheme, including a rendering on p7; Chapman Taylor is the project architect.

In summary, the proposal is for a “HUNGER GAMES” (Cineworld’s own brand) “kiosk,” removal of the existing brown granite to be replaced with black metal cladding, and the installation of a 6.55x1m LED display module screen above (to display static images only.)

A good idea to bring that section of the frontage back into use, but it looks quite tacky, albeit the rendering is of poor quality—and must Cineworld dispose of yet more high quality finishing materials?

It wouldn’t surprise me to see that the LED screen aspect will go to appeal.

CF100 on March 24, 2019 at 12:45 am

Some further information on Cineworld’s 2018 foyer/lobbies refurbishment and 4DX conversion of the former Screen 2 is available in an article on the website of AV Magazine, dated 22nd March 2019.

The relevant sections of the article are:

Foyer/lobbies: Under the heading “Making a grand entrance.” 4DX: A few paragraphs under the sub-heading: “Four types of 4DX.”

I will summarise relevant key points from the article here (with the 4DX information added to its own page on CT.)

  • As suspected from the branded protective sheeting in Zappomatic’s photos of the foyer/lobbies refurbishment, Maeve Contractors—principal contractor for the conversion of the former Screen 1 to IMAX/Superscreen—are confirmed to have been also involved in this project.
  • LED modules used are from Chinese company Konka Media, with Cineworld Group having previously worked with the them in Prague.
  • Standard DVI/HDMI input to the module controllers supplied by Konka.
  • For the signature installation on the vestibule stairs up from the main Leicester Square entrance—risers being a non-standard installation location—the modules are installed in a “safety unit” for protection from patrons, with the requirements of building regulations in mind. The installation also allows maintenance access to the modules from the front.
  • Total modules used for the stairs—65; number of stair risers: 14; total size: 4.8mx2.2m; resolution 960x416 pixels.
Lionel on March 19, 2019 at 7:29 pm

I just posted my first film on YouTube. This is a Super 8mm film I shot in 1986 and 1988 showing fronts of West end cinemas (including this one) and theatres :

My description on YouTube : Old silent 8mm film showing fronts of West End cinemas and theatres, made with two different cameras and film stocks in 1986 and 1988. Bad quality due to age. The close-up of 70mm advertisement for “a winning double bill” was at the Prince Charles cinema for a re-run of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The close-up of THX Sound System advertisement was at the Warner cinema. The close-up of the “West End” words was the Odeon West End cinema sign.

Zappomatic on February 2, 2019 at 6:10 am

CF100: No, not as far as I can recall. I can only imagine some kind of leak or major spillage necessitated its replacement. (The auditorium was quite dark when I entered and I nearly fell over after being caught unawares by the deep pile!)

CF100 on February 1, 2019 at 6:09 pm

Zappomatic: Seems like a rather random alteration. Was the carpet worn?

Zappomatic on February 1, 2019 at 1:56 am

Carpet at the front of the Superscreen has been replaced, to match the carpet in the corridor and other screens. Carpet on the steps inside this screen remains in the old red carpet as fitted by Empire Cinemas.

Lionel on January 24, 2019 at 10:10 pm

Archival footage briefly showing the entrance, shown from the street, of the Ritz and Empire in a row at 01:11 in the late seventies.

CF100 on December 21, 2018 at 3:25 am

The columns in the 4DX are actually between the seats and the sidewalls. From photos, this was also the case when the auditorium was originally built; however, IIRC, the sidewalls were moved in at some point? By the time I first visited the auditorium, this was not the case, and some of the seats were positioned “behind” the columns!

The 4DX installation needs all the space it can get to be shoehorned in, with the “environmental effects” gear between the columns and the sidewalls, the suspended ceiling being omitted in those areas.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 17, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Yes Howard, The photograph in the article is the (now much altered) former Ritz Cinema. Supporting columns are still there all the way along the side walls, always have been there. The former Ritz Cinema has its own page on Cinema Treasures as the Cineworld Cinema – Leicester Square 4DX

HowardBHaas on December 17, 2018 at 1:26 pm

is this photo in this article the former Ritz specified in the Intro? now a 4Dx? are there columns further back on the auditorium’s side walls?

CF100 on November 5, 2018 at 1:40 am

LARGE_screen_format: Good news! I suspect it will be the “downsized” version for “multiplex”-sized IMAX venues rather than the original system intended to replace 15/70 projectors in classic “Grand Theatre” venues (and similarly scaled new builds or conversions.)

As a new build, it might just be one of the best IMAX/PLF screens in the country—technically speaking, of course.

LARGE_screen_format on November 4, 2018 at 11:06 pm

Cineworld, Watford, which opens on 14th December 2018, with become the third cinema in the UK to have IMAX with Laser. Also, ScreenX.

CF100 on October 28, 2018 at 2:43 am

The high-level banner on the LSQ facade currently advertises “Halloween,” with “AT CINEWORLD LEICESTER SQUARE NOW” in red letters at the bottom.

Perhaps Cineworld have finally figured out a way to put their brand name on the front of the building so that it can actually be seen from the other side of the square!

Photo uploaded.

CF100 on October 28, 2018 at 1:52 am

“Extinguishing Spotlights: the Uncertain Future of Cinematic Heritage in London’s Leicester Square”.

An academic article authored by Alexa Raisbeck, this contains a potted history of cinemas in LSQ and some photos of auditoria and exterior, paying some particular attention to the Empire Leicester Square.

Whilst I share the author’s concerns over the potential impact of redevelopment on the place of Leicester Square in the cinematic world, the topic seems rather odd when major investment has been made over the past few years into the flagship sites.

It should be noted that the article contains a number of errors, many of which could have been rectified simply by reading through the relevant material and comments posted on Cinema Treasures.