Odeon Leicester Square

26 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LQ

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davepring on October 20, 2014 at 11:39 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 19, 2014 at 1:22 am

The planning application for the replacement roof has been approved.

CF100 on October 3, 2014 at 12:11 am

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 26, 2014 at 12:21 am

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 5:01 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 3:54 pm

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

davepring on May 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

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!

CF100 on May 9, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Sorry, I get it now—stadium seating in the front stalls. Would appear to be a good idea and would also enable the ceiling speakers required for Dolby ATMOS to be installed.

It will also be interesting to see if VUE West End screens 5 and/or 7 are revamped; they used to be well specified (THX certified, SDDS in screen 7, etc.) Considering it ought to be the flagship, it seems to have been ignored in recent years.

davepring on May 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm

I would use the area under the circle for another purpose..such as a bar for stalls patrons and certainly not a shoebox cinema…I think the revamped Empire will offer serious competition to OLS so some kind of USP would be called for.

CF100 on May 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Extending the circle forward would obviate some of the problems with the OLS, but how would it be commercially justified? Presumably the stalls would have to be repurposed. Remodelling into one or more auditoria would be restricted by the ceiling height of the rear stalls (uncomfortably low), and I can think of other problems (support structures for the extended circle, routing of HVAC/services, etc.) In other words, more ‘shoebox’ sized cinemas!

davepring on May 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Sitting in the stalls here is not a great experience but it would be easy to install stadium seating here without compromising the integrity of the building along the lines of the extended circle at the Trafalgar Studios.A larger screen could then be installed within the original proscenium.

Mike_Blakemore on November 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

@ FanaticalAboutOdeon .. Yes I know what you mean. Alas its been a long time since I last visited the Theatre Which is what I would call a semi Royal premier. With the Duchess of Kent as guest of Honour. with Myself sitting right behind her. Thankfully she did not block the view.. (These people that drop names. Get on my nerves.. as I said to the Queen the other day.. :@) Hmm. I wonder if I could use my Cinema Veterans Pass on an Afternoon Matinee :o)

FanaticalAboutOdeon on September 23, 2013 at 10:27 pm

SethLewis Having been entirely re-seated as part of 1998’s £3.5 million refurbishment, the new stalls seating was neither as comfortable nor as stable as the seating it replaced in my opinion. However, just a few years later, the “new” seats were themselves replaced by far nicer ones. Not only was seating also replaced in both the Royal and Rear Circle but the echelons were also reconfigured from front to back – this gave much greater legroom and cost the theatre between two and three hundred seats which certainly “trimmed” the capacity upstairs! It remains my favourite cinema even though, having left London, a visit entails travelling 400 miles – journeys I’m happy to make to enjoy the “Big cinema experience”. Like you, I love the theatre’s atmosphere and have seen many of the films there since 1971. Royal Film Performances work better there than anywhere else. I saw the 70mm. blow-up of “Titanic” there five times with both friends and colleagues, some of whom asked such questions beforehand as “We could see it in Wimbledon couldn’t we and it’s cheaper?” From entering the Royal Circle and finding Donald Mackenzie playing the Compton organ, to watching both sets of curtains sweep majestically to a close at the very end of the credits, all their queries as to why we had to see it there just disappeared and they talked all the way home about what an amazing experience it had all been. Some of them had never seen or heard anything like it.

SethLewis on September 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm

It is a shame that they never have gotten the seating right in here…great screen and atmosphere just uncomfortable to sit in the stalls…it would be worth it to trim capacity a bit and make it that much more comfortable

Great memories over the years…Live and Let Die opening week…More recently City Slickers, Philadelphia, The Age of Innocence, Titanic, Men in Black, Finding Nemo, the last Batman, Remains of the Day opening night LFF

FanaticalAboutOdeon on September 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Certainly the height of the Odeon’s screen is restricted by the balcony overhang from the rear stalls. It is hard to see how the theatre could be re-configured to accommodate a true IMAX screen and I, for one, certainly wouldn’t want it. When non-IMAX films are released and can be shown on IMAX screens – “Skyfall” for example – it’s interesting that, commercially, the Odeon holds its own very well due, of course, to the 1,700 + capacity. Even when such a popular film is playing at Odeon BFI IMAX at Waterloo and numerous suburban complexes that include an IMAX auditorium, THE Odeon can trump them all in the takings stakes with its appetite for cinemagoers. Wall-to-wall/ceiling to floor screens are not the “be-all-and-end-all” and the Odeon remains a venue of choice for many who want a huge screen and terrific sound in very comfortable surroundings without necessarily being dazzled and “blown away”! Happily, distributors are still booking slots literally years in advance to secure their opening at the O.L.S. My only concern is that it’s a very expensive theatre to operate in between the big launches and when the film is not the blockbuster the makers, and exhibitors, hoped for.

CF100 on September 23, 2013 at 1:57 am

With the Empire twinning currently underway incorporating a giant-screened IMAX auditorium and therefore automatic bookings of IMAX-released movies, what will be the future of the Odeon Leicester Square?

The current screen size (48ft. wide?) is restricted by the sightlines from the rear stalls… if an overhaul happens it would presumably have to be extensive?

MikeJC on August 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Further evidence as to the organ being “unlucky”, I’ve just remembered that a concert audience in the 1970’s witnessed the distressing spectacle of Frank Olsen suffering a massive heart attack when playing his opening number, causing him to fall off the organ bench on to the floor the orchestra pit, which was a long way down at this venue. Very sadly, Mr Olsen did not survive this.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on August 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I attended a number of lunchtime organ concerts at the Odeon in the early ‘seventies during Gerald Shaw’s tenure and I was sad to learn the nature of his death. I’ve since enjoyed many concerts there by Donald Mackenzie and a number of guest organists including the late Carlo Curley. Despite not being played on a regular basis, the “Duchess” five manual Compton is just one of the features that set this fine theatre apart, and it is great that the instrument is maintained and playable almost seventy six years since its installation.

MikeJC on August 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I think you’ll find that the name of the organist who opened the Odeon Compton in 1937 was actually James Bell (not George). He was a Scotsman whose playing tended to reflect a rather classical approach (i.e. supremely competent and musicianly, but not very exciting to listen to). He remained at the Odeon for nearly ten years, his tenure being sadly cut short by collapsing immediately on completing a broadcast on 22nd September 1947 and dying shortly afterwards in hospital. His replacement was John Howlett, who sat in the ‘hot seat’ until October 1958, when he retired. He was followed by Gerald Shaw, the last full-time organist until his untimely suicide in April 1974. After this, Odeon declared that they could no longer afford the luxury of a full-time organist. The instrument is maintained and has been played on an ad-hoc basis by various organists, the most recent being Donald MacKenzie, who now fulfills the role of “House Organist.” As one can imagine, this instrument has a reputation of being “rather unlucky.”

Mike_Blakemore on August 21, 2013 at 11:53 am

The Group Photo… The Man behind Oscar Deutsch is Andrew Mather.. Who designed The Odeon Leicester Square

CF100 on August 21, 2013 at 3:51 am

Subwoofers have been upgraded to 4x Luis Wassmann LW6017 (dual 21"), according to http://www.luiswassmann.com/web/es/installation-list/odeon-leicester-square.html

On a recent visit (“Pacific Rim”) the sound was excellent.

I noticed the rear array are still JBL units. Does anyone know what speakers are used for the main screen system?

FanaticalAboutOdeon on May 5, 2013 at 1:03 am

The Odeon, Leicester Square is now a two screen cinema – though mercifully not “twinned”. A white screen for 2D product sits in the conventional screen frame with attendant top and side masking. When 3D product is shown, the frame is wheeled to the rear of the stage and a silver screen is lowered from the fly tower to replace it. The screen speakers are separately mounted and positioned behind whichever screen is being used. Having both white and silver screens enables optimum visual quality for both digital formats. When the silver screen is being used, it precludes the use of both sets of tabs and when it was hung, the spot bar with twelve profile spots focussed on the screen tabs and filtered blue (part of 1998’s revamp) had to be removed to allow for the raising and lowering of the silver screen. Fourteen of the eighteen pageant spotlights housed on the balcony front survived the revamp but were rewired on one circuit instead of three so the blending and changing of three different colours was replaced by all lanterns being filtered rose pink. The “pageant box” also accommodates four less powerful spots shuttered and focussed – open white – on the golden figures adorning the splay walls.

Mike_Blakemore on January 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm

@ HowardBHass… And So It should…….. Even though I am ex ABC……….

HowardBHaas on January 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Looking at the Odeon’s official website today, I see it proclaims that the Odeon Leicester Square premiere screen is Europe’s premiere cinema.