Prince Charles Cinema
7 Leicester Place,
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Prince Charles Cinema (Official)
Architects: Carlo S. Biskupek
Firms: Carl Fisher and Associates
Previous Names: Prince Charles Theatre, Cannon Prince Charles
The Prince Charles Theatre was designed by Carl Fisher & Associates with 358 seats all on one level. It started life as a live theatre on 26th December 1962 with a transfer from the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith of a Canadian revue “Clap Hands”.
Some film use alternated with live theatre beginning in 1964 with screenings of “Tartuffe”, but as a live theatre it was not a success, and it became a full time cinema from 30th May 1965 and on 4th July 1965 it was taken over by the Leeds based Star Cinemas chain and the seating capacity was increased to 414. Success still was not achieved, due to dreadful sight-lines, so it closed in 1968 for a complete internal reconstruction to the design of architect Carlo S. Biskupek, and interior design by Harold Bartram. The stage was removed and the new auditorium was increased in size from 414 to 631 seats in stalls and circle levels. It re-opened on 21st January 1969 with the UK Premiere of Pierre Clementi in “Benjamin”, and became the West End showcase of the Star Cinemas chain.
In 1985 the Cannon Group took over Star Cinemas and it was renamed Cannon Prince Charles. It was refurbished in 1986. On 26th April 1991 it was taken over by the Robins Cinemas chain and the Prince Charles Cinema finally found its niche as a repertory cinema, playing recent hit films, revivals, foreign language and cult hits, at greatly reduced prices on admission and concessions for the West End, where prices are premium.
During November 2008, work was commenced to convert the Prince Charles Cinema into a twin-screen cinema. The former circle has been separated from the former stalls by a drop-wall. Films are shown in the former stalls on the original, large screen, from a projection box located in an area that was formerly the front of the circle. This projection box is behind the screen of the former circle screen, which continues to use the original projection box. Work was carried out overnight and during the mornings and early afternoons, with regular screenings continuing in the stalls screen during the evenings. The twin screen cinema opened in December 2008 with seating for 302 in the former stalls which has a screen measuring 21.5 feet wide by 11.5 feet high, and a 104 seat screen in the former circle. The Prince Charles Cinema has retained its film projectors, and has regular screenings of 70mm prints as well as 35mm and digital presentations. Sometime in late-2021/early-2022 the vertical name sign on the front of the cinema was removed.
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