Empire Screen 2
5-6 Leicester Square,
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Opened on 25th November 1937 as the Ritz Cinema with a seating capacity of 430. It was designed by George Coles for exhibitors Clavering and Rose as an intended large newsreel theatre. However as it is located next door, to the left side of the Empire Cinema, then owned and operated by MGM (Loew’s Inc.), they decided it would make an excellent move-over house for their productions.
Although not really suited to sit through feature length movies, due to poor sightlines and an oppresively low ceiling (the cinema was in a basement under an office building), it became popular due to its locality. “Gone With The Wind” moved over to the Ritz Cinema from the Empire Cinema and ran for four years during the war.
In November 1972 the Ritz Cinema was re-named Empire 2 and in 1978 improvements and modernisations were made to the cinema. The entrance and small foyer was converted into an Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop and the Ritz Cinema’s canopy and signage were removed. It also resulted in the loss of most of the decoration in the auditorium, which is now bland. Patrons now had to purchase tickets from and gain entry to the cinema via the main Empire Cinema foyer, making the former Ritz Cinema, a screen within the Empire complex.
Current seating capacity for Empire Screen 2 is now 304.
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