Empire Cinema

5-6 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100
CF100 on December 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm

It would appear that a lot of politics are in motion in relation to Empire’s IMAX screen!

Empire’s booking page shows that the current and next film for IMAX/Screen 3 are IMAX releases.

I completely agree, non-IMAX features should not be advertised as such, though I’ve not noticed anything other than the gaff with the online booking system. Empire seem to have gone to some lengths to get IMAX signage up, I notice the planning application for a “high level” sign (visible from the Coventry Street approach) was rejected but one has been installed nevertheless, so I assume it went to appeal.

One also has to also wonder if IMAX were aware of the potential booking situation, as the Empire is cited by them as being of their “landmark” installations in a world-famous location and is one of the venues due to be equipped with their laser projectors. I imagine that it remains to be seen how this plays out; the current situation is at best absurd.

The former Screen 1 had premium ticket prices, e.g. the “£9.95 all day” offer is/was only valid for Screens 4-9.

AFAIK the cost of the IMAX/IMPACT conversion was £4m.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

The Empire is indeed just another multi-screen venue and, yes, the potential confusion is no different to numerous other such venues with one IMAX screen, however, it is in Leicester Square and seems to be regarded by Empire Cinemas as something of a flagship so did the operator expect always to be showing an IMAX film when they decided/agreed to replace “CINEMA” on the canopy with “IMAX” I wonder. I would have thought, when investing so much money, they would have been well aware what would be available to them from the distributors, though I may be wrong. THX certification, though very worthwhile and a valuable asset was altogether more subtle – to the man in the street – and didn’t have quite the same marketing dynamism as a full IMAX installation, I’m not aware a higher price was charged for compliant product and the THX sign on the Empire’s front-of-house was actually quite discreet in comparison. I earlier omitted to say I thought the sound in Empire 3 (which, as you say, the auditorium should be called in ALL publicity when not showing IMAX) was terrific.

CF100
CF100 on December 17, 2014 at 5:45 am

All of these issues—IMAX exterior branding and potential confusion—occur with all multi-screen venues with a single IMAX screen. The strategy of IMAX Corporation in recent years can be questioned, but there is plenty of upside.

Of course, Empire used to have a THX sign attached to the marquee, and that did not mean all screens were THX-certified!

Non-IMAX films aren’t advertised as “IMAX” presentations and Empire’s IMAX screen should be listed as “Screen 3.” There seems to be a slight problem with the online booking system in this respect, as when proceeding with the booking it displays “IMAX” as the screen, but on the main listing page all of the IMAX branding is dropped.

As I understand, most IMAX screens play IMAX content for the vast majority of—if not all—presentations. The Empire Leicester Square is unique in having difficulties in obtaining IMAX bookings.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 17, 2014 at 2:16 am

Perhaps it’s a shame that most of the IMAX branding at the Empire is semi-permanent when only one of their many screens is so equipped and even then not used exclusively for IMAX product. Replacing the word “CINEMA” on the canopy with “IMAX” might lead the less technically informed, i.e. the majority of customers, to assume everything there was somehow presented in the format and thus necessitating the announcement I find negative. I certainly didn’t expect “The Imitation Game” to be in IMAX and understand the visual and audio differentials you describe but I question whether a complex that was not showing a single IMAX film should be so “adorned” with such branding. I can understand the IMAX Corporation wanting their magic word to be emblazoned in Leicester Square and, on the surface of it, Empire Cinemas' willingness to have their West End premises associated with the brand but with all previous “value-added” formats like CinemaScope and Todd-AO, their names were given along with the appropriate film titles rather than becoming part of the cinema’s own overall offering. Trading standards legislation could also be behind the need to remind audiences they are not seeing something in IMAX on the Empire IMAX screen. I enjoy IMAX documentaries at Bradford and Waterloo and the Empire IMAX auditorium appears successfully to replicate such spaces but forty five minutes is about my limit for the effect on neck and eyes!

CF100
CF100 on December 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

FanaticalAboutOdeon-As I understand it, non-IMAX films in IMAX digital cinemas don’t have the same projection quality as IMAX releases, e.g. only one of the two projectors is used. Also, the picture hasn’t been gone through IMAX’s DMR processing (nor has the sound been remixed for IMAX’s sound system, and, AFAIK, the Empire IMAX doesn’t have a rear array for non-IMAX films.)

The on-screen announcement is, therefore, absolutely necessary.

I agree that sitting in the front row could be overwhelming, but I’ve found middle seats absolutely fine. As mentioned in a previous post, the screen width to auditorium depth ratio is about the same as found in a “classic,” purpose-built IMAX venue. In some ways I preferred the smaller Empire 1 screen, which somehow “felt” bigger than these monster screens, but the central seats in the IMAX auditorium are right in the sweet spot.

Regarding the side seats, sitting on the far sides of the front rows would be a poor experience… but those seats are currently not even in use for IMAX presentations, with the seating down to less than 500 seats for IMAX 3D. However, in my view, the width of the auditorium is an advantage—making it feel spacious, and prevents a problem I find with “wall-to-wall” screens in rectangular auditoria, where I am constantly aware of the side walls framing the screen.

The new LED lighting lacks the diffuse properties of cold cathode lights, and the new walls are black. The effect is more one of slightly inconsistent “bands” of light rather than smooth “bands” with the walls being “washed” in colour. But, the flipside is that Empire did not have to reinstate anything, and it seems much attention to detail has been lavished on this project—I notice the steps up to the aisles have been moved and rebuilt… in exactly the same style!

The lack of tabs is a shame but in some ways the large screen speaks for itself, being most impressive when one first enters the auditorium and is presented with it and the very wide, colour-lit space. I have found the standard of presentation to be very good, with pre-show music, lighting fades etc. all well-timed, IMAX trailers, and so on. Much of the magic is still there!

On the other hand, the IMPACT screen desperately needs tabs and masking, and some other extra touches.

I took someone to see “Lucy” at the Empire IMAX and their jaw dropped on entering, not expecting the screen to be that big and afterwards they said that they had never seen or heard anything like it.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 16, 2014 at 2:51 am

I sampled the Empire’s IMAX auditorium recently, albeit not to watch an IMAX film, and my impressions were mixed. The screen is large of course, too large. “The Imitation Game”, in ‘scope, certainly filled most of the screen but, from two thirds of the way back in the centre block and sitting on the right-hand aisle, there was a distinct loss of light over to the left during what is admittedly a fairly dark film and, given such a huge image, the resolution at such close quarters was “soft” rather than sharp. The guy checking tickets and helping people to find their seats was enthusiastic and welcoming but for him to be spotlit just prior to the programme starting, in order to say “Welcome to the Empire Leicester Square, enjoy "The Imitation Game”, whoop!“ was well intentioned but amateur and unnecessary as was the on-screen reminder that "This film is not enhanced by IMAX” – a negative announcement presumably to protect the IMAX system’s potential advantages. Had I sat nearer the screen or in one of the side blocks, I would have been requiring a refund. On the credit side, the seats were extremely comfortable and the constantly colour changing LEDs in wall and ceiling coves were a thoughtful way of recalling the far more effective cold-cathode lighting which so beautifully lit the former Empire One. No tabs, of course, although a single track with tastefully lit tabs would, in my opinion, add greatly to the presentation and create a sense of occasion in place of today’s utilitarian feel. Remembering that the Curzon, Mayfair, Warner West End and Rendezvous and Odeon, St Martin’s Lane were all either modernised or opened with no provision for curtains, these were later added at all these venues and enhanced the presentation, could the Empire follow suit? I rather doubt there is space or will for this to happen. My conclusion is that Empire’s IMAX screen is too large and too close to the seating. I prefer not to have my eyes “popped” and if I wanted to “be part of a film”, I would join the union and apply to the relevant organisation. The Empire will doubtless entertain thousands, especially with IMAX enhanced films, sadly it’s no longer a cinema of choice for me.

mhvbear
mhvbear on November 28, 2014 at 6:24 am

It seems amusing the OdeonNotFanatical is only on here to voice disparaging on the Empire conversion. 18 for 18 so far.

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on November 28, 2014 at 5:41 am

Big deal. Its still a LIEMAX with bad sound leakage. Not paying for that at LIEMAX empire.

CF100
CF100 on November 28, 2014 at 3:07 am

The IMAX and IMPACT screens are featured in the current issue of Cinema Technology Magazine. Not much new information, but some lovely pictures, and equipment is listed for the IMPACT screen.

Apparently the dividing wall weighs 90 (!) tons, is 1 metre thick, is built using 8 layers of plasterboard, and is hung from new girders in the ceiling.

The IMPACT screen has 87 JBL speakers including 5 stage speakers and 16 18" subwoofers (same as Screen 1) and some 58 surround speakers… plus 8 more 18" subwoofers in the side-walls! The Barco projectors have been moved over from Screen 1.

Unfortunately, not much info on the IMAX system other than the usual vague corporate stuff, except that all 750 seats will be available for 3D screenings once the laser projection system is installed.

Both screens are fitted with the fully-sprung “Empire” seat from Seating Concepts.

The article ends by saying that “the Empire Leicester Square has two new first class auditoria capable of producing the finest in picture and sound. Both have an undeniable ‘wow’ factor and won’t disappoint anyone.” It goes on to say that “for those of us who knew the unforgettable Empire One in its starlight glory days, [the new screens] just can’t recreate that special magical environment that went before.”

A sentiment, I think, that we could all agree with.

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on November 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Why get involved its just a LIEMAX cinema its not classed as real premiere cinema no more that was all gone the moment they allowed LIEMAX to vandalize the cinema into a LIEMAX.

CF100
CF100 on November 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Empire have confirmed on their Facebook page that they are not getting “The Hobbit” although they will be “involved with the premiere.”

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on October 26, 2014 at 10:28 am

imax digital = LIES of fake imax end of story. Why do loyal cinema goers go there to hand over money for a liemax screen???

davepring, I have small pity violin playing for you. I don’t believe your lies. I been there enough times to tell me Empire 1 is better. liemax and impact screen are rubbish and I needn’t have to go there to waste £20.00 and be kicking the seat in front of me.

LIEMAX waste of money.

davepring
davepring on October 21, 2014 at 3:10 am

The IMPACT screen has Dolby Atmos sound and is impressive.I dont understand OdeonNotFanaticals rants.The IMAX screen offers a totally immersive experience.Although the original 1960s auditorium has gone Empire have done a superb job on this conversion.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on October 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm

I was there this week and saw ANNABELLE on their Impact screen. I was very impressed.

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on October 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

empire has lousy impacting liemax sound system. Pay good money to go to this waste of a space cinema again. NEVER!

CF100
CF100 on October 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

This company appears to have been the acoustic consultants for the Screen 1 conversion. To quote from the linked page: “Cole Jarman are proud to have worked on this monumental scheme to transform the historic but ageing Screen 1 into two new auditoria… We provided design advice… [including] the technically challenging wall which separates the two new screens.”

On that page are also some more photos, or rather 3D renderings. The IMPACT screen is shown as having an architectural lighting scheme with strips of red lights on the sidewalls… which I did not see nor is shown in any photos so far…

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on October 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Don’t you mean LIEMAX? If its digital it = LIEMAX waste of time and money.

Oh this sound leakage I’m reading here on the posts. I knew right off that would happen. Playing it far too loud and they need to lower the amp level gains down on all channels so it won’t be distracting. But soon they do that. The LIEMAX and impact will sound rubbish but no rubbish, than what reading.

Glad I never went back as I would never would have gone back. I will not sit in ether of these screens for all the tea in China. empire can keep it!

CF100
CF100 on October 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm

“Behind the Scenes” article on the Empire IMAX installation, sadly lacking in detail but a nice hi-res fisheye shot from the rear of the auditorium:

Behind the Scenes at Empire’s Leicester Square IMAX

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on October 2, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Tell you the moment they ditched the JBL THX 1989 set-up around late ‘99 changed the curtains the style of the presentation was dropping the magic was slowing fading away.

CF100
CF100 on October 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Correction to previous post: The original THX guidlines were, AFAIK, for sound from adjacent auditoriums to be audible a maximum of 1% of the time.

(See p7 of http://www.diyaudio.rs/JBL/JBL%20-%20Cinema%20Sound%20System%20Manual%20(Original,%201990).pdf )

Of course this requirement is easier to meet with optical sound. Despite this, Dave Pring’s figure of 5 or 6 times for up to 30 seconds gives a maximum value of 1.6% of the time… which suggests good soundproofing.

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on October 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Liemax at Empire what a degrading end to this cinema that doesn’t deserve this liemax fad laser digital nonsense.

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on September 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Liemax lite is like a bad after taste drink that will leave you feeling hollow after watching a liemax film at the Empire.

CF100
CF100 on September 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Wurlitzer in the Empire Leicester Square in 1933!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydYC-QPniX4

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on September 30, 2014 at 9:27 am

Liemax should have taken it lite-max digital and built it elsewhere around Leicester Square not ruin wreck and destroy the Empire into this abomination.

Lol so some have had bad experience with it lately with sound leakage. I knew that was going to happen. I saved myself the time and hassle of money and a 2 hour journey on the couch to London.

Local empire tower park spent millions on it refit and the sound leakage is a BAD! Not only is it heard it can felt in the wooden floor that lays across the original concrete floor and the auditoriums was designed for a peak 90db when I worked at the site as projectionists 25 years ago.

The SPL db has to be at least 100dbC plus. If I had taken my SPL db metre there last time was 2012 for that dreadful TITANIC(1997) cardboard 3d and the colour was dire! It looked nothing like what I saw 14 times and even projected myself at Warner village 12 screen, Cribbs Causeway 1998.

I was hearing leakage of that Marvel film? What was i? The Avengers (2012)I must have heard and felt that in the floor at least over 10 times. I should have gotten my money refunded. Well I won’t ever go back there again or any Empire cinemas in the UK.

Its no secret recipe for big sound in a cinema. Its failed when its heard more than 10 times leaking though its million pound cost.

Empire used to look and sound great in 1989. I never come across a cinema like it and I guess I’d never ever will again. It all gone now. It dust. That cinema is as good as demolished! CLOSED.

If anyone who claims to be a loyal Empire 1 fan would BOYCOTT this cinema now. I don’t care if they show star wars 7, at the empire or all 7 star wars again, most of them won’t be original theatrical, just tamped with sound mix and original picture I might expect. They can keep it. I have better things to do with £50.00 today.

davepring
davepring on September 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

CF100 the sound bleed was a fairly noticeable rumble heard five or six times for up to 30 seconds..However the film in question was Lucy which has several explosive scenes.