Empire Cinema

5-6 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on September 14, 2013 at 4:09 pm

The interior fittings (acoustic wall coverings, seats, etc.) of the ‘IMAX’ auditorium shown in the computer rendered images look to me to be the same as those in the ‘IMPACT’ auditorium at Empire Cinemas Basildon. (Of course, the overall design follows that part of the former ‘Screen 1,’ particularly the walls/ceilings with concealed coloured lighting.)

Empire Cinemas Basildon ‘IMPACT’ Auditorium Photo

If this is correct then presumably the ‘IMPACT’ auditorium will also use the same fittings. If the ‘IMAX’ auditorium will be the flagship then perhaps the ‘IMPACT’ auditorium will have a more standard design and I can see the ceiling being lowered (it would be very high for a 400 seat auditorium?)

FanaticalAboutOdeon on September 13, 2013 at 3:41 am

Hope the Impact auditorium, in the front section of Empire One’s stadium layout, will not feel too shallow for the large screen. Odeon Marble Arch may have retained its own giant screen but, with just the front section of the former stalls seating available, it doesn’t have its former “feel”. Putting the largest screen possible into any auditorium isn’t always the wisest course – screen, auditorium size and shape and characteristics should all inter-relate for the best experience. Haymarket’s Carlton, Shaftesbury Avenue’s Columbia and Marble Arch’s Odeon are certainly not the cinemas they were, sub-division has made them run-of-the-mill complexes with no longer anything to make them stand out. Tampering with well-designed cinemas seldom improves the audiences' experience despite appearing to make economic sense. The theory of a wider choice of films does not hold good in central London where there were sufficient cinemas of all sizes offering different films to begin with. Those that survive are mostly carved up and sharing the same selection of films – selected release and art house product excepted. My prediction is that the Empire will end up with one very good Imax auditorium and one that not everyone will take to. Tabs will probably be confined to history to squeeze in as big an image as possible and the Empire “experience” will be diluted. In terms of size, facilities, technology and atmosphere, this twinning will leave the Odeon Leicester Square as London’s only remaining super cinema – long may it thrive!

CF100 on September 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Looking at the renderings, I think the IMAX auditorium will occupy the current “circle” up to a few rows into the rear “stalls” (e.g. notice the existing two entrances from the foyer and the same row layout…)

Other known details:

  • The IMAX “laser” projector will be installed in 2014, whereupon the screen will be enlarged to 26mx15m. (The same width as the BFI London IMAX.)

  • Dolby Atmos will be installed in the IMPACT auditorium.

The loss of “Screen 1” is unfortunate but I think that all the signs are that the new auditoriums will be of a high standard. The IMAX auditorium renderings show the new walls/ceilings will be “staggered” with concealed lighting, and I hope they will be colour sequenced.

HowardBHaas on September 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Paul, my impression from the renderings is the Imax to be in the front, and IMPACT to be current rear section.

Paul Stephenson
Paul Stephenson on September 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

The Empire Cinema’s official press release is at
with a more informative description at bleedingcool.com

Basically, screen 1 will be carved up with a new 750 seat IMAX screen appearing to use the rear “stadium” seats of Screen 1 with a screen size of 24.5m by 13m, and a 400 seat “Impact” screen in the front section. They hope to open this by the end of 2013.

michaelbrent on September 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Empire reveal’s its new IMAX screen http://www.screendaily.com/news/empire-leicester-square-to-get-imax/5059984.article

CF100 on August 29, 2013 at 4:20 am

Does that mean an 80ft.+ screen is coming with seating primarily in the “circle”? (Hmm… possible limitation may be the “kink” in the right wall where the narrower “extended” part of 1928 site begins from the original 1882 site… and access to any new screen(s) built in the “stalls”?)

d8rren on August 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm

its gonna be a 800 seat imax apparently empire cinemas will release a press statement on Screen 1 sometime next week..

CF100 on August 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm

This is absolutely terrible news. As the laser show used to say… “The Most Spectacular Cinema in the World.” :–(

Fortunately managed to catch “Life of Pi” (stunning!) and “Star Trek into Darkness” (less so) in Dolby Atmos in Screen 1 this year… The days of continuous first run Universal/Paramount product are long gone though…

Is it just possible that there will be a sympathetic “drop wall” conversion and some of the Screen 1 interior will remain? “Rip out” makes it sound otherwise…

d8rren on August 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Please fill free to leave a comment on Empire Leicester Square Facebook page the toads

times have changed the most I’ve seen Recently in there was 350 for a sherlock holmes on boxing day..as most films are second pick anyway most saturday nights would be about 150 to 200

if I’m going to see a film on at saturday night i would rather travel to LS for either Odeon main screens or the Empire because these would be Emptier than than local multiplexes the Vue always seems busy cos basically its a multiplex with small screens the Odeon will survive but on a bank holiday monday afternoon showing there was less than 30 people in the 1700 Screen 1 thats why these big auditoriums can’t survive.

Still think Empire Cinemas could of done a bit of PR work saying Screen 1 going this is whats happening & a final week with some blockbuster classics charity screening at reduced rate

So they can stick the Digital iMax screen which is not the real thing anyway..

Mike_Blakemore on August 26, 2013 at 3:32 am

With Getting rid of Spectacular Auditoriums.. There is little point in watching a Major Film in an “Airing Cupboard” Hmm I find watching Films at home on my 7" screen (LCD projection system)has as much impact.. To-days Cinema Owners have just lost the plot.. Alas gone of they days of “Showman Management” Now they are Sweetshops that just happen to show films out the back…. Progress ALL RUN BY LITTLE MEN… :O(

d8rren on August 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm

someone asked on their facebook page about Dolby Atmos Showing and was told we won’t be booking any for a while.

All very underhand By Empire Cinemas not to Announce the Closure & Rip out of Screen 1,obviously it can’t be a improvement if your ashamed to Announce the plans…Empire Cinemas will never get another £ off me…..

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on August 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

I sure hope not. It is one of the few remaining beautiful cinema auditoriums in London.

d8rren on August 25, 2013 at 9:15 am

Rumour is that screen 1 will be twined with work started on 27/08/13

sad times if true

Ian on August 2, 2013 at 2:45 am

Interior photos from July 2013 here:–






Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm

The 1962 remodeling of the Empire Theatre is the subject of an article starting on this page of the June, 1963, issue of International Projectionist. There are two photos of the auditorium. Enlarge the image by clicking on the + sign in the tool bar at lower right of the page. Scroll down for the second page of the article.

theatreofvarieties on May 15, 2013 at 3:52 am

the seating that was installed in 1962 (and is still in use today albeit refurbished a few times) was made by The American Seating Company. They are still in business.

HowardBHaas on January 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

As of this date, still 9.95 lbs all day everyday with website proclaiming that it is the Best Value in the West End.

zappomatic on February 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Is this cinema feeling the pinch? Now advertising all tickets for all screens at £9.95 all day, every day. Seems an odd tactic for what should be a premier venue and must make it the cheapest first-run cinema in the West End

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 18, 2011 at 4:52 am

A vintage photograph from April 1955, showing the Empire Theatre playing the film “So Deep in My Heart” starring Jose Ferrer, and the Monseigneur News Theatre (later Jacey Leicester Square Cinema):

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 27, 2010 at 6:31 am

Vintage photographs of the Empire Theatre, and the console of its Wurlitzer organ;

andysummers on September 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Oh, one more thing the sign on the doors the letterheads typeface is still there and new Empire typeface just doesn’t fit. It looks robotic and they even took down the gold brass typeface that stood above Empire 1 I think Empire 2 had similar typeface, I never cared for Empire 2 or 3, just as I don’t care for the new Empire screens only Empire 1 I won’t pay to watch a film on wimpy sound system even thou its JBL and I’m a fan of JBL. If I’m going to travel 120 miles its for Empire 1.

Also I think its Empire I forget which number its on the far left and side up a few stairs, and wow you can hear the lows from Empire 1 fitter badly into that no bigger to swing cat around auditorium. I bet its get a lot of complaints from customs paying to watch a film in silly sized room that is about the size of fair decent home cinema.

I think Empire got a little big for their shoes and it should be knocked down and used as store room because its not suitable as cinema, I think its Empire 9?

andysummers on September 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm


You know I still can’t aspect the new look of the front it looks cheap and bland kinder reminds me of coffee and I hate coffee. The colour of the panel that now sits on the front.

The look of the late 80’s was jazzy full of sparkle colour and chactutre that draws you towards the Empire away from the Odeon LS if you get my meaning. LOL It was like a magnetic THX force pulling you towards it.

Today it just looks naff! I’ve taken so many pictures myself of the new look, which they had cheap digital cameras around in the late 80’s to bring back home some Empire memories. The late 90’s look was like thumbs down as well.

Cinema is about glitz and style just as much as important on the outside as on the inside. I guess the like to wait and see the reactions of people going in first timers or do they even care to notice that?

It’s a shame the old curtains have gone in Empire 1 as that was style second to none and now its just cheap simple curtains that pull back, not upwards then outwards as they used to.

andysummers on September 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I was chatting to guy that runs company that outfits cinema seating nice chap. I mentioned the Empire and its rocker seats as I have just brought a set not the same as the Empire as he said that type is no longer available and that, the company went bust years ago, many years ago

I can’t recall if he said the name of the seating was called (broccoli seating)?

Anyone, anyone know if that’s the right name?