Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on August 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Blurb on Cineworld’s corporate site

This says: “No further material capex is required due to the investment in the portfolio in recent years, and all the multiplexes are modern with state of the art equipment.”

Cineworld FAQ on the acquired cinemas

Facebook page is up

The Facebook About page says “Welcome to the official Facebook page for Cineworld Cinemas Leicester Square at the Empire Theatre in London.”

Ambak, AFAIK the freehold of the building is owned by London and Regional Property, who acquired it from First Leisure (operators of the “Equinox” nightclub formerly below the cinema.) IIRC it was sold to Mecca by MGM before the 1962 reconstruction. (Incidentally, my previous research reveals that Mecca’s original plans may have been to completely replace the existing building.)

They will presumably remove “EMPIRE” sign on the marquee as that’s Empire Cinemas' logo but not cover over the “EMPIRE THEATRE” letting at the top of the facade.

HowardBHaas, absolutely, it is THE Empire!

HowardBHaas on August 9, 2016 at 9:50 am

the Haymarket could be called the Empire Haymarket. The Empire is always the Empire & it would be sacrilege to remove that name. They can call it the Cineworld Empire. I am American but visit every year.

Ambak on August 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

As far as rebranding is concerned, the entire building is called the Empire and Cineworld only own (or lease) the cinema part. I can’t imagine that the Empire name will come off of the frontage. If so, what do Empire Cinemas call the Haymarket cinema? Maybe they can go back to calling it the Carlton.

davepring on August 4, 2016 at 5:21 am

as much as I dislike Cineworld they do invest in their newer properties and the Empire we all loved so much as a 1300 seater was never going to work longterm.

Zappomatic on August 3, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Last day as part of the Empire chain will be 11 August 2016

FanaticalAboutOdeon on August 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

That’s a thought. The Casino at the Cineworld doesn’t have the same ring, even were it to be allowed! Perhaps “The Casino in Leicester Square” now that “Casino” has lost its link with Cinerama and the Prince Edward Theatre! Sadly, the 1,300+ Empire One will never return so, as you say, neither will I.

CF100 on August 3, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Rebranding hitch: the Casino is called ‘The Casino at the Empire’…

CF100 on August 3, 2016 at 3:01 pm

At least the Empire/Cineworld Leicester Square should have more ‘pull’ to get bookings.

There’s certainly scope for improving the IMPACT screen.

My comment was as much about maintaining (and respecting the heritage of) the foyer areas, customer service, etc.

It doesn’t sound like you’ll be back unless Screen 1 is reinstated complete with plaster tiles and cold cathode lighting!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on August 3, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Don’t think Cineworld could make the Empire Leicester Square any worse than it is now. I’ve certainly seen my last film there – one visit since twinning Empire One was more than enough. Given that Picturehouse Central ultimately belongs to Cineworld and that the largest auditorium there is most impressive with its extremely comfortable seats, strikingly colourful curtains and huge screen, perhaps the Empire/Cineworld Leicester Square is in relatively safe hands.

CF100 on August 3, 2016 at 11:47 am

Good grief, I’m almost as shocked as when it was announced that Screen 1 was to close!

Let’s hope Cineworld maintain the Empire LS as a first rate venue.

Regarding Bromley, last time I checked there were plans for a multiscreen cinema as part of a ‘mixed-use’ (ugh) development to replace a multi-storey car park, and plans to build a small multiscreen ‘arthouse’ cinema as part of a development on the roof (currently parking) of the Intu Bromley (previously known as ‘The Glades’) shopping mall. Surprised that the former Odeon Bromley isn’t due to be knocked down and turned into another oversized block of flats.

Ian on July 29, 2016 at 6:50 am

The main screen at the Haymarket Carlton is one of the most attractive in the West End now, but there are lots of unused areas in the building that could have small screens squeezed into them, and the two lower screens could be rebuilt without loss.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on July 29, 2016 at 6:10 am

Almost as intriguing as recent politics! Certainly slimming down the Empire circuit somewhat. Looks like Bromley is to acquire a Picturehouse then while, doubtless, Empire will be working out how to turn the tripled erstwhile Carlton Haymarket into a ten screen multihash!

davepring on July 29, 2016 at 5:15 am

Well my guess was wrong!! in a swap deal the Haymarket cinema will become an Empire to maintain a west end presence. Cineworld were keen to have a large West End venue following the closure of the Trocadero site and to compete with the AMC owned Odeon which hopefully will get a much needed internal refurb.

davepring on July 29, 2016 at 4:46 am

it has bought 5 Empire cinemas one of which a previous 4 screen odeon will be rebranded as a Picturehouse. I am guessing the Haymarket venue will close.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on July 28, 2016 at 5:07 am

That’s extremely interesting Dave. Have Cineworld acquired the Empire chain or just the Leicester Square venue, do you know?

davepring on July 28, 2016 at 2:43 am

The Empire has today been bought by Cineworld…..I do hope they keep the Empire name but I am guessing it will be rebranded leaving only The Odeon with its original name

CF100 on March 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

FanaticalAboutOdeon: The “new” Warner West End had a good standard of presentation, including as you say the “gold” tabs, and I had many enjoyable trips there. I’m not sure the others of that generation were of the same standard—the one at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, for instance, was unimpressive. (Can’t remember if the tabs were in use?)

By the late 1990s, new (by then Warner Village) builds were of the “box” design with wall-to-wall screens and stadium seating (and, for some reason, inferior KCS speakers instead of JBL.) If I remember correctly, tabs had been dispensed with.

A real shame Odeon have stopped installing tabs—it hardly does Odeon’s proud design heritage justice! The streamline moderne Odeons are to my mind the canonical example of “what a cinema should look like.”

FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

The Cannon/MGM/Virgin/UGC/Cineworld (!) in Southampton’s Harbourside Leisure area opened in 1989 as a five screen multiplex and all screens then had tabs which were out of use by the time Virgin’s brief sojourn into the cinema business took place. All Odeon’s multiplexes, when new, were fitted out with tabs until just a few years ago when the Circuit’s new-builds began to appear with just naked screens for the first time.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 7, 2016 at 10:41 am

CF100 Warner Village Cinemas U.K. multiplexes were all fitted out from new with gold screen tabs – side opening in their larger auditoria and festoon in the smaller ones. This included the “new” Warner, Leicester Square. I believe all tabs in their multiplexes were out of use within a few years although not usually removed for several more years.

CF100 on March 7, 2016 at 5:48 am

Ian: Interesting, I can’t say I remember it not filling almost the full width. Wonder if they’ve changed projectors? Perhaps the screen was intended for a future projection upgrade which has been shelved? (Ideal to upgrade to Dolby Vision with Christie 6P laser projection as it already is equipped for Atmos… but the politics around that must be delicate to say the least!)

Of course the problem is the screen “floats” off the wall… and you can clearly see that when entering from the sidedoor. (Visible in your photo “IMPACT SCREEN TO REAR.”)

Ian on March 7, 2016 at 4:50 am

If I understood the manager correctly a few weeks back the maximum throw onto the screen in the Impact auditorium is smaller than the screen size and they are thinking of masking it down. See the photo link above “Impact screen from Balcony”

There is a considerable unused edge on the screen. I doubt that tabs are envisaged though!

CF100 on March 7, 2016 at 4:07 am

FanaticalAboutOdeon—Picturehouse Central-and other venues—really show how there is very much a niche market for cinemas featuring “theatrical” trappings—but perhaps not for the “multiplex hoards”!

Would be nice if the Empire Leicester Square fitted tabs—and the Chinese reinstated them for their IMAX screen—but I doubt there is sufficient space. Vertically, from what I can tell, the screen is jammed right up against the rafters. Horizontally, the top of its sides are up against boxed out sections which I assume hide parts of the roof structure.

I do think the IMPACT screen could use losing a few rows, reducing the screen size, and having some sort of proscenium feature with tabs etc.

CF100 on March 7, 2016 at 2:05 am

I recall the first time I visited a cinema lacking tabs—it was an AMC in the US—and I was absolutely shocked. The (American) individuals with whom I attended remarked “Umm, curtains in a movie theatre?! Aren’t curtains, like, old and stuff?!” Certainly they had no clue about “real” cinemas—and that multiplex had all the charm of visiting a branch of KFC. :–(

FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 7, 2016 at 2:05 am

With regard to tabs and attendant lighting, I ought to credit other West End cinemas where such features are alive and well. NFT One was originally designed with solid panels moving across the screen in place of tabs but these were replaced some years ago with silver satin tabs lit by footlights and very nice they look too. The present Curzon Mayfair’s main screen was designed to be exposed all the time with spotlights projecting spheres of coloured light on the screen, here, too, within a few years tabs were installed and effectively lit by the existing spotlights. The same thing happened at the erstwhile Odeon, St. Martin’s Lane which opened with a “floating” or suspended screen and frame while the wall behind the screen was floodlit before and after performances and during intermissions – about the time the Odeon ceased being “Odeon Disney” and reverted to more traditional, if selective, programming, a track and neutrally coloured tabs lit by spotlights were installed. The recently and beautifully restored Regent Street cinema has silver tabs lit by footlights from day one. The largest screen at the brand new PictureHouse Central has exquisite tabs in turquoise, orange and silver reflective fabric.
All is not lost therefore and, if the will, the budget and the space were there at the Empire, Leicester Square to retro-fit tabs, it would be far from the first cinema to do so.