Odeon Leicester Square

26 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LQ

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CF100 on May 14, 2018 at 8:49 am

8build’s website now has a page on the OLS works.

It says that their role is the enabling works before fit-out, including “demolition, asbestos removal, form new openings and structural alterations.”

It goes on to say that only “extent of the removal works both and in turn the demolition and structural alterations” were not known at project commencement and only after “existing services, asbestos and structure [are] uncovered” will it be possible to ascertain the scope required.

Given that their stated project duration is 12 weeks, and that from what I currently think I can see externally the foyer works appear to be far from complete, it might be the case that the works have turned out to be more extensive than originally estimated, with consequential effects on the reopening date.

CF100 on April 27, 2018 at 6:51 pm

The OLS' Leicester Square frontage is currently in a somewhat forlorn state, with the lower LED screens removed and canopies/balcony stripped back to steel framework. (Photo uploaded.) If only I had “X-Ray” vision to see into the auditorium…!

CF100 on February 5, 2018 at 6:41 am

moviebuff82: According to FanaticalAboutOdeon, the works will take 9 months.

Having briefly looked at the plans and cut-away drawing again, and with the “giant screen” quote in my head, I’m thinking Odeon could go much further with this scheme than I had envisaged—with a screen closer to 90ft. wide, for which at “Scope” ratio there should be sufficient height. Naturally, this would involve very significant alterations to the stage end of the auditorium.

As with my previous suggestion, the sightlines from the rear stalls would mean that the last few rows would have to be dropped.

moviebuff82 on February 4, 2018 at 1:22 pm

When will it reopen?

CF100 on February 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The building control application for the OLS works (“Refurbishment of Cinema Complex – Odeon") is shown on Westminster’s site, received on the 3rd January 2018. No further information of interest is available.

On the subject of the Safety Curtain, a comment from the Cinema Theatre Association has now been added to the documents for the main planning application, listed as “CINEMA THEATRE ASSOCIATION LATE REP.” It enquires about the safety curtain, to which Westminster’s case officer responds:

“In respect of the pictorial safety curtain, given that the building is not listed alterations to the interior would not be subject to planning control.


“It may be of some comfort that I recall from meetings with the applicant’s design team that they did stress how it was their intention to refurbish and retain historic features where possible…”

CF100 on February 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Indeed the term “large format”—or rather “premium large format”—is marketing jargon, but I’d take it to mean an auditorium of at least medium size, with high end projection, large screen (relative to auditorium size, minimum say about 45ft. wide), and a capable sound system.

The most obvious example is IMAX Digital (typically 1.9:1) installations, which use IMAX’s own projection/sound system with automatic daily recalibration, etc., preferably meeting IMAX’s own standards for auditorium geometry.

Operators are free to brand any screen they like as “premium large format”—aka. IMPACT, iSense, Superscreen, XPlus, Xtreme, etc. In a decent non-IMAX one—e.g. the Superscreen at the Cineworld/Empire LSQ—you’d expect dual projectors, if not laser light source projection, 3D, and Atmos, as well as comfortable stadium seating, etc. As you suggest, many “premium large format”-branded screens are nearer 1.9:1 than “Scope” ratio.

Dolby Cinema is clearly Dolby’s answer to IMAX.

I am not sure if Odeon used the term “large format”—from a Variety article:

“Aron told reporters that the Odeon would certainly have a giant screen, ‘but it won’t be IMAX,’ in order to avoid competing with IMAX’s laser theater in the neighboring Cineworld Empire Leicester Square. Odeon has its own proprietary premium large-screen format, iSense, though it was not confirmed if this would be the format used at the Leicester Square venue.”

Assuming the OLS will be a Dolby Cinema venue, AFAIK it is supposed to be a “constant height” system, so “Scope” movies won’t be letterboxed. That said, as there are no Dolby Cinema venues in the UK to date, it’s not something I’ve paid much attention to.

Lack of masking won’t be that much of a problem with laser light source projection. Having said that, the OLS auditorium is most definitely not black, which might negatively impact the contrast ratio as light makes its way back to the screen.

Of course, one might wonder whether the OLS will retain celluoid projection—and tabs?

PhilipWW on February 4, 2018 at 7:01 am

What is a “large format” screen ?

I sincerely hope it is a proper Scope screen. However I suspect that it is PR jargon for a 1.90 screen which will mean that all Scope films, the majority of films nowadays, will be letterboxed with no top/bottom masking. Hardly a step forward.

I hope I am wrong.

CF100 on February 3, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Zappomatic: Brilliant, thank you again. My order is completed. Good job I have a Bissell wet vaccum with anti-bacterial cleaner!

CF100 on February 3, 2018 at 11:11 am

martinC: Odeon have stated that a new “large format” screen will be installed, and that the organ will be retained. The planning applications for the updated facade/signage show a rendering with a large Dolby “Double-D logo” sign, implying that there will be a Dolby Cinema installation (i.e. Dolby Vision/HDR laser projection/specially graded content/Dolby Atmos), which would tie in with the “large format” update.

If they are going to install a larger screen, whilst keeping the organ, one option would be to alter the front splay walls to the proscenium, cutting them back, thus allowing for a screen width greater than 60ft., increased from the present 48ft. I posted a more detailed consideration of this, including sightlines.

Were the screen moveable, then the plans suggest that there is enough room horizontally. However, vertically, the old cut-away diagram has the “proscenium girder” marked and the fly tower behind.

Alternatively, the new screen could simply be installed ahead of the existing proscenium.

Hence, what’s possible all depends on the screen size/position and structural aspects, which may involve tradeoffs between what’s “kept” and what remains “usable”!

I can’t see how all aspects could be retained in their existing form, but presumably the front stage with organ console pit will remain.

Zappomatic on February 3, 2018 at 5:52 am


Various quantities and configurations on there from the seller

CF100 on February 3, 2018 at 4:24 am

Zappomatic: Thanks! Can’t find them. Link please?

Zappomatic on February 2, 2018 at 8:19 pm

The leopard print seats are now on sale on eBay from a seller called old2gold – yours for £90 a pair.

martinC on January 31, 2018 at 5:42 am

So FanaticalAboutOdeon, do you know if the new screen is going to prohibit the stage being used again even if it is just for comedians, bands etc on its shallow stage? And what about the legendary Safety Curtain?

CF100 on January 28, 2018 at 6:36 pm

I took a number of external shots of the OLS last night—most of them turned out badly, not least due to the heavy pedestrian traffic in the square!

The large LED displays on the frontage are off, but the blue LED accents remain on, albeit in a dire state pending replacement.

The entire frontage is surrounded by a hoarding featuring artwork and notices such as “Something very special is coming soon…” and “We’re working had so you can put your feet up…”

The main contractor appears to be 8 Build.

Lights remain on in the circle foyer, and its current state is externally visible. As can be seen in the photo I have uploaded, the ceiling has been partially removed.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 25, 2018 at 6:40 pm


Your sanity is safe! “Aladdin” was just one of several Disney films which were preceded by a short stage show at the Odeon Leicester Square. “The Lion King”, “Pocahontas” and “Mulan” also had their “pre-shows”. They may have been short but they were very spectacular – fully costumed with much additional lighting temporarily installed especially. One youngster in my party for “Aladdin” was completely mesmerised when Aladdin and his companion flew over the stage and orchestra pit on the magic carpet as clouds of dry ice billowed upwards from the pit to be vividly illuminated by extra stage lighting therein. The shows not only had music from the films they preceded but from other Disney titles. A spectacular finale was accompanied by music and songs from “Beauty and the Beast”.

A spot bar was suspended from the ceiling over the front stalls to provide lighting effects from above for each of the shows. For the “Pocahontas” pre-show, the Odeon’s house curtains were replaced by maroon velvet curtains while a silver slash curtain replaced the screen curtains to provide a glittering background.

For “Mulan” the Disney characters were replaced by members of the Chinese State Circus in a breathtaking series of spectacular acrobatic feats. Also for “Mulan”, a gauze bearing the title in large, glittering letters was lowered in front of the house curtains just prior to the stage show starting. The Odeon curtains parted behind the gauze as a lighting cue rendered it almost invisible before it was flown to reveal the colourful company on stage.

For obvious reasons, the screen frame remained in its usual position throughout these pre-shows but, for occasions like awards ceremonies, the frame can be wheeled to the back wall and the screen speakers wheeled out of the way on their mobile mountings. Live shows with sets would be tricky to mount due to the relatively shallow stage and number of dressing rooms but vocal artists, bands/orchestras and comedians could all be very well presented at the theatre as stars such as David Essex and Bill Cosby have been in the past.

Zappomatic on January 25, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Nope. I’m not going mad! http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/first-night-disney-genie-conjures-a-childrens-delight-aladdin-odeon-leicester-square-1505204.html

Zappomatic on January 25, 2018 at 5:12 pm

I remember being taken to see Disney’s Aladdin as a pre-Christmas treat in 1993 and there being a brief stage show before the film. From memory it was mostly a costumed cast dancing to songs from the film (or am I going mad?)

martinC on January 24, 2018 at 10:23 am

The Odeon replaced the Alhambra theatre and was and is (I hope) built with a fully equiped stage to allow live shows and as everyone know’s has a superb original safety curtain.

Will the stage ever be used again? It seems a shame that there is this facility sitting there unused. Many Odeon’s used to feature live shows usually as one off concerts and whilst it is a Cinema it would be wonderful to allow shows on it’s stage in the same way that the Dominion operated as a dual purpose venue at times in it’s career as did the Odeon Hammersmith. With the Odeon Leicester Square being in theatreland it would fit nicely alongside other live theatres as well as showing films.

CF100 on January 12, 2018 at 7:34 pm

FanaticalAboutOdeon: Thank you very much for your detailed descriptions of the OLS foyer pre-1998. My reply is still pending!

CF100 on January 12, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Zappomatic: The ground floor foyer will be “connected” to the Studios, and frontage alterations will encompass the Studios part of the building also, including new doors, removal of the “Odeon Studios” sign, etc.

See planning application 17/07604/FULL, “Elevations Proposed” and “Plans as Proposed.”

CF100 on January 11, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Ian: I, too, was in Leicester Square last night and “noticed” the premiere—(poor quality) photo uploaded.

According to Odeon’s site, it is now closed.

This means that there is NO cinema with a Leicester Square address operating at present—I assume for the first time since WWII?!

Ian on January 11, 2018 at 4:10 am

I was in Leicester Square last night 10th January) and the Odeon was hosting the European Premiere of “The Post” – not sure if this was for one night only or not.

Zappomatic on January 9, 2018 at 8:30 am

Today is Odeon Leicester Square’s last day before closing for refurbishment. Kind of surprised they’re not keeping the Studios open as they’re pretty much self contained and were refurbished fairly recently. With Cineworld also closed, Vue must be rubbing their hands with glee at a whole month without any competition on the square (nearby Odeon Luxe Haymarket and Empire Haymarket notwithstanding)!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 10, 2017 at 6:46 pm


Not sure of the extent of the reclining seats. Losing the rear circle’s centre aisle will compensate somewhat for wider seats impact on capacity. The entire balcony was restepped and leg room increased some years ago (well after 1998)and this reduced the overall capacity by some 300 seats.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 10, 2017 at 8:35 am

CF100 Odeon Leicester Square foyer and circle lounge pre. 1998’s refurbishment and rebranding.

The 1987 refurbishment retained much of 1967’s modernisation scheme but softened the overall treatment of public areas and lent a 1930s flavour to what had been a typical ‘60s blandness.

In 1967, the foyer ceiling gave the impression of broken glass – actually many aluminium “shards” of varying shapes and sizes and set at different angles. These were cleverly lit by a row of Strand Electric pattern 23 profile spotlights housed above the entrance doors in what was a miniature version of the spotlight housing on the front of the circle in the auditorium. The spots were angled slightly upwards and focussed on the reflective ceiling treatment. The result was to throw numerous reflected “pieces” of light around the walls and across the carpet. The spotlights were wired in several circuits (each a different colour) which would continually fade up and down automatically giving a constantly changing effect. The carpeting throughout public areas at this time had an overall pattern of red, blue and yellow angular shapes and foyer walls were covered in a plain, dark wood/wood effect (later covered in a red fabric which resembled suede). In 1987’s revamp, the ‘60s ceiling survived but the spotlights were realigned to illuminate a metallic coat of arms which was mounted above the central sales kiosk between the two sets of doors leading to the stalls. At about this time, the automatic fading of the spotlights was discontinued.

Below the 1967 sales kiosk counter was a floor to counter section of white tiling which was lit pale blue by lights concealed inside the counter fascia. This feature was retained in 1987 but the lighting became pink. 1967’s large island pay box was removed prior to 1987, all tickets now being sold from box office windows to either side of the vestibule between the two sets of entrance doors and at right angles to them.

One of the most striking of 1987’s changes was the new carpeting of both foyer and circle lounge. The new carpet bore a huge art deco design almost the size of the entire foyer floor, featuring sweeping shapes in pink, pastel blue and fawn edged in thin black lines. Both upstairs and down, the beautiful designs were surrounded by a dark blue border with a subtle recurring motif of small strands of pink, pastel blue and fawn and this design was used for all other carpeting of public areas including the auditorium. The custom carpet must have cost a fortune yet was removed just eleven years later in 1998.

1967 gave us a plain, light grey circle lounge ceiling with three large, square areas containing suspended silver coloured metallic strips light from above in a slowly changing sequence of pink, pale blue and yellow. Two of the three lighting features were above the lounge itself while the third was above the central staircase from the foyer and, in this one, the metallic strips gradually became longer towards the centre. These lights were retained in 1987 but the colours were no longer changed and were a steady pale blue.

1987 saw the exterior lightbox lifted to a much higher position enabling daylight to enter the circle lounge through large, plain windows from roughly waist height. The windows spanned the width of the lounge and were fitted with Italian blinds in pale pink which were almost always left in the raised/open position. The windows enabled the lounge lighting to be seen from outside and panoramic views of the square to be enjoyed from within. Perhaps these windows, themselves a throwback to the theatre’s 1937 windows, inspired the bolder all-over glazing we have at present. Two modern licenced bar serving apertures had been created opposite the tops of the staircases in the lounge in 1967 and twenty years later these were replaced by a larger counter and a ‘30s style uplighter at the inner end. The 1967 cloakroom counter between the two sets of doors to the circle became a sales counter/coffee bar in 1987 or thereabouts.

Numerous white downlighters were also set into the ceilings of both these large public areas.

I would have liked the 1987 scheme – including the auditorium, perhaps minus the splay walls' neon – to have lasted longer as, overall, I think it suited the Odeon well whereas 1998’s changes owe much to the multiplex era and this theatre is no multiplex! We must await the results of what is going to be the most radical refurbishment yet, in 2018.