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 24 comments)

Ian on November 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm

That is largely because it is practically only possible to photograph this theatre from one angle – the streets are so narrow and the only other facade is rather dull!

However here is an interior photograph :-

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 25, 2008 at 9:09 am

LM, that December 28, 2007 marquee was most likely a promo for French Connection UK, the clothing store. They were quite famous for their “FCUK Argentina” World Cup campaign.

Ian on February 14, 2009 at 12:48 am

Some photos taken this week – February 2009 – of the interiors of the two cinemas, and (just for Simon Overton) a shot of the exterior from the other side – note how the signage is angled away towards Leicester Square!


Downstairs screen and new projection box:

Upstairs (new) screen:

A good conversion, with the new screen luxuriously fitted out. Interesting to see the unusual arrangement for the new projection suite at the front of the former balcony.

chrisjones on May 6, 2009 at 8:26 am

I remember it being pretty notorious as the only cinema playing Tinto Brass' dreadful ‘Caligula’ for seemingly years and years in London.

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 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 on October 9, 2014 at 7:06 am

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

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!

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