Empire Haymarket

63-65 Haymarket,
London, SW1Y 4RQ

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Showing 51 - 75 of 79 comments

larrygoldsmith on March 22, 2008 at 11:36 pm

This theatre may have been part of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. but it was never owned or operated by the FOX chain of theatres. At one time they operated several theatres in Canada ( under the National General Corp.) That is about as foreign as that chain ever got with movie theatres!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 20, 2008 at 2:30 pm

The intro should Live theater and cinema as screens two and three are showing films.

AdoraKiaOra on March 7, 2008 at 9:54 am

No, not at all, no problem. I was young!!!! and obviuosly hadnt got my bearings around London by then! I have now !lol
I saw it at Swansea Odeon and then again in Marble Arch.

smoothie on March 7, 2008 at 2:30 am

Ian ‘adoraKiaOral’ :sorry to be a snob,but “Bugsy Malone” hit the screens at the Leicester Square Theatre,not the Odeon. July 7 -August 23,1976 to be exact. Then transferred to the Odeon,Marble Arch and then in order to maintain a subsequent outlet in Central London when out on general release was parked at the Metropole and Odeon,Kensington simultaneously.

Jasonmullen on March 4, 2008 at 10:22 am

Thanks Ken for clarifying the distributer details. Also I now suddenly recall that we left the cinema in bright daylight so it must indeed have been a trade or press showing as you suggested.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 4, 2008 at 9:25 am

jason; It sound like it was a morning Trade Show or Press Show you attended. These were private, by invitation only and the were held at many cinemas in the West End from the 1940’s into the 1980’s. It was normal to hand out booklets, photos etc. The distributers of “Bugsy Malone” in the UK were Fox-Rank.

Jasonmullen on March 4, 2008 at 9:13 am

Hi Ian, I recall the musical at Her Majestys in 1984 but it was the film I saw, I still have the soundtrack album and book somewhere. It may not have been the actual premiere but some sort of special advance screening for trade clients. My father worked as a senior manager for Granada Motorway Services at the time. I really recall the foyer and staircase from the upper circle as much the same as it is at todays Cinema Haymarket. The reason it was shown here (if only once) may be that the film was a 20th Century Fox release and I think they still ran the Carlton at this time?

Jasonmullen on March 3, 2008 at 12:42 pm

If my memory serves me correct I saw the premiere of the movie Bugsy Malone her in 1976 sitting in the upper circle. I Recall the then undivided auditorium being fairly ornate and also recollect the two stage boxes were still being used.After the screening all the kids and maybe adults were handed a free record and paperback book in the foyer as they left. It would be nice one day though probably not cost effective if someone could buy the office building at the back and rebuild the stage.If the planners hadn’t been so hasty in 1979 this could have been a much valued Westend Theatre. Still great that some sort of live entertainment is back.

AdoraKiaOra on February 20, 2008 at 4:37 pm

A shot of the ‘new’ Cinema Haymarket taken during previews in Feb 2008 for the stage presentation of ‘Brief Encounter'

AdoraKiaOra on February 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm

I wonder if they will operate the original plan of black and white movies to complement ‘Brief Encounter’ the stage show.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 9, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Movies will resume in the small screens once previews of BRIEF ENCOUNTER are over at the end of the month.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on February 9, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Some more history and memorabilia on the Carlton Theatre here:

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 9, 2008 at 12:44 pm

I understand the two smaller screens will still show first-run films during the run.

AdoraKiaOra on February 9, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Thats very interesting that the two smaller screens have been ‘mothballed’ -does this spell the end of cinema in this building. What with the projector and screen being removed etc etc.
Live theatre returns to The Carlton for the first time since the late 1920s early 30s.

AdoraKiaOra on January 6, 2008 at 8:44 am

It is hoped that during the run of ‘Brief Encounter’ that the two smaller screens will run old black and white movies such as Ealing comedies etc. I think the whole idea and set up is wonderful and i wish it every success.

HowardBHaas on January 6, 2008 at 7:03 am

Thanks to CTA for forwarding a Daily Mail article. http://preview.tinyurl.com/2aqohk The newpaper reported that a stage production based on David Lean’s film Brief Encounters will begin February 2 at “The Cinema on The Haymarket” (this theater) and last until at least June 22. Both stage and screen will be used. The official, gala opening will be on February 17. Top price tickets will be only $29.50 pounds, a bargain for the West End.

Westminster Council agreed to change the use from cinema to live shows on stage.
The article describes the theater as having Italian and Spanish Renaissance “front of house” detail. The articles states that all 444 seats have perfect sightlines because they are designed for a cinema.

The article does not state whether movies will continue in the two auditoriums placed in the former stalls (orchestra).

Ian on September 9, 2007 at 11:19 am

Two September 2007 photos of the foyer here:–

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Ian on August 11, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Two photos from the 1980’s here:–

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AdoraKiaOra on May 3, 2007 at 9:16 am

The only reason to visit this place is to see the screen 1 auditorium as seen in Kens photo above. The building is a perfect example of ‘ couldnt give a damn cinema managment’ I was a regular there in the 80s and from what i hear its just got worse andworse as the years go by.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 8, 2007 at 6:21 am

Gents, below is a quote from the current manager:

“The old lift is still there but has apparently been decommissioned by the Westminster CC Health and Safety team in the late 80’s or early 90’s…

We still have the Soda Fountain restaurant in the basement but this area has been turned into a storeroom when Virgin Group refurbished the Haymarket to accommodate a new Cafe Bar between the Projection Booth 2 and 3."

JFM on January 7, 2007 at 4:53 am

In my day the staff rooms were downstairs, the mens on the right next to the managers office on the ground floor, and the ladies downstairs between screens 2 and 3.

There were 2 floors of offices above the main projection room, which in the Classic cinema days were the main head office. Once they were bought by Cannon and acquired offices in other locations those floors were rarely used, until they converted one of the floors into a state-of-the-art computer facility which housed the companies main financial records. I can remember having a cardkey to access the floor, which was quite unusual in those days.

I wonder if the old lift is still there? It actually started from the first floor rather than the ground, and was on the right hand side as you walk in – you go up the main stairs and it’s immmidiately on the right. Very small, 2 people max and a rickety old thing it was too, forever breaking down.

And what about the Soda Fountain restaurant in the basement? I am a little hazy on the full history, but I believe it was either never actually used or only opened for a very short time, some time in the 70’s. It was located downstairs on the same level as the screens, but had a separate door which was accessed on the way to the main exit door.

When I worked there, it was actually used for premiere receptions and press receptions/special screenings. The soda fountain counter was used as a bar (it still had the metal trays, scoops, the lot), it was in reasonably good condition and actually had fountains, though they did not actually work.

Over the years there were various attempts to sell it off to outside companies, which never came to anything.

Unfortunately there were a lot of problems with the mens toilets which were directly above, they had some flooding and this completely ruined the restuarant – soaked carpets, mildew on the walls etc and it became unusable.

I often wonder what became of it, anyone know?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 6, 2007 at 7:08 am

cjc;The ‘Dress Circle’ you refer to in your Jan 20, 2006 posting was actually a Mezzanine with only three rows of seats. The Balcony above it (currently screen 1) was the main circle.

The Mezzanine was located at street level and its entrance was straight off the main foyer. I presume this area is used for storage or staff rooms etc?

JFM on January 6, 2007 at 6:11 am

I worked at this theatre from 1984 to 1992.

In 1986 there was a fire which gutted most of the foyer. It as believed to have been started deliberately by someone ho had broken in at night, and was set in a cupboard on the right side of the theatre as you walked in the main doors, where the public telephones were located. As a result the theatre was closed for about 6 months, and the film Purple Rose Of Cairo was due to start there the next day. The film, and indeed most of the staff were relocated to the Cannon Royal cinema in Charing Cross road instead.

Because of where the fire started, the structure and the wooden staircase at the left side of the foyer was largely intact, so that side of the cinema was cleaned up relatively quickly and the theatre opened for business while the other part of the foyer was cordoned off and restored. Once the right side was restored, the left side was then closed and restored properly while the right section was opened.

The greatest loss was probably the original ceiling – drawings were taken from the remains and new sections were created to look as close to the original as possible.

Because of the extensive damage to the woodwork on the right side, the bannister and stairway had to be replaced – the difference in quality to the left side in very noticable.

A great shame, as it was one of the fewer older cinemas left in London’s West End.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 19, 2006 at 11:24 am

This a current view of the main screen, located in the former balcony. Decorative details and light fittings are original to the 1929 opening of the Carlton:
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