Vue West End
3 Cranbourne Street,
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Vue Cinemas UK (Official)
Operated by: Vue
Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp., Warner Bros. International Theatres, Warner Village Cinemas
Architects: Leslie C. Norton, Thomas R. Somerford, Edward Albert Stone
Firms: UNICK Architects
Functions: Movies (First Run)
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Warner Theatre, Warner West End & Warner Rendezvous, Warner West End, Village West End
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News About This Theater
- Aug 16, 2014 — A first for ice cream at the cinema
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 Bros. built their 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 Edward Albert Stone and Thomas 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 premieres were held at the Warner Theatre, including on 26th October 1960 the World Premiere of “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, 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 to the plans of architect Leslie C. Norton, reopening on 29th October 1970 as the Warner West End in an extension of the former circle seating area with a Gala Premiere of Kirk Douglas in “There Was a Crooked Man” and on 12th November 1970 as the Warner Rendezvous in the former stalls seating area opened with Peter Cook in “The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer”. 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 Royal Film Premiere of “Never Say Never Again” was held on 14th December 1983. The auditorium section of the sub-divided original Warner Theatre was closed on 12th September 1991 and was demolished, retaining only the original 1937 façade.
Nine new auditoriums were built behind the original façade 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. It was operated as the Warner Cinema by Warner Bros. International Theatres. On 6th December 1996 it was re-named Warner Village Cinemas 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 throughout 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.
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Recent comments (view all 137 comments)
Warner west end opened October 29th, 1970 Warner west end opening 28 Oct 1970, Wed Evening Standard (London, Greater London, England) Newspapers.com
1993 grand opening ad
Warner West End reopening 24 Sep 1993, Fri Evening Standard (London, Greater London, England) Newspapers.com
CP200: THX certification is long gone. The sound systems in Screens 5 and 7 were replaced in the 2017 refurbishment. They are still premium installations, full Atmos systems with Dolby SLS speakers. Projection is dual Sony SRX-R515’s (Xenon lamp light source since Vue have been slow with laser.)
As an aside, I’m surprised to see that ALL digital cinema projectors on Sony’s website are labelled as “Discontinued,” so I assume they have pulled out of the digital cinema market. (Not up to speed on cinema technology news at the moment.)
rivest266: Thank you for posting the Evening Standard article from 1970; fascinating reading even though I never knew the cinema in that form. It is possible to get a higher resolution copy from that site (link can be found by getting the URL of the image source)–although it only allows for one free page before requesting sign up.
I have summarised the information within thusly:
Architect: Lesile C. Norton, AIAA.
Designer: Felix Holton, FSIA.
Décor: Alan Best.
Equipment, seating and carpeting: Pathé Equipment.
Project duration: ~8 months.
Upper cinema: West End
Old circle, new floor added.
Capacity: 890 in “specially designed tip-back seats.”
Colour scheme: Two-tone orange in auditorium and upper lounge bar.
Carpet: 190sq.yds. of two-tone carpet with WB motif, covering upper lounge-bar also.
Clusters of 400 glass fibre drums, “pools of reflected light” diffused over auditorium.
No tabs, instead “20ft. decorative openwork mental panel which slides in half automatically to reveal the screen.”
Upper lounge bar: “the surround area is picked out in orange fabric with stainless steel trim.”
Lower cinema: The Rendezvous
Capacity: 686, “tip-back seats.”
Colour scheme: Green and blue.
Carpet: 1300 sq. yds. of green-blue carpet, geometric design, covering lower foyer bar also.(Doesn’t quite make sense given the above 190sq.yds., unless this covered substantially more lobby space?!)
Seats: Woven fabric, green-blue mixture.
“Clusters of overhead lights from the predominant dark ceiling light the auditorium, and these are backed up with ceiling spots which pick out reflected strips of glass-fibre set into the green-pleated fabric walls.”
No tabs; “the screen merges into white wing walls on either side to give a total white effect from wall to wall. The wings are darkened to provide masking for the cinema screen.” (Whatever that means?)
Lower foyer bar: “Centre section of the surround walls is picked out in herculite plaster panels. Deep bands of stainless steel support the panels which, when lit, give a floating effect. The ceiling has an inset circular well with random lighting.”
Interestingly, the “behind the scenes” section of the article mentions that foundations of the former Daly’s Theatre that was on the site before the cinema were found during the works. I assume this means that some excavation took place?
It also mentions that the “original rich velvet drapes” from Daly’s Theatre were found hanging behind the screen for acoustic absorption!
(The article continues on another page, but I am unable to access this.)
As an aside, it really is rather depressing to compare the quality of writing and attention to detail, even if probably culled from the press release etc., with today’s media.
Warner West End 2 Warner west end 2 28 Oct 1970, Wed Evening Standard (London, Greater London, England) Newspapers.com
3 Warner west end 3 28 Oct 1970, Wed Evening Standard (London, Greater London, England) Newspapers.com
[Corrections to previous post: 1) The images link directly to the clippings on Newspapers.com, which allows those pages to be viewed without a subscription. 2) The article is in fact an advertorial, albeit the previous comment on the decline in standards of copy still applies.]
Thank you for posting those pages, rivest266.
It turns out that the “twinning” involved extensive reconstruction works. A measure of this is that the screens were “set at either ends”–the architects are quoted as saying:
“We did it to make best possible use of the existing shell, as well as providing for maximum structural strength.”
2,500 tons of clay were moved.
70 tons of new steelwork, including 4x4ft. deep beams of 60ft. length supporting the upper auditorium.
Upper auditorium volume: 330,000cu.ft.
Lower auditorium volume: 150,000cu.ft.
From the “both are heated to 70°F” statement, it does not sound like full air conditioning was installed.
The designer, Felix Horton, is described being “one of the most avant-garde designers in Europe;” the article mentions some of his other work, including luxury aircraft and cruise ship interiors, as well as a palace in Kuwait.
Ambak: Interesting information! It is odd that the 1970’s conversion was clearly expensive, whilst you state that the lower auditorium was subdivided in “two weeks” by building a wall. I suppose this is a measure of just how rapidly cinema attendance patterns were changing, and an emergent unwillingness to properly invest in exhibition, but why there was not more foresight I find somewhat puzzling.
What, if any, decorative changes did this subdivision involve–or was all simply left “as is” the maximum possible extent? Were 70mm projection facilities still available? (Presumably, if so, in the rear auditorium only?)
Short video made in 1998 by the projectionist showing Titanic in 70mm at the Warner screen #7 :
In the late 80’s, chief projectionist Phil Crawley (if I remember the spelling correctly) gave me a tour of the projection booth for screen #2 (the large one) and, as I was following him in the building for an emergency elsewhere, we happened to enter another auditorium, a small one in blue and green colors with surround speakers on tall tripods. In this auditorium booth, I was surprised to see no Dolby processor in the sound rack but saw a piece of equipment labelled Kintek. I didn’t ask any questions.
Today, as I was searching the web for informations on Kintek cinema equipment, I just came across this interesting article about demonstrating playback on Kintek/Bose equipment at the Warner back then.
Somebody just posted a scan of an article from Films Illustrated (July 1972) depicting the state of London cinemas that year. I took a portion of the scan dedicated to the Warner (2 screens back then) and uploaded in the Photos section. It contains a bad quality picture of the Warner Rendezvous (the downstairs screen).