Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on May 10, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Chapman Taylor – Cineworld Leicester Square – Refurbishment of a World-Famous Movie Premiere Location.

Architectual practice Chapman Taylor now have a project page for the refurbishment, which includes a number of photos.

According to the page, the lobby areas are 660 sq. metres (=7100 sq. ft.) in area.

CF100 on May 8, 2018 at 3:10 pm

I (finally!) managed to have a “proper” visit to the Cineworld (Empire) LSQ today; alas, I should have heeded my earlier apprehension over seeing “Avengers: Infinity War”—I did see it in the 4DX auditorium, and I will post comments on that part of the cinema on the Cineworld Cinema – Leicester Square 4DX page, and this comment will cover aspects applicable to the venue as a whole.

Having had a chance to have a thorough look at the main foyer section area under the IMAX stadia, it did feel more spacious and comfortable than the “old” foyer, and certainly one can sit and relax in the sofas, which, whilst not the omega of luxury, are a definite improvement over what was there before, and they certainly look very attractive.

My previous observations about the very high fit-out standard continue to apply, except that, from what I could tell, the cove LED lighting is simply LED tape that’s been—perhaps slightly hastily—adhered to the surface. My previous concern that the foyer would be too dark wasn’t the case—it was certainly the LED display modules that made it look that way by comparison—but I’d put a question mark over the long term performance of the installation.

The reflectively lacquered stretched fabric ceiling also gives a sense of height in a space lacking it; I had to remind myself that I was looking at a reflection, and not a magically raised ceiling!

On this occasion, a forgettable selection of background music was playing throughout the main foyer area and upper vestibule, to a medicore standard of sound quality. I’m sure what was playing during my last visit was considerably louder, and seemed to have a fair bit of low frequency energy, and watching Zappomatic’s video again— in which the music seems to be played over speakers in the upper vestibule only—it seems that I’m not misremembering.

However, it must be said that the arrangement of LED display modules on the stair risers and on the curved wall section rather break the rules of showmanship, with the “finale” coming first, and, at least in the case of the 4DX, a progressive dive towards a largely featureless black box. Also, the black wall above the entrance section, with its lower ceiling, I found jarring on exiting the venue; the marble cladding served to “ease” one back into the brighter outside world. Whether that was ever an intended aspect of the 1962 design, it’s these subtle features and thought that make places special.

The foyer air conditioning was excellent, and exactly what was called for to cool off on a hot day. (Which was not the case in the 4DX!)

I had a brief conversation with a member of staff, who worked there prior to the Cineworld acquisition; they were positive about how things were going under Cineworld, and said that it (foyer refurbishment/4DX) had been a “long build,” but that it had been “worth it.”

Asked if Cineworld intended to refurbish the IMAX and Superscreen, they said that they did not that think they were at the present time, as they were only completed a few years ago.

They seemed to have their antennas up and picked up that I might be concerned about “corporatisation” of the cinema, and on telling them that I thought that the new foyer looked fantastic, they said “but it did mean the loss of the classic look that it had,” but that they supposed that it was a move “onto better and brighter things.”

Finally, the staff are to be commended for first rate and very willing customer service throughout my visit—not just as I experienced it, but from what I observed of their interactions with others. Whether or not Cineworld truly understand the special nature of what they are stewarding, and it seems that they do but perhaps not deeply enough, it’s most certainly still being run as a flagship West End venue.

CF100 on April 27, 2018 at 9:18 am

Zappomatic: Hmm, guess that means seating replacements for the IMAX and Superscreen (and any decorative changes they might care to make) aren’t scheduled any time soon then. Not that they are in need of an overhaul!

Zappomatic on April 27, 2018 at 8:33 am

At long last the Empire Cinemas logo has been removed from the seats in the Superscreen. Still no sign of when screens 1 and 2 (formerly 4 and 5) will reopen but I look forward to seeing what they’ve done with them.

CF100 on April 27, 2018 at 1:38 am

Chapman Taylor have posted a news item on the project:

Cineworld Leicester Square Opens.

It says that the foyer areas were designed by Innebo Architects of Warsaw, whilst the 4DX is attributed to Chapman Taylor’s leisure team.


“Cineworld Leicester Square, formerly Empire, is a world-famous cinema in the heart of London’s leading entertainment district. […]

“The refurbishment of the […] cinema’s lobbies [has been to the] highest standards of finishing […]

“This refurbishment helps put this renowned film venue at the industry’s cutting-edge. We wish Cineworld all the very best success with this landmark development.”

Renderings on Innebo Architects' site.

It can be seen that the foyer design has evolved a bit since those images were created, with changes to the ceiling adjacent to the entrance doors, auditorium entrances, concealed lighting, and large wall signs.

Innebo Architects' “portfolio” pages show that they have been involved in several projects for Cineworld Group on an international basis, with the current house imaging style, whoever conceived it, shared across Cineworld and Cinema City sites.

CF100 on April 26, 2018 at 3:09 pm

That being said, I did manage today to have a quick look at the new foyer from the lower vestibule, and I’ve uploaded a few photos.

From what I could see there, the fit-out has been completed to a very high standard indeed. I’m not sure if the dark grey wall finishes are paint, but they are extremely smooth and flat—and no roller or paintbrush marks or wonky plasterwork in sight.

The glossy lacquered stretched fabric ceiling is stunning, and the concealed lighting actually provides quite even illumination when seen in person.

There was music playing at the top of the vestibule/stairs, as could be heard in Zappomatic’s YouTube video; however, I was slightly surprised that it wasn’t audible externally. (I assume they don’t have licencing for this?)

The LED display modules fronting the step risers and the curved wall are very bright compared to the surrounding environment; and perhaps the new foyer is actually too dark, or perceptually they result in the impression of relative darkness, but it felt like stepping into a cinematic environment rather than a “graduated” progression into one.

The “gold” squares in the ceiling appear to simply be acrylic/perspex with a dotted pattern somehow applied. Disappointing, but they still look attractive.

The black marble to the left of the vestibule/adjacent to the 4DX entrance has been retained.

Overall absolutely fantastic, and it feels like you’ve entered the “Rolls Royce” of cinemas, with a definite sense of occasion and anticipation. The only question is whether wear and tear will take its toll—there are already a couple of scuffs on the corner of one of the new dark grey walls.

Bravo Cineworld!

CF100 on April 26, 2018 at 3:26 am

Perhaps against my better judgement, I was going to check out the 4DX today to see “Avengers: Infinity War.” Unbelievably, the IMAX, Superscreen and 4DX are all heavily booked, even for the earliest screenings!

For the 19:15 performance in the Superscreen, there are just over 20 non-balcony seats remaining at this time, side seats in row “B” and one far left seat in row “C.”

CF100 on April 22, 2018 at 5:41 am

I’ve posted several links to articles with photos of the 4DX and refurbished foyer on the Cineworld Cinema – Leicester Square 4DX page.

From one of these articles:

“Cineworld’s vice president of operations UK and Ireland Shaun Jones said the Empire in Leicester Square had long been ‘the home of film for the UK.’

“‘All the Hollywood greats were here, when you think of cinema and the West End, the Empire is the cinema you think of,’ he said.

“‘It’s not really had a transformation for many years; we want to bring it up to a modern and technical standard [sic], but equally we want to carry on with the tradition of the Empire by hosting key film events.

“‘It’s really important for us to keep that heritage going.’”

No sign of a new license application with update plans yet, just a new “Change of DPS” (Designated Premises Supervisor) application with no documents.

CF100 on April 19, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Thanks Zappomatic, I enjoyed your video.

Good grief, the vestibule up from LSQ reminds me of the Trocadero back in the “Segaworld” days, with its curved video wall (and seemingly the Spice Girls' “Generation Next” Pepsi advert blasted out every 5 minutes over the Turbosound speakers!) I suspect it won’t be to the taste of some around here, but I like being bombarded by video and sound. ;–)

Not sure the main foyer section under the IMAX stadia is as warm and welcoming as before, but I’ll have to see in person. Those sofas can’t be any worse than the previous!

Looks like the left entrance doors/vormitory to the IMAX aren’t intended to be used given that there appears to be no signage?

Now back to having a lie down after the dreadful hot weather… :–(

Zappomatic on April 16, 2018 at 3:56 pm

As promised, here’s a short video of the new foyer:

Apologies for the shaky camera work!

Zappomatic on April 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Just visiting for the first time since the completion of the foyer refurb and it looks great! They’ve taken Empire’s padded door theme and run with it, with all doors covered in black suede padding and the entire back wall under the sloped ceiling! There’s lots of sofa seating, so it does still feel like a place to linger.

Refurb stops abruptly at the screen 5 and 6 landing although new signage is in place.

I’ll upload some video later tonight, and a couple of photos in just a moment.

Zappomatic on April 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Strangely the IMAX appears to have retained its padded doors albeit with simplified door handles, which looks a bit out of place.

On my visit the other day the wall had lines drawn on it to mark where the strips would be attached.

CF100 on April 12, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for the Twitter link.

Not impressed by the concealed lighting installation in general, and I see the large “gold” panels are still sagging.

As a whole it looks impressive, though—definitely better than I’d expected!

CF100 on April 12, 2018 at 1:39 pm

Interesting, doesn’t seem to be something that appears among Eomac’s sample photos, but a quick Google search leads to a number of suppliers, at least one of which boasts their product yields a “seamless” finish. Wonder if they will replace the IMAX’s ceiling (though persumably not with reflective material!) as this all seems “no expense spared”…

I guess the right wall is simply painted with Perspex/acrylic strips attached?

Zappomatic on April 12, 2018 at 1:36 pm

A few more photos found on Twitter:

Zappomatic on April 12, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Yes all of the black ceiling in the foyer is a reflective lacquer finish stretch ceiling.

CF100 on April 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Ceiling cove lighting looks a bit inconsistent and still annoyed by the loss of the marble-clad right wall… but… (in a positive way…)

Bl!?dy h#ll!

Ceiling above the curved wall section looks reflective?

(Odd coincidence that the title of films screened seem to reflect the occurrence of the most major works at the Cineworld/Empire LSQ: “Big Bad Wolves,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” and now “Rampage”—although I suppose that one should have coincided with the foyer strip-out!)

Zappomatic on April 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Cineworld’s Twitter team have posted a photo of the finished bar entrance stairs, which incorporate LED displays in the risers.

CF100 on April 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm

A slightly puzzling entry has appeared as a building control application:

Cineworld 4D 2.0 – Saturday 28 April 2018. The structure will be truss based and include staging, graphics, Heras fencing, mobile LED screen.”

The “Agent Name” is Linney Create.

I can only assume it’s in relation to an opening event for the 4DX, given that the date is around the time of the 4DX opening, and it seems unlikely to be for a premiere of an Indian movie titled “2.0”!

Zappomatic on April 9, 2018 at 4:20 am

I guess what I meant was “had been allowed to become stale” :) The final iteration was a bit of a mush-mash of parts and finishes from various decades.

Next to the screed and adhesive are boxes of Polyflex vinyl floor tiles, presumably for a booth or back of house area. On the other side of the foyer was a rather large shrink wrapped box with a Barco label on it, which might be connected to what’s been going on for 4DX?

CF100 on April 8, 2018 at 10:16 pm


I look forward to seeing the finished result but it seems to be taking what was once a rather stale, dated space into something more befitting of its location.

Now now, excepting that it needed a lot of tidying up, I’m sure I’m not the only one who liked the old foyer! ;–)

(i.e. Domes/fibre optic starfield lighting/red flocking/marble wall panels (when not covered over with advertising!)/carpet.)

That reminds me—wonder what’s happened to the “Opened by HRH…” plaques?

Anyway, many thanks (yet again) for the update and photos. They do seem to be going to town on the refit—particularly with those “gold” panels!

Among the “junk” under the IMAX’s stadia, I can see what I’d assume to be sacks of Mapei screed, tubs of Mapei tile adhesive… and what might be boxes of tiles. New floor coming very soon, I’d imagine…

perhaps one of the contractors now has a new headboard!


CF100 on April 8, 2018 at 6:16 pm

PhilipWW: You’re most welcome, I’m glad to hear it’s appreciated!

IMAX don’t use the standard DCP format, they have their own extended version, IDF (IMAX Digital Format.) No idea what resolutions/frame rates are supported.

In any case, a different package would be supplied for laser venues, as the colour grading is different for “IMAX with Laser.” IMAX themselves listed 70mm IMAX, IMAX with Laser and IMAX Digital (Xenon) as the different IMAX formats “Dunkirk” was released in, and see also the IMDb Technical Specifications page for Dunkirk—notice the 1.43:1 ratio for IMAX with Laser.

The “laser” part of the projection is only the light source, DLP chips (or LCoS/SXRD in the case of Sony) are still used. Greater screen brightness, wider colour gamut (increased range of colours), and deeper blacks. On the other hand it has a number of technical challenges, hence IMAX acquired a number of patents from Kodak. The most well known is the “speckling” issue—one way IMAX ameliorates that is by attaching lots of small transducers (speakers) to the screen, which constantly slightly shake it!

I fully agree with your comments on framing and the strange design choices of so-called “large format” screens. I think the concept is, as with IMAX, to present a large wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screen to the patron as soon as they walk into the cinema.

If one looks at a 1928 photo of the Empire Leicester Square Rebuilding Works and compares it to this part (direct link to time in video) of the The Installation of the Empire Leicester Square IMAX, looking carefully at the front of the auditorium on the left, then it seems fairly obvious that parts of the roof structure are “boxed out”—you can see the diagonal parts (I’m sure they have a name?) of the central roof truss.

So it becomes pretty obvious that the LSQ IMAX has the biggest screen size possible within the cinema’s demise. As 1.43:1 IMAX content may well be framed with 1.78:1 in mind for “home video” releases, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that the extra height could be used.

It seems odd that they’d have bothered to “jam” the screen in vertically otherwise, whilst presumably fitting in services (e.g. HVAC ducts), hanging the massive wall behind from the roof to boot, and commensurately moving up the curved parts of the ceiling to allow for sightlines.

It’s all somewhat by-the-by though really, as—because of the excellent geometry/alignment/black levels—1.9:1 content looks absolutely fine anyway. (Of course, for a screen lacking masking, if the projection can’t achieve straight and dark black edges around the picture, the picture won’t be properly framed.)

On the subject of “perfect” projection, or at least projection as good as possible under given conditions, that’s exactly what IMAX tries to do, with daily auto recalibration of picture/sound (camera and microphones in the auditorium for this), and continuous monitoring of the picture with adjustments made by IMAX’s “image enhancer” to keep everything aligned at all times, as well as remote monitoring by IMAX in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada.)

It would, of course, be reasonable to be cynical about IMAX’s claims—albeit some of the system’s details are disclosed in their patents—but at least at the Cineworld/Empire Leicester Square, it seems to work!

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on April 8, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Concerning the image reflecting off the port glass onto the back wall of the booth, I’ve worked in some cinemas where the port glass and its frame were tilted, which prevented that.

Zappomatic on April 8, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Work on the foyer is coming on apace! I look forward to seeing the finished result but it seems to be taking what was once a rather stale, dated space into something more befitting of its location. Take a look at the photos I’ve uploaded.

The flooring in the box office area has been revealed and it’s a matt, grippy finish tile rather than Cineworld’s signature glossy black sparkly number. A wise decision given how slippery this area could get in the rain! Opposite the box office are two 85 inch UHD displays (a few more of these waiting to be unpacked in the foyer).

The balustrades on the stairs have made a return albeit with their tops missing – I suspect we’ll see this lit underneath.

On the ceiling in certain areas are large backlit panels mimicking the gold squares. Due to their size they seem to be sagging in the middle but I’d imagine this will be rectified at some point. Interestingly the coloured LED lights hidden inside the gold inset squares were not on tonight.

Gradually new signage for screens, toilets etc is going up, and the doors to the IMAX screen have lost their padding – perhaps one of the contractors now has a new headboard! The area under the sloped portion of ceiling looks deeper than before but it’s probably just my eyes playing tricks. It would be nice to see a bar added in here to compete with Vue and Odeon but I wouldn’t be surprised to just see some sofas.

Corridor to the Superscreen has new carpet and signage, with the white ceiling painted dark grey. Wall coverings remain the same. The area in front of the stairs to screens 5-7 retains the same ceiling as before with the lower part painted dark grey and the raised section painted red.

Tonight I saw A Quiet Place, which is an excellent demonstration of what can be done with Dolby Atmos. It also demonstrated the incredible sub bass that screen is capable of, with roars, crashes and fireworks shaking the seats. Also the film was shot in Super 35mm and mastered in 4K so really let the projector shine, although black levels could have been better (the image was reflecting off the port glass onto the back wall of the booth, then casting a glow on the screen which is something I’ve never really noticed before).

PhilipWW on April 6, 2018 at 8:01 am

Zappomatic, Yes that sounds as if the Superscreen is 1.90.

The Digital Container has 2048 by 1080 pixels (1.90).

Flat films are shown using 1998 by 1080 pixels (1.85).

Scope films are shown using 2048 by 858 pixels (2.39).

The control of the projector is always set to ‘Flat’ with the Scope zoom lens never activated.