Cineworld Cinema - The O2 Greenwich

The O2, Peninsula Square,
London, SE10 0AX

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CF100
CF100 on May 11, 2018 at 5:29 am

The website of architectural practice Chapman Taylor has the following pages of relevance:

Chapman Taylor’s industry-leading cinema expertise.

Project page – Refurbishing, extending and equipping the largest cinema venue in London.

Summary of selected information from this pages:

  • Refurbishment of existing phase completed.
  • They are involved with the fit-out of the 7 screen extension phase, with scheduled completion by the end of 2018.
  • The O2 Cineworld will then be the “largest cinema complex in London.” (Not clear on what metric they are using, presumably gross area; surely not screen count?)
  • 4DX confirmed for extension, which will also include VIP screens.

The pages include photos of auditoria and lobby areas, including a shot of the Superscreen clearly showing the speakers added for Atmos, as well as ironically demonstrating the folly of what looks like a floating screen. (I suppose tabs and movable masking wouldn’t make for a “cutting edge cinema”!)

I’m slightly confused by the photo of the auditorium fitted with purple-coloured stretch fabric wall finishes, as it doesn’t seem to fit with Cineworld’s current house style?

CF100
CF100 on March 11, 2018 at 3:47 am

Zappomatic: Compared to the “commercial grade” RGBW LED strip I have*, I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near as bright without a diffuser, even just turning one of the four LEDs in each chip on at full intensity. I think mine is somewhat brighter if I add a milky/opal diffuser.

With a clear lens-type diffuser or no diffuser, it’s actually dazzlingly bright directly viewed, particularly at close proxmity, possibly even to a dangerous extent—given that theirs are installed on the columns/pillars, one can imagine, say, kids being “stupid”, so I’m not sure such intensity would be sensible in that application.

OTOH, mine is concealed and angled towards a matt black finished wall (acoustic absorption), so I need as much output as possible!

That said, even with a more modest output, as a narrow “linear” light source, the LED strips may well appear rather bright compared to a darkened cinema auditorium.

Did you also find the “linear” LED mountings previously on the sidewalls/ceiling of the O2’s Superscreen excessively bright?

(* Dexxon Lighting 24V – 60x RGBW 5050 LEDs/m – 19.2W/m – IP20 LED strip. N.B. I wouldn’t trust any of the specs on that page!)

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on February 22, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Gosh the finish on that ceiling is very bad – certainly wasn’t noticeable before the LED displays were put in. Interesting that you didn’t find the pillar LED strips particularly bright as they seemed almost too bright when I saw them myself – perhaps they’ve reduced the intensity?

CF100
CF100 on February 21, 2018 at 2:29 pm

I visited the O2 today, alas for the purpose of meeting someone, and not for the cinema.

(Brit Awards were imminent so I decided to get out of there ASAP after the meeting finished!)

However, I did have a quick visit to Cineworld’s foyer. The “wrap around” of video LED modules is indeed active, and quite impressive.

The LED strips on the columns didn’t seem very bright, and the colour wasn’t interesting either, albeit they are probably using “milky” diffusers, which result in significant light loss.

The vertical LED strips either side of the main entrance escalators appear to be “addressable,” sometimes showing “rainbow” effects, other times just a linear strip of the same colour.

(N.B. “Pixel addressable” LED strips can be acquired, e.g. from eBay sellers, as those with integrated WS2812/APA102/etc. controllers. As with all Chinese-made generic product, caveat emptor!)

Floor tiles appear to be good quality, but the painted wall finishes I looked at were very poor indeed. It’s painfully obvious with the ceiling where the new video LED modules are bright enough to reveal the defects.

The gloss perspex/acrylic ceiling strips seem to be just stuck on to the ceiling with no backlighting to be added. Perspex is fairly expensive stuff (at least priced per sq. m.) and it can yield fantastic results, with many options including sparkle/metallic/pearlescent variants; I can’t help but think that this isn’t the way to use it to best effect.

The foyer looks good in photos, but in my view, more attention to detail is needed. Above all, given the expense of the video LED modules, it seems very odd that the walls aren’t even remotely smooth.

Sofas looked reasonable, but I forgot to try them out!

Photos uploaded: Foyer/new video LED modules “wrap around” display, close up of poorly finished foyer wall (including dent!), main entrance escalators/stairs with “rainbow” LED strips.

As a positive note, I hadn’t realised just how easy the O2 is to get to on the Jubilee Line from London Bridge. I shall return to check out the Superscreen…

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on February 16, 2018 at 7:10 am

According to a friend the LED displays in the foyer are now active and the effect is very striking, and the Supercreen’s hula hoops have been taken down. The endless tinkering here is quite amusing although hardly professional.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on February 5, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Added a photo showing the shiny bits on the foyer ceiling. As predicted a whole load of black and red sofas have been added.

Unfortunately screens 1-5 still have glaring lights but mercifully it looks like a lot of the individual LEDs in the luminaries are dying a premature death.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on February 3, 2018 at 10:30 am

The “shiny plastic strips” are basically black acrylic or similar material stuck flat to the ceiling in a pattern that centres on the pillars. I’ll take a photo on my next visit (and this time I’ll remember not to wear a red top and be mistaken for staff!)

Regarding the blue/cyan lighting, it can appear a different colour in different photos. The lighting on the foyer pillars is definitely more cyan, whereas I’d say the panels in the corridor are somewhere between cyan and blue.

I was sceptical of this refurb at first as it felt cold and clinical (especially with the removal of the bar area) and the new lighting in the screens was ridiculous, but as they’ve sorted that out and the foyer work comes together it feels fresh and modern.

It’s odd that there’s nowhere to sit in the main foyer (upstairs there are tables and chairs) but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some deceptively hard pleather sofas appear once all the work to the ceilings and the digital displays is finished. An unfortunate side effect of all these bright lighting features is that when you come out of a screen you have to walk through a red-lit door surround which after the darkness of the auditorium is overwhelmingly, almost painfully bright. Coming out of the Superscreen the blue-edged pillars leave an impression on your retinas!

I’m looking forward to seeing how well the extension integrates with the rest of the cinema. The plans don’t give much away about the foyer but there appears to be lots of floor space. Given the VIP screens will have their own bar I’d be surprised if we don’t see a bar for the main screens too as the old one seemed to do a steady trade. I guess a Starbucks is a possibility but there’s already an outlet at the O2.

CF100
CF100 on February 3, 2018 at 9:10 am

Zappomatic: Your photo of the corridor to Screens 1-5 looks good; I especially like the cyan coloured decorative lighting.

What are “shiny plastic strips”?

On the subject of the Vue West End, I’ll respond in detail (“oh no?!”) later on its CT page.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on January 31, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Foyer refurb update: shiny plastic strips have been fixed to the ceiling, mirroring the pattern on the floor below. I’m now wondering if we’ll see the usual big red star on the ceiling after all, given there’s one on the wall by the escalator. LED screens appear to be complete but aren’t active yet.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on January 29, 2018 at 11:49 am

Visited the O2 again today. Installation of the LED displays in the foyer is almost complete but they’re not switched on yet. Ticket machines and Unlimited kiosks still not installed. Access to the upper level isn’t ideal at the moment – with both escalators out of action.

I saw Coco in screen 6 which due to the shape of the building is a reasonably wide but relatively shallow auditorium where the steeply raked stadium section starts fairly close to the screen (three rows at floor level which I think are far too close to the screen). In common with most of the screens here it’s not a curved screen, which combined with the silver coating makes for noticeable hot-spotting. Great sound though and really manages to hit some very low frequencies.

It would seem they’ve have been listening to the complaints about light levels, as the auditorium was suitably dark. The white strips in the floor at the entrance are nicely dimmed during the feature with no light spilling up the walls or onto the screen, and the ceiling lights have honeycomb baffles which completely cut out glare and keep light levels sensible. Even when the lights were brought up to mid-level during the credits they didn’t affect the screen. Also pleased to note that the illuminated fire exit signs don’t cast their green glow on the screen which has been a problem at this cinema in the past.

Screens 6-10 were refurbished after 1-5 and the Superscreen so I’m not sure if this is something that they’ve gone back and changed in all the screens or if they changed the specs and design before the work was started. Certainly an improvement on my visit for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Regarding Vue West End, the foyer looks nice but the exterior work looks shoddy and half-finished, particularly the canopy over the exit in Leicester Court which last time I passed through was dented, with flaking paint and parts missing.

CF100
CF100 on January 29, 2018 at 3:03 am

Zappomatic: Thanks for your views on the Superscreen sound system—I’m not too surprised, but it’s disappointing nevertheless. I may as well continue with LSQ as my venue of choice—albeit I’ve not been to the O2 since it was the “Millennium Dome,” so I suppose a revisit would be more than timely!

Regarding LEDs, as a broader comment, the market is a minefield; it is often difficult to identify product quality, including the manufacturer of the LED components used, and plenty of Chinese product is being resold or supplied at very high markups.

For instance, the Vue West End’s canopy underside light strips seem to be two or more rows of LED strips mounted in extrusions, with “opal”-type diffusers/covers. I know this because one of the extrusions only appears to have one working strip!

I have no idea which products were used, and it may be that they have been sourced and installed with the utmost care, but failure seems ridiculous given the £6.6m cost of the refurb; they should last more than a few thousand hours…!

Alas, it’s not uncommon to see LED installations with early failures or dim sections…

It will be interesting to see how Cineworld’s new decorative lighting in their O2 venue’s corridors holds up.

P.S. Just wait for the impact of the sugar tax on “soda” drink sizes… :–(

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on January 18, 2018 at 9:12 am

Installation of the LED ribbon display in the foyer continues at a glacial pace… as of last night there were power cables hanging out of the wall where previously there were none! Ticket machines and Unlimited kiosks still not installed.

Coke dispensers have now been replaced by Pepsi, rolling out across the chain. Lavazza replaces Coffee Republic and the cups have shrunk drastically, for which Cineworld are rightly getting a pasting for on Twitter (I had an interesting email exchange with their customer services department where the agent denied that the new cups are smaller).

In screen 3 last night, three out of the eight obnoxiously bright and glaring LED downlights in the ceiling were off – not sure if this is a response to complaints about light levels or if they’ve just died a premature death.

The refurbished corridors feel wider than before. It took me a while to work out why – the old curved wood effect door surrounds stuck out a lot more than the new ones, which are incredibly brightly backlit in red. Slight design flaw in that the screen number is only on the outside of the enclosure, but some of the screen entrances are side by side eg. screen 2’s number is obscured by the entrance to screen 3.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on January 13, 2018 at 10:24 am

The Superscreen at the O2 certainly sounds good, but it’s not quite on a par with its counterpart in Leicester Square (not helped by the acoustics). My point of reference is the Dolby Atmos “Unfold” trailer – the larger room means the separation is a lot more effective at the O2 but it lacks the sheer depth, warmth and immersion achieved in Leicester Square.

CF100
CF100 on January 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Thanks for confirming the sidewall speaker brand. At least Cineworld have had quality components installed for the surrounds, I’d assume they’ve kept the JBL ScreenArray screen speakers, so if all is well the sound in the Superscreen should be absolutely fantastic.

Seems odd they’ve chosen what look like cold white strips for the entrance vormitory lights, would be more sensible to use red for “guideway” lighting. Aside from the leakage/reflection issue, it won’t set the right mood as one enters. Ho-hum.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on January 11, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Fortunately the backlit panels by the escalator look a bit more evenly lit in person, but they’re not perfect.

When the lights are dimmed for the main feature, the hula hoops near the entrances to the screen remain quite visible thanks to the bright white lights in the floor shining up and casting shadows. It’s not particularly distracting but doesn’t seem intentional! More positively the downlighters under the balcony are all fitted with honeycomb baffles.

Zooming in on my original photos the sidewall speakers appear to be JBL.

CF100
CF100 on January 11, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Zappomatic: The “hula hoops” look incredibly tacky and badly positioned!

It looks like the “hula hoops” are surface mounted. I expect they have either used a bendable extrusion with LED strips/modules inserted, or the bendable “neon tube”-type which comes with the LEDs already inside flexible plastic diffuser material of circular cross-section.

Not impressed with the upper floor escalator as shown in your photo, not least since the translucent panel attachments are unevenly lit.

Lighting is by way of red and blue spotlights in the ceiling which interesting seem to use a coloured filter glass rather than a coloured or colour changing LED.

If they are using white LEDs, it makes no sense as LEDs are monochromatic and typical “white” devices use, for example, blue LEDs to excite phosphors… throwing away efficiency at that stage, and then throwing it away again with the filter!

Not to say no-one does it… yesterday I noticed a restaurant next to the Garrick Theatre had neon-esque window signs, which on inspection were white LEDs behind coloured plastic cut-outs. (It actually looks great though, I shall have to experiment…)

Hmm… must put a stop to my lighting obsession!

Some elements of the refurbishment look good—I like the “glitter” floor tiles.

Do you know the manufacturer of the sidewall speakers in the Superscreen?

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on January 10, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Refurbishment still ongoing! In the foyer the power bus and fixings for the LED displays have been installed, totally surrounding the whole space. Ticket machines have not yet been installed and thereMs still an absence of seating.

In the Superscreen they’re installing what look like giant hula hoops on the side walls, presumably these will light up once this work is complete as they take the place of the wires previously hanging out of the wall. (Photo added). They’re not perfectly round so look a bit shoddy!

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on December 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Just back from my first visit here in a while. The disruptive part of the refurbishment work seems to be over with toilets and the usual access routes to the screens reinstated.

Barring some cladding to the outside of the lift all traces of the previous decor have gone from the foyer. In common with other new or refurbished Cineworlds it features a glossy, sparkly red and black floor (which must be fun when wet!) and dark grey walls and ceilings. Lighting is by way of red and blue spotlights in the ceiling which interesting seem to use a coloured filter glass rather than a coloured or colour changing LED. Previously round pillars have had their cladding stripped back so they’re now square and much more compact, and their corners are lit with incredibly bright cyan LEDs (which burn into your retina when leaving a dark screen). The wall behind the escalator is lit with backlit coloured squares plus a red star. So far no sign of the typical ribbon of LED display or ceiling-suspended red star but it’s obvious where these are going to go.

Brand new concessions counter with Blockbusters style red, white and black hexagonal tiles at the back and a very bright and colourful internally lit counter. All menus etc are displayed on a continues strip of LCD displays. The standalone Baskin Robbins ice cream counter has been removed and integrated into the run of the main counter, freeing up circulation space in the foyer.

What was once the bar is now yet more circulation space and there’s wiring and signage ready for a long row of ticket machines under the escalator. Clearly this is an exercise in preparing for greater volumes of people passing through once the extension opens. Hopefully they’ll add some seating as at the moment there is nothing to sit on whilst waiting.

Toilets have been refurbished to a good standard with a similar layout to before however they now have a door at the entrance – you did sometimes get toilet whiffs in the corridor previously!

Tinkering with the Superscreen continues – the Dolby Atmos installation sounds good however there are still random white wires hanging out of the walls at high level so maybe more to come? The original blue ribbons of light across the ceiling have gone, replaced by red-lit troughs containing speakers. The 2007-vintage plethora of cold white LED downlighters has been replaced by a smaller number of more modern warm-white ones. Surprisingly given Cineworld’s apparent mania for over-illuminating screens, these are an improvement: under the old set up most of them would stay on during the film at a very low level, including a row right in front of the screen. With the new ones only the spots above stairs and walkways stay on, dim enough so as not to have any negative impact. Stair edges are well lit in red.

I’ll reserve judgement on how I feel about the refurb when the extension is done. At the moment in its unfinished state it feels like a cheapening of the space, because the unusually plush bar area added a more grown-up feel to things. But I guess it would be fair to say that the main foyer area was becoming a little stale.

Photos added.

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on December 14, 2017 at 5:12 am

Superscreen balcony getting another refurb in the new year, according to Cineworld’s Twitter account. My guess is conversion to VIP with relciners – interestingly the most recent refurb could be considered a downgrade on what was there before with the tables etc taken out and seating matching the main floor.

CF100
CF100 on October 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Zappomatic: If they’ve already done the new fit-out last time you visited, then why would the acoustics change for Atmos?

The “wooden” wall cladding I can only assume was there because someone thought it would look good… an acoustic disaster!

Quite interesting to compare the original auditorium with today’s standards, cinema interiors have moved on a lot in 10 years. Granted, they tend towards black boxes with few decorative features, but they’re far better than the average tacky multiplex auditorium.

Really should haul myself over to the O2 at some point check out the refurbished screen… alas, more “new” auditoria than films worth seeing these days!

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on October 9, 2017 at 5:50 pm

I’m still yet to go to the O2 Superscreen and find out whether the Atmos install fixed the echo issues (I have an Unlimited card and currently there’s no surcharge for Leicester Square’s Superscreen so I’m drawn there!) however I do notice that in early pictures of the O2 Superscreen, the balcony’s back wall, side walls and front are covered in something resembling wooden flooring. This is long since gone/covered over but I wonder who in their right mind thought it was a good idea in the first place?

CF100
CF100 on October 1, 2017 at 4:13 am

Zappomatic: Ah! Personally I’d rather flagship/key sites were invested in… bringing up auditoria to “next gen” standards of projection, sound and seating requires major investment…

There were so many multiplexes built within a few years, it’s a little strange to think that they are starting to become like the “fleapits” that so many of the old picture palaces ended up as…

It might be (yet more!) off the mark speculation from my overactive brain, but as Canary Wharf expands North towards Aspen Way it’s getting awfully close to the Cineworld…

I’d be amazed if Billingsgate Market doesn’t move at some point… the adjacent McDonald’s Drive-Thru has been demolished to make way for high rise apartments (with a replacement McDonald’s!) OK, not directly relevant to this site, but it’s a clue on the direction things are moving in the area…

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on September 29, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Ah looks like I missed out the fact I was referring to its nearest Cineworld neighbour, West India Quay.

CF100
CF100 on September 29, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Zappomatic:

I’m just finding this all a bit odd as they have other sites in London greater need of upgrading, for example other than the Star Seating trial and some new carpet the screens are unchanged from their 2000 state meaning a metal bar can be felt in the backrest of many of the seats.

Eh?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 29, 2017 at 6:24 am

Auditoria lighting level is often dictated by the local council for health and safety reasons. Bexleyheath was an annoying example.