Empire Cinema

5-6 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on April 27, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Seems like empire leicester square had ticket online issues today oh what a shame. I guess that’s they get for putting in a LIEMAX screen, they get jinked with bad luck.

OdeonNotFanatical
OdeonNotFanatical on April 7, 2015 at 11:58 pm

usa cinema chains have destroyed British cinema heritage with these lousy forsaken multiplexes.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on April 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

Hmm. All of To-days Cinema woes where caused by Government interference in the Cinema Industry. The old duopoly between ABC and Rank.. and the old release system.. which actually at the end of the day guaranteed a print of a movie… Which has caused Damage to Our very fine cinema stock of Buildings across the country leaving us with Shoe box cinemas and the new Managements that could not give a Fig for the industry… Here endeth my rant

CF100
CF100 on January 28, 2015 at 12:42 am

MasterImage 3D’s DUAL3D system to be installed in the IMPACT screen:

http://www.sys-con.com/node/3278918

terry
terry on December 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Serves Empire right that the distributors do not look kindly upon their act of butchery at Leicester Square – here’s to the Odeon!

CF100
CF100 on December 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

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 11:14 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 1:45 pm

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 10:16 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 10:23 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 10:51 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 2:24 pm

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

CF100
CF100 on November 28, 2014 at 11:07 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.

CF100
CF100 on November 10, 2014 at 1:55 am

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

davepring
davepring on October 21, 2014 at 11:10 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 17, 2014 at 1:11 am

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

CF100
CF100 on October 7, 2014 at 7:15 pm

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…

CF100
CF100 on October 4, 2014 at 9:30 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

CF100
CF100 on October 2, 2014 at 10:58 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.

CF100
CF100 on October 1, 2014 at 1:04 am

Wurlitzer in the Empire Leicester Square in 1933!

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

davepring
davepring on September 23, 2014 at 10:44 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.

CF100
CF100 on September 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Dave Pring, for what proportion of time was it noticeable during ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and was it a distant rumbling sound or was faint dialogue audible?

THX requirements were for STC 65 (at the top end of the American ‘Sound Transmission Class’ rating system) soundproofing and sounds from adjacent auditoria should only be audible something like 10-15% of the time maximum, recognising that complete elimination is impractical. I imagine those requirements were created before digital, which of course has much higher maximum sound levels than optical sound.

I hope the new screens continue to do well but it seems that Empire aren’t getting IMAX bookings. No ‘Transformers 4’ and they are not advertising ‘The Equalizer’.

CF100
CF100 on September 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

High level sign is now up on the left side of the Leicester Square frontage, the design is shown in the following application, which was refused by Westminster Council. Presumably it went to appeal.

http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=N153FCRPIW600

davepring
davepring on September 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Incidentally Oz was screened in the academy ratio and there was no light bleed which gave the impression that the huge screen was masked.

davepring
davepring on September 21, 2014 at 11:56 am

Just been back to the IMAX screen at the Empire..there is definite sound bleed from the IMPACT screen and very noticeable during Wizard of OZ (which looked fantastic) Both screens are doing good business in the evenings which bodes well for the future of the Empire but the sound bleed needs fixing.