Prince Charles Cinema

7 Leicester Place,
London, WC2 7BY

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1973 MG print ad with photo taken in front of the Prince Charles Cinema.

The Prince Charles Theatre was designed by Carl Fisher & Associates with 358 seats all on one level. It started life as a live theatre on 26th December 1962 with a transfer from the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith of a Canadian revue “Clap Hands”.

Some film use alternated with live theatre beginning in 1964 with screenings of “Tartuffe”, but as a live theatre it was not a success, and it became a full time cinema from 30th May 1965 and on 4th July 1965 it was taken over by the Leeds based Star Cinemas chain and the seating capacity was increased to 414. Success still was not achieved, due to dreadful sight-lines, so it closed in 1968 for a complete internal reconstruction to the design of architect Carlo S. Biskupek, and interior design by Harold Bartram. The stage was removed and the new auditorium was increased in size from 414 to 631 seats in stalls and circle levels. It re-opened on 21st January 1969 with Pierre Clementi in “Benjamin”, and became the West End showcase of the Star Cinemas chain.

In 1985 the Cannon Group took over Star Cinemas and it was renamed Cannon Prince Charles. It was refurbished in 1986. On 26th April 1991 it was taken over by the Robins Cinemas chain and the Prince Charles Cinema finally found its niche as a repertory cinema, playing recent hit films, revivals, foreign language and cult hits, at greatly reduced prices on admission and concessions for the West End, where prices are premium.

During November 2008, work was commenced to convert the Prince Charles Cinema into a twin-screen cinema. The former circle has been separated from the former stalls by a drop-wall. Films are shown in the former stalls on the original, large screen, from a projection box located in an area that was formerly the front of the circle. This projection box is behind the screen of the former circle screen, which continues to use the original projection box. Work was carried out overnight and during the mornings and early afternoons, with regular screenings continuing in the stalls screen during the evenings. The twin screen cinema opened in December 2008 with seating for 302 in the former stalls which has a screen measuring 21.5 feet wide by 11.5 feet high, and a 104 seat screen in the former circle. The Prince Charles Cinema has retained its film projectors, and has regular screenings of 70mm prints as well as 35mm and digital presentations.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

The theater’s website flyer says the downstairs auditorium will be closed for a few days in early March to spruce it up with new chairs, drapes, carpet, lighting and more.

iankingdon1980
iankingdon1980 on January 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I was the senior projectionist in 2000-2002 and amanda ireland was the chief projections and we where running phillips dp-75 with 70mm add ons.good times

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 9, 2014 at 7:06 am

Just added a 1973 MG print ad to the photos section.

SethLewis
SethLewis on August 24, 2016 at 1:37 am

Great great summer season of films in 35mm and 70mm…Caught The Right Stuff in 70mm last night stunning presentation…good popcorn and bar too…we need to support this!

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 2, 2018 at 6:33 am

I saw movies when it was a single screener sitting in both stalls & balcony/circle, and agree with Lionel as to his commments. I preferred the sightlines from the balcony. I’ve since seen more movies in the main floor auditorium, finding the rows I like most there. There are still 70mm presentations including currently 2001 and Die Hard.

Lionel
Lionel on November 2, 2018 at 6:35 am

I was reading all comments posted since the beginning. I remember the theatre when it was a single-screen theatre. I went only once, to see The Last Emperor in 70mm, in 1988. Visited the booth with the chief projectionist Ian Mitchell, his assistant was a young French lady. The stalls slope was inverted if I’m not mistaken, so the screen was quiet high for viewers seated at the rear of the stalls, but if you sat at the first row of the balcony as I did, you were almost facing the center of the screen, or at least the upper half of it, and it looked great.

Billy
Billy on November 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Visited today for the first time in a few months and noticed a significant refurbishment has taken place, in the foyer and especially the toilets which are much more modern and nicer looking. Still a brilliant cinema with excellent 35mm presentations, £1 member tickets and all-night themed movie marathons.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 21, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Last month, I saw that the Mens toilets had been totally redone & were nice looking. Staff said they had been redone about 4 months prior to my visit. I don’t recall that the downstairs foyer or the ground floor space had changed. I enjoyed 2 classic movies, An American Werewolf in London (DCP) & Death Line (1972, 35mm), both perfect for this visitor from the States. As to the prior comment, I enjoyed better the sightlines from the balcony/circle, which had been open during weekday matinees, and alas is now the 2nd screen. I do have my favorite vantage point in the stalls, about the 10th row from the screen. I’ve not seen a movie in the upstairs auditorium.

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