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The small grilles I think are visible in your photos of the strip-out—do these date back to the 1927 auditorium? NO, THE STADIA ONLY DATES FROM 1962 AND THATS WHERE THEY ARE FROM.
I hope you won’t mind if I ask a few more questions…
-In the IMAX auditorium, I assume the “boxing out” beneath the ceiling at the screen end and the “kinks” at the ends of the adjacent curved ceiling section cover up parts of the roof structure? YES.
-The IMAX auditorium I estimate to be 120x90ft. max, with the screen moved forward by 40ft. or so from its position in Empire 1? CANT REMEMBER
-I assume there is no baffle wall in the IMPACT auditorium? NO, IT HAS BAFFLETTES AROUND THE STAGE SPEAKERS
-In UNICK Architects' rendering of the IMPACT auditorium, it shows red LED strips on the sidewalls. Were these originally planned but later dropped? CORRECT.
-It seems that the American Seating Company no longer sell auditorium seating. Do you know the model of the seats used in Empire 1? It was the 1960 comfort deluxe model, there were 100 taken out and saved, the rest were scrapped.
The casino have a lease over the whole building (they are the cinemas landlord) and yes, their lease is 25 years, the cinema lease pre-dates their lease and is for longer, weird i know but thats how it is.
As a forward thinking landlord, you would routinely object to this sort of thing, doesnt mean you are actually thinking of doing it!
It would take too long to list all the issues of the fabric of the auditorium, the physical properties and the political properties that all factored into why it was no longer viable. Suffice it to say that spending £4 million on it wasn’t done whimsically and without very good reason.
I have some more arcane questions, if you would be kind enough to answer them.
So, just wondering what changes, other than raising the ductwork, if any, were made to the air conditioning?
none – the grilles are the new supply ducts that replace the old supply ducts that were previously hidden in the back of the coves. the new design didn’t have enough room to put the grilles back there again. the extract ducts are two decorative brass ones under the projection overhang in the back wall (only decorative part of the 60’s auditorium to survive albeit now sprayed black) in addition to about 300 small grilles under the seating at every level.
-In your photo of the IMAX auditorium—"New ceiling framework“—there is a black area in the middle of the right curved ceiling section. Slightly confused as I thought it was normal practice to attach stretched fabric to (fixings on) plasterboard, and also acoustic absorption behind the stretched fabric? It doesn’t looks like there’s much space for it.
– the black fabric is tensioned with black plastic gripping rails, the absorption is fitted in-between the metal purlins, nothing unusual going on, just a slightly different method of attaching, a skin of plasterboard would have made the ceiling too reflective at higher frequencies so it was simply omitted.
-Was there insulation above the ceiling in Empire 1? I would have expected that it would be required for THX certification?
Yes there was.
Thanks for your reply to my photo of the worn out ceiling, shame no-one will apply flocking in-situ these days, I imagine Health and Safety reasons. – No, its just there is not enough demand for it apparently.
CF100 – the bump tiles were just decorative, they didn’t do anything.
The 1927 circle stadia did indeed go higher than the current (1962) stadia, there was clear evidence of this in the side walls.
Haven’t got a clue what the 1962 tiles were exactly but its very obvious they were there to attempt to control the sound as they were applied onto the fibrous backing plaster moulding. If they were just decorative then the whole thing would have come in as is from a mould, plus they would have been smooth rather than aerated.
the ceiling was painted red in 1989 and then flocking was applied to it. No one does in situ flocking anymore so the ceiling cannot be repaired, the finishes need to be totally replaced
it cost £4 million to convert and make the two auditoriums, would have paid back in less than three years but obviously paid back in spades when Cineworld purchased it.
Commercially it was a necessity, you can disagree all you like and pitch in theoretical sounding ideas ‘that would definitely have worked’ but at the end of the day, it lost a lot of money because the auditorium was too big, never filled except on (loss making) premieres and had too many things wrong with it and needed too much money just to keep it in one piece and a like for like refurbishment would not have promised as much additional product and custom as an IMAX would (and has!)
Empire are still based in the old dressing rooms and tank room that is accessed from Leicester place.
There were no financial issues involved in the sale, Cineworld approached Empire and paid silly money just because they desperately wanted a leicester square cinema and they wanted to buy market share so they could beat Odeon consistantly. Empire is structured exactly the same as Odeon, each cinema is it’s own company with a parent company.
L&R cant pull the building down, Cineworld have a lease with 60 years left on it, that’s the landlords next opportunity to take the building back on the basis of a conversion.
CF100 – the lights can be programmed individually, i wanted them to change colour in the way they do as i didnt want it to look like an 80’s disco, just personal preference.
The original side wall tiles had a sintered glass tile adhered to them on 2006 to get down the amount of slap echo (worked very well) when the auditorium was once again converted to THX. the mink and gold paint scheme that was original to the 60’s rebuild was exposed when a fire exit sign was removed. every scrap of the 60’s wall and ceiling plaster was removed.
The Icon bar is actually about 2 metres higher than the cinema foyer level.
Cineworld are saying that they will spend £5 million on LSQ.
Screen 2 is to be converted to 4DX, the foyer to be totally refurbished and they are spending money on the back of house areas. Word is they are doing a deal with the Casino to take over the Icon bar.
the refurbishemnt that removed the THX screen was done in 2002 by UCI.
full foyer refurbishment under way, completed by the summer.
this cinema is now 18 screens and boasts a large format IMPACT screen
the seating that was installed in 1962 (and is still in use today albeit refurbished a few times) was made by The American Seating Company. They are still in business.
To confirm –
Empire 6 – open – 23 seats
Empire 7 – open – 58 seats
Empire 8 – open – 48 seats (formerly screen 3)
Empire 9 – in construction – 42 seats
For the sake of clarification, there are only two pieces of original 1927 plasterwork left in the Empire. One is hidden behind the righthand wall of auditorium 1, the other is hidden above the mirrored ceiling tiles in the entrance lobby. Anyone who tells you differently is incorrect.
the coloured lighting in auditorium 1 is neon, pink, blue and yellow.
two new digital screens have just opened here taking total to 8 screens
Screens 4 &5 opened today.
all the plasterwork was removed and disposed of safely as it contained asbestos, you wont be seeing it back i’m afraid.
The THX screen was screen number 1 but during the refurbishment in 2002 the screens were re-numbered and it is now screen 3.
Cineworld do not own this cinema and contrary to a previous posting, is not ‘part of the same holding company’ It is owed wholly by Empire cinemas and is not being shut or bulldozed and is holding it’s own very well against the 12 screen Cineworld that has opened in the town centre.
screens 4 & 5 open next week, the first new screens on Leicester Square for 20 years! They will also be the only digital only screens on the square. Welcome to the 21st century.