Vue Piccadilly

19 Regent Street,
London, SW1Y 4LR

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Plaza

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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. The Plaza Theatre lasted without alteration until 1967, when the lovely auditorium was gutted to form two cinemas, designed again by architect Frank T. Verity together with his (by then partner) Samuel Beverly. The Wurlitzer organ was removed and the 820-seat upper cinema was used as an extended balcony and the original projection box. The stalls, which extended into the stage area, became the 972-seat Paramount with the upper cinema still called the Plaza.

The Paramount used a new projection box constructed in the former Royal Circle area. The Plaza was renamed Universal in 1972, but old names linger and in 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 25 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 3, 2006 at 1:51 pm

A recent close-up view of the entrance of the Apollo West End:
http://www.moviebunker.com/apollo_west_end.htm

woody
woody on March 22, 2007 at 3:26 am

nightime shot of the exterior of the plaza building, with the discrete apollo entrance on the lower left side
View link

Ian
Ian on August 11, 2007 at 1:51 pm

A pre demolition shot of the Plaza in 1988 here:–

View link

bwales
bwales on March 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm

“Zulu” in 70mm at the Plaza?.

Recently I was viewing a the recent Widescreen DVD of the film “Zulu” and the interesting exta item was the “Making of Zulu”.

There was some details that it was first openned at the Plaza in 1964, but no details if it was in Technirama70 (70mm) or just a 35mm Mag sound version.

The first 70mm film at the Plaza was “Becket” in March 1964 and I wondered if “Zulu” was ever screened in 70mm at the Plaza in this year?.

woody
woody on March 25, 2008 at 6:53 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.
http://flickr.com/photos/woody1969/63380109/

theatreofvarieties
theatreofvarieties on June 13, 2008 at 5:19 pm

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

woody
woody on May 16, 2009 at 8:26 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
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3535004297/
and the box office as it was being dismantled, still with a few bulbs left working
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3535824888/

madorganplayer
madorganplayer on January 29, 2013 at 6:49 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
SethLewis on February 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm

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
davepring on May 13, 2014 at 4:09 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.

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