Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100
CF100 on August 2, 2018 at 8:14 pm

Correction to previous post: 151 RGB LED bars, not 171.

CF100
CF100 on August 2, 2018 at 6:28 pm

I attended a screening of “Mission Impossible—Fallout” in the IMAX auditorium today, having booked my ticket at the “last minute” (by which I mean, just enough time to get to the cinema some minutes before the auditorium doors were opened!)

This was foolish in that I did not consider whether the film was worth seeing—albeit, its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 97%(!)—so “research” may not have been of any assistance!

It turns out that the film IS worth seeing—but, IMO, only for the visuals in the final act. Set in Kashmir, numerous stunning shots of mountainous terrain in “full height” IMAX Digital (1.9:1) are featured, presumably digitally acquired (CGI aside) using Panavision Millennium DXLs (8K source format) per IMDb Technical Specifications.

Full use of the 12 channel IMAX sound system was apparent in these scenes, e.g. strongly directional helicopter sounds panned overhead.

(Picture quality-wise, the rest of the film is lacking in detail with poor depth of field and I assume was mostly acquired on 35mm film per IMDb Technical Specifications, although no grain was apparent, suggesting heavy noise reduction.)


IMAX auditorium update:

  • I’m not sure if it was the fault of the source material, but there was a marked absence of low level detail throughout the film, with dark areas clipped to black. Some low level dither seemed to be visible in one or two 1.9:1 scenes in the final act. Subtle “laser speckle” was also apparent momentarily a couple of times.
  • Today’s outside temperature was ~30°C, and the HVAC system was working extremely well with the auditorium very well chilled and unstuffy for the late afternoon screening I attended, as were the foyer areas.
  • On the left splay wall, the front bottom two LED bars were misaligned. (Photo uploaded.)
  • Also, my perception was that the colour-changing LEDs have lost some brightness, which is odd since even allowing for 5 hours of use/day, they would not even have hit the 10,000 hour mark, and the bars use OSRAM LEDs which have outstanding performance in terms of brightness maintenance with use. Perhaps they are being driven hard? With 171 RGB bars, and given a retail price of, say, £200+ each, one does wonder whether Cineworld will bother with long term upkeep/replacement. Regular LED strips just wouldn’t be bright enough to illuminate the large areas of black walls/ceiling, which the current system already struggles with. I overheard a kid sitting behind making a comment on the “magical lighting,” so clearly it’s effective in adding a special touch for those with no awareness of the heritage aspect.
  • AFAICT, one or more of the subbass drivers bottomed out during one of the trailers; if this represents failure, hopefully IMAX will action replacement(s).

Cineworld (Empire) Leicester Square update:

  • The building site notice still appears on the fire exit door to Leicester Street.

  • To add to ongoing observations of extreme minutiae, the left wall of the lower vestibule (i.e. underneath the section leading to the 4DX) now has black strips added. (Photo uploaded.) Interestingly (?), if it’s the same product visible in fit-out photos of Cineworld Broughton—see Image 1 and Image 2—these black strips might not actually be PMMA (aka Perspex/Plexiglass,) but Alupanel.

  • Empire Cinemas' registered office is, as of November 2017, 63-65 Haymarket. The “10 – Empire Studios” sign remains by the entrance to the upper level offices on the Leicester Place frontage, although no signs of activity were externally visible, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that they’ve vacated.

[Added text to overcome “Your comment appears to be spam!” notification which appeared on reposting with minor edits. And some more text for another repost. :–(]

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 26, 2018 at 6:35 pm

Hello-

to takethemichael. while I wouldn’t bet my next paycheck on it I could swear the theater that was playing the 70MM re-issue of The Ten Commandments the Summer of 1972 was named the Shaftesbury Cinerama. maybe it was the Casino Cinerama? who knows.

takethemichael
takethemichael on July 26, 2018 at 3:54 am

Thank you Zappomatic and others for the detailed and interesting comments and photos about the refurbishment of Cineworld Leicester Square.

takethemichael
takethemichael on July 26, 2018 at 3:38 am

bigjoe59: Could the Cinerama cinema you refer to be the Columbia Shaftesbury Avenue. The Columbia Cinema was sunk into the basement of a large office block and had 734 seats. Not cinerama but it had a huge curved screen for 70mm and Todd-AO presentations. Open as the Curzon Soho: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6244

Former London Cinerama theatres: Casino Cinerama, Old Compton Street, Soho (now Prince Edward Theatre): http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/2497 Royalty Cinerama, Kingsway: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11040 Coliseum Cinerama, St Martins Lane: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11041

CF100
CF100 on July 24, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Passed by Cineworld (Empire) LSQ yesterday; alas “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” was playing in the IMAX/Superscreen. :–(

(ABBA, like them or not, have gifted the world with a large repertoire of popular songs written and arranged to a very high standard, many of which are classics, and I have no interest in watching/hearing them being mutilated in a corny sequel!)

Cineworld are now branding LSQ as “London’s premiere destination and home to the stars,” on the screen nearest to the entrance (mounted on the right side wall of the lower vestibule), with clips of various premiere/“red carpet” events being shown. (Photo uploaded.)

The only external sign of ongoing building work remains the “Construction Site” notice on the exterior of the Leicester Street fire exit doors.


Empire Cinemas' registered address has been changed to 63-65 Haymarket, aka Empire Haymarket. The “Empire Studios” sign remains by the the entrance door facing Leicester Place.


bigjoe59: Regarding the Cinerama you refer to, that format/system existed way before my time—but perhaps you mean the location that was originally, and is today, named the “Prince Edward Theatre”? It’s about 100 metres (on foot) from Shaftesbury Avenue.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 24, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Hello-

I thank Ken R. and Howard B. for their replies. to bad the Odeon Marble Arch was demolished. it was the 1st movie theater I’d ever been to that had a coffee bar. also the theater where I saw the Summer 1973 70MM re-issue of The Ten Commandments was most definitely called the Shaftesbury Cinerama.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 24, 2018 at 5:33 am

“The Ten Commandments” got an ABC general countrywide re-release in March 1973, so its possible that it played the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue a little earlier. Originally a live theatre (Saville Theatre of 1931), from 1970 it became a twin-screen cinema for ABC. Still open today as the Odeon Covent Garden http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/911

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 23, 2018 at 5:33 pm

I can partly answer from our side of the pond. The Odeon Marble Arch was divided into several auditoriums in 1996 & closed & demolished in 2006. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/1830 I know of at least 2 theaters, both also since divided up but still open though endangered, on Shaftsbury but I don’t see that either was called Cinerama.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 23, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Hello from NYC-

when i was in London the Summer of 1972 I went to two
movie theaters-the Shaftsbury Cinerama where i saw a
70MM re-issue of The Ten Commandments and the Odeon
Marble Arch where I saw Nicholas and Alexandra. are the
two theaters still standing?

CF100
CF100 on July 6, 2018 at 11:11 pm

Zappomatic: Thanks for your detailed response. :–)

The “picture frame” design that Empire Cinemas used in the former Screens 4-9 seemed to be a slightly odd throwback to the 1928 iteration of the Empire, particularly since very few patrons would “get” the reference! With the concealed edge lighting it did actually look quite good in person, though.

As you say the Cineworld refurbished auditoria are stripped down in terms of decorative features, but at least they don’t look tacky; I think Cineworld have shown some good judgement and restraint with their alterations to their LSQ cinema.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on July 4, 2018 at 4:56 pm

New seating is very comfortable and thickly padded although I found the back row of screen 2 to have been installed at perhaps a little too upright an angle with the headrest preventing me from sitting the way I wanted to – I didn’t notice this issue in screen 1. Surprisingly even the outer backs of the seats are padded and upholstered. The old seating was very comfortable so long as nobody was sitting in front of you, in which case the seat in front would recline back into your knees (it seemed to me a way of saving space, dressed up as a luxury). On balance I think I prefer the new seats.

Very bright, crisp picture with good black levels and contrast, and punchy sound however there was a noticeable keystone effect when projecting a flat picture. Sadly no moveable masking. In person I too was struck by the apparently low number of sidewall speakers however this might have been to do with the lighting which doesn’t tend to spread onto the walls.

These refurbished screens are less characterful than previously but no longer suffer from some of the frankly unacceptable viewing angles that they used to offer.

CF100
CF100 on July 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Zappomatic: Thanks for the photos, looks good!

(Hmm, except for the slightly tacky red backlit Cineworld “stars” on the sidewalls.)

360° photos of the foyer (one taken from upper vestibule, the other from the far end), Screen 1 and Screen 2 can be seen on Squaremeal’s website, under the “Virtual Tour” section towards the bottom of the page (“Room List” at the top right of the photo view area is used to select the desired shot.)

In the photo of Screen 1, the yellow upholstered door with “porthole” is still in place!

“Cineworld London Venues” — photos of the LSQ IMAX, O2 Superscreen, Cineworld Wembley and Wandsworth.)

There are photos of the 4DX auditorium in the “carousel” at the top of the page, and if it is available to book, it’s perhaps amusing to imagine a corporate event being ruined by rogue use of the 4DX environmental effects. ;–)

Photos of the former Cineworld (Empire) Leicester Square Screens 4/5 are available in Eomac’s literature in the PDF linked to from the linked page.

The new stadia do seem to have quite an improved rake. I can’t see more than 3 sidewall speakers in the “new” Screen 2, whereas the former Screen 4 had 4—although the front one may be washed out.


Zappomatic: How does the new Lino Sonego seating compare to the previous? (AFAIK from Seating Concepts.) Is the picture/sound quality up to standard?

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on July 4, 2018 at 9:53 am

Added photos of refurbished new screen 2

LARGE_screen_format
LARGE_screen_format on July 3, 2018 at 4:02 pm

We’re lucky to have you posting direct links to licensing plans of interest @CF100 ;o)

CF100
CF100 on July 3, 2018 at 3:27 pm

LARGE_screen_format: Looking at the IMAX and Superscreen booking pages for LSQ, as well as one of the “studio”-sized auditorium, Cineworld’s booking system seems have two different layouts for the screen, one with “SCREEN” in a grey rectangle extending the full width, used for the “studio”-sized auditorium, and the other used for the IMAX/Superscreen, which show a similar rectangle, only the left/right sides are angled. This latter rectangle seems to have a maximum width of ~20 seats or so, and hence is the wrong relative width for the Superscreen as well as the IMAX. Clearly it’s a “generic” layout also in the sense that the seating distance from the screen isn’t represented to any kind of relative scale, either.

Licensing plans are definitely a fantastic resource, but I don’t think I’d thought to search for them either until I read a post on Cinema Treasures by Zappomatic. With inconsistent addresses, slow page load times, and so on— generally very clunky systems used—it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for, though!

LARGE_screen_format
LARGE_screen_format on July 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

As I suspected, the Cineworld seating layout page is way off scale. Probably just a generic image used for the screen of any and all auditoria across the whole of their website?

These licensing plans that you post links for sure offer a level of detail one may otherwise never be privy to. Had not previously ever thought to search and look through any.

CF100
CF100 on July 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm

LARGE_screen_format: Licensing plans show everything (within reason) “to scale”—try the “MEZZANINE LEVEL” PDF linked to from the “DOCUMENTS” tab on the linked page.

Based on this, 8 side seats (16 total) of row M (2nd to last row) are beyond the screen edges.

LARGE_screen_format
LARGE_screen_format on July 3, 2018 at 10:49 am

When booking tickets online for IMAX at Cineworld, Leicester Square the width of the screen on the seating layout page surely can’t be to scale? It isn’t even as wide as the centre section of seats alone meaning anyone sat on the two side sections would be watching from a 45-degree angle.

LARGE_screen_format
LARGE_screen_format on July 1, 2018 at 7:49 am

@CF100

I’ve posted a reply on the Odeon, Greenwich page.

I did enjoy Rampage for what it was, a movie based on a video game, it had some good action and overall was entertaining.

CF100
CF100 on June 30, 2018 at 9:16 pm

LARGE_screen_format:

The stadia which all but the front row of the LSQ IMAX seats are attached date from 1962, being the former “circle” seating area of Empire 1.

As theatreofvarieties kindly indicated on Cinema Treasures, in response to my tedious queries, the HVAC (air conditioning) extraction ducting is actually connected to lots of grilles behind the seating, although presumably the extract ducts could always be moved elsewhere or reconnected.

Looking at one of Zappomatic’s photos taken during the recent foyer refurbishment, which provides a partial view under the stadia, it’s clear that there is plenty of steel there, albeit I have no idea what materials are used to form the stepping itself.

Given the above, the fact that Cineworld (presumably) kept the existing intact in the foyer refurbishment works might suggest that there they have no intention of changing the stepping.

If it could be changed from above, it might difficult from a health and safety point of view, and could risk damage to the services and ceiling below.

I suppose they could, depending on structural (weight) limitations, build off the existing, but then this would presumably require the loss of half the rows?

So, based on the above uninformed brain dump and a lot of speculation on my part, it would appear to be a non-starter.

BTW: Photo of the IMPACT/Superscreen auditorium build – stadium seating structure can be seen. Note that the steel girder supporting the balcony is actually hung from the roof structure!


Did you enjoy “Rampage”?

I haven’t been to the Greenwich Odeon since it was “the filmworks”—not difficult for me to get to but AFAIK, as you mention, the IMAX auditorium has a relatively small sized screen; with the BFI and now the Leicester Square IMAX also easy for me to get to, it doesn’t seem worth the bother.

IMO it wasn’t worth visiting when it was “the filmworks,” very much a run of the mill multiplex; albeit, for better or worse, it was one of the earliest examples of an all-“black box” auditoria location in this country.

The last time I purchased food at a cinema was flavoured popcorn at the Odeon Leicester Square in the late 90s. Stopping by Five Guys before or after the performance is a better option in my view. ;–)

LARGE_screen_format
LARGE_screen_format on June 30, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Highly unlikely to happen but I wish Cineworld would upgrade the seats in the LSQ IMAX auditoria to luxury leather recliners. A number of Odeon Luxe and Showcase de Luxe cinemas across the country have or are being upgraded to those so why can’t/shouldn’t Cineworld’s ‘flagship’ cinema be able to match those?

I watched Rampage in IMAX at Odeon, Greenwich. Not the largest IMAX screen but was passing the area with a friend of mine who had never been to this cinema and I had often mentioned it having watched many movies there in the mid 00’s (before IMAX was installed). Odeon’s food offering there is significantly better than that found at Cineworld, Empire or Vue cinemas imo.

CF100
CF100 on June 30, 2018 at 7:27 pm

Hmm… it might. In my view the LSQ IMAX is currently the best cinema in the West End—not necessarily in terms of programming but as a cinema, i.e. overall package of comfort (legroom issue isn’t a massive problem for me,) outstanding picture quality, middle row seat positioning in relation to the screen, and very good sound also, plus some of the spacious scale and other memories of the old Empire 1 are still there.

However, the concept I have in mind as far as the “première” auditoria are concerned is to be able to see the same film in multiple “premium” formats rather than, say, having to choose between Superscreen/Atmos and IMAX with Laser. Paying the “normal” price for tickets, particularly if the 4DX is included also, starts to become absurd.

The annual cost of the Unlimited West End card still pays for lots of IMAX tickets per year, so, on that basis alone it’s perhaps slightly hard to justify. But then I could see, say, “Rampage” in the IMAX screen… just for the sake of it.

Also, I quite like the idea of cinema trips being special events rather than multiple visits to see whatever in whatever auditorium, which could dilute the experience?

What can I say… I’m just dreadfully slow when it comes to mulling over purchases in excess of three figures… and my number one priority this week by a country mile was getting my air conditioner reinstated at home. :–)

LARGE_screen_format
LARGE_screen_format on June 30, 2018 at 6:08 pm

If there was no uplift charge for IMAX (rather than Superscreen) would you be asking Cineworld to take your money (for an Unlimited West End card)? ;o)

CF100
CF100 on June 30, 2018 at 5:09 pm

Can’t speak for Cineworld but pretty obviously if you’re rebranding/resigning all the foyer/lobby/access areas then that provides an opportunity to tidy things up by renumbering.

With all incremental changes made over the years including additional auditoria the cinema has become something of a maze, and introducing a 4DX screen only adds to the potential confusion.

The current scheme makes sense in that, from the top of the vestibule stairs up from the Leicester Square entrance, turn left for Screens 1-3, all sequential along the left side of the foyer, and turn right for 5-7, all at upper levels.

That then leaves 4 as the odd one out among 4/8/9 among screens that are normally referenced by “brand name,” but at least the 4DX can’t be confused with another Screen 4.

Other permutations can be thought of that might work, but I think that Cineworld have chosen the best option.


Leaflets promoting the “Unlimited” card were being handed out outside Cineworld (Empire) Leicester Square today; I asked the person handing them out what the uplift charge was for the IMAX, and they told me that it is £7. (Perhaps I should “get with it” and use “social media?!”)