What Cinema Was In “An American Werewolf in London”?

posted by stephenpett on March 8, 2005 at 9:46 am

In the John Landis film An American Werewolf in London, there was scene set in a cinema showing a spoof porno movie – also directed by Lohn Landis.

I’ve read that the cinema was meant to have been just off Piccadilly Circus in London, and the entrance is now a fast food/pizza joint.

Looking at Picadilly Circus, this means the cinema must have been in the north corner and on the north side of the start of Shaftesbury Avenue. I was a regular cinema goer in the centre of London at this time and I don’t remember a cinema there — and I remember several others nearby that have sadly closed.

Did it ever really exist?

Comments (13)

woody on March 8, 2005 at 11:27 am

The cinema featured is the exterior of the eros cinema 7 shaftsbury ave (currently a gap store)
the interior shots in the film were a studio set

woody on March 8, 2005 at 11:28 am

ps – the eros closed on feb 14 1985, the closing film was BOLERO
Nothing remains of the cinema but some of the fittings including the front doors went to the museum of london

andygarner on March 8, 2005 at 2:01 pm

In addition to the above, the interior staircase that featured a bas relief figure of a movie cameraman was also saved, as the Eros was originally a newsreel theatre.

SethLewis on March 8, 2005 at 5:16 pm

The Eros was part of a chain of newsreel theatres that evolved into some wacky double bills and then soft porn in the 60s-70s…They were as good in their own way as what 42nd St had to offer even if their double features ran for longer…Remember seeing Mad Dog Coll and something else with the Mad Dog Coll theme playing out into the cool London air in early 70s keep in mind that the main feature was made in around 1961

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 9, 2005 at 4:08 am

The Eros News Theatre opened on 30th August 1934. The architect was Robert Atkinson who designed a 203 seat art deco cinema set in the basement of an already existing building.

Seating was on two levels, orchestra stalls and balcony. The screen was located at the entrance end of the cinema so you walked into the auditorium, right beside the screen. The balcony seating was reached via side slips along the walls.

After newsreels ceased, it went over to screening 1 hour long programmes of cartoon fims through the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Due to its cheap admission prices and its location it became a well known gay pick up place for the local Picadilly Circus 'rent boys’ (hustlers). It went over to screening double bills of soft core porn movies from 29th April 1976, finally closing in 1985 as woody mentioned above.

I worked for Classic Cinemas (who operated the Eros) and did many weeks of relief manager shifts at the Eros in the late 1960’s.

The sequence of the movie “An American Werewolf in London” shot in Picadilly Circus in London’s West End needed permission from the police and local authorities to close down one of the busiest parts of London. Filming took place over one night in late February 1981. You will notice in the movie when the action goes into the Eros, the film-set used the same layout as the actual cinema (entrance to auditorium reached from stairs beside the screen) but the decoration is more Edwardian rather than the Art Deco style that the real Eros cinema had.

stephenpett on March 10, 2005 at 8:00 am

Thank you everyone. So it’s my memory of the cinema that’s AWOL! I will go to look at the GAP store so see if it jogs my memory – but I think I’m going to have to get the DVD and have another look at the entrance. Or does anyone know of any existing photos of it?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 10, 2005 at 10:25 am

There are 5 photographs (2 external and 3 of the auditorium) in the excellent book “London’s West End Cinemas” by Allen Eyles & Keith Skone. Published by Keystone Publications 1991 ISBN 0 9514313 1 5 (hardback) and 0 9514313 2 3 (paperback)

It was first converted into a H. Samuel jewelery shop, the current GAP store has been there a couple of years now. I went inside a couple of months ago and there is nothing left to show it was a former cinema.

If you get to see some old postcard views of Piccadilly Circus (usually showing the London Pavillion Theatre) then the Eros Cinema can sometimes be spotted to the left towards the rear, on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue.

Daisy on April 30, 2005 at 11:36 pm

Was it the Odeon? You mentioned that it was on the corner of Shaftesbury-did you mean Shrewsbury? If so, it sould have been the Odeon. I remember seeing ‘Witness’ there…

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 1, 2005 at 6:17 am

The question has already been answered fully in the above posts. It was filmed at the Eros Cinema, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus, London (Exteriors only, the interior sequences were filmed in a studio mock-up). “Witness” was released in 1985, the year that the Eros closed and the Eros Cinema had been screening soft core porn movies for many years. It never had played mainstream movies in its entire life as it was originally a Newsreel cinema, followed by a cartoon and shorts cinema and then porn. If memory serves me right “Witness” had its West End premier run at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square.

Shrewsbury is a town 180 miles from London and the only Odeon Cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue in London is what is now called the Odeon Covent Garden, formally the Saville Theatre/ABC/Cannon Cinema.

Sagitarius23 on September 10, 2007 at 5:45 am

Wow that brought back lots of memories for me!! I was a relief manager for Classic Cinemas London circuit in the early 1970s and for a short time worked at the Eros. It was then showing cartoons and known as the Eros Cartoon Cinema. It had two “sister” “cartoon cinemas” –(these were also formerly “News Theatres”) one on Waterloo station which closed in about 1969 and the other on Victoria Station, known as the Victoria Cartoon Cinema, which closed in about 1977. I was assistant manager at the Victoria Cartoon Cinema for about a year.The cinema had an entrance just beside platform 17 and another entrance on Buckingham Palace Road and one of the highlights of each day was watching the guards as they marched past the cinema entrance from the barracks up to Buckingham Palace for the “Changing of the Guard”.

ukzombie on February 20, 2009 at 7:09 am

I was wondering if anyone here (who has posted information) would mind me using the information on my website, as I’m trying to find the filming locations used in American Werewolf in London.
View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 30, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Interesting Story.We played"WEREWOLF" to great midnight crowds in the 80’s.

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