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Following a campaign, this cinema is now grade II listed: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2018/londons-empire-cinema-home-kneehighs-brief-encounter-granted-listed-status-following-campaign/
The shopping centre it sits in is being redeveloped – plans do include a replacement cinema at basement level: http://whiteleysdevelopment.co.uk/development.php
Scaffolding and barrier material has been removed from the front of the building revealing a gaping hole where once there was glass. It’s possible to see scaffolding inside the auditorium (photos added)
The seating is newer than the blue flooring so they must have decided retain it in the refurb. In screens 1-10 the seats, lighting and carpet are new. Ceiling, hard flooring, hand rails and wall coverings (including the bulges housing the surrounds) are all from the original fit-out for Vue.
The blue vinyl flooring and grey handrails in the screens here are all left over from the original fit-out, which is why they perhaps look slightly out of place.
I suspect the premium seats are left over from when this was a Virgin cinema and it offered a deluxe screen with bar, cloakroom service etc.
That’s an impressively large screen but does look a bit like a temporary set of scaffolding! Shame the masking has gone.
The canopy lighting was installed just prior to Brief Encounter. From the photos the seats are not new but in fact the old ones with covers fitted over the top, done for Brief Encounter.
Saw a film in screen 1 today – flat ratio, no masking however the stadium seating has a nice curve to it.
Skyscape was a temporary structure and dismantled after the Millennium Experience closed. I believe it actually ran as two side by side 2,500 seated cinemas and could be used as one large space for live performances.
Ventilation grilles above the ScreenX projectors are new and slightly above existing ceiling level.
The carpet on the steps inside the auditorium is new, it’s just the linoleum/vinyl flooring in the rows that remains from the original fit out plus wall coverings.
Nothing from the interior of the Millennium Experience was kept, all structures inside the O2 including the Superscreen (originally called Screen 11) were purpose built. I would imagine AEG built screen 11 on such a huge scale plus green room facilities with an eye to hosting premieres.
LARGE_screen_format: The auditoria at the O2 are quite well lit so I just touch the screen in a few different places to find the best exposure level, and then see what difference auto enhance makes. If I’ve arrived after the adverts have started I wait for a bright one, ideally with a white background – Red Bull or Old Mout Cider adverts are ideal!
For a long time this cinema was a strange mish-mash of house styles. Even as a Vue the carpet and seats weren’t typical and then for some years under Cineworld much of the signage was still in the Vue font, and you had the bespoke Sky Superscreen Bar fit-out to add to the confusion.
The “purple” wall coverings you mentioned in a previous post are in fact a midnight blue colour and are part of the original decor, unaltered in Cineworld’s recent refurbishment. Also still remaining is blue floor covering in the rows (which matched with the original blue carpet) and a couple of blue spotlights in the screen entrance areas. At the foot of the escalator down from the upper screens there’s an area of cream floor tiles beyond a railing, also from the original fit-out.
New seatcount will be 850 – 776 is the old figure before the balcony was reconfigured.
Just a thought, since Cineworld’s refurb increased the Superscreen’s seatcount and with Odeon Leicester Square closed for refurbishment, is the O2 Superscreen currently the UK’s largest dedicated cinema auditorium by seating capacity?
As suspected, ScreenX is also Screen 9.
Overall I think ScreenX is quite effective at creating an immersive environment and will come into its own when more films are made with the technology in mind. It’s perfect for retrofitting into multiplexes where a PLF or IMAX screen of a worthwhile size would not be possible. It seems to be generating a good level of interest and my screening was surprisingly full for a Tuesday afternoon (yes it’s the school holidays but the majority of the audience was made up of adult couples and groups). I saw The Meg, and the sidewalls were generally used in action sequences with the more dialogue/story driven scenes using only the main screen. If you were to look straight at the sidewalls you’d see a stretched out, slightly pixellated image and notice the structure of the wall panels however that’s not how it’s meat to be viewed.
The seating etc in the auditorium is unchanged from the recent refurb. Obviously gone are the bulges in the walls that previously concealed lighting and surround speakers (now relocated to just below the ceiling). Ventilation grilles are visible above the side projectors. I suspect the main screen has been replaced as it appeared slightly curved whereas the screens originally installed at the O2 are all flat, bar the Superscreen, which results in terrible hot-spotting on the 3D equipped screens not helped by the patchy silvering.
ScreenX does seem to have a few drawbacks, most notably the effect of all the extra light in the auditorium. You’ve now got four extra projectors casting light across the ceiling even when projecting black, and the side walls which would previously have been a dark colour are now bouncing light around reducing contrast and black levels (which still managed to be acceptable, all things considered). It’s also obvious where the two projected sidewall images overlap, particularly in darker scenes. Finally it seemed as though there was a very slight lag between the main screen and the side projectors, noticeable in jump cuts and scenes with a lot of movement and I can see this causing motion sickness in some people if not corrected.
I followed The Meg with another film in screen 1 and I’m pleased to say Cineworld have listened to complaints about lighting levels and fitted honeycomb baffles to the ceiling lights in screens 1-5. The lights still don’t dim as much as the improved lumieres fitted in screens 6-10 but the glare issue is eliminated. Elsewhere in the O2 the cinema extension’s structure appears to be almost finished and the outlet village that complete’s the loop is looking almost ready for fit-out. I’d imagine Hollywood Bowl and the bars and restaurants at what is currently a dead end can’t wait for the extra footfall this will bring as it’s a real ghost town down there when there’s nothing on in the arena.
Here’s a review of the ScreenX installation at the O2: https://www.trustedreviews.com/news/screenx-3527280
The seats (Camatic Active Tilt Luxe) are the same as installed in all of the other conventional auditoriums at the O2, and also the same as the ones Cineworld trialled at a few sites as “Star Seating”.
ScreenX appears to be in screen 9 rather than being a completely new screen in the extension, if listings are anything to go by.
They kept that quiet! I plan to check this out on Tuesday or Wednesday – the Tuesday screenings are looking very full already.
Auditorium appears to have a similar layout to the existing ones. 14 rows with a total of 204 plus two wheelchair spaces.
Regarding cinemas with identical screens, Cineworld West India Quay has two floors of five screens stacked on top of one another which all match the one above/below, except for screens 1 and 6 (screen six was constructed as a Virgin Cinemas deluxe screen with huge legroom and an additional entrance into the now disused upper bar, but fitted out by UGC with the the same seats and decor as the other screens).
New seating is very comfortable and thickly padded although I found the back row of screen 2 to have been installed at perhaps a little too upright an angle with the headrest preventing me from sitting the way I wanted to – I didn’t notice this issue in screen 1. Surprisingly even the outer backs of the seats are padded and upholstered. The old seating was very comfortable so long as nobody was sitting in front of you, in which case the seat in front would recline back into your knees (it seemed to me a way of saving space, dressed up as a luxury). On balance I think I prefer the new seats.
Very bright, crisp picture with good black levels and contrast, and punchy sound however there was a noticeable keystone effect when projecting a flat picture. Sadly no moveable masking. In person I too was struck by the apparently low number of sidewall speakers however this might have been to do with the lighting which doesn’t tend to spread onto the walls.
These refurbished screens are less characterful than previously but no longer suffer from some of the frankly unacceptable viewing angles that they used to offer.
Added photos of refurbished new screen 2
Screen 7 (formerly screen 9) reopens on Friday with 31 seats across three rows in a single block, down from 42 and has lost the two rather odd pairs of seats tucked away in alcoves on either side of the auditorium.
Screen 3 (formerly 6) has its final performance before closing for refurbishment on Thursday.
I don’t think any of the projection or audio equipment has been upgraded in screen 1 but it was perfectly fine – picture was in focus with no distortion and acceptable (but not outstanding) brightness and contrast, and the sound pleasingly punchy.
I’ve not noticed any cine-flies of late! I hope when screen 5 is refurbished the projector is looked at or replaced as in the last few months it seemed to have some convergence issues.
In other news the staircase to screen 3 is in the process of being refurbished, with new signage and grey walls, and new carpet on the stairs (landings retain the existing red carpet for now). The existing lighting has been retained, and the yellow halo cast by the wall lights looks a bit strange against the grey. The delightful aroma of urine remains!
Screen 6 reopens on Thursday, with seating capacity reduced from 48 to 38, across three rows (previously four).
Regarding the picture here I actually found it to be one of the brighter 3D presentations I’ve seen, and there was practically no ghosting.
I was not impressed at all with the picture and sound at Wandsworth, other than the sheer size of the screen – picture appeared washed-out with poor black levels and appalling ghosting (so much so that the couple sitting in front of me turned around during the credits and asked me if the 3D was “dodgy” for me or if it was just them), and the sound was pretty lifeless. I’ve not been back to see if this was a one-off or if it really is this poor.
Effects for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom seemed quite effective although there was a moment when the strobes stayed on long enough for it to feel as though the auditorium was floodlit. I was dressed for yesterday’s weather and at times ended up feeling uncomfortably cold and wet thanks to the prolonged wind and rain effects!
When I say beams I mean that the suspended ceiling is interrupted by an off-centre grid of solid sections around 75cm wide that sit flush, presumably supporting the floor above.
For Unlimited cards do bear in mind that a surcharge of £2-£6 is payable every time you see a premium format although for some reason the Superscreen in Leicester Square is included if you have a West End card. Plenty of referral codes about online that will get you your 13th month for free – mine is RAF-35LH-35FJ-42BF-17NU (moderators please delete if this is not allowed).