Vue West End

3 Cranbourne Street,
Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7AL

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Warner Theatre

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Originally on this site was a playhouse theatre, Daly’s Theatre, which was opened on 27th June 1893 and designed by architect Spencer Chadwick. It was closed on 25th September 1937, and was purchased by Warner Bros. to be demolished. Warner’s built the new Warner Theatre on the site which opened on 12th October 1938 with Errol Flynn in “The Adventures of Robin Hood”.

The architects of the Warner Theatre were E.A. Stone and T.R. Somerford. The frontage was faced with reconstructed marble with a large relief panel by sculptor Bainbridge Copnall in each corner depicting spirits of sight and sound. There is a large central tower feature in a concave recess bearing the ‘Warner’ name. The 1,789 seat cinema was equipped with a 3Manual Compton organ. Many premiere’s were held at the Warner Theatre, including on 28th April 1967 the World Premiere of “Privilege”, a Gala Premiere on “You’re a Big Boy Now” on 25th May 1967, a Gala Premiere of “Triple Cross” on 22nd June 1967 and on 16th November 1967 a Royal European Charity Premiere of “Camelot” starring Richard Harris, which was attended by HRH the Princes Margaret. The original Warner Theatre was twinned reopening on 29th October 1970 and 12th November 1970 as the Warner West End & Rendezvous Warner West End. The Warner West End upstairs had 890 seats and the Rendezvous downstairs had 680 seats. In September 1974 the former bar was opened as Warner West End 3, with the other two screens being renamed Warner West End 1 & 2. Screen 2 was twinned in November 1975 and reopened as Warner West End 3 & 4 seating 270 and 454 Screens 1 & 3 were then re-named 2 & 1. In October 1981 the 180-seat Warner West End 5 opened in previously unused space. The auditorium section of the sub-divided original Warner Theatre was closed on 12th September 1991 and was demolished, retaining the original 1937 facade.

Nine new auditoriums were built behind the original facade to the plans of architectural firm HGP Greentree Allchurch Evans, and they created a total seating capacity for 2,482 when it re-opened on 23rd September 1993 with a Royal Charity Premiere of “The Fugitive” attended by Princess Diana and film stars Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Roger Moore, and singers Sting and Phil Collins attending in person. On 6th December 1996 it was re-named Waner Village and in March 2004 it was taken over by Vue. In 2010 the seating capacities totalled 2,412: Screen 1: 177, Screen 2: 126, Screen 3: 300, Screen 4: 298, Screen 5: 414, Screen 6: 264, Screen 7: 410, Screen 8: 180 and Screen 9: 303.

The Vue West End is due to close for a refurbishment in March 2017 which will include the installation of 1,385 VIP and luxurious recliner seats thoughout all the screens, and Dolby Atmos sound in some auditoriums.

It has an excellent location on Cranborne Street on the corner of Leicester Square and occasional premieres are held here.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 64 comments)

ericcartman
ericcartman on April 23, 2016 at 6:48 am

I saw the first Batman here, in 1989, when I was 12 years old, and saw films here many times in the early 90’s. It was the most beautiful cinema in London when it was Warner’s. It is so sad to see what it has become- the lobby is a shabby, neglected disgrace.

SethLewis
SethLewis on April 23, 2016 at 7:44 am

This is now a complete tip…The local Vues at Westfield (White City) and Shepherds Bush are better maintained. Westfield even hosts premieres. While the Empire was being refurbished in the early 90s this was a first choice – there was a lot of good WB and Disney product also coming through the pipeline

A real shame

CF100
CF100 on August 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm

I have to wonder why VUE no longer consider their West End location to be a ‘flagship’ venue.

It was certainly built as such, and (in the mid-90s) very well equipped with JBL speakers, 2 THX-certified screens (a rarity in the UK, perhaps for ‘political’ reasons), 70mm, early support for 35mm digital formats, etc. Max. auditorium size is only 400 seats (40ft. wide screen) but presentation was excellent.

A difficulty is that a conversion of the current building to modern so-called ‘large format’ (i.e. supersized) screens is, I suspect, all but impossible. The 1990s rebuild (facade only retained) is already tightly packed.

Still, I can’t imagine business is so bad that it can’t be maintained to a normal standard…?!

SethLewis, when I went to the Shepherd’s Bush VUE a couple of years ago, the auditorium I was in had sagging wall fabric and the seats too were in a terrible state!

zappomatic
zappomatic on September 5, 2016 at 9:22 am

Vue have applied for planning permission to replace the front canopy and entrance doors, with new neon strips and uplighters. Looks like they’re ditching the now mostly unused box office windows, and installing one massive digital display (will upload photo shortly). The rendering looks much less cluttered than its current incarnation.

CF100
CF100 on September 23, 2016 at 5:38 pm

About time…!

The planning application is 16/06275/FULL.

Unfortunately, it appears that the only proposed neon lights are a refurbishment of the existing strips at the top of the facade.

The front canopy will be reduced in size, lighting to “enhance the external appearance of the building,” and the “design of the external doors [is] inspired by the art deco design of the building.”

There will be one main vertical VUE sign, on existing black covered vertical board (formerly the “Warner”/“Village” sign), angled on both sides to be visible from either approach.

Also amongst the application documents are a couple of photos from the “Warner Village” period.

Can’t say I like the “copper” colour scheme shown in the renderings but they are hardly “photorealistic” and it can hardly be worse than what’s already there.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on October 24, 2016 at 8:28 pm

I visited the Vue West End again for the 2016 BFI London Film Festival, and the curtains and stage lights were used in Cinemas 5 and 7. It looked very nice. Then I saw a non-festival film in one of the basement cinemas, and curtains and stage lights were not used. I could see that they have the type of curtain that rises because I could see it above the screen. What I don’t understand is, if they have them, why don’t they use them? It makes for a much nicer presentation.

davepring
davepring on February 1, 2017 at 6:51 am

The Vue WestEnd closes in March for a major refurbishment and not before time! Seating capacity will be reduced by half as more luxurious fully reclining seats are installed. Dolby Atmos will also be installed in the two largest screens.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on February 1, 2017 at 9:17 am

How will that affect the BFI London Film Festival with their reduced seating capacity? Lack of large auditoriums last year caused them to build a temporary auditorium beside the Thames.

SethLewis
SethLewis on February 1, 2017 at 11:00 am

Amazing the last refurbishment was in 1992 25 years ago We’ve avoided this theatre like the plague in the last 10 years only using it for the odd exclusive or London Film Festival showing but did enjoy a long list of pictures here before and after the refurb – Driving Miss Daisy, Bonfire of the Vanities, The Fugitive, Faithless, Serial Mom, Big Night, Fifth Element, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Scream, Don Juan De Marco, Dick Tracy, Home Alone, Butcher Boy, LA Confidential, True Romance, Scooby Doo 2 (yes with my then young nephew), Brokeback Mountain (exclusive), The Aviator (exclusive) and probably quite a few more Expect the LFF will make more use of Odeon Leicester Square, Odeon Covent Garden, PictureHouse Central and the Prince Charles but OLS and OCG are probably due for refurbs too

CF100
CF100 on February 23, 2017 at 9:47 am

davepring: Excellent news!

Bet they ditch the tabs though. :–(

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