Odeon West End

40 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LP

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CF100 on December 8, 2018 at 6:23 pm

HowardBHaas: Thanks for the links.

Wider rendering of the 2008 proposed “amorphous blob.”

Update: Had a look around the outside of the building again today—nothing of note externally visible since my last update.

HowardBHaas on December 7, 2018 at 8:25 pm

“amorphous blob” (to quote above) 2008 rendering- https://www.standard.co.uk/news/coming-soon-movies-in-the-odeon-basement-6830391.html

much improved 2014 rendering (though I’d rather than original theater have stayed)– https://www.citmagazine.com/article/1228193/leicester-square-odeon-cinema-demolished-new-hotel

CF100 on December 7, 2018 at 8:13 pm

davidcoppock: The original interior had long been lost—the original ceiling did remain above the one “inserted” below in 1968, albeit by the time of closure, in something of a “crumbling” state, and punctured by services in numerous locations.

Whilst the exterior was not listed, it did have a measure of protection afforded by the Leicester Square Conservation Area designation.

Looking through the planning documents in a couple of applications relating to the redevelopment of the former OWE and adjoining properties, English Heritage (as it was then) did object to the entire block being demolished. The redevelopment project has gone through a few iterations over the years; a document with the description field “EH REBUTTAL 11.10.13 – APPENDIX” in application 13/07443/FULL, makes reference to a response by English Heritage in application 08/03016/FULL—alas, I can’t find this anywhere.

(N.B. The two above-linked planning applications relate to the first and second schemes, distinct in their differences—the second scheme is the one that is under construction, albeit with some alterations set out in later applications; of particular relevance here, the cinema layout was substantially altered.)

Nevertheless, the “EH REBUTTAL 11.10.13 – APPENDIX,” whether one cares to agree with the assertions therein, is a pretty good overview of the heritage “situation” as it was.

I think it is fair to say that, whatever the merits of the replacement “basement” cinemas, and it would surely be better if they were more ambitious in scope, externally the new building looks a great deal better than what was there before; above all, the view from Orange Street of the metal sheeting to the side of the former stage house. It is also a vast improvement over the original “amorphous blob” proposals shown in the 2008 application, with its form and “rhythm” better echoing the previous Leicester Square Theatre/OWE.

davidcoppock on November 29, 2018 at 10:21 pm

This cinema should have been heritage listed!!

CF100 on November 29, 2018 at 9:46 pm

I have taken a number of photos of the replacement building over the past few months and hopefully will get around to uploading them sooner rather than later!

Suffice to say for now, the building is externally taking form, with much glazing installed, and the metal framework for the corner “tower” below which will be the entrance to the replacement Odeon, being almost topped out.

Marketman on September 28, 2018 at 2:23 pm

I believe that the Odeon cinema due to open in Durham by the end of 2018 may be the first new build Odeon Luxe.

CF100 on September 27, 2018 at 11:40 am

Ian: IIRC an LED module screen below the vertical “ODEON” logo on the North East corner of the building was shown in the main application; it’s still there on the rendering on the first page of the third “Design and Access Statement” document in the above-linked variation application. Looking through the planning “Decision Notice” document for the full 2016 application, I don’t see any reference to it; presumably, separate advertising consent will be required.

Like the OLS and Vue West End, any consent is likely to have restrictions, including not allowing full motion video.

In the case of the large format screen on the facade of the Vue, only static images are allowed with a minimum change rate of 12 seconds.

I suppose it may well count as the first auditorium to open as a Luxe?

CF100 on September 20, 2018 at 1:35 pm

SethLewis: Yes, the entrance will be separate. Entry will be via a small lobby with escalators down to the main foyer.

Looking at the planning application and comparing to old licensing plans, the replacement Screen 1 will be about the same size as the old auditorium, were it straightened up and made rectangular in shape, i.e. sidewalls moved in and back wall moved up to the front of the booth.

As measured on the plans, replacement screen size is about ~50ft. vs. ~37ft. wide for the previous.

Screen 2 will have a smaller auditorium, but the screen at ~33ft. wide is slightly smaller than the previous. (~37ft.)

So, whilst not saying that this scheme somehow compensates for the loss of heritage, etc., entailed by demolishing the existing, from the POV of the average patron, if anything, it will be a superior offer.

Whether or not there will be sufficient demand to fill them is another matter!

Change of use of the cinema may require planning permission and I would imagine that Westminster Council would not be keen. It also looks very much like its own demise down in the basement and doesn’t integrate well with the rest of the hotel scheme.

Bedrooms could hardly be put in the basement; most obviously they could be used as conference rooms, but then the cinema can hire out the auditoria anyway, and I’d imagine Odeon has very favourable lease terms. I may have to eat my words, but my prediction is it will be a cinema 5 years after opening—if cinemas in general are still viable!

SethLewis on September 20, 2018 at 3:45 am

A good time to be skeptical about cinemas in basements of mixed use facilities…With cinemas even in Leicester Square all showing the same product will moviegoers find the screens? Will there be a separate entrance? The Loews State 4 inside the Virgin Megastore in NYC lasted barely 5 years (killed off partly by location partly by the expanded 42nd St theatres).

Ian on September 20, 2018 at 3:29 am

Good to see on the Lighting Plans that the Odeon entrance and name is so prominent, but there seems little consideration for advertising the films.

Will this be Odeons first new build luxe cinema – or will it count as a conversion as, albeit before opening, it will have been adapted rather than planned from the start?

CF100 on September 19, 2018 at 10:15 pm

Ian: This project has had more than one proposal and the current one has been revised, so it can get confusing!

I’ve checked Westminster Council’s planning applications search site, and the most recent application is dated March 2018.

Most of this application relates to minutae of limited relevance here; however, some of the plans are included and looking in particular at the document marked “PROPOSED ELEVATION NORTH” there have been no changes to the existing scheme in respect of the cinema layout and frontage, Odeon’s entrance being on the North East corner with a vertical Odeon sign; the detailing of this section clearly has taken cues from the hoarding that was in front of the original facade.

The two auditoria are at basement levels but—and not that this matters once you’re in the building!—they are on the Northern side of the building.

(No revised proposals have been included for the basement levels in the above-linked planning application.)

Odeon may at times be geographically challenged, but I trust that they will have no reason to call it the “Odeon Trafalgar!” ;–)

I’m thinking that the capacity of the two auditoria will be adjusted downwards if they are to be “Luxe” screens with recliner (?) seating.

Ian on September 19, 2018 at 10:00 am

Neither of the two artist’s impression images shows any sign of a cinema, presumably it will not have a Leicester Square entrance or presence.

Possibly (tongue very much in cheek), given Odeon’s poor grasp of London geography, it will be known as the Odeon Trafalgar!

CF100 on September 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

[Evening Standard advertorial](https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/the-londoner-name-revealed-of-new-5-luxury-hotel-planned-for-leicester-square-a3929151.html(.

  • Hotel name announced: “The Londoner.” [Yawn…!]
  • 5 star hotel to open 2020.
  • The basement cinema will feature 2 Odeon Luxe screens.

Recent photo taken from LSQ uploaded.

CF100 on June 4, 2018 at 6:16 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 9:47 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 12:28 pm

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 1:51 pm

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 1:32 pm

Building work has reached above ground level—photo uploaded.

CF100 on September 12, 2017 at 8:30 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 6:42 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 4:42 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 10:44 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 6:02 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 10:22 pm

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