Cineworld Cinema - 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”. The World Premiere of “Guns at Batasi” was held on 24th September 1964. The World Premiere of “The Flight of the Phoenix” was held at the Carlton Theatre on 20th January 1966. The Royal World Premiere of “A Countess from Hong Kong” was held on 5th January 1967. Directed by Charlie Chaplin and starring Marlon Brando & Sophia Loren, Chaplin, Brando & Loren were among the attendees at the premiere.

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. When the Empire Leicester Square was taken over by Cineworld in late-July 2016, they also ‘exchanged’ the Cineworld Haymarket, and from 12th August 2016 it will probably be renamed Empire Haymarket.

Contributed by Ian Grundy, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 70 comments)

zappomatic on August 3, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Transferring to Empire Cinemas, presumably from 12 August.

zappomatic on August 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Looks like this page has been renamed prematurely – despite Cineworld announcing the various Empires transferring to them from this weekend, nothing has been said about Haymarket and in fact they have released listings for next week. Wonder how long Cineworld will hold onto Haymarket for? For Unlimited members the overlap period will definitely be great in terms of choice!

cultman1 on August 9, 2016 at 9:02 am

it needs a lot spent on it to bring it up to date.I am sorry to see The EMPIRE name disappearing the Leicester Square showcase. I would rather Cineworld Haymarket reverts back to its original name and a single screen!

goodshow on August 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm

As in the Carlton, Cultman? I have many adverts from the 60s with the Carlton logo and would be willing to post up if cinematreasures members would like.

cultman1 on August 11, 2016 at 7:57 am

yes as the Carlton. What I really am looking for are photos of the actual screens at these wonderful movie palaces of 60sLondon’s West End. No One seems to have images of the Carlton, Astoria or Metropole with their large 70mm screens back then!!

SethLewis on August 11, 2016 at 10:09 am

With a bit of cleanup this could be a great place to see a movie…Screen 1 has depth height and atmosphere that the Empire 1 and Vue screens are lacking – and with the Odeon Leicester Sq due for a refurb this could work…like anything it needs care and some investment…

zappomatic on August 15, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Still no sign of when this is going over to Empire. Listings have appeared for next week and bizarrely two of the films are also showing at the former Empire Leicester Square, often at similar start times. Surely better to offer more choice?

Cjbx11 on August 17, 2016 at 9:04 am

Cineworld have said that they are waiting for permission from their landlord before the transfer of ownership to Empire can take place.

zappomatic on February 23, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Still a Cineworld and becoming ever more threadbare. For some reason some of the programming duplicates Leicester Square, even right down to the showtimes.

cultman1 on February 24, 2017 at 10:34 am

maybe this historic cinema may be closed soon and converted to yet more flats?

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