Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 22, 2006 at 3:03 am

Here is a photograph I took of the Empire in July 1964. The Thomas Lamb exterior was hidden for almost 30 years behind that 1960’s advertising cladding:
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ErikH on April 25, 2005 at 10:21 am

Sorry to hear that the Empire’s days may be numbered. I caught a screening of “The Interpreter” last week while in London and found the large auditorium to be delightful: spacious, comfortable, large screen, curtains, the light show before the lights dimmed (changing colors around the proscenium), etc. A sense of showmanship rarely found anymore.

woody on March 27, 2005 at 1:22 pm

The Empire is one of the cinemas that the newly merged Odeon and UCI chains will have to dispose of, it will be offered to the highest bidder via an agency.
Given its high running costs and the struggle to get decent films to fill 1330 seats, unless one of the two other big chains buy it, its days are numbered which is a tragedy as its one of the finest auditoriums in the world (well screen one at least)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 19, 2004 at 9:18 am

Famed cinema architect George Coles was responsible for the ‘new’ 1962 interior refurbishment of the Empire Theatre. It was the last work of this architect who had designed so many magnificent cinemas in the UK since the early 1920’s.

All that remained of the sumptious Thomas Lamb designed theatre of 1928 vintage was the facade, and that was hidden for many years behind an advertising billboard for the current attraction, until it was restored in the late 1990’s. George Coles single level auditorium was on the same level as the former circle, with the front section floored over what would have been the front stalls area. The former orchestra stalls of the Empire was converted into a dance hall, now used as a disco/nightclub.

bruceanthony on September 6, 2004 at 11:24 am

The Empire’s main auditorium was much grander in 1975 than what I saw in the 1990’s. I liked the Empire in the 1970’s better than I did the big Odeon. My favorite theatre, where I saw “The Wind and the Lion” was the Dominion.brucec

Dave2 on July 7, 2004 at 5:20 pm

I can remember visiting the old Empire about 1960 as a child to see the roadshow run of Ben-Hur. It seemed like a very old but very grand, and large, theatre that seemed to fit exactly the film it was showing. The one thing I most remember, sitting in the rear stalls, was the large projection booth that had been built downstairs to project the film in 70mm (Camera 65). The screen seemed enormous even from the back of the stalls. I suppose old theatres have to move on, but I’m sure it would be listed today if it still existed in its former glory.

SethLewis on February 5, 2004 at 8:11 am

Among the films in the big room Empire 1 are a couple of the Star Trek films, Jurassic Park, Primary Colours, Ride with the Devil…The last of the Star Treks with the original cast was a treat on the giant screen…It is a generally more comfortable experience than the Odeon Leicester Sq
In Number 2 I’ve seen things like Schindler’s List, Carlito’s Way, Gangs of New York, Henry & June, Jungle Fever…an old fashion large house not unreminiscent of being in the Beekman or Sutton in New York for a quality film…some new seats wouldn’t be unappreciated
I squeezed into Number 3 for Cape Fear but wouldn’t rush back considering the choices we now have in London in local multiplexes

woody on February 5, 2004 at 6:48 am

this theatre is used for premieres and large epics, it recently hosted the UK premiere of Kill Bill and quentin tarrantino loves this theatre becuase of its superb stadium style main screen which has 1330 seats, second in size only to its neighbour the Odeon leicester sq 1800(ish) seats
of the two i much prefer the Empire which has much more legroom, reclining seats and a much bigger screen
the lobby was redecorated and recarpeted in 2003, lots of gold and red plush with huge leather sofas, the marquee remains rather shabby but it is rumoured that it will be restored in the near future
ps there is no remaining original plasterwork from the auditorium ceiling above the current 60’s one in empire 1 or in sc2 (the former ritz)

bruceanthony on November 5, 2003 at 10:42 pm

I attended a film at the Empire in 1975 and thought it was a lovely modern film theatre with a huge screen and great sound. I was dissapointed in the 1990’s on what was done in the last renovation. I think it would be lovely if this theatre was restored and used in the same way the large Odeon in the West End is used.It could be used for premieres and the large epic films Hollywood is again producing. I believe this house is jointly owned by Paramount and Universal. brucec

Edd on November 6, 2002 at 4:36 am

When I was last here I was shown that the original ceiling of the old empire still is alive and kicking above the new 1960’s one.

davidpring on January 18, 2002 at 4:41 pm

Once known as the Movie Showplace of the Nation when owned by MGM the Empire is one of the best places to see a film in London.The major 1300 seat auditorium is starting to look a little shabby as owners UCI seem uncertain as how to operate a non multiplex venue.