Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on April 22, 2018 at 1:41 pm

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 10:07 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 11:56 pm

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

Apologies for the shaky camera work!

Zappomatic on April 16, 2018 at 8:10 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 9:52 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 9:51 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 9:39 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 9:36 pm

A few more photos found on Twitter:

Zappomatic on April 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm

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

CF100 on April 12, 2018 at 9:18 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 8:26 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 11:48 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 12:20 pm

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 9, 2018 at 6:16 am


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 9, 2018 at 2:16 am

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 9, 2018 at 12:33 am

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 11:47 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 4:01 pm

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.

Zappomatic on April 6, 2018 at 2:17 pm

CF100: The carpet I spotted is mostly black with large red and grey rings, rather than the standard carpet which has a busier pattern reminiscent of fireworks.

Regarding the Superscreen, flat films fill the screen vertically but not horizontally, and scope films fill the screen horizontally but not vertically. For 2D presentations only one of the projectors is used.

PhilipWW on April 5, 2018 at 11:57 pm

CF100, Thank you for the information; it is appreciated.

My understanding is that “classic IMAX” is indeed 1.43 ratio on film. Digital IMAX is always 1.90 as that is the size of the Digital Container. — 2048 by 1080 pixels for 2K presentations. -— 4096 by 2160 pixels for 4K presentations.

Thus for DUNKIRK, which Christopher Nolan did film in part with classic IMAX film cameras, the presentation at BFI IMAX on IMAX film was at 1.43 whilst any IMAX presentation at Cineworld LSQ Square must have been at 1.90 as it was digital. Over the road at Odeon LSQ, the presentation would have been at 2.20 as it was showing standard 70mm. Confusing indeed.

I must confess that I know nothing about Laser IMAX yet and therefore don’t know about its ratios. If Laser is about how the pixels are projected rather than how they are created, then I would have thought that the there would be no change to the ratios.

One of the pleasures of cinema going to me is seeing a perfectly picture perfectly projected and perfectly framed and masked. This is often the case but not always. With the rush to ‘Large Screen Format’ screens, as cinemas like to call them, some peculiar decisions seem to be taken; installing a 1.70 screen screen when nothing is ever shown in that ratio being one.

CF100 on April 5, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Zappomatic: Thank you, once again, for the comprehensive update and all of the photos, forming a very nice record of the foyer refurb.

The “gold” square panels look glitzy indeed! I had thought that they could have addressable lights, or use LED panel modules, programmed with a “glittering” pattern, so it’s a shame that they are just backlit. Wonder what they’re actually made of?

All sounding rather promising (and expensive!) with the stretched fabric ceiling.

Do you mean the carpet pattern featuring circular shapes?

Seems likely that the former Screens 4/5 will feature large reclining red seating, but not sure there’s enough space in the rest as there are already so few rows…

CF100 on April 5, 2018 at 9:55 pm

PhilipWW: The auditorium must be approved by IMAX, it isn’t just the equipment in the booth.

For instance, in the case of the Empire/Cineworld LSQ IMAX, some of the seats are not available for IMAX 2D presentations, and even more for IMAX 3D presentations.

Equipment-wise, the screen and surround speakers are supplied by IMAX also.

If you take a very close look at the part of IMAX’s Installation of the Empire Leicester Square IMAX video (direct link to time) where the screen is being carried into the auditorium, you’ll notice the screen was supplied by Strong/MDI.

No idea whether they make a custom product for IMAX. However, for polarisation-based 3D systems, IMAX does have their own silver spray paint system which is actually applied by a custom rig in-situ, for example:

London BFI IMAX Screen Replacement. (Direct link to time again.)

Of course, the Empire was due to have the laser projection system installed, which uses wavelength-based 3D, i.e. slightly different RGB wavelengths for each eye, with the unwanted wavelengths filtered by the glasses, so I guess they didn’t bother with the silver coating as the screen would need to be replaced. (Ditto at the Chinese Theatre, going by the timelapse video of the IMAX conversion.)

As for aspect ratio, Empire Cinemas stated the screen size as 26.5mx15.6m (~87ft.x51ft), yielding a ratio of approx 1.7:1.

(Notice that the screen isn’t completely filled in the above linked video, as the Xenon light source IMAX projectors were installed then.)

The IMAX with Laser projection system is capable of 1.4:1 for “classic” IMAX venues, and I’m not sure whether the extra height is actually used at the Cineworld/Empire LSQ, although it did seem to be well-filled for “Dunkirk.”

It’s a somewhat moot point as most IMAX content is now maximum (or should that be minimum?) 1.9:1 anyway. The “letterboxing” occurs, of course, with many IMAX features, as not all are 1.9:1 throughout or at all.

Empire Cinemas gave the Superscreen size as 20.5mx11m (~67ft.x36ft.), or approx. 1.85:1 ratio. I’m not sure if the projectors can actually fill the screen either horizontally or vertically (haven’t been there in some time.) It is, however, equipped with dual 4K projection, moved over from the former Screen 1. (2xBarco DP4K-32B.)

Can the LSQ Superscreen be considered as a “premiere” cinema, or is does that monker only truly apply to the IMAX? I suppose we shall see what Cineworld does in due course, e.g. the former Screen 1 was equipped with 4xBarco 2K projectors for the Avatar premiere, to get adequate 3D brightness levels, early adoption of Dolby Atmos, and back in 35mm days, all the digital sound formats, etc. You’d think laser projection would be ideal for the Superscreen…

P.S. On the subject of the various 3D systems, here’s an interview with Dave Norris, former projection manager at the Empire, by Mark “I Hate 3D” Kermode. He states that the IMAX with Laser system at LSQ achieved over 12 foot-lamberts.

PhilipWW on April 5, 2018 at 6:34 pm

I presume that the main difference between the IMAX and Superscreen is the equipment in the projection both rather than the screen itself.

I presume that the IMAX screen is 1.90 ratio, perfect for a digital IMAX presentation. For a non IMAX presentation, a 1.85 film would appear very slightly pillarboxed and a Scope film would appear letterboxed.

If the Superscreen is 1.90, the same would be true. However if it was 1.85, as it may well be, a Flat film would fit perfectly while a Scope film would not just be letterboxed but also slightly trimmed at the sides, down from 2048 to 1998 pixels giving an aspect ratio of around 2.32, not be ideal for a premier cinema.

Zappomatic on April 4, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Visited today for Ready Player One. Many of the bare plasterboard walls have been skimmed and painted dark grey, and the concessions counter now has a black glass backsplash rather than the more typical hexagonal tiles favoured in recent Cineworld builds and refurbs.

The gold metal squares on the ceiling are now illuminated, and in the box office area a glossy black stretch ceiling integrates them (I only have a photo of this with its protective plastic sheeting in place, which had been taken down by the time I left the cinema). Looks quite smart although I’m disappointed that the centres are just a backlit panel rather than something more glitzy. The lighting around the edge just seemed to be cycling through the colours as did some of the lighting installed at skirting level, none of it in sync – I wouldn’t be surprised if this is usually set on one colour but configurable for premieres and promotions.

Interestingly there were rolls of carpet stored in the foyer for the screen refurbishments, in the pattern usually used for Cineworld’s VIP screens. Will we see big red recliners? On the one hand it would make sense in order to compete with Odeon and Vue but on the other the smaller screens frequently sell out as they are.

CF100 on March 28, 2018 at 4:30 am

Hmm, assuming that Screens 4 and 5 become 1 and 2, that creates a neat arrangement where, as one enters from LSQ, Screens 1-3 are to the left, and 5-7 are up the stairs to the right.

It would perhaps make more sense if the 4DX was Screen 1. However, that would mean the former Screen 6 would be numbered Screen 4, potentially risking annoyed patrons for the 4DX going all the way down the stairs and up again, only to find themselves in the former Screen 6, and then being sent down the stairs again to get to the 4DX!

I suppose the 4DX won’t be signed “Screen 4” anyway, so in practice it should appear to be a sensible arrangement.

PhilipWW: The IMAX screen is not an “IMAX” when non-IMAX content is shown.

For non-IMAX content, only ONE of the two projectors is used. I can’t remember whether IMAX turn off parts of whatever processing is in their “image enhancer” also.

(By definition, they must, since some of what it does doesn’t apply for single projector use—basically to do with auto alignment of the two projectors.)

Last time I was there for a 3D screening, before the main feature, I explained to some American tourists a couple of rows in front why they could only see through one of the 3D glasses lenses. They thought the glasses were foggy or something had gone wrong—albeit I suspect they weren’t exactly looking for the technical blurb on colour filtered lenses, used for IMAX with Laser, that I fed them with!

Admittedly, the only time I think this has happened for the main feature of a public screening (outside of e.g. Frightfest) is with “The Imitation Game,” and clearly Cineworld are having no problems getting “big title” IMAX films booked.

I imagine all references to the “IMPACT” screen are being dropped by Cineworld, although funnily enough, the current price list on their site actually has the Superscreen logo for the column of the prices table, but beneath it has “Off peak saver… Save £2.00 IMAX & IMPACT…”!