Odeon West End

40 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LP

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CF100 on June 4, 2018 at 3:16 pm

This is a very complicated project involving demolishing the whole block and excavating a massive 34m deep hole in the ground, right next to a busy area with the need to have heavy constraints on access, noise, dust and vibration.

A myriad of potential unknowns could block progress along critical paths; for example, as I mentioned in a previous post, the scheme was altered with the NW corner of the new building “chopped off” to allow for a UK Power Networks tunnel that had been “discovered” during enabling works!

I hadn’t actually realised that the replacement cinema opening date had been pushed back but progress did seem to be slow indeed. At this stage there should be less in the way of unknowns to scupper things…

Zappomatic on June 4, 2018 at 6:47 am

A lot of building projects in London seem to be taking a long time lately, most likely due to the shortage of labour in the construction industry.

LARGE_screen_format on June 3, 2018 at 9:28 am

Is this project running seriously behind schedule as it closed on 5th January 2015 and according to the limited information on Odeon’s website says it will reopen in three years which would have been January 2018?

CF100 on April 30, 2018 at 10:51 am

The contractor McGee, responsible for demolition of existing, as well as basement and superstructure construction, has a web page on the project, with numerous “Community Newsletters” providing a summary of work progress.

A few paraphrased excerpts from the webpage—the works include:

-Asbestos removal. -Excavation of 180,000m3 spoil. -Construction of 6 storey basement, the deepest commercial basement in London at 34m (110ft.) deep. -9 storey reinforced concrete frame above ground.

Noting again that the bulk of the cinema’s demise is on levels B3 and B4, with the entrance lobby on the Upper Ground Floor Level, in the September 2017 newsletter, it states that the B4 slab construction is underway and that construction of the new Odeon Cinema was due to commence within the next month.

November 2017 newsletter: The B3 slab had been completed and “all cores constructed to B2 level.”

February 2018 newsletter: B2 and lower ground floor slab complete, “core 1, 2, 3 & 4 walls [and all vertical columns] from B2 to lower ground floor” complete. Forthcoming: “Liner walls B3 & B2”, “B1 suspended slab”, and “ground floor entry slab.” 6x 58tonne, 25m long steel trusses to be placed “in-situ on the Ground Floor Slab.”

With formwork for the above ground reinforced concrete frame currently visible, it seems reasonable to assume that most of the cinema’s structure is now complete.

CF100 on April 27, 2018 at 10:32 am

Building work has reached above ground level—photo uploaded.

CF100 on September 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm

It turns out that there was a further planning application to Westminster Council in 2016, with amendments to the previous scheme.

Believe it or not, one of these is the “chopping off” of the NW corner of the building, as during enabling works, a UK Power Networks tunnel was “discovered”! (Underneath Leicester Square is a primary substation.)

Floor level numbers have been altered, and the cinema is now primarily on Levels B3 and B4, with the alterations outlined with cross-section plans and 3D visualisations in the Design & Access Statement Part 1.

The cinema aspect of the scheme has been changed, with the gross area reduced by over 2,000sq.ft., now being approx. 20,700sq.ft.

Screen 2 is rotated by 90 deg anti-clockwise. I’m not clear from the cross-sections on whether this involves a reduction in the auditorium’s height, but the basement foyer area is now under Screen 2, instead of being underneath the stepped seating structures of both Screens 1 and 2.

Screen 1 is in about the same location but its layout seems to have been slightly improved; however, being in the NW corner of the building, the auditorium is also slightly sliced off to the right of the screen (which is positioned on the West side of the building, facing East.)

Measuring the screen width on the drawing (fortunately a scale is included), it is about 50ft. wide, with the distance to the last row being about 70ft. or so, i.e. 1.4 screen widths away, which matches another Odeon iSense auditorium.

Permission for the above application has been granted, and I notice that the planning condition (number 6) to have the cinema ready and handed over for fit-out before the hotel opens is still there.

There is another application providing details of public art proposals in relation to a condition of planning permission.

The proposals, which have been approved by Westminster Council, are not for anything that one might reasonably have expected as “public art,” but rather cover proposed facade details and finishes, with lots of drawings, renderings and photos in the document titled “PUBLICARTSCHEME_PART1_LOWRES.”

Bureaucracy aside, I don’t object to the idea of the facade being informed by a schooled artist as having value, and this makes the application of far more relevance here; I see the proposals include faience tiles.

CF100 on August 22, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Video of building under construction

Ceremony speech prior to placement of a time capsule

At 4 min 20 sec: “…which will include… an underground cinema complex, adding to the cinematic legacy that the area is so famous for.”

CF100 on February 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Hello cinemasimon—I’m assuming you the person who posted an incredible number of pictures of the OWE ‘behind the scenes’ on Flickr?!

A ridiculously obsessive project—I love it. :–)

Albeit the fact that the original ceiling of the Leicester Square Theatre wasn’t removed and was crumbling away, down onto the top of the 1960s auditorium false ceiling, was rather worrying!

I’m confused—why would the council be responsible plans for the basement screens?

cinemasimon on November 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Hi All, I worked here between 2005 and 2009 as the senior projectionist with Steve Larcombe. I had some of the messiest, craziest, happiest and saddest memories of my professional career at this cinema. I now live in Perth, Australia but returned back in November 2015 to OWE to see the remains being pulled down. It was truly saddening what has happened. In 2006 we were given plans by the council for their vision of what the new Odeon basement would look like and we laughed at them. I still have my master key set though for the entire building! I’ll always have that and the 4000 pictures I took of the building when I was there.

CF100 on September 2, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Little visible progress on the replacement building, but the newsletter posted on the perimeter hoarding states that the piling is due to be finished on the 8th July.

CF100 on February 3, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Lots of demolition photos at the Arthur Lloyd site, including the auditorium block.

CF100 on January 27, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Photo of the current site state uploaded.

December 2015 newsletter posted on the hoarding says that the entire site has now been cleared and pre-piling works are complete.

Basement cinemas or not, the sooner this gaping hole in Leicester Square is plugged the better! With the adjacent 48 Leicester Square rebuild (facade retained) well progressed, the South West corner of the square is presently one big building site.

Piet_Morant on September 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Such a beautiful theatre. I only ever went here once to see ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ in December ‘94 with my mother (I was still at school). Good times.

CF100 on January 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm

The 400 seater at least has the potential to be a decent “large format”-style screen and (presumably?) is needed for moveovers from the OLS. The cinemas (once opened) could be repurposed as conference spaces, but then again, they can always be hired out as such anyway…

goodshow on January 18, 2015 at 7:51 am

Photograph attached 18 Jan 2015. Opening of the ‘new-style’ Leic.Sq.Theatre 12.12.1968 From my personal collection.

Ambak on January 17, 2015 at 3:23 am

Call me an old cynic, but I too would be amazed if the cinemas ever open. Within the next couple of years the developer will give Odeon a large (secret) backhander to pull out. Odeon will say that they have decided that the cinemas would be uneconomic and the developers will then claim that no other operator is interested and use the space for something else. I will be delighted to be proved wrong, but as the cinemas are only going to be a couple of poky basement spaces, no doubt outfitted in today’s basic format with a bare unmasked screen on one wall, I don’t think we will be missing much.

Ian on January 4, 2015 at 1:03 am

A night time photo taken during the last weeks of operation here:–


CF100 on December 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Looking through the “Decision Notice” in the previously linked planning documents, Condition 6 of the Planning Permission states that “the hotel use… must not begin until the cinema has been provided with services and made ready for fit out by the relevant tenant and evidence has been submitted to and approved by the Council…”

I have fond memories of seeing movies in Screen 2. But let’s be fair, the cinema—with its asbestos and crumbling-ceiling laden void areas—not to mention the rest of the block—is long overdue for an overhaul.

In my view, however, this scheme is a missed opportunity, as the two screens are almost the minimum option, being tucked away in less than one half of Basement Level 2. If only slightly more space had been allocated! Granted, services and structural considerations may render that impossible.

One might anticipate that Odeon will install a 50ft. wide screen in the larger auditorium and brand it an “iSense” screen…

curmudgeon on December 16, 2014 at 8:01 am

Disgraceful! More history gone. Bet the proposed basement cinemas never eventuate.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 16, 2014 at 2:10 am

Odeon West End is due to close in January to be demolished.

CF100 on August 7, 2014 at 4:32 am

Details of the planning permission are up on Westminster Council’s site via the above linked page. More than £5m of contributions, for Crossrail, “public realm,” affordable housing, etc. are required per the S106 agreement!

CF100 on February 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm

The planning permission news has again triggered a spate of articles where the headline declares that the “Leicester Square Odeon” will be demolished to make way for a hotel!

madorganplayer on September 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm

The Wurlitzer was of course a 2/10 and on perusing the photos on Flickr it appears that the organ chamber shutters are still in place.Very odd when the organ is up and playing at Cotton in Suffolk.

CF100 on August 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm

A new planning application, for the redevelopment of the entire block, has been submitted:

Westminster Council Planning Application Documents

The proposed replacement cinema still has 2 screens, now with 407 and 139 seats. (Plans are given in the above documents in “Proposed Level B2” and “B2 Mezzanine.”)

Exterior views of both the previous and the (in my opinion better looking) new proposal are in the document titled “130729 FINAL SCI – ODEON.” (e.g. p19, p21.)