Odeon Leicester Square

26 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LQ

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rasLXR on March 14, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Yes not much presence in the West End for Odeon when I started with them they had Odeon L Sq, Haymarket, St Martins Lane, Marble Arch, Kensington, Chelsea, Westbourne Grove, Swiss Cottage, Dominion Tott Crt Rd, the Astoria had just opened Elvis show, Metropole and New Victoria had gone.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 14, 2015 at 7:08 pm

CF100, Photographs of the 1987 house curtains with the three appliqued stripes terminating in vertical wavy lines towards the centre (and the orange neon stripes on the splay walls which replicated the pattern) are scarce as hens' teeth I’m afraid. I do have a faded copy of a photo' of those tabs taken during an organ concert and they can be seen opening and closing (as well as the neon installations rippling in and out) at the end of a DVD I have of numerous cinemas filmed by the late Tony Moss. I have a home cinema and when those tabs were in use, between 1987 and 1998, J. C. Joel, who produced them for Rank, also made a pair for me to the same specifications but for a 12' track. If you’d like to see mine, I’m on Flickr as “Fanatical about Odeon” and there is a shot of them in my photostream. I always liked the look of those tabs (hence having them in my Odeon) but thought the neon gimmicky. The design was typically art deco with a hint of arts and crafts which, to my mind, would have gone well with the restored flying ladies. Coincidentally, I’ve just spent most of today at the Odeon and I learned that the planned refurbishment has been postponed until early 2016. Things are quite fluid with the parent company (to float or sell?) at present and this may have had a bearing on the decision. With the Odeon West End finally gone and Marble Arch doomed, Odeon’s presence in the West End is now really a clutch of small complexes and the flagship. With “Spectre” and “Star Wars the Force Awakens” on the horizon, there is, at present, much for my favourite cinema to look forward to. They’re still putting on a good show and using screen masking and screen tabs (for 2D product)and when I watched “Marigold Hotel II” earlier, the ‘Scope image was stunning and the sound excellent.

CF100 on January 27, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Further thoughts on the (potential?) Atmos installation: the rear stalls don’t have enough height for the ceiling speakers. Also, might they be intending to become a “Dolby Cinema” location, which Dolby are promoting as an IMAX-competitor? (Laser projectors., HDR, etc…)

On a different topic, I recall before the 1998 refurbishment, when the “flying ladies” were recreated, there sections of red neon strips on the splay walls which mirrored the red pattern on the main tabs. I cannot find any photos or reference to this anywhere, although by then it looked terribly dated!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 18, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Yes, the main foyer did become rather bare and chilly. The 1998 revamp/rebranding included illuminated friezes around the new entrance to the stalls and the sales counter, projected signs for stalls and circle and Optikinetics projected version of Odeon clock. Also installed, and still there, above the entrance doors was a Miniscan effects projector which originally panned the new style name across the floor and walls. The coloured, cold cathode lighting for the friezes and various projected images along with the fibre-optic illuminated circle stairs were principally the reasons for the plain, light treatment of the walls and floor – it was meant to gleam and glitter with so many different reflected lights. Unfortunately, all too soon several elements of the lighting scheme failed and repair/replacement proved difficult or impossible to carry out so only the stair lighting and STALLS sign remain today making the rest of the foyer somewhat drab. The ten parallel lighting coves above the circle lounge all originally changed colour through numerous beautiful hues. The light sources for the fibre-optic light cabling all had colour wheels attached to provide what was an eye-catching effect. Once again, with constant use, the colour wheels began to stick which spoilt the effect and the light sources (in some very difficult to access places)were switched to white. Sadly the sources for the three coves nearest the front of the theatre’s glazed frontage are now impossible to reach safely hence those coves remain dark.

The only attempts to recall the Odeon’s original splendour in the auditorium were the replicated golden ladies on the splay walls, fibre-optic lighting tails in the coving above the circle and around those ladies and the leopard skin design of the new seating. The seating was completely replaced some years back with more leopard skin upholstery except for the royal circle where the new seats were blue. It’s worth remembering the entire circle was expensively re-stepped to increase legroom early this century and much valuable capacity was lost in the process.

I hope the forthcoming refurbishment will retain the things which make the Odeon so special while restoring some of the warmth the public areas used to have.

Cjbx11 on January 18, 2015 at 7:07 pm

If the Odeon is being referbished I hope they improve the foyer area. I always thought it odd that when they had there last major refit in the late 90s they put so much effort into restoring the auditorium back to it’s origanal 1930s style while the foyer was turned into this ultra modern almost clinical style which I always found to be rather cold and unwelcoming.

CF100 on December 17, 2014 at 8:52 am

The above-linked BBC article states that “the tower of the OLS… still stands today… despite not being listed.”

This is, of course, true, but since Leicester Square is a conservation area, the frontage is afforded some protection. I suspect an OWE-like scheme for the OLS would go down like the Titanic.

CF100 on December 16, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Finally some good news after much speculation! I assume this means that the ‘Dutchess’ will be kept.

Not sure what there is to ‘expensively’ refurbish in the auditorium other than upgrading the seats—perhaps some carefully integrated elements to control the acoustics? I don’t understand how Dolby Atmos could be installed without eliminating the rear stalls. The only option I can see is to have two levels of side and ceiling speakers, with the lower level time aligned/delayed with the upper, and careful choice and positioning of the upper speakers. Still would seem to be an audio scrambled egg in the making!

I do hope the current bland foyer areas will be completely reimaged.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 16, 2014 at 5:07 am

The Odeon, Leicester Square is due to close in March for an expensive refurbishment during which Dolby Atmos sound system will be installed. There are no plans to sub-divide the auditorium which remains the West End’s sole remaining large cinema still offering its original configuration of stalls and circle. The Odeon’s seating capacity, reputation, position and celebrity are invaluably important to all major distributors. I’m already relishing the prospect of travelling two hundred miles to enjoy “Spectre” from an armchair in the theatre’s royal circle. The Leicester Square Theatre/Odeon West End will close in January to be demolished.

goodshow on December 14, 2014 at 9:43 am


Paul Stephenson
Paul Stephenson on November 23, 2014 at 6:19 am

Interesting Telegraph article about the 70mm presentation of Interstellar – their first 70mm since Armageddon in 1998

Interstellar: the secrets of the projection room

CF100 on October 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

d8rren—Thanks for the reply. Can’t say I’d noticed that the screen was smaller but I do sit towards the front and 3D films are impressive.

On my last visit to Empire LS (a Wednesday evening) the foyer was quite busy. I’d imagine they get a reasonable number of customers in for their mini-screens. (Anyone seeing the ‘IMAX’ sign would be in for a shock, although I gather that those mini-screens are actually pretty good.)

London has now many modern local cinemas with large screens, but still, the BFI IMAX does well so some people are willing to make the trip and pay extra for something special.

Can’t work out the point of the 70mm ‘Interstellar’ screenings at the OLS when there are two other venues in London with 15/70 prints, but I suppose it’s not something to complain about!

d8rren on October 27, 2014 at 7:04 am

@ CF100 when showing a 3D film the curtains are not in use the screen seems to be about 1m smaller in the width

Empire LS is doing ok wouldn’t say its taking much more than it was before as always it will suffer from not having 1st pick of available titles

Interstellar opens 1 day early on the 6/11/14 & is showing in 70mm format in OLS & seems to be selling well

the days of sell out OLS and Empire are over most movie goers want to see their film as cheap as possible thats why every local cinema has some sold out showing on Orange Wednesdays & Empire & OLS will be luck to be a 3rd full if i want to see a film on a wednesday i go to the west end I’ve been in OLS when they have picked a dud with less than 20 people in there

CF100 on October 26, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Maybe the rumours are quite unfounded…

D8rren, any idea how the Empire LS is doing? How big is the smaller screen used for 3D screenings in the OLS?

d8rren on October 26, 2014 at 10:04 pm

OLS turnover is over 5 million pounds every year which a large amour comes from film premiers in which case too much alteration could result in losing its Europe premier status

in the modern world it could do with a 25% bigger screen which could be possibly achieved by removing the last 10 rows of seats in the stalls but at a cost of over 350 seats which could either be a new bar area or 2 small screens

but everything to do with the screen is designed to be removed for the stage a smaller is installed for 3D movies

seats and legroom are a bit tight and could do with spacing out a bit more but i don’t think the seats are even 10 years old and are very expensive ones at that

if you need a massive screen imax and the sky super screen are available

OLS gives you the super cinema experience thats its selling point

d8rren on October 26, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Odeon do not own OLS it was sold a couple of years ago with Swiss Cottage after its refit both are on 20 odd year leases

CF100 on October 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Planning permission, of course, is valid for some time so nothing may happen for a while, and this is assuming that the roof replacement means concurrent changes to the auditorium. Presumably it would make sense for the OWE replacement to (finally) go ahead first…

It may be extraordinary that Leicester Square does still has any “original” cinema buildings left—from what I gather from looking through archived material, the Empire was sold to Mecca with the original scheme being to knock it down and build an office block/dance hall. Only later articles refer to the reconstruction scheme into the famous 1330 seat cinema (and dance hall underneath.)

There was also a scheme to redevelop the block of buildings next to the Odeon Leicester Square (1983) into various uses cinemas… perhaps someone has more details on this and what the effect would have been on the OLS?

Summary of the 1983 proposals: http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=ZZZZW3RPXC669

goodshow on October 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

The Odeon, Leicester square is the high water mark of cinema history in England. Imagine Buckingham Palace being turned into flats? Should not be tampered with, and thats final.

davepring on October 20, 2014 at 6:39 am

It would be a great shame if the last great cinema in Leicester Square was to be twinned.I just hope they follow James Hannaways example at the old Odeon in St Albans and turn this landmark cinema into something unique by reconfiguring the stalls into table seating with a bar at the rear under the circle overhang. I have rarely been impressed with Odeon conversions and bearing in mind that a new Odeon twin screen is to be built on the site of the Odeon West End I fail to see the commercial benefit of it .

CF100 on October 18, 2014 at 8:22 pm

The planning application for the replacement roof has been approved.

CF100 on October 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm

If Odeon are going to “reconfigure” then perhaps this is a possible conversion: Move the screen to a position just ahead of the circle, remove the first few rows of the circle and create a new flat ceiling section in the screen area. This would then allow a screen size of say 70ft. x 30ft. The existing circle would thus be extended slightly forward, but this could be built as a “mezzanine”-type floor on columns if necessary.

Most of the stalls seating area would be “eliminated” (or some very small screens could be jammed in under the circle!) with the stage and void to the back wall used to form a second main screen.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on September 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm

The roof replacement will, presumably, involve a period of closure for at least part of the work so, if that is the case, any reconfiguration of the auditorium might be timed to coincide. Full marks to Odeon for continuing to invest in the West End’s last remaining, currently intact super cinema. No plans whatever for any degree of demolition btw!

CF100 on September 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Odeon have applied for planning approval of a new pitched roof to replace the existing asbestos one. That being the case, presumably the auditorium block isn’t due to be demolished any time soon!


CF100 on June 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

Rumour posted on a forum which states that the OLS is likely to be converted into two screens.

davepring on May 20, 2014 at 8:28 am

The Vue screens are an utter mess and after nearly 20 years are in a desperate need of refurbishment.The exterior of the building also needs some TLC. I hope someone from Odeon reads the comments here and pursues stadium seating in the stalls without compromising the decor. Btw CF100 not that keen on the black box Impact screen at The Empire!