Vue West End

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

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Warner Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 84 comments)

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on August 10, 2017 at 10:33 am

Have to say it was a bit of a surprise walking past this last night and seeing that huge screen briefly displaying an advert that had nothing to do with the cinema. Kind of tacky, really. They also need to sort out the canopy over the exit in Leicester Court which has a big chunk of cladding missing and peeling paint, and also see to the poster boxes there which are looking almost derelict. Sort those out and give the windows a clean and they’re done!

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on August 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

Just spotted the snack prices on the boards in the UNICK link. A tenner for popcorn and a drink!? And I thought Cineworld was expensive…

CF100
CF100 on August 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

Update to previous post: The surround speakers appear to be manufactured by SLS Audio, a company acquired by Dolby Labs. a couple of years ago.

All of their products feature ribbon high frequency transducers.

Zappomatic: £10 for popcorn and a drink is better than trying to hide a can of Coke in your trousers and having it “explode” just as you walk past the usher to enter the auditorium—as once happened to me back when it was the Warner West End! ;–)

CF100
CF100 on August 25, 2017 at 9:21 am

The refurbishment is the subject of an article in the September 2017 edition of Cinema Technology Magazine, on p82, currently available at:

http://emag.cinematechnologymagazine.com/#page/82

Unfortunately, the article is not as extensive as one might have expected.

A few details from the article:

-The building work involved up to 90 workers in a single day.

-EOMAC were responsible for some of the fit-out including stretched fabric over acoustic absorption wall coverings.

-All projection and sound systems were installed by Sound Associates.

-Screens 5/7: 2xSony R515 projectors (stacked configuration)/Dolby CP850 Atmos processors/Dolby multi-channel amplifiers/Dolby SLS speakers.

-Other screens: Sony R320 projectors/Dolby CP750 processors.

-Screens 5/6/7/8: Harkness Clarus XC170 screens.

CF100
CF100 on August 30, 2017 at 12:59 pm

I paid a visit to the Vue West End yesterday to see the re-released 3D/4K transfer/restoration/conversion of “Terminator 2.”

The new foyer and associated auditorium access areas are very attractive, being bright, welcoming and fresh, yet warmly lit, in an appropriate way for a cinema. I could nit-pick, but in a nutshell they have done a fabulous job.

Brass balustrades in the escalator stairwell landings, along with marble tiles, are, I believe, retained from the original 1993 fit-out. All windows to Leicester Court were blacked out, and I had assumed that the automatic door exit from the escalators were out of use, but looking at a photo I had taken, I had most likely been confused.

Unfortunately, the screening was not such a positive experience. Only one screening was listed as scheduled, in Screen 5, and I had booked a seat in the centre of a row. Alas, after obtaining my tickets from the vending machine, on presenting my tickets, I was informed that the screening was now in Screen 6, which I gather was due to Screen 5 being used for an event. I expressed my dissatisfaction to their disinterested ears.

Once in the auditorium, I discovered that my reallocated seat was off-centre, and the centre seats in that row were later occupied by other patrons. “Non-sync” music was played before the feature, and I may be mistaken, but it sounded something like a bizarre “muzak” version of generic movie soundtrack material. Tabs were left open with only a blank screen shown.

At the scheduled programme time, a member of staff entered the auditorium and curtly announced from the rear that we would have to wait 10 minutes for the film. This seems bizarre for a digital presentation, and I can only imagine that the DCP was frantically ingested at the last minute or similar!

The film started with a “pop”, no preceding material being played, and ended similarly abruptly, with the house lights remaining dimmed even after the end credits, and patrons had to find their way out of the auditorium using the “torch” function of their mobile phones; one of them quipped, “this cinema is terminated!”

Picture quality was very good, but on the dark side with 3D glasses on, and the black level (with glasses off) a little high. Geometry was also good, but with a bit of a curve towards the screen edges at the bottom.

Sound quality was good, although I assume playback was slightly less than reference level, and the LFE seemed restrained. Still, maximum levels were easily handled, with clear and clean high frequencies at all times, albeit coloured by a little peakiness.

The better auditoria in the 1993 multiplex were built to achieve excellent acoustics, with the advantage of not being four parallel walls as today’s auditoria tend towards, and this was apparent today with a highly controlled reverberation time and overall flat room contribution, and very good front stereo imaging.

However, it must be said that Screen 6 has too small a screen size, with seating too far away, certainly by today’s standards, and pales in comparison to the new “large format” digital screens in a certain cinema only a couple of hundred feet or so away—or for that matter the Odeon Leicester Square from the front stalls. It would be adequate for a smaller scale film, but is not for a monumental affair like T2.

The auditorium was very comfortable with good seats and excellent air conditioning, albeit all black in colour.

As for the film, to my mind, it goes without saying that T2 has a vastly more coherent and structured plot, better characterisation and more depth than today’s average “summer blockbuster”. The new transfer is outstanding with no visible grain, and almost perfect colour grading to the originally intended tints. It looks almost new, albeit not quite as detailed as current digitally acquired material. The 3D conversion is generally on the conservative side.

On leaving the Vue West End, I complained to a member of staff, who was very friendly and understanding, clearly enthusiastic about cinema in general, and they apologised profusely saying that Vue were “deeply humilated” by what had happened with the T2 screening.

Based on today’s visit, having spent £6.6m to modernise the Vue West End to create a very attractive and comfortable premium flagship location, with pricing to match, Vue really need to improve the overall customer experience and presentation to a consistent standard.

I will definitely return in the belief that next time will be better…

I have taken a number of photos, uploads to follow—alas only limited shots of the auditorium as it was too dark after the film finished!

CF100
CF100 on August 30, 2017 at 4:50 pm

A number of photos of the facade, foyer and lobby areas of the refurbished Vue West End now uploaded.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on August 31, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Just got the program for this year’s BFI London Film Festival, and I was surprised to see that they are again using the larger auditoriums of the Vue, considering the greatly reduced seating capacity after the renovation.

CF100
CF100 on September 1, 2017 at 11:22 am

Looks like they will be also be using a temporary cinema in Embankment Gardens again.

PhilipWW
PhilipWW on September 26, 2017 at 10:20 am

After its 1993 refurbishment 8 of the screens were full Scope screens with side masking. Just one (screen 2 I believe) had a 1.85 screen necessitating Scope movies being shown with top down masking; this was due to architectural constraints.

Is this still the situation after the 2017 refurbishment? Is the masking still there. With 80% plus of movies now made in Scope, the current vogue is for cinemas not to have side masking and for 1.85 ‘Flat’ movies to be shown pillarboxed on the Scope screens.

CF100
CF100 on September 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm

When I went there last month, there was still masking in Screen 6. Tabs are still there as well, albeit left open. Was going to go to Screen 5 yesterday to check out the Atmos installation but couldn’t fit it in. :–(

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