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Have not seen a film there in some time and last time I did was not impressed by what I can only describe as an outdated and run-down multiplex. It isn’t closed for good though, it’s being refurbished into a Picturehouse and it will have its own entrance.
Now that’s the sort of thing I expect to see… not peeling paint! :–(
Empire have confirmed on their Facebook page that they are not getting “The Hobbit” although they will be “involved with the premiere.”
Have not been there myself, but I gather it’s now VUE’s “flagship” operation and therefore thought this was the best page to put links to the above two sites (which do feature other cinemas.) Doesn’t look quite “flagship” no-compromise quality from the pictures I’ve seen of it though…
According to the first link, the switch from National Amusements to VUE at quite a late stage resulted in a few challenges with the construction.
Wall covering manufacturer project page, with photos of auditoria:
Sound isolation case study blurb:
d8rren—Thanks for the reply. Can’t say I’d noticed that the screen was smaller but I do sit towards the front and 3D films are impressive.
On my last visit to Empire LS (a Wednesday evening) the foyer was quite busy. I’d imagine they get a reasonable number of customers in for their mini-screens. (Anyone seeing the ‘IMAX’ sign would be in for a shock, although I gather that those mini-screens are actually pretty good.)
London has now many modern local cinemas with large screens, but still, the BFI IMAX does well so some people are willing to make the trip and pay extra for something special.
Can’t work out the point of the 70mm ‘Interstellar’ screenings at the OLS when there are two other venues in London with 15/70 prints, but I suppose it’s not something to complain about!
Maybe the rumours are quite unfounded…
D8rren, any idea how the Empire LS is doing? How big is the smaller screen used for 3D screenings in the OLS?
This place was an absolute flea-pit; I last visited in 1991, and the person accompanying me, not well versed in technical aspects of film presentation, complained that the “sound is quieter than my TV”! Admittedly, it does look more attractive in old photos.
The developer had promised a small replacement cinema in the former foyer building, to be built in Phase II, with the apartments built in Phase I. However, after Phase I had been built, the developer applied for permission for use as a gym, which has now opened.
As for the courtyard “mosaic” artwork intended to keep the memory of moviegoing… I fail to see the point.
For me, rule number 1 of a cinema is that it should be indoors and has enough elements to create a good sense of expectation. Rule number 2, it should have excellent HVAC.
(Rule number 0, of course, is that it should have the ability to show films!)
I think that’s as polite as I can be about the development.
Planning permission, of course, is valid for some time so nothing may happen for a while, and this is assuming that the roof replacement means concurrent changes to the auditorium. Presumably it would make sense for the OWE replacement to (finally) go ahead first…
It may be extraordinary that Leicester Square does still has any “original” cinema buildings left—from what I gather from looking through archived material, the Empire was sold to Mecca with the original scheme being to knock it down and build an office block/dance hall. Only later articles refer to the reconstruction scheme into the famous 1330 seat cinema (and dance hall underneath.)
There was also a scheme to redevelop the block of buildings next to the Odeon Leicester Square (1983) into various uses cinemas… perhaps someone has more details on this and what the effect would have been on the OLS?
Summary of the 1983 proposals: http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=ZZZZW3RPXC669
The planning application for the replacement roof has been approved.
This company appears to have been the acoustic consultants for the Screen 1 conversion. To quote from the linked page: “Cole Jarman are proud to have worked on this monumental scheme to transform the historic but ageing Screen 1 into two new auditoria… We provided design advice… [including] the technically challenging wall which separates the two new screens.”
On that page are also some more photos, or rather 3D renderings. The IMPACT screen is shown as having an architectural lighting scheme with strips of red lights on the sidewalls… which I did not see nor is shown in any photos so far…
That does sound good, perhaps the hotel conversion will finally put paid to the Trocadero being no-man’s land as it has been for a decade…!
“Behind the Scenes” article on the Empire IMAX installation, sadly lacking in detail but a nice hi-res fisheye shot from the rear of the auditorium:
Behind the Scenes at Empire’s Leicester Square IMAX
If Odeon are going to “reconfigure” then perhaps this is a possible conversion: Move the screen to a position just ahead of the circle, remove the first few rows of the circle and create a new flat ceiling section in the screen area. This would then allow a screen size of say 70ft. x 30ft. The existing circle would thus be extended slightly forward, but this could be built as a “mezzanine”-type floor on columns if necessary.
Most of the stalls seating area would be “eliminated” (or some very small screens could be jammed in under the circle!) with the stage and void to the back wall used to form a second main screen.
Correction to previous post: The original THX guidlines were, AFAIK, for sound from adjacent auditoriums to be audible a maximum of 1% of the time.
(See p7 of http://www.diyaudio.rs/JBL/JBL%20-%20Cinema%20Sound%20System%20Manual%20(Original,%201990).pdf )
Of course this requirement is easier to meet with optical sound. Despite this, Dave Pring’s figure of 5 or 6 times for up to 30 seconds gives a maximum value of 1.6% of the time… which suggests good soundproofing.
Wurlitzer in the Empire Leicester Square in 1933!
Discovery Channel Documentary on the Chinese Theatre (uploaded by TCL):
Odeon have applied for planning approval of a new pitched roof to replace the existing asbestos one. That being the case, presumably the auditorium block isn’t due to be demolished any time soon!
Shame that most of the remainder of the Trocadero is being reconstructed into yet another hotel, there’s more than enough space for all sorts of more interesting uses. I suppose £150/night rooms are more profitable than cinemas (or run-down arcades!) May as well remove entertainment from the heart of the West End and build hotels instead. :–(
Looking worse than ever, I’ve uploaded a pic of peeling paint!
The hotel works seem to be well underway and sealed off from public access, AFAIK the area occupied by the former IMAX screen has been completely gutted out.
It was a 15/70 IMAX but the (now obsolete) PSE headsets with active shutter LCDs for 3D were of course digital and used an infra-red wireless system. The sound came from 2 additional digital tracks which were pre-recorded with the binaural processing. (The IMAX screen/rear speakers were used as well.)
It closed yesterday for the conversion to a ‘Picturehouse’, for reopening next year. I have uploaded pictures of the lobby one day before closing and the boarding opposite the entrance for the hotel conversion work. Not the most welcoming approach!
Reading through the above linked planning application, the existing old Trocadero friezes are to be kept but with improved lighting.
Dave Pring, for what proportion of time was it noticeable during ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and was it a distant rumbling sound or was faint dialogue audible?
THX requirements were for STC 65 (at the top end of the American ‘Sound Transmission Class’ rating system) soundproofing and sounds from adjacent auditoria should only be audible something like 10-15% of the time maximum, recognising that complete elimination is impractical. I imagine those requirements were created before digital, which of course has much higher maximum sound levels than optical sound.
I hope the new screens continue to do well but it seems that Empire aren’t getting IMAX bookings. No ‘Transformers 4’ and they are not advertising ‘The Equalizer’.
High level sign is now up on the left side of the Leicester Square frontage, the design is shown in the following application, which was refused by Westminster Council. Presumably it went to appeal.