Cineworld Cinema - at the Empire Theatre

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 31, 2015 at 11:51 am

Warner Bros. started building multiplexes as outlets for their product since they lacked the screens in many smaller markets and many towns had no cinemas left at all. The market evolved as it had to or it would have died altogether as it had in eastern Europe due to neglect by the major chains.

terry
terry on May 31, 2015 at 10:45 am

I know some retired independent cinema operators who did precisely that and managed to get away with it as, having the only venue in a particular locality, the big boys, UIP, Col-War etc had no option but to play their product there. As you say, once the multiplexes came along that was no longer an option as people defected to them anyway regardless of whether they were an improvement on existing theatres; they often were but in many instances were certainly not.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 31, 2015 at 10:15 am

And that would have been the last of their films you ever played. Without product variety no cinema could survive. Anyway, British audiences chose multiplexes over older cinemas, not Americans.

terry
terry on May 31, 2015 at 10:10 am

No – but I would have told UIP what to do with it…..

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 31, 2015 at 9:16 am

Do you really think that under those circumstances you could have filled the house and covered the overhead when HOWARD THE DUCK was the only film playing?

terry
terry on May 31, 2015 at 9:08 am

Yes, it was ironic that I made my comment on this particular page, Loew’s being the Parent Company of MGM and responsible for the magnificent reconstruction of the Empire as ‘The Showplace of the Nation’ – oops…….

Whilst American Production Companies had a presence in the West End as well as Paramount’s foray into certain provincial cities which was very short lived, it could hardly compare with the 1980’s ‘invasion’…

Had UK cinemas NOT been badly subdivided but instead been re seated to the standards of current alternative cinemas (Odyssey St Albans etc), IE one third of original capacity (entailing complete restepping of circles) with all the luxury elements now expected whilst, of course, incorporating all the latest technical innovations, the cinema going experience would be much more enjoyable than the current one.

Cinemas used to be in vibrant town and city centres, had imposing entrances, lush foyers, marvellous decor and brilliant standards of presentation (including the use of house and screen curtains) which all added to the cinema ‘experience’ and anticipation…….

This has all largely gone and when I hear about laser projection and IMAX screens etc etc I wonder what is so great about it all as, at the end of the day, there is no magic to celebrate – it is all purely functional and rather flat.

By this, I certainly do not wish to imply that we should not have all the latest technical advancements merely that it would be nice if they were available alongside the ‘old fashioned trimmings’ and ambience I refer to. Perhaps, for once, a leaf should be taken from the book of the USA and that current day operators take a look at Grauman’s Chinese and what has been successfully achieved there.

I can hear people saying “Move with the times!” but this is my opinion, nevertheless………. .

CF100
CF100 on May 30, 2015 at 6:31 am

Rather odd to see comments regarding the 1980s American ‘invasion’ on the page of a cinema originally built for Loews/MGM…!

Suffice to say that by the time of the ‘first wave’ of new-build multiplexes in the UK, the average local cinema, at least in my experience, had been badly subdivided and in some cases offered an utterly miserable standard of presentation and comfort.

However, the current situation is very different; the leading operators are Cineworld, Odeon/UCI and VUE, and the first generation multiplexes, if not refitted and/or reconfigured, are obsolete in design. Indeed, ‘The Point’ in Milton Keynes, ostensibly the first ‘true’ multiplex in the UK, is approved for demolition, having been sidelined after the construction of a nearby Cineworld, and finally closed following the recent opening of a replacement Odeon (with IMAX screen.)

CF100
CF100 on May 30, 2015 at 5:46 am

Here’s an article on the laser projectors/12 channel audio system. Not yet known which film will be first to feature?

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/133875-imax-laser-projectors-and-12-channel-surround-sound-to-arrive-in-uk-by-summer

Looks like Terminator Genisys will be playing also…

davepring
davepring on May 25, 2015 at 9:13 am

The cinema is finally getting decent product with Jurassic World playing both in IMAX 3D and IMPACT screens next month

davepring
davepring on May 25, 2015 at 9:09 am

Laser projectors will be installed here this summer which will give the cinema the edge over its nearby competitors.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on May 1, 2015 at 2:38 am

Yes to Terry. For around five year I have had a cinema veterans pass to go to the cinema… Hmm have not found anything worth watching.

terry
terry on April 30, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I agree one hundred percent with the last two comments and I wish that the greedy, shallow, USA ‘fast buck merchants’ had stayed at their side of that now much too small pond.

They came over here smelling blood at the time when UK exhibitors were recovering following the nadir of UK cinema admissions in 1984.

Of course, these charlatans smelt even more blood when one of the duopoly (ABC) had been acquired by a debt laden and rather less than prestigious outfit known as Cannon who, accordingly, would not be in a position to offer much, if any, resistance to the ‘invasion’ and thus it has been all downhill from there…….

I would not go to any of today’s cinemas if the circuits running them were to offer to pay ME to watch the show!

I would, however, gladly pay to visit places like the Rex Berkhamsted, Regal Evesham, Odyssey St Albans and Plaza Stockport – if any such venues were nearby. Sadly, however, in this neck of the woods there are only soulless ‘popcorn sheds’ which they can keep!

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on April 7, 2015 at 3:58 pm

usa cinema chains have destroyed British cinema heritage with these lousy forsaken multiplexes.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on April 6, 2015 at 3:27 am

Hmm. All of To-days Cinema woes where caused by Government interference in the Cinema Industry. The old duopoly between ABC and Rank.. and the old release system.. which actually at the end of the day guaranteed a print of a movie… Which has caused Damage to Our very fine cinema stock of Buildings across the country leaving us with Shoe box cinemas and the new Managements that could not give a Fig for the industry… Here endeth my rant

CF100
CF100 on January 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm

MasterImage 3D’s DUAL3D system to be installed in the IMPACT screen:

http://www.sys-con.com/node/3278918

terry
terry on December 24, 2014 at 4:22 am

Serves Empire right that the distributors do not look kindly upon their act of butchery at Leicester Square – here’s to the Odeon!

CF100
CF100 on December 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm

It would appear that a lot of politics are in motion in relation to Empire’s IMAX screen!

Empire’s booking page shows that the current and next film for IMAX/Screen 3 are IMAX releases.

I completely agree, non-IMAX features should not be advertised as such, though I’ve not noticed anything other than the gaff with the online booking system. Empire seem to have gone to some lengths to get IMAX signage up, I notice the planning application for a “high level” sign (visible from the Coventry Street approach) was rejected but one has been installed nevertheless, so I assume it went to appeal.

One also has to also wonder if IMAX were aware of the potential booking situation, as the Empire is cited by them as being of their “landmark” installations in a world-famous location and is one of the venues due to be equipped with their laser projectors. I imagine that it remains to be seen how this plays out; the current situation is at best absurd.

The former Screen 1 had premium ticket prices, e.g. the “£9.95 all day” offer is/was only valid for Screens 4-9.

AFAIK the cost of the IMAX/IMPACT conversion was £4m.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

The Empire is indeed just another multi-screen venue and, yes, the potential confusion is no different to numerous other such venues with one IMAX screen, however, it is in Leicester Square and seems to be regarded by Empire Cinemas as something of a flagship so did the operator expect always to be showing an IMAX film when they decided/agreed to replace “CINEMA” on the canopy with “IMAX” I wonder. I would have thought, when investing so much money, they would have been well aware what would be available to them from the distributors, though I may be wrong. THX certification, though very worthwhile and a valuable asset was altogether more subtle – to the man in the street – and didn’t have quite the same marketing dynamism as a full IMAX installation, I’m not aware a higher price was charged for compliant product and the THX sign on the Empire’s front-of-house was actually quite discreet in comparison. I earlier omitted to say I thought the sound in Empire 3 (which, as you say, the auditorium should be called in ALL publicity when not showing IMAX) was terrific.

CF100
CF100 on December 17, 2014 at 5:45 am

All of these issues—IMAX exterior branding and potential confusion—occur with all multi-screen venues with a single IMAX screen. The strategy of IMAX Corporation in recent years can be questioned, but there is plenty of upside.

Of course, Empire used to have a THX sign attached to the marquee, and that did not mean all screens were THX-certified!

Non-IMAX films aren’t advertised as “IMAX” presentations and Empire’s IMAX screen should be listed as “Screen 3.” There seems to be a slight problem with the online booking system in this respect, as when proceeding with the booking it displays “IMAX” as the screen, but on the main listing page all of the IMAX branding is dropped.

As I understand, most IMAX screens play IMAX content for the vast majority of—if not all—presentations. The Empire Leicester Square is unique in having difficulties in obtaining IMAX bookings.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 17, 2014 at 2:16 am

Perhaps it’s a shame that most of the IMAX branding at the Empire is semi-permanent when only one of their many screens is so equipped and even then not used exclusively for IMAX product. Replacing the word “CINEMA” on the canopy with “IMAX” might lead the less technically informed, i.e. the majority of customers, to assume everything there was somehow presented in the format and thus necessitating the announcement I find negative. I certainly didn’t expect “The Imitation Game” to be in IMAX and understand the visual and audio differentials you describe but I question whether a complex that was not showing a single IMAX film should be so “adorned” with such branding. I can understand the IMAX Corporation wanting their magic word to be emblazoned in Leicester Square and, on the surface of it, Empire Cinemas' willingness to have their West End premises associated with the brand but with all previous “value-added” formats like CinemaScope and Todd-AO, their names were given along with the appropriate film titles rather than becoming part of the cinema’s own overall offering. Trading standards legislation could also be behind the need to remind audiences they are not seeing something in IMAX on the Empire IMAX screen. I enjoy IMAX documentaries at Bradford and Waterloo and the Empire IMAX auditorium appears successfully to replicate such spaces but forty five minutes is about my limit for the effect on neck and eyes!

CF100
CF100 on December 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

FanaticalAboutOdeon-As I understand it, non-IMAX films in IMAX digital cinemas don’t have the same projection quality as IMAX releases, e.g. only one of the two projectors is used. Also, the picture hasn’t been gone through IMAX’s DMR processing (nor has the sound been remixed for IMAX’s sound system, and, AFAIK, the Empire IMAX doesn’t have a rear array for non-IMAX films.)

The on-screen announcement is, therefore, absolutely necessary.

I agree that sitting in the front row could be overwhelming, but I’ve found middle seats absolutely fine. As mentioned in a previous post, the screen width to auditorium depth ratio is about the same as found in a “classic,” purpose-built IMAX venue. In some ways I preferred the smaller Empire 1 screen, which somehow “felt” bigger than these monster screens, but the central seats in the IMAX auditorium are right in the sweet spot.

Regarding the side seats, sitting on the far sides of the front rows would be a poor experience… but those seats are currently not even in use for IMAX presentations, with the seating down to less than 500 seats for IMAX 3D. However, in my view, the width of the auditorium is an advantage—making it feel spacious, and prevents a problem I find with “wall-to-wall” screens in rectangular auditoria, where I am constantly aware of the side walls framing the screen.

The new LED lighting lacks the diffuse properties of cold cathode lights, and the new walls are black. The effect is more one of slightly inconsistent “bands” of light rather than smooth “bands” with the walls being “washed” in colour. But, the flipside is that Empire did not have to reinstate anything, and it seems much attention to detail has been lavished on this project—I notice the steps up to the aisles have been moved and rebuilt… in exactly the same style!

The lack of tabs is a shame but in some ways the large screen speaks for itself, being most impressive when one first enters the auditorium and is presented with it and the very wide, colour-lit space. I have found the standard of presentation to be very good, with pre-show music, lighting fades etc. all well-timed, IMAX trailers, and so on. Much of the magic is still there!

On the other hand, the IMPACT screen desperately needs tabs and masking, and some other extra touches.

I took someone to see “Lucy” at the Empire IMAX and their jaw dropped on entering, not expecting the screen to be that big and afterwards they said that they had never seen or heard anything like it.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 16, 2014 at 2:51 am

I sampled the Empire’s IMAX auditorium recently, albeit not to watch an IMAX film, and my impressions were mixed. The screen is large of course, too large. “The Imitation Game”, in ‘scope, certainly filled most of the screen but, from two thirds of the way back in the centre block and sitting on the right-hand aisle, there was a distinct loss of light over to the left during what is admittedly a fairly dark film and, given such a huge image, the resolution at such close quarters was “soft” rather than sharp. The guy checking tickets and helping people to find their seats was enthusiastic and welcoming but for him to be spotlit just prior to the programme starting, in order to say “Welcome to the Empire Leicester Square, enjoy "The Imitation Game”, whoop!“ was well intentioned but amateur and unnecessary as was the on-screen reminder that "This film is not enhanced by IMAX” – a negative announcement presumably to protect the IMAX system’s potential advantages. Had I sat nearer the screen or in one of the side blocks, I would have been requiring a refund. On the credit side, the seats were extremely comfortable and the constantly colour changing LEDs in wall and ceiling coves were a thoughtful way of recalling the far more effective cold-cathode lighting which so beautifully lit the former Empire One. No tabs, of course, although a single track with tastefully lit tabs would, in my opinion, add greatly to the presentation and create a sense of occasion in place of today’s utilitarian feel. Remembering that the Curzon, Mayfair, Warner West End and Rendezvous and Odeon, St Martin’s Lane were all either modernised or opened with no provision for curtains, these were later added at all these venues and enhanced the presentation, could the Empire follow suit? I rather doubt there is space or will for this to happen. My conclusion is that Empire’s IMAX screen is too large and too close to the seating. I prefer not to have my eyes “popped” and if I wanted to “be part of a film”, I would join the union and apply to the relevant organisation. The Empire will doubtless entertain thousands, especially with IMAX enhanced films, sadly it’s no longer a cinema of choice for me.

mhvbear
mhvbear on November 28, 2014 at 6:24 am

It seems amusing the OdeonNotFanatical is only on here to voice disparaging on the Empire conversion. 18 for 18 so far.

CF100
CF100 on November 28, 2014 at 3:07 am

The IMAX and IMPACT screens are featured in the current issue of Cinema Technology Magazine. Not much new information, but some lovely pictures, and equipment is listed for the IMPACT screen.

Apparently the dividing wall weighs 90 (!) tons, is 1 metre thick, is built using 8 layers of plasterboard, and is hung from new girders in the ceiling.

The IMPACT screen has 87 JBL speakers including 5 stage speakers and 16 18" subwoofers (same as Screen 1) and some 58 surround speakers… plus 8 more 18" subwoofers in the side-walls! The Barco projectors have been moved over from Screen 1.

Unfortunately, not much info on the IMAX system other than the usual vague corporate stuff, except that all 750 seats will be available for 3D screenings once the laser projection system is installed.

Both screens are fitted with the fully-sprung “Empire” seat from Seating Concepts.

The article ends by saying that “the Empire Leicester Square has two new first class auditoria capable of producing the finest in picture and sound. Both have an undeniable ‘wow’ factor and won’t disappoint anyone.” It goes on to say that “for those of us who knew the unforgettable Empire One in its starlight glory days, [the new screens] just can’t recreate that special magical environment that went before.”

A sentiment, I think, that we could all agree with.

CF100
CF100 on November 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Empire have confirmed on their Facebook page that they are not getting “The Hobbit” although they will be “involved with the premiere.”