Vue West End

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

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Warner Theatre

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 1,789-seat 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 Warner Theatre was equipped with a Compton 3Manual Paramount Mark 2 model 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 closed for a refurbishment on 9th March 2017 to the plans of UNICK Architects, which includes the installation of 1,385 VIP and luxurious recliner seats thoughout all the screens, and Dolby Atmos sound in some auditoriums. It re-opened 11th July 2017.

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 126 comments)

CF100 on March 10, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Lionel: “The Jungle Book” re-release (IIRC in 1986?) was actually one of the first films I ever saw in a cinema, alas in a poor quality local cinema.

Not familiar with the JBL 8325. Have you any more information?

Lionel on March 11, 2020 at 10:21 am

For the UK, the re-release was in the summer of 1987. It was also one of the first films I saw in a theatre, although in my case, it was a re-release in the mid-seventies. I’ve never been a huge Disney fan though, even as a child. The JBL 8325 surround speaker was a 3-way system similar to the 8330 although the shape was parallelepipedic. In the Warner cinema here, there were eight of them on each side wall and two on the rear wall (only two, due to the architecture limiting the auditorium width at the back). I also heard them in another cinema and they were good, no audible difference with the 8330. You can find its specs here, and plenty of pictures in Google :

CF100 on March 13, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Thanks Lionel; for some reason my own Google search on the 8325 yielded no results. Very similar indeed, just a neater and easier to install form with the 8330.

I could have sworn it was ‘86. Somewhere I have an old notebook in which I kept logs of cinema/theatre trips from my childhood…

davidcoppock on May 17, 2020 at 8:11 am

Screened the World premiere of “Carry on Cleo” o 10/12/1964.

vindanpar on July 18, 2020 at 9:48 am

Are there any pictures of the interior when it was Warner’s premiere house in London in the 60s? I only see the one of the band right at the lip of the proscenium but nothing of the auditorium itself. Above picture looks like after the twinning in ‘70.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 18, 2020 at 11:26 am

Two views of the original 1938 auditorium of the Warner Theatre now in the photos section.

vindanpar on July 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Thank you. I assume that was the lay out of the auditorium until ‘70? I wonder if the proscenium was widened for 70mm or if it was projected within it for films like MFL and Camelot. I just noticed the ad for The Devils. This and Song of the South are the only 2 films I know of as banned.

Lionel on July 18, 2020 at 2:57 pm

These two pictures show the original auditorium before it was redecorated and fitted out with a new stage and a 70mm screen for a few years, before it was twinned. There is a small picture showing the screen with curtains open, in the book “West End Cinemas” by Allen Eyles. I can’t scan it and post it here because I don’t have the book right here and the picture may not be free of use. This is the only picture I know of the Warner with this remodelling.

CP200 on August 21, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Does this cinema even have THX anymore?… Oh just read lost its THX oh well no point ever going to this place if it doesn’t have serious THX sound system.

Lionel on September 10, 2020 at 4:26 am

@vindanpar : I just uploaded a picture which should answer your question. Transformation for 70mm in 1964, but still as a single-screen theatre.

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