Cineworld Haymarket

63-65 Haymarket,
London, SW1Y 4RQ

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Carlton Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Designed for either film or stage use by Adolph Zukor’s Paramount Pictures Inc., it was envisaged as a smaller version of their Plaza Theatre in nearby Regent Street. The Carlton Theatre opened on 27th April 1927 with a musical play “Lady Luck” starring Leslie Henson which ran for 324 performances. This was followed by a musical comedy drama “The Yellow Mask” by Edgar Wallace which transferred to His Majesty’s Theatre along the Haymarket. The next production was the American college life musical “Good News”. After this closed the Carlton Theatre screened its first film when, on 26th March 1928 “Wings” had its UK premier run of four months. Returning to stage shows, a revue “In Other Words” starred George Robey at the end of 1928 and the last stage show to play at the Carlton Theatre was “Merry Merry” starring Peggy O'Neil which opened in February 1929 and later transfered to the Lyceum Theatre.

Seating was provided for a total capacity of 1,159 in stalls (which were below street level), a small mezzanine Royal circle at street level and a large upper balcony. There were boxes containing seating each side of the proscenium opening. The proscenium was 42 feet wide, the stage was 45 feet deep and there were 14 dressing rooms.

The Carlton Theatre was wired for sound in 1929 and went over to become a full-time cinema. The first regular film to be screened was Chester Morris in “The Perfect Alibi”(aka-“Alibi”). Paramount Pictures Inc. took over the Carlton Theatre fully in 1930.

In 1954 it was taken over by 20th Century-Fox and became the West End showcase cinema for their productions, opening with the UK premier of “Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef”. The stage was brought back into use briefly in March 1960, when Anthony Newley performed in “The Anthony Newley Show”, a special show which was staged during the run of his feature film “Let’s Get Married”.

There were hopes that the Carlton Theatre would be designated a Grade II Listed building, but it was turned down by English Heritage. The Carlton Theatre closed on 20th August 1977 with Oliver Reed in “The Prince and the Pauper”(aka-“Crossed Swords”) being the last film to be screened in the original single auditorium. The stage and dressing room block was sold off to developers and were demolished for an office block to be built on the site, known as Samuel House.

The auditorium was split into three screens, with screen 1 in the old upper balcony seating 491 and screens 2 and 3 in the former stalls seating 201 and 222. The former mezzanine Royal circle was sealed off and became office and staff areas. Now operated by Classic Cinemas, it later came under the ownership of Cannon, MGM, Virgin, UGC, and latterly Cineworld until closing in January 2008.

On 2nd February 2008, the former upper balcony screen re-opened as the 440 seat Cinema Haymarket. It was converted into a live theatre with the play “Brief Encounter” based on the David Lean film. Sequences in the play use digital projection as well as the live performances on a new stage which has been built on the front of the seating area. The two mini-cinemas in the former stalls area initially closed, but soon re-opened, screening first run films again. The run of “Brief Encounter” ended on 21st November 2008 and the main upstairs auditorium reverted back to cinema use, with the building becoming the Cineworld again.

Contributed by Ian Grundy, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 61 comments)

d8rren on August 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm

TSR 5 could mean, the screening rooms… which is a upmarket cineworld brand so with Cineworld Chelsea being knocked down & Haymarket turning into the screening room..the west end unlimited card won’t be worth a rub..great

d8rren on August 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm

looks like only a few more years remain as it is with, The Screening Rooms scheduled for 2017..which will turn this into a £20 plus ticket cinema with no unlimited card..

zappomatic on August 29, 2013 at 6:22 am

Where’s the news about Chelsea from?

d8rren on August 29, 2013 at 6:57 am

Evening Standard about 6 months ago the Kings Road Cineworld is to be Knocked down & replaced with shops, Apartments & a 4 screen Everyman Cinema..

zappomatic on September 1, 2013 at 3:59 am

Ah yes found the article now, thanks. Since I’ve started working on the King’s Road I’ve started to frequent that cinema, and it’s not a bad little place.

cultman1 on February 17, 2015 at 4:53 am

no sign of any work being done to convert the Cine world chelsea..

cultman1 on February 17, 2015 at 5:44 am

Does anyone have any photos of the screen when the Carlton was a single screen in the 50’s-70’s ? Thanks

zappomatic on June 18, 2015 at 5:07 am

Seems to have abandoned its typical programming of the less mainstream films and is showing pure Hollywood stuff now, and seemingly doing quite well out of it. But structually this place is just limping along… the ceiling on the way down to screen two is still water damaged and crumbling, and rather than replace the foam that’s come away from certain armrests they’ve just put black tape over the wood!

Might we see some kind of refurb or rebranding announced shortly after Picturehouse Central opens?

zappomatic on December 17, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Programming has taken a real turn for the worse lately, mostly consisting of relatively mainstream yet second-rate films that seem to run for weeks on end, with the odd Bollywood film thrown in. Curious as to what their strategy is.

Billy on May 2, 2016 at 2:18 am

This cinema seriously suffered when the nearby Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue closed in September 2014. This used to be an excellent location for less-mainstream films with Shaftesbury Avenue sticking to the Hollywood hits, but with SA’s closure and conversion into a Picturehouse it now shows an erratic mixture of everything, as the comments above confirm.

And there’s rats. Lots of them. The occasional screaming of a customer as one nips across the floor and brushes a leg is fairly commonplace, at least it was on my last visit there in early 2015. Fairly unacceptable in today’s age but I imagine there’s little the staff can do.

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