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Video of the auditorium shot during the end credits of the final screening (Back to the Future III).
“Photosphere” 360° photo.
Berefit of any quality design other than (what I assume to be) a nice custom-made carpet, this fine theatre has been converted into a nightmare, what I would regard to be the very opposite of “escape to the movies”: a tacky socialites' cavern. :–(
I suppose it’s a different situation to the first weeks of a first run film where the distributor gets a large percentage of the net box office. Given the high level of seat fill, it seems that it would be good for Cineworld to do more of these “IMAX Film Festival” programmes off-season.
Regarding the positioning of the new concessions counter, I think you are right that it has been moved back.
Looking also at the “Cinema Level” plan in the 2016 licensing documents, it looks like it’s now in line with the kink in the wall for the store room/fire exit doors to Leicester Place/(what was then) Screen 4, liberating what I estimate to be ~5ft. of space—and thereby alleviating the “concession queues block toilets” scenario.
Is the “fake marble” counter material the same as used in other current generation Cineworld refurbs/new builds?
Zappomatic: Compared to the “commercial grade” RGBW LED strip I have*, I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near as bright without a diffuser, even just turning one of the four LEDs in each chip on at full intensity. I think mine is somewhat brighter if I add a milky/opal diffuser.
With a clear lens-type diffuser or no diffuser, it’s actually dazzlingly bright directly viewed, particularly at close proxmity, possibly even to a dangerous extent—given that theirs are installed on the columns/pillars, one can imagine, say, kids being “stupid”, so I’m not sure such intensity would be sensible in that application.
OTOH, mine is concealed and angled towards a matt black finished wall (acoustic absorption), so I need as much output as possible!
That said, even with a more modest output, as a narrow “linear” light source, the LED strips may well appear rather bright compared to a darkened cinema auditorium.
Did you also find the “linear” LED mountings previously on the sidewalls/ceiling of the O2’s Superscreen excessively bright?
(* Dexxon Lighting 24V – 60x RGBW 5050 LEDs/m – 19.2W/m – IP20 LED strip. N.B. I wouldn’t trust any of the specs on that page!)
Indeed! Expressed that way, though, even more odd. £3 for an IMAX with Laser screening in the West End?
Thanks Zappomatic for all the updates and photos.
The recent inclement weather particularly affected rail services in my area, so I’ve still not had a chance to take a look.
I’ll be in the West End today, but it looks like there’s an “IMAX Film Festival”—trying to complete an online booking for a single seat results in a message stating that there is a minimum number of seats required. (The pricing is also odd, e.g. £3.70 adult (without “My Cineworld Plus” or an “Unlimited” card.) It works if I try to book 3 seats, at which point it turns out the IMAX auditorium is already fully booked from Row C to N in the central section.
Looks like all plans I have to get there before the foyer is complete are jinxed!
The new concessions counter is looking rather good, I must say.
Zappomatic: Thank you for the additional photos, looks like things are progressing, albeit I still can’t quite make sense of it—I’ll have a look this week for myself.
The “purple” coloured plasterboard looks like British Gypsum SoundBloc, although it looks like some of the paper has peeled off? I can’t imagine they’ve pained it “purple.”
Shame about the flithy porthole glass. :–( Presumably, you could take a microfibre cloth with you and clean it yourself! “Sounds like” (pun intended) a Superscreen visit is in order…
Oops! Maybe if they offered to pay out £1749 (that’s one thousand seven hundred and forty nine) I might consider seeing it. ;–)
I visited the O2 today, alas for the purpose of meeting someone, and not for the cinema.
(Brit Awards were imminent so I decided to get out of there ASAP after the meeting finished!)
However, I did have a quick visit to Cineworld’s foyer. The “wrap around” of video LED modules is indeed active, and quite impressive.
The LED strips on the columns didn’t seem very bright, and the colour wasn’t interesting either, albeit they are probably using “milky” diffusers, which result in significant light loss.
The vertical LED strips either side of the main entrance escalators appear to be “addressable,” sometimes showing “rainbow” effects, other times just a linear strip of the same colour.
(N.B. “Pixel addressable” LED strips can be acquired, e.g. from eBay sellers, as those with integrated WS2812/APA102/etc. controllers. As with all Chinese-made generic product, caveat emptor!)
Floor tiles appear to be good quality, but the painted wall finishes I looked at were very poor indeed. It’s painfully obvious with the ceiling where the new video LED modules are bright enough to reveal the defects.
The gloss perspex/acrylic ceiling strips seem to be just stuck on to the ceiling with no backlighting to be added. Perspex is fairly expensive stuff (at least priced per sq. m.) and it can yield fantastic results, with many options including sparkle/metallic/pearlescent variants; I can’t help but think that this isn’t the way to use it to best effect.
The foyer looks good in photos, but in my view, more attention to detail is needed. Above all, given the expense of the video LED modules, it seems very odd that the walls aren’t even remotely smooth.
Sofas looked reasonable, but I forgot to try them out!
Photos uploaded: Foyer/new video LED modules “wrap around” display, close up of poorly finished foyer wall (including dent!), main entrance escalators/stairs with “rainbow” LED strips.
As a positive note, I hadn’t realised just how easy the O2 is to get to on the Jubilee Line from London Bridge. I shall return to check out the Superscreen…
Thanks Zappomatic. I’ve been tied up lately and still won’t be able to get there for a few days, so the photos are very much appreciated!
(More accurately, I could have gone there a few days ago, but it was cold, wet, and I was exhausted, and even I have to draw some limits to this cinema obsession business!)
Interestingly, the contractor appears to be Maeve Contractors, who have done completed various projects for Empire Cinemas, but none listed on their site for Cineworld. They were the main contractor for the IMAX/IMPACT conversion.
Perhaps they were contracted for this project as they know the ins and outs of the building and working in a such an inaccessible site.
Their work seems to be of a very good standard, and I am probably clutching at straws, but it might be a sign that Cineworld are taking their Leicester Square location very seriously.
Not sure what the “boxing” elements are for in your photos, it looks there is coving above the curved wall section? It does seem that there are more details than Cineworld’s rendering suggested, though.
Screen 8 for the IMAX? Very strange…
Jasonmullen: Thank you for the heads up—the main planning application.
There is a separate listed building application, in which a Historic England response advises that the additional roof levels could harm the “cubist” aspect of the building’s original external design, but the benefits of the scheme could outweigh this loss. They have authorised Camden Council to “decide as [they] see fit” with the application.
Some excerpts from the “Construction Method Statement and Basement Impact Statement”:
-Original building: “Steel frame with a masonry façade.”
–“Two storey basement formed with large reinforced concrete retaining walls.”
-1970s: Conversion to two screen cinema and partial conversion to offices, with “a completely remodelled auditorium.”
-2000s: “Extensive remodelling” to form four screens.
–“The new cinema layout constructed in the 1970s is predominately a steel frame, and […] has almost entirely replaced any of the original structure inside the retained façade.”
–“[Proposals are to remove] all of the internal structure of the existing building, leaving the façade and retaining wall to the existing two storey basement.”
–“The [proposed] superstructure [is] a traditional RC frame…”
–“The existing façade in the front atrium will be supported by new steel columns in the assumed location of the existing steel frame.”
Just in case anyone reading this (if anyone is still reading this post!) wondered how the proposed works are to proceed without walls tumbling over, details and drawings are provided on pp276-280 (!) of the PDF.
Onto a summary of some aspects of the proposed cinema.
The two largest auditoria are on the North West side of the building, with the screens positioned adjacent to Shaftesbury Avenue and New Compton Street. Alas, this means that the auditoria are not quite symmetrical. Both auditoria are about 100sq.m. in size, and the largest screen is, as marked on the drawings, according to my estimates, almost 40ft. wide, with the other a little smaller.
The first row in the largest auditoria is only ~0.25 screen widths away—too close!—but the screens are generously sized.
The two smaller auditoria are about 50sq.m. in size, and the screens I estimate to be about 20ft. wide.
Seating looks to be generously sized with ample legroom.
FWIW, “The Need for Renewal” document says “it would cost approximately £26 million to refurbish the building to a modern standard where it could continue to be let to a cinema operator.” It is certainly in a state of disrepair!
There is therefore plenty of potential for high quality modern auditoria, but that might be of little comfort given that this is essentially a façade retention scheme, and ~40ft. wide “immersive” screens are, perhaps, not suggestive of “art house” programming.
Zappomatic: Good point about the plasterboard! I think the fact that it’s white threw me off, but then they’d have to have repainted it anyway—the old paint was slightly cracked in one or more places, too.
I notice from Cineworld’s rendering that there is a “dropped” section of ceiling with decorative (concealed or strip) lighting, so I may have jumped the gun.
Actually, I’d not noticed that the spheres were silver, either. I should say that I assumed those ballustrates are from the ‘89 refurb, as they’re not shown in a photo from 1986.
Of course, the landing/Screen 2 access was a later addition, as can be seen in Wonderful First Night (1964) newsreel footage. (Direct link to relevant time in video.)
Funnily enough, although I actually refered to photos 1/2 when writing my last post, I hadn’t actually made the connection that the concessions were previously in that section. Must have been tired!
By also viewing this FrightFest 2017 cinema tour (direct link to relevant section of video), it is easy to see that Cineworld are moving everything forward in line with the access to the Superscreen/upper level screens.
I was half-joking about “Passengers”-style model, but it doesn’t seem too far a stretch to pre-order all the concessions, turn up, get eticket validated on entry, concessions order is then automatically prepared, wait for your number to appear on the screen… (albeit that’s more like the McDonald’s/Argos model!)
I suppose we’re not there yet with robot auditorium cleaners…
Zappomatic: Ah! The paint looked OK from your photos, I guess it’ll be covered over with wall carpet or similar.
Ceiling, comparing your photos—1 and 2/3—the whole ceiling appears to be at the higher level, the metalwork already being in place, with no “coving” sections, albeit perhaps these could be attached later. I notice there is a “notch” cut out in the plasterboard, which might be for a “lightbox”-type feature, similar to those in Cineworld’s rendering?
I can’t imagine the sloped ceiling section will remain that way either—it’s not obvious whether those are the existing lights though; if they are, then clearly much of the lighting has been removed, along with the grilles for the air conditioning—but I’d assume it’s new plasterboard rather than messing about covering over those holes. Odd!
The moving of the curved wall section and partitioning off of the “box office” seems like a bad idea as I’d have thought that would be a good place to put concessions. However, that is the location depicted in the Cineworld rendering.
BTW, I assume the remaining bits of black marble you mention are by the 4DX entrance? I notice there is a veritable rat’s nest of wires hanging out of the room behind!
The balustrading at the edge of the landing towards the 4DX entrance looks somewhat out of place, with the spheres on top being the last vestiges of 80’s postmodernism from the ‘89 refurb.
As for a McDonald’s type ordering system, it’s not too hard to imagine the day when cinemas are like “Passengers” and humans are eliminated altogether!
Case study on Cineworld Bracknell’s drylining installation.
From the case study:
-3 layers GTEC dB Board with glass wool insulation – 74 RwdB attenuation.-GTEC Fire MR board used for 1 hour fire resistance.
The architect was Chapman Taylor, with the main contractor being Mace and the drylining subcontractor was Fireclad.
The page includes a number of photos of the shell/core stage. Another site has photos taken towards the end of the fit-out.
Zappomatic: Thank you for the report and photos. I’m amazed they’ve reopened in that state!
Looks like good quality work.
I’m assuming those black walls are the final finish pending further fittings on top? Unimpressive compared to, for example, the vestibule marble cladding. As you suggest, wait for the finished result… but… hmm…
Very interesting to see the underside of the IMAX stadia. On the subject of sound leakage, peak level low frequencies were already audible in the foyer—as a “rattle”—so I’m assuming it’s currently worse?
Wonder if insulation will be installed. There is a lot more that could be done; what’s there looks quite inadequate.
It also seems the raised central ceiling section won’t be reinstated, with the whole ceiling at one level.
The position of the “temporary” concessions stand makes some sense, perhaps it will stay there permanently? (Perhaps thereby alleviating the “concessions stand customers in the way of the toilets” issue.)
It did seem optimistic to have the foyer complete within a few weeks!
Ian: What were you able to see from outside?
Unfinished is more interesting, however… I look forward (with some trepidation!) to Zappomatic’s photos.
Zappomatic: Where are you getting the screen number information? Doesn’t show for me on the bookings pages, albeit I imagine with Unlimited you can simply reserve bookings and unreserve them to get the e-ticket showing the screen number/name?
Hmm, I see the IMAX auditorium re-opens with “Fifty Shades.” :–( Ho-hum…
moviebuff82: According to FanaticalAboutOdeon, the works will take 9 months.
Having briefly looked at the plans and cut-away drawing again, and with the “giant screen” quote in my head, I’m thinking Odeon could go much further with this scheme than I had envisaged—with a screen closer to 90ft. wide, for which at “Scope” ratio there should be sufficient height. Naturally, this would involve very significant alterations to the stage end of the auditorium.
As with my previous suggestion, the sightlines from the rear stalls would mean that the last few rows would have to be dropped.
Ian: In the main planning application for the current canopy/signage, which was approved in 2007, the “Empire Theatre” name was proposed to be covered over with an “EMPIRE” sign.
I wonder why it was not installed?
I doubt Westminster would be keen, albeit there are historic precedents for it—and weren’t the outlines of the “EMPIRE THEATRE” name originally illuminated?
The current high-level side IMAX sign, though refused by Westminster, was allowed on appeal. The hung banner adverts have the subject of contention over the years, with the present compromise settled on.
Covering over the “EMPIRE THEATRE” name is the sort of thing that, I suspect, would be used as part of a “compromise deal”—i.e. if you let us do X, we won’t pursue Y—in this case leaving it uncovered.
The building control application for the OLS works (“Refurbishment of Cinema Complex – Odeon") is shown on Westminster’s site, received on the 3rd January 2018. No further information of interest is available.
On the subject of the Safety Curtain, a comment from the Cinema Theatre Association has now been added to the documents for the main planning application, listed as “CINEMA THEATRE ASSOCIATION LATE REP.” It enquires about the safety curtain, to which Westminster’s case officer responds:
“In respect of the pictorial safety curtain, given that the building is not listed alterations to the interior
would not be subject to planning control.
“It may be of some comfort that I recall from meetings
with the applicant’s design team that they did stress how
it was their intention to refurbish and retain historic
features where possible…”
Indeed the term “large format”—or rather “premium large format”—is marketing jargon, but I’d take it to mean an auditorium of at least medium size, with high end projection, large screen (relative to auditorium size, minimum say about 45ft. wide), and a capable sound system.
The most obvious example is IMAX Digital (typically 1.9:1) installations, which use IMAX’s own projection/sound system with automatic daily recalibration, etc., preferably meeting IMAX’s own standards for auditorium geometry.
Operators are free to brand any screen they like as “premium large format”—aka. IMPACT, iSense, Superscreen, XPlus, Xtreme, etc. In a decent non-IMAX one—e.g. the Superscreen at the Cineworld/Empire LSQ—you’d expect dual projectors, if not laser light source projection, 3D, and Atmos, as well as comfortable stadium seating, etc. As you suggest, many “premium large format”-branded screens are nearer 1.9:1 than “Scope” ratio.
Dolby Cinema is clearly Dolby’s answer to IMAX.
I am not sure if Odeon used the term “large format”—from a Variety article:
“Aron told reporters that the Odeon would certainly have a giant screen, ‘but it won’t be IMAX,’ in order to avoid competing with IMAX’s laser theater in the neighboring Cineworld Empire Leicester Square. Odeon has its own proprietary premium large-screen format, iSense, though it was not confirmed if this would be the format used at the Leicester Square venue.”
Assuming the OLS will be a Dolby Cinema venue, AFAIK it is supposed to be a “constant height” system, so “Scope” movies won’t be letterboxed. That said, as there are no Dolby Cinema venues in the UK to date, it’s not something I’ve paid much attention to.
Lack of masking won’t be that much of a problem with laser light source projection. Having said that, the OLS auditorium is most definitely not black, which might negatively impact the contrast ratio as light makes its way back to the screen.
Of course, one might wonder whether the OLS will retain celluoid projection—and tabs?
Photo of a repair to the Leicester Place elevation uploaded—there has been a “hole” for some time, at least since the IMAX/IMPACT conversion works, as shown in Google Maps Streetview*. Most recently it seemed to have found use as a small dustbin!
No idea if this was a convenient access point for mice and flies. ;–)
(* I had to use a goo.gl link as CT’s software seems to turn the full URL into a link to the Fox Theatre in Detroit!)
In response to Zappomatic’s post on another page:
A few weeks ago I passed by the Vue West End, and noticed one of the new doors was out of operation! Photo has been uploaded.
I have revisited Vue’s planning applications for the updated frontages, and hidden away in 16/06275/FULL is the “EXISTING SIDE CANOPY” drawing, which states:
“EXISTING CANOPY TO BE REFURBISHED.”
Some other information I stumbled across in the same application:
The “ELECTRICAL SCHEDULES” document has some vague details on the proposed LED strips:
–“Pro Strip” – 5W/m, 304 lumens/metre, 60 LEDs per metre, colour temperature 2700K (i.e. warm white.) –“Pro Strip RGBA” – 20W/m, 60 LEDs per metre. This one is interesting in that each SMD chip has red, green, blue and amber LEDs, “to achieve the desired RAL colour,” rather than the more typical RGBW types.
The “PROPOSED LARGE SIGNAGE” document reveals that the (IMO, horrid) Vue font is “Isonom Befop – Regular.”
It also details the proposed materials and fixings, as do the “PROPOSED FRONT CANOPY” and “PROPOSED SINAGE” documents.
Proposed materials include black lacquered steel and laser cut letters.
The canopy underside lights are specified as “1400mm warm white T5” fittings.
FanaticalAboutOdeon: Most interesting!
As an aside, half of the high level Carlsberg sign on top of the adjacent building facade was there for a very long time after it had been out of use.