Odeon Luxe Swiss Cottage & IMAX

96 Finchley Road,
London, NW3 5EL

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CF100 on August 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm


this was the first Imax I have experienced for years

Haven’t you attend any performances at the Leicester Square IMAX? I see there’s a good photo of it among the photos you’ve uploaded to Flickr.

CF100 on August 25, 2018 at 4:11 pm


Has that IMAX Theatre Design article not been updated since 1983? Things have moved on since then!

Things have moved on a lot since then—e.g. digital acquisition, editing, CGI, and distribution/projection. :–)

From US Patent 7,911,580 – “Conversion of a Cinema Theatre to a Super Cinema Theatre” (IMAX Corp., filed 2009.) — (i.e. A “retrofit” conversion of an existing auditorium to an IMAX.):

“The minimum horizontal field of view of the improved theatre is now about 55 degrees, while the minimum vertical field of view is about 30 degrees.”

c.f. the 1983 SMPTE paper, which specifies 60 degrees minimum horizontal field of view, and 40 degrees minimum for the vertical field of view.

The human visual system hasn’t changed since 1983, we still have the same eyes and brain decoding the information received from them. ;–)

It’s possible that post-1983 developments in the understanding of the human visual system could inform auditorium design in ways not anticipated in 1983, but I’m fairly stumped as to see how it could in terms of the design of auditoria with a slightly curved screen on one “wall,” where it is of “wall to wall, floor to ceiling” size, with tiered seating all of which faces towards that screen, in ways that would improve upon the specifications laid out in that SMPTE paper.

Note from the 1983 SMPTE paper: “The bottom edge of the screen is placed so that the audience can look down and up to the sides. This allows the horizon to be in a natural position for most viewers.”

It might be said that the purpose made IMAX content, e.g. the classic IMAX 70mm documentaries, would be framed with the auditorium design in mind, but even so, I can’t see that looking down at the screen would be an optimal position?

In a nutshell the classic IMAX “Grand Theatres,” the expensively purpose-built auditoria of which are mostly found in institutional venues, are the “gold standard” for IMAX auditorium geometry… the existence of which goes back more than a decade before the 1983 SMPTE paper. ;–)

Ian on August 25, 2018 at 7:42 am

Interesting. I saw Mamma Mia part 2 there – perhaps not the best choice of movie for the Imax experience – but was aware (sat centrally in the back on the last full row) that the bottom corners of the screen could not be seen unless the seat was completely upright. And this was in a near empty auditorium (there were 12 of us watching the film), with no-one sat in front of me.

Unlike L_S_F I am not a connoisseur of big screens – this was the first Imax I have experienced for years – so have little to compare it with. All I can report is that the image was very sharp, and the sound excellent (apart from Brosnan’s singing, but that is another story).

My Hemel cinema memories were at the Odeon on Marlowes which had a massive curved screen – but that was decades ago!

LARGE_screen_format on August 25, 2018 at 6:06 am

Has that IMAX Theatre Design article not been updated since 1983? Things have moved on since then!

CF100 on August 25, 2018 at 4:52 am

Looking at Ian’s “IMAX Logo in Auditorium” photo, the vertical geometry of the auditorium appears to be compromised in terms of seating height in relation to the screen. In particular, according to the 1983 article published in the SMPTE Journal which details the geometric requirements for a “classic” IMAX, the last row should be in line with about the mid-point of the screen height.

Simply put, the screen is too low.

(Incidentally, the article states that at time the smallest IMAX screen was 21.3ft.x32.7ft. in an auditorium having 120 seats, and the largest was 70.5ft.x96ft. in an auditorium having 988 seats.)

LARGE_screen_format on August 24, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Thanks for sharing those photos @Ian, the interior of the IMAX auditorium looks great.

Have you watched any movies in IMAX at this cinema, and if so, care to share your experience please? The screen size is slightly smaller than that at Cineworld, Hemel Hempstead where I watch most IMAX movies but then Odeon do have reclining seats which look comfy.

The rear IMAX speakers look the same as those found at Cineworld, Hemel Hempstead. Does anyone happen to know which model of speaker they are?

Ian on August 24, 2018 at 9:24 am

Some recent photos of the Odeon Imax Swiss Cottage here:–




CF100 on August 22, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Indeed we do. Thanks, I’m on the mend. :–)

LARGE_screen_format on August 21, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Get well soon buddy, we have plenty to discuss…

CF100 on August 21, 2018 at 4:56 pm

LARGE_screen_format: You’re right that I am, but I’ve come down with a bit of cold I’m afraid. :–(

The OSC IMAX did indeed originally have non-recliners installed at the time of the IMAX retrofit, as shown in the above-linked YouTube video at about 17 seconds in.

LARGE_screen_format on August 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm

According to the Odeon press release the IMAX auditoria has 184 seats whereas the overview of this cinema at the top of the page mentions 307 when the IMAX installation opened in 2011. Take it originally they were non-recliners which were replaced when this site was converted to an Odeon Luxe cinema?

@CF100 – There’s me thinking you were a night owl? :oP

CF100 on August 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm

LARGE_screen_format: You’re very welcome. :–)

I’m not aware of any other IMAXs in the UK with reclining seats—albeit I’m half asleep now!—however, an ODEON Cinemas Group press release claims it to be the first IMAX in London with all-reclining seats.

I had thought that I’d not want to recline seats, but, once you hit the “down” button it’s just too comfortable to raise back up! However, I have done this or physically raised my head up somewhat for key “active”/“busy” scenes where I wanted to better hear the stereo imaging provided by the surrounds/overheads.

LARGE_screen_format on August 19, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Thanks for the replies regarding screen size and as always @CF100 for your drilling down into clunky council planning sites and providing interesting insights. ;o)

Are there any other IMAX auditoria in the UK with reclining seats? Not sure I would actually recline my seat watching a movie at the cinema but the comfort of a leather armchair style seat certainly would appeal to me.

CF100 on August 19, 2018 at 1:01 pm


L.B. of Camden – Search the Public Licensing Register.

Searching for “085811” will lead to 1 result, namely, an October 2017 licensing application—plans are available under the “Documents” tab of its page.

I previously recall reading 60ft. as the width of the Swiss Cottage IMAX screen—estimating it from the plans, it’s ~17.5m wide (= ~57.5ft) by the chord.

On the centre line, distance from the screen to the row before last (the last has the booth in the middle of it!) is ~1.15, and to the first row (also ruined by having the vomitory access in the middle) is 0.42. So, in this respect, it’s just a bit off the classic IMAX specification.

And after all that, it turns out the screen size is on Odeon’s site under the “Auditorium Info” tab:

“IMAX Screen Size – 8.86m high x 17.58m wide.”

Which, for the metric-phobic, converts to ~57.7ft. x ~29ft. to ~57.7ft. x ~29ft.

(I’m amazed that my estimate seems to have been pretty close to Odeon’s published figure!)

The Giant Screen Cinema Association has published specifications for giant screens, which state 70ft./21.3m to be the minimum width*, and the maximum distance to the last row not to exceed screen width.

(*Or alteratively an minimum area of 3100sq.ft./288sq.m.; or 60ft./18.3m diameter for “dome” screens.)

I’ll leave it to anyone reading this to consider what the motivations are or aren’t behind these specs, but suffice to say that their stated aim is essentially to differentate the “classic” institutional-type venue from the increasing screen sizes found in multiplexes.

Personally, I think 60ft. wide is probably acceptable for an IMAX auditorium (as long as the geometry requirements are essentially met); anything much smaller is surely pushing it though? Swiss Cottage is a retrofit so it seems reasonable to cut it a bit of slack c.f. the purpose-built “classic” venues from which the GSCA has derived its requirements.

I’m afraid I haven’t visited the OSC since attending a screening of “The Last Days of Disco”(!) Certainly looks like a comfortable place to see a film with the recliners (plus the bonus of the retained ceiling features from the original auditorium.)

Oops, looks like daniels3d had already replied. D'oh—sorry!

daniels3d on August 19, 2018 at 10:53 am

The size of the IMAX screen is 8.86m by 17.58m. The BFI IMAX is 20m by 26m, the Cineworld Leicester Square IMAX is 26.5m by 15.6m.

LARGE_screen_format on August 19, 2018 at 10:25 am

When I first started looking into IMAX cinemas in the UK a few years ago and saw Odeon, Swiss Cottage had one, many of the comments about it being LieMax discouraged me from watching a movie there.

What is the size of the IMAX screen?

Anyone who has been to this IMAX auditoria, how does it compare to other IMAX cinemas in the UK? And would you recommend it?

Cineworld, Hemel Hempstead is the IMAX screen I watch the most movies at, followed by Cineworld, Enfield, BFI IMAX, Cineworld, LSQ. Odeon, Greenwich was the least impressive IMAX screen that I have visited thus far.

CF100 on August 19, 2018 at 9:20 am


“Luxe” upgrade of the IMAX auditorium – Shows the construction of the adjusted stadia, installation of new stretched fabric on the sidewalls and “IMAX” logo feature on the right sidewall, seating installation (duh!), and the auditorium back in a finished state.

CF100 on December 14, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Terry: I agree with you in that the LUXE auditorium decor scheme is very unimaginative and I’d also say that it has too much of a “domestic” ambience for a cinema. I suppose their intention is for it to look more like a living room!

BTW, comprehensive information is available on Gradus' cinema (or rather leisure venue) lighting systems.

Also, Eomac are their North American distributors.

Alas, whilst they offer a wide range of mounting options, static colour choices are red/green/blue/amber/white.

CF100 on December 14, 2017 at 2:44 pm

PhilipWW: You may well be correct. The last film I saw at Swiss Cottage was “The Last Days of Disco”!

Here’s some blurb from an Odeon press release:

–“The New Year will also see ODEON Luxe Swiss Cottage become London’s first ODEON site to house an IMAX® screen complete with ODEON’s newly launched ODEON Luxe reclining seats… –"Screens two and three have also been upgraded with enlarged screens for improved picture quality, providing the ultimate viewing experience… –"Key features of the new ODEON Luxe refurbishments at Swiss Cottage will include: • Four fully-refurbished screens with upgraded Dolby ATMOS sound systems • 12 new speakers across all four standard screens”

Confusingly, the press release also says: “Each cinema will now boast new speakers and Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound across all auditoriums.”

Foyer will also be refurbished, and the venue will feature a new “Oscar’s bar.”

terry on December 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm

A Local Assistant of mine with ABC had worked at the Odeon Swiss Cottage during WW2 and had done ‘fire watch’ duty on the flat roof. She said it was a lovely theatre at that time.

I suspect that the profile photo may actually be that of the narrowed circle at Swiss Cottage which comprises the Screen1/IMAX auditorium.

If Odeon are determined to persist with their ‘no tabs’ policy (as I suspect will be the case) they could at least choose a more restful and warm colour scheme than ‘Royal Blue’.

PhilipWW on December 14, 2017 at 7:09 am

Four of the five screens (Nos 2 to 5) have been refurbished and rebranded as ‘Odeon Luxe’.

The IMAX Screen 1 remains the same with 307 seats. The new (and reduced) capacities in the other screens are: Screen 2 (71), Screen 3 (50), Screen 4 (53) and Screen 5 (49) which gives a total capacity of 530. The figures have been taken from the Odeon web-site.

The seating capacities of screens 4 and 5 are only slightly reduced because they were already fitted with luxury seats.

Mention is made in a comment below to a photo in a ‘Time Out’ article. I rather think that Odeon are using generic photos in their publicity for Luxe cinemas, so that photo is probably not of one of the Swiss Cottage auditoria. I think I have seen it used before.

terry on December 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm

The home page photo depicts a cold looking, devoid of atmosphere auditorium with – as usual – the bare screen staring one in the face……

CF100 on December 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

A Time Out article contains a photo of the new “Luxe” auditorium at Swiss Cottage.

PhilipWW on October 10, 2017 at 5:43 am

Screens 4 and 5, albeit relatively small with just 61 seats each, do have impressive Scope screens with side masking. All the seats are designated ‘Club’ and are very spacious with plenty of legroom. Although the flooring is sloped, rather than stepped, the sight lines are good. These are good screens to see movies in.

Although I did not see inside Screens 2 and 3, I was told that thy too have full Scope screens (though I’m not too sure that the person I spoke to fully understood what I was asking).

Upstairs the Screen 1 IMAX theatre is in the old balcony area. The seating here is stepped and the screen impressively large in, I presume, about an 1.90 ratio for digital IMAX presentations. The film I saw was standard Scope which had to be “letterboxed” for the screen; that worked fine as the auditorium was very dark. The picture was still impressively large.

In all I thought this Odeon a good place to watch movies and a good conversion to a multiplex.

glyn_lewis on November 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm

In 1937 the premiere of “Dark Journey” was given here, attended by its stars Conrad Veidt & Vivien Leigh.