Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

Unfavorite 38 people favorited this theater

Showing 301 - 325 of 666 comments

CF100 on March 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

That being said, that reminds me—here are some links to photos (and accompanying notes) of some restoration work to the Empire’s frontage, carried out in 2007:

Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3

CF100 on March 6, 2016 at 9:24 am

The facade is hideous and as I have said before on these pages, whilst I respect the classically informed work of Thomas Lamb, it certainly isn’t to my taste and the facade is the last (visibly) remaining section. The mismatched balcony only serves to make it worse. Better off covering it up again!

That said, the balcony is, as far as I’m aware, only used by the casino as an outdoor section of a bar—so I’m not sure how much of a “copy” of the OLS' balcony it is?

There are many questionable aspects of IMAX’s marketing, but the proof is in the pudding—they do have their own (often patented) technologies and in-house R&D. One has to consider that the IMAX signs alone are effectively worth a substantial sum in terms of advertising—given Westminster Council’s strong presumption of “no adverts.”

IMAX only ever have one auditorium within a multi-screen cinema.

On the subject of “clinicial and soulness”—I’ve often wondered, in a broader and general sense, whether this comes down to the use of old materials/products. For instance, the plaster tiles in Empire 1 were “unique” in the sense that one presumably not find them anywhere else today, but were surely a factory-made product. Stretch fabric wall coverings over acoustic absorption are not “unique”—but certainly technically superior. (Of course, cold cathode lights are “warm” whilst LEDs aren’t—but that’s another story.)

Ian: Thank you for posting links to those nice photos.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 29, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Terry, it is! The “façade” is an architectural jumble sale – upper part of the original façade visible but only when not hidden by all-over film banner, an open glazed area sits on the canopy attempting to imitate, without success, the Odeon’s 1998 external balcony over on the Square’s east side, while the uninspiring canopy no longer says “CINEMA” it now says “IMAX” even though only one screen in the complex justifies the brand. A mess.

terry on February 29, 2016 at 6:34 am

It all looks cold, clinical and soulless……………….

CF100 on February 15, 2016 at 12:41 am

Some remarkable photos of the Empire auditorium block under construction in 1927…

This one in particular puts the Screen 1 conversion into context. As the IMAX screen is positioned slightly past the “kink” in the righthand wall, it can be seen how narrowly it avoids the roof structure, with the middle of the screen behind the truss, and the sides ahead of it.

More photos:

Steelwork 1 Steelwork 2

It can be seen that the Coles-designed auditorium ceiling follow(s/ed) the shape of the roof, particularly the curved section adjacent to the booth.

The dome of the Lamb-designed auditorium under construction:

Dome 1 Dome 2

N.B. I am posting this is a matter of interest and to provide a record on this excellent site, rather than as a value judgement of any particular iteration of the Empire Leicester Square, although it goes without saying that the Coles-designed auditorium must stand as the canonical version.

CF100 on February 9, 2016 at 3:00 am

FanaticalAboutOdeon—I completely understand what you’re saying and why it’s not for you.

A little confused that you should end up with headache at the Empire IMAX and not elsewhere? The auditorium depth is about the same as the BFI IMAX…

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 8, 2016 at 3:05 am

Compared to the BFI Odeon IMAX at Waterloo and the National Media Museum IMAX in Bradford, the Leicester Square installation felt decidedly inferior and the auditorium too shallow. I left with a headache, something I seldom suffer, and I’m afraid “left” is the operative word. While most would either not notice or just accept the LED lighting around the vast, naked screen, it fails to replicate the remarkable, cold cathode system which so attractively bathed the Empire Cinema/One auditorium and recalls Christmas tree LEDs just constantly pedalling through the hues as a gesture by architects as opposed to a lighting designer. The foyer, and facilities at that level, was excellent although the entrance area between the pavement and the stairs was very tacky on my visit. Our views are inevitably somewhat esoteric and I respect those of fellow cinema fans who still enjoy what’s on offer at the Empire. It’s just not for me.

CF100 on February 8, 2016 at 2:21 am

FanaticalAboutOdeon—I still clearly remember my first visit to Screen 1—and, like you, loved it ever since.

Sadly, we all know that it was no longer commercially viable and (the IMAX screen) is a very good conversion, resulting in what is still a large and comfortable auditorium (about 90ft.x130ft.) and now equipped with perhaps the best projection available today.

It is still very much run as a flagship venue—helpful and friendly staff, glitzy foyer areas, premieres, etc. Of course it’s not the same and I wish the conversion hadn’t happened, but I still find what it has to offer is far above average.

I can understand if one finds the massive IMAX screen to be altogether too overwhelming—I felt weak to my knees after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 7, 2016 at 5:00 am

The Screen 1 conversion details are very interesting and appreciated. Sadly it’s all theory to me now as one visit to the IMAX screen was enough. Having loved the Empire Cinema/One since 1971, the present “pretend multiplex” has no charm whatsoever. The only cinema in Leicester Square I visit these days has a 120' black tower.

CF100 on February 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Screen 1 conversion details

Including a photo of the IMPACT auditorium under construction.

The challenges posed by the conversion project are discussed in some further detail than the Cinema Technology Magazine article; to summarise:

  • The dividing wall is 15x40m and weighs 50 tons (a different figure?)

  • As Cinema Technology Magazine noted, the dividing wall had to isolated from the floor and is hung from the roof; additional considerations were that Empire had no access under the auditorium floor and it was incapable of carrying the dividing wall’s load. The difficulties in doing so are briefly mentioned (e.g. monitoring roof structure deflections as building work progressed.)

  • Building of the IMPACT auditorium also had constraints on floor loading and lack of access. The balcony is supported by a 17m long main girder, visible in the second photo on that page.

CF100 on January 27, 2016 at 12:58 pm

I have now paid a visit to the Empire LS to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

A few comments on the “IMAX with Laser” system.

As promised, it is capable of resolving excellent levels of details, freedom from pixellation (end credits, for example), and the colour rendition is outstanding—light sabres, for instance, look very “fluorescent” and “neon-like.”

Black levels are good, though not zero level as IMAX implies.

The caveat is that it feels very much like a “1st generation” system—if not quite out of the prototype stage. It must be stressed that most of these are minor issues, but they are enough to be distracting and signal to the brain “this is not a window onto a fictional reality… it is digital projection.”

There appear to be some minor digital image processing artefacts. Furthermore, a slight dithering was visible, manifesting as very fine grain; and I am not sure if the laser speckling issue has been completely resolved.

The “IMAX with Laser” system uses Dolby 3D (!) glasses (due to patent issues.) Before the main feature, sometimes only one projector was in use and putting on the glasses revealed as such as the image appeared to be visible in only one eye. Unfortunately, closing that eye revealed a surprising level of crosstalk in the other eye.

With the 3D glasses on, at times the extremities of the screen exhibited noticeable colour shift with a distinct purple (IIRC) tint; and the image brightness was insufficient.

In a brief discussion with a member of staff after the film, he expressed the view that the glasses aren’t big enough, and this needs to be fixed. Thus, this lends weight to my contention that the system is still a work in progress.

The laser projection system is punishing in revealing the limitations of the source material—and “Star Trek: The Force Awakens” was largely shot on 35mm.

(I did not like the movie.)

“IMAX with Laser” is, in my view, almost there and if/when niggling points are ironed out it will be excellent. I reiterate that I am being ultra-picky (in view of the grandoise promises made by IMAX)—as it stands this is a spectacular moviegoing experience.

Finally, as the full screen width is now filled, not only is the image even more immersive—but a surprising benefit is, when seated in the middle of the auditorium, the design of the IMAX conversion of Screen 1 looks better proportioned and harmonious.

CF100 on January 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm

An article on the IMAX with Laser install; some technical information.

Article with photos.

In particular, this one of the auditorium.

The additional new IMAX speakers can be seen, and the seats are bear the marque “Pepsi MAX – IMAX.” (Sigh.)

Also, the new laser projectors are visible.

And What Hi-Fi also has a write up with photos and positive comments on the picture quality.

CF100 on January 26, 2016 at 11:50 am

Piet_Morant: The sound system you refer to was the THX-certified one from 1989 with the main stage speakers being JBL 4675, and by the mid-1990s, support for all 35mm digital sound formats.

I, too, recall the sound was first rate (excepting the acoustic problems of Screen 1.)

(I also visited the Empire for “Forrest Gump”—but not “Speed,” for which I visited the Odeon West End…)

By the end of UCI’s operation, the THX certification had been dropped and the screen speakers changed to Martin Audio, which did not seem to be an improvement.

In the mid-2000s, Empire Cinemas completely replaced the sound system in Screen 1 with JBL ScreenArrays and no less than 16x JBL 4645C subwoofers.

An incredible system, but it didn’t seem to be as well tuned as the original THX installation (too much HF.) Dolby Atmos was more recently added. The system was moved to the IMPACT screen (with upgraded surrounds and no THX certification.) Alas, on my trip, the performance was not in the league of the Screen 1 install—perhaps it’s been better tuned since then.

The sound installation in the IMAX screen is also excellent and the acoustics much improved over Screen 1.

After a busy few months, I finally have a chance to see Star Wars with the new laser projector system and additional overhead/side IMAX speakers. Report to follow…

goodshow on December 21, 2015 at 4:35 am

Monday December 21, 2015. BBC Radio interview at length with the CEO of IMAX UK at the Empire telling us all about its technicalities. Comes in at around 20 minutes as part of a Business Britain update

Wurlitzer420 on December 6, 2015 at 11:39 am

Luckilly the organ was saved by Len Rawle who installed it in his special build home in chorleywood

davepring on October 5, 2015 at 7:14 am

Although I also regret the twinning of Empire 1 it was not sustainable in that form with over 1300 seats to fill.The screen is NOT tiny and the laser projection is superb. At least the cinema will not suffer the same fate as the Odeon West End with two cinemas in the basement!!!

Piet_Morant on September 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I haven’t been here since I was a teenager but remember it having an awesome sound system. Seeing ‘Speed’ at this theatre is one of my most memorable movie-going experiences.

Movies I saw here:

Forrest Gump, Speed, Mission Impossible

MovieGeek2013 on September 6, 2015 at 4:46 pm

The first IMAX with laser film will actually be Everest 3D and it opens there on 18th September.

davepring on September 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

The laser system goes live October2 with The Walk. Spectre and the new Star Wars film will also be shown here in IMAX

CF100 on August 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Empire Cinemas is advertising the installation of the ‘IMAX with Laser’ projection system at the Empire Leicester Square, the first in Europe.

According to this article, it will be installed by ‘the end of summer.’

Empire_fan on July 2, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Cinema signs (1976) Empire at start.

Empire_fan on July 2, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Empire opening.

Empire_fan on July 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Empire 1982

CF100 on July 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

The Picturehouse/Cineworld (née MGM) was perhaps first though built within the shell of the Trocadero. No idea how much reconfiguration was involved though the old Pepsi IMAX was a good example of what could be achieved within its cavernous space!