Odeon Leicester Square

26 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LQ

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FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 12, 2017 at 6:51 am

Just to add to the fascinating list of films/events provided above by Steffan Laugherne and Ken Roe, “West Side Story” had its premiere/Royal Film Performance at the Odeon during 1962 and was the first presentation here in 70mm. 70mm. came surprisingly late to the Odeon (“South Pacific” was, by this time, over three years into its mammoth run of four years and twenty two weeks at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road). “West Side Story” transferred the following day to the 70mm. equipped Metropole, Victoria and “Lawrence of Arabia” began its West End run in 70mm. at the Odeon. Many films made in 70mm. or “blown up” into the format have since been presented on the Odeon’s vast and handsome 70mm. screen and I feel lucky to have been around to enjoy many of them, beginning with the “blow up” of “Oliver!” in 1971.

SethLewis on October 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Great time yesterday morning 10:30 London Film Festival show La La Land with a Q&A with Damien Chazelle & Ryan Gosling

Scary the number of attendees that seemed never to have been there before and totally lost…the back rows are super hard to see in the dim light but that’s a churlish comment..the atmosphere of a full house…applause after the opening number and at the end was so so good…definitely in need of a refurb and probably a reduction in seats but there have to be enough tentpoles and interesting pictures to keep this busy

Next Saturday morning…Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals

goodshow on June 19, 2016 at 5:09 am

Directly related to Ken Roe’s photo of the Charge of the Light Brigade premiere, added a colour advertisement especially connected to the event

davepring on March 23, 2016 at 4:24 am

Another 70mm film playing here now..Batman v Superman…I hope the lighting and curtain tracks have been fixed!!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm

CF100 I’m also amazed at how many people are unaware of their environment generally. To a greater or lesser extent, lighting, screen curtains and décor/design of cinemas will, I believe, be noticed subliminally i.e. all elements that contribute to a cinema being thought of as a nice one, and secondary to things like the comfort of seats, leg room, climate, toilet provision etc. Having said that, I’ve heard audience members at OLS commenting on the vastness and splendour of the place even before the screen has appeared and during the run of “The Hateful Eight”, many people applauded and/or whistled when the tabs first opened and that was only to reveal the Odeon “O” current logo which runs constantly in other Odeons in place of tabs and before the ads. begin! Undeniably, when curtains part, everybody knows something’s about to happen – it’s “theatre”, it’s potentially exciting, it’s probably best summed up by saying it all adds to the magic which is conspicuously absent when you’ve been faced with a blank, naked screen for ten minutes beforehand.

The re-stepping of the circle echelons some years back was a big job and was not confined to the Royal Circle, it was the entire balcony. The new steppings do not just sit above the original ones except for those in the front row, either side of the cross gangway and the back row. All seating became higher than before and this meant the wall at the front of the balcony had to be increased in height (and that those in the back row who put items on the floor often found them nicked as the floor is now at waist height of anyone walking along the rear promenade). The leg-room was increased by the new steppings being designed so that seat standards could be installed slightly further back than conventionally. The exercise was costly (new seats were fitted to the new steppings – and those seats have since been replaced themselves) and overall the balcony capacity was reduced by almost two hundred seats – mainly in the rear circle – and this was when the theatres’s capacity fell from 1,9XX seats to 1,7XX. A number of seats in the back row of the stalls was also lost in the 1998 restructering. The carpet in the rows of the Royal Circle was replaced by flooring last year and I believe the plan is to extend this to the rear circle. Bearing in mind the carpet being replaced was also new at the time of the re-stepping and the price of high-end cinema seats and we begin to see how costly it is to keep the Odeon up to scratch. The “major refurbishment” first mentioned well over a year ago, and with it the opportunity to replace tabs, repair the broken house tabs track and upgrade the decorative lighting – all non-essential of course and, with further seating replacement, foyer and lounge refurbishment etc., likely to cost £millions, looks increasingly likely not to happen until the Odeon circuit has a new parent. The rolling maintenance/replacement budget continues to be made available but every four week accounting period brings with it fiscal demands for things more essential (or likely to improve footfall) than the finer elements of presentation. It also appears that Odeon’s reluctance to install Dolby Atmos, when Dolby wanted it at the Odeon first, may well have been due to the pending sale of the circuit although I imagine Dolby would have borne much of the cost as has happened for many years when technical improvements, including new digital projectors, have taken place – it’s quite a cache when your industry advertising can include the words: “…as installed at the Odeon Leicester Square” and suppliers happily pay highly for such value.

CF100 on March 15, 2016 at 8:32 pm

FanaticalAboutOdeon: Of course any screen with gain is directional… despite the previously linked material, I have found the picture at the OLS in the front stalls to be excellent, and from that position, the 48ft. wide screen and excellent sound system make for a quality and “high impact” experience!

The large LED displays are particularly effective for premiere events where they can be used to show live video, and are a wonderful addition to the facade. (The planning permission only allows for static images outside of special events.)

Very frustrating indeed then that sorting out the auditorium lighting would be rather less costly! Is it the case that people “don’t notice”…? (Albeit I’m always amazed by people’s lack of awareness of their surrounding environment.) With more obvious features perhaps they do notice when it’s there… but don’t notice that it’s absent?

Example: If my “usual” cinema were the local multiplex, and I turned up to the OLS with beautifully lit tabs, then surely I’d notice it as a special feature—but I’d not notice the absence of tabs—since I wasn’t expecting them anyway?

On the subject of the Royal Circle restepping/reseating, further details on this would be most appreciated… Were the new steps simply built “on top” of the old steps?

davepring on February 21, 2016 at 3:03 am

It is indeed a shame this magnificent cinema does not get the care it deserves. I remember going to an early digital presentation of Toy Story. The painted fire curtain rising in synchronisation with the theatre organ, cove and pageant lighting all in full working order and two sets of tabs gloriously lit….

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 18, 2016 at 4:22 am

davepring – sadly, yes I agree and it wouldn’t cost much to replace blown lamps in spots and renew faded gels. As for the fibre optic cove and golden ladies surround lighting, that must have cost a fortune in 1998 and has never really had the effect that was conceived. Now – part of it’s on sometimes and none at all at others. It’s very unsatisfactory and all it needs initially is an enthusiastic lighting man and a few quid – I have rolls of magenta gel and I’d happily donate them! When we look at photo’s of the beautifully lit auditorium just a few years ago, it’s a great shame that such a large theatre has to look so dingy. Let me get my hands on it for a couple of overnight sessions! The additional twelve spots installed in 1998 and, filtered indigo, shining down the folds of the blue screen tabs very effectively, were removed to enable the 3D screen frame to be flown clear. Now, some of the masking felt hangs off the bottom and is visible below the proscenium top. This doesn’t affect viewing the screen of course but looks unsightly. The frustrating thing is that the Company do spend money on the place – look at the enormous LED screen and two smaller ones on the façade, they’re both versatile and very effective and cost a fortune. Regular reseating given the capacity won’t come cheap either and the new Royal Circle flooring also. The celebrated auditorium needs to glow and sparkle once more and that wouldn’t be difficult – or that expensive – to achieve. I’m aware a lot of people don’t appear to notice these things but that’s no excuse for the “lowest common denominator” attitude. If only subliminally, these things do make a difference and all add to the experience of a visit to one of the world’s most famous cinemas.

davepring on February 18, 2016 at 3:55 am

I was sat in row k in the stalls so that might explain the smiley end credits and from the stalls the tabs do seem dimly lit but then the whole auditorium was dimly lit giving it a shabby beige appearance.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 17, 2016 at 12:49 pm

That’s very interesting – if a little bewildering! It should come as no surprise to many that reflected light appears brighter the nearer the viewer is to the angle of the light beam/beam angle. At OLS the screen tilt and beam angle clearly favour viewers in the circle as one is viewing the screen from an angle closer to that of the beam itself. This is not to say that viewing from the stalls is not good, it’s excellent in my experience, just that, technically, the circle has a slight optical advantage. Comparison by a guest at the Odeon would be almost impossible unless they were to be hoisted over the circle front and lowered into the stalls while keeping their eyes on the image! The same principle applies to all kinds of reflected light; my home cinema has silver satin screen tabs lit by “pageant” lights mounted 7' high some 15' away. If, when the lights are up, you were to sit on the floor near the stage and look up at the tabs, they would appear rather dimly lit. Standing at the rear wall where your eyes would be within 2' of the lights, the screen tabs appear very brilliant indeed. If you move around while keeping the tabs in view you can easily see the line and level of brightness moving/varying accordingly. The same effect is evident at the Odeon where the lights are housed on the circle front. Stand at the orchestra pit rail, look up and the tabs appear quite dark (they’re blue satin so not so reflective anyway), stand in the front row of the circle just above the lights and the reflection is several times stronger.

CF100 on February 17, 2016 at 10:42 am

I think this is the “paper” on the OLS projection/screen I referred to in my last post-—really a collection of a few E-mails rather than a paper.

(I probably should post to a different forum… but just in case someone is interested!)

The most relevant part is on the bottom half of page 6—essentially the picture is brighter in the circle than the stalls.

HowardBHaas on February 17, 2016 at 3:22 am

Spectre was the 3rd James Bond movie in a row I’ve seen here! Once a year, I like to be in London, and been fortunate enough to be able to plan timing of vacation to see the Bond films. As to surround sound, even the Rear Circle is great!

CF100 on February 17, 2016 at 2:06 am

“The Hateful Eight” Ultra Panavision presentation required the manufacture of new custom lenses, which can be seen on this page.

I, too, have noticed the “curved credits” issue, but on digital presentations; fine at the top but quite severe at the bottom of the screen—and by “severe” I mean it almost looks like a “smile.”

In one case the two projectors were also misaligned (“Star Trek into Darkness” at the Empire LS) towards the bottom, so when wearing 3D glasses, in addition to the “smile” distortion, two sets of letters could be seen!

As I’ve mentioned, the Empire LS IMPACT screen was even worse on my visit (2D), with barrel distortion—“goldfish bowl”-like distortion. (A major reason why I have not returned.) On the other hand, the Empire LS IMAX appears to be perfect.

There is an article somewhere on the technical problems of the projection rake at the OLS; if I find it I will post a follow-up link.

I usually sit in the front stalls at the OLS—the rear circle is too far away from the screen, and also to get a good stereo spread/imaging from the stage speakers.

Another issue in old/large auditoria, is that the front stereo image is ruined by excessive reflections from the sidewalls. Interestingly, in the video I linked to a few posts ago, it is said that the idea of the “ribbed” walls of the OLS was to diffuse and break up reflections. Just how successful that is/was may be questionable (too small?), but presumably better than nothing—and thus the 1960’s “Zing” treatment would appear to be further misguided. If I’m not mistake, the “flying ladies” restoration incorporates a large amount of absorption, hidden behind fabric.

Looks like paying out for the Royal Circle is in order for my next visit!

On the topic of Atmos and digital projection upgrades, the OLS has, to my knowledge, always been furnished with all the very best equipment and supported the latest formats; it is therefore most disappointing if Odeon are “disinclined” to proceed.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm

I love the Royal Circle too, cinema doesn’t come any better for me. Fortunately, I don’t always have to pay but when I do, it’s always worth it. “Spectre” looked and sounded perfect at the Odeon, home of 007, didn’t it? I usually do a 400 mile round trip to see films there but then, I gather your mileage is considerably greater!

HowardBHaas on February 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

I don’t know re booth angle. I do enjoy the Circle at the Odeon L. Sq., most recently saw Spectre and Legend there during my Fall vacation. I’d prefer the Royal Circle but more often sit in Rear Circle due to the price difference.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm

The end credits of 8 at OLS didn’t strike me as being particularly curved and I wonder if that was because my line of vision from the circle was at an angle very similar to that of the projector beam. The shallow curvature and degree of tilt of the screen at OLS has, inevitably, the same very slight distortion of horizontal lines of text as every traditional cinema ever built with a relatively large balcony and projection from a position even higher. One reason why in countless cinemas so designed, the circle seats have always commanded the highest prices as the view to the screen is virtually perfect as one’s eyes and the lens are looking along almost the same optical angle. I have often been aware when in the stalls at Leicester Square, and many other cinemas configured the same way, of end credits apparently curving upwards slightly to the top corners but the effect has never otherwise distorted the image for me and the credits have even appeared rather impressive – as if to emphasise the sweeping vastness of the screen. Dave, were you in stalls or circle? Howard, is the projector beam at the AFI Silver level/at right angles to the screen or nearer an angle of say 30 to 40 degrees? The “Ultra” ratio clearly accounts for the loss of image height and its noteworthy that “Khartoum” opened in London at the Casino Cinerama Theatre on a very wide and very deeply curved screen – the legacy from true, three projector Cinerama at that theatre – which was masked down at the top.

HowardBHaas on February 16, 2016 at 8:12 am

What isn’t being specified here is The Hateful Eight was made in a process not used in 50 years, since Khartoum, UltaPanavision 70, so 2.76 wide times height, meaning not as tall. Usually 70mm is 2.2 wide (for scope films) though The Master was “flat” so not so wide. Properly projected, Hateful Eight end credits shouldn’t have looked curved. Didn’t see them that way at AFI Silver outside of Washington D.C.

davepring on February 16, 2016 at 2:23 am

Fanatical..thanks for the comments on masking.I think you are correct abut the lenses.When the end credits were running on 8 they curved upwards giving a very bendy look! I also remember seeing many 70mm presentations here when the screen height was indeed much higher.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm

CF100 The screen used for “The Hateful Eight” was the Odeon’s normal 2D screen (the 3D screen and frame hang up in the flies when not being used). The reason the masking was left in its ‘scope ratio was that the digital items, ads and trailers and anything that wasn’t a part of the feature, were in almost constantly changing ratios – not all of which would be properly bordered by any of the standard masking settings (especially the images best described as miniature 'scope, miniature so that when its followed by an item in something more like wide screen, the top and bottom of the image doesn’t land on the masking and stage) – and the masking would never have stopped moving! I don’t like the effect either and a small 'scope image completely surrounded by blank white screen looks very amateur but its not the cinema’s fault, blame it on the “versatility” of digital! With regard to the masking for the feature, I used the term “'scope ratio” as that is the screen area that was used in order to contain the full width of the Ultra Panavision 70 image. In other words, when a Panavision film is shown digitally at the Odeon, the actual screen area is the same as for Tarantino’s great film. I saw most of the films presented in 70mm (either filmed so or blown up) at OLS from “West Side Story” through to “Armaggedon” and with every one of them, the top masking was higher than for “8” by, at a guess, a good couple of feet. Had the height been as in the past, the sides of the picture would have been on the splay walls! As to why earlier films in Ultra Panavision at the Odeon were able to be accurately contained within an even larger screen area, I have no answer although I wonder if this has anything to do with replacement lenses being a problem. Before everyone nods off, I believe Dolby wanted Atmos for the Odeon possibly before the erstwhile Empire One was equipped but Odeon Cinemas Holdings Ltd were disinclined.

HowardBHaas on February 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm

It sounded to me like the screen was properly masked for The Hateful Eight but trailers etc before subject to that extra masking.

CF100 on February 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

FanaticalAboutOdeon—Thank you once again for the detailed information.

I’m afraid I’ve never liked the “blue” Odeon corporate theme nor the cut metal signs—bring back the red neon!

davepring—Just wondering whether a custom screen was used for the 2.76:1 presentation of “The Hateful Eight,” which would explain the lack of masking before the main feature?

I hope Odeon press on with the refurbishment. It now needs a technical upgrade, Dolby Cinema (i.e. Christie 6P laser projection and Dolby Atmos) would be ideal (albeit the auditorium may not be up to Dolby’s requirements?)

davepring on February 8, 2016 at 4:12 am

CF100 That is great photo of the House tabs and its a shame they were not kept.Unfortunately the suits have no idea as to how to make the most of this iconic venue…its not a multiplex!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on February 7, 2016 at 4:39 am

davepring, I agree, the auditorium is too dimly lit. There used to be a good deal of diffused light from the beautifully lit tabs (both screen and house tabs) but since someone at HQ decided it would a good idea to have blue screen tabs (more corporate!), these have never lit well. The fact that some of the fourteen spots in the “pageant box” on the circle front need lamping up and the once “middle rose” colour gels in them have faded to a reddish brown doesn’t help. As you say, the lack of cove lighting adds to the gloom. Oddly perhaps, the cove lighting around the golden ladies was in use during the run of “Spectre”, set on indigo blue. The pictures of the auditorium in its 1987 guise are great to see, thank you CF100, it should be borne in mind that the very powerful cleaners' lights are blanching out the colourful effects. The spotlights then were on three colour circuits and red, amber and blue gels used for very effective changing/blending whereas, since 1998, all the spots have been on one circuit so the colour is invariably pink ish! By 1987 there was no cove lighting but Chief Engineer, Nigel Wolland, demonstrated just how effective a single, pink lamp in the lowest socket in every cove could be – just visible despite the cleaners' lights in the side view. I liked the appliqued house tabs and silver screen tabs very much although I was less impressed by the neon. Perhaps those curtains plus the replicated golden ladies would have been a really nice combination…

CF100 on February 7, 2016 at 2:24 am

Finally, I have found pictures of the 1987 house curtains and splay wall neon feature:

House curtains and neon splay wall feature

Neon splay wall feature

The cove lighting can also be seen.

davepring on February 5, 2016 at 8:49 am

Made my first visit in many years yesterday to see The Hateful Eight.The 70mm print was superb but unfortunately for the ads and trailers the massive screen was not masked down to standard widescreen format.The wonderful auditorium was dimly lit and none of the cove lighting was working.In such conditions people were struggling to find their seats in the stalls and of course there were no staff in the auditorium. Sad to see this place not getting the tlc and showmanship it deserves.