Vue Piccadilly

19 Lower Regent Street,
London, SW1Y 4LR

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Plaza Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located on an excellent site in Lower Regent Street, just south of Piccadilly Circus, the Plaza Theatre was built for and operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. It was designed by Frank T. Verity with plasterwork by Marc Henri, and opened on 1st March 1926, with Dorothy Gish in “Nell Gwyn”. It was sumptuously decorated with total seating for 1,896 divided between stalls, Royal circle (mezzanine) and balcony. There was a small stage and live acts were a feature of the programme – including the famous Plaza Tiller Girls. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3Manual/15Ranks theatre organ (with piano attachment), and had a cafe.

The World Premiere of the David Lean film “Bridge On the River Kwai” starring Alec Guinness was held at the Plaza Theatre on 2nd October 1957. A Gala European Premiere of “Darling” was held on 16th September 1965. A Gala Premiere of “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” was held at the Plaza Theatre on 13th January 1966. The World Premiere of “Alfie” was held at the Plaza Theatre on 24th March 1966. The Plaza Theatre lasted without alteration until 27th September 1967 when it closed with Craig Stevens in “Gunn”. The the lovely Italian Renaissance style auditorium was gutted to form two cinemas, designed by Samuel Beverly of architecural firm Verity & Beverley with David Hicks as colour consultant to reflect the tones and conditions of the 1960’s. The Wurlitzer organ was removed and sold to Leonard Bartholomew. The 820-seat upper cinema was used as an extended balcony and the original projection box, retaining the name Plaza. The stalls, which extended into the stage area, became the 972-seat Paramount. They re-opened 28th July 1968.

The Paramount used a new projection box constructed in the former Royal Circle area. The Plaza was renamed Universal from 25th May 1972, but old names linger and from 15th May 1975 they were both renamed Plaza 1 & 2.

Two years later, Plaza 1 (the old stalls) closed and was triplexed. The upstairs cinema now became Plaza 1 whilst the front stalls became Plaza 2 (378 seats), and the rear Plaza 3 & 4 (163 & 181 seats). All original decoration was lost.

Late in 2001, the complex closed and was gutted (yet again!). It reopened as the Apollo Cinemas West End in September 2004 with retail space (Tesco supermarket) on the ground floor and five new cinemas located in the basement. The screens seat: (1)88, (2)59, (3)40, (4)168 and (5)126 Total seating in the five screens is for 481 plus 8 wheelchair spaces (2 in screens 1,2,4,5, none in screen 3). The upper floors of the building have been rebuilt internally for office space. It was re-named Vue Piccadilly in early 2013.

The exterior of the building is Listed Grade II as part of the Regent Street conservation area.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

woody on March 25, 2008 at 4:53 am

photo taken just before the demolition crew moved in, this panel of original plasterwork was removed and stored and was to have been displayed in the new Apollo lobby.

theatreofvarieties on June 13, 2008 at 3:19 pm

all the plasterwork was removed and disposed of safely as it contained asbestos, you wont be seeing it back i’m afraid.

woody on May 16, 2009 at 6:26 am

a photo of screen 2 with its pop-art wall panels as it was being stripped out, the seat backs have all gone, just the seat cushions left
and the box office as it was being dismantled, still with a few bulbs left working

madorganplayer on January 29, 2013 at 4:49 am

Ive worked at the Apollo a few times installing plasma screens.It was odd knowing that i was working where the stalls once were.Ive attached a couple of pictures of the Plaza WurliTzer-one in the pit at the Plaza and the other at its first home in Ascot after being removed.The organ had an odd start to life.,the chambers were split either side of the proscenium.The solo organ and the 32Diaphone disturbed nearby offices.The Solo organ was then moved up into the roof speaking out from above the proscenium which made it sound rather odd.The Diaphones were disconnected and it is believed left in the theatre in the roof space when the organ was removed.My guess is that they were broken up when the building was converted.Im presuming that the roof was taken off?

SethLewis on February 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

Now known as the Vue Picadilly…a bit off the beaten track of the West End screens…currently programming day date mass market pictures along the rest of the West End…One would think that it would have a better chance if it programmed art house fare in line with the Odeon Covent Garden or Panton Street.

Interesting to see if this survives or not…the only thing that might work in the space is a restaurant

davepring on May 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Since being rebranded as Vue this cinema has gone downhill.The plasma info screens no longer work.The foyer is desolate with tatty signs directing you down to the cinemas..shameful.

SethLewis on December 10, 2016 at 11:09 am

You go to Paris and have a great range of international film programming…All the US pictures and a well-curated mix of local and international product…The Odeon Panton Street does some good sub-run programming but is seriously out of date…This site just needs good programming to survive (a la the old Swiss Centre cinema)

madorganplayer on December 23, 2016 at 12:22 pm

davepring, I was working at the Apollo installing and updating the plasma a few years ago.Those to the windows and above the staircase are extremely difficult to get at because of the glass staircase and it doesnt surprise me that they are no longer working.The company i was working at no longer work for Vue.Vue are cheapskates and penny pinching and try to do things for themselves and balls it up in the process.At least Apollo under Paul Gregg and later his missus Anita tried to keep things working.

ritzman on April 17, 2017 at 7:34 am

Photo taken during the farewell organ concert 17/09/1967 Added at photo tab

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