Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CP200 on July 12, 2020 at 8:42 am

Fantasy EMPIRE 1. So is the Empire Leicester Square EMPIRE 1 gonna be rebuilt with liemax one thrown into the skip!

CF100 on March 19, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Universal Breaking Theatrical Windows to Stream ‘Invisible Man,’ ‘The Hunt,’ and ‘Emma’.

Who can say if this will set a precedent?

It might well be the case that investors are lumping cinemas in with “legacy” bricks and mortar retail/leisure businesses.

Cineworld FY2019 Results Presentation/Conference Call – 12th March 2020.

Results (as presented!) are good. Cineworld, however, have a mountain of debt. In the above linked presentation/conference call, they said that without doing anything they can cover costs for several months before being at risk of breaching loan covenants. At the time of the call, they had negotated lease payment breaks in Poland in case of closure.

At the time of the presentation, they also seemed to be working on the assumption that this would be over in 6 months.

Unless it is blocked, they are obligated to complete the takeover of Canada’s Cineplex.

Here’s the latest news:

Telegraph – Cineworld begins laying off staff. (Behind paywall.)

In the case of the share price tumbling, it is pretty clear that a lot of short positions were being held and were “cashed in.”

moviebuff82 on March 18, 2020 at 10:38 am

The shares of Cineworld, as well as AMC and Cinemark, are at all time lows as box office sales have been slowed down by recent events as well as growth in streaming at home. 100 years from now, cinemas might be obsolete?

Ian on March 18, 2020 at 6:54 am

Not all cinemas closed – yet. I have just seen Military Wives this morning at the Savoy in Grantham. They have stopped doing allocated seating, are doing extra cleaning, and ask patrons to allow two empty seats between parties (as well as all the usual advice). In fact there were only four of us in so isolation was not a problem at 10:30am.

CP200 on March 18, 2020 at 3:51 am

cineworld closed odeon closed all uk cinemas closed. its the end of hollywood box office as we know it?

CF100 on March 13, 2020 at 12:38 pm

I paid a visit to Screen 2 in February to see “Parasite,” which was not programmed in any of the largest auditoria of any venue, and this location seemed to me to be the best option available in the West End.

Very good picture quality was achieved, bright and with good saturation, and, IIRC, with good black levels. The sound seemed to be lower than reference level, but the quality was very good, aided by the low reverberation time of the auditorium. The surround imaging was good although as with any “legacy” system using a rear array, it was diffuse even when it should have been directional. The bass was well extended, although presumably this feature did not push LFE to the limit.

Quibbles: The auditorium has some audible HVAC noise and/or noise from the (boothless) projection (situated above the rear rows of the stadia.) Also, before the programme started, the left surrounds had a clearly audible noise floor. Fortunately, no leakage from the foyer nor the adjacent Screen 1 was audible.

The screen is scope ratio and moveable masking is not used. In practice, given that the adverts/trailers are shown in “flat” ratio in the centre section of the screen, and any that are scope end up being letterboxed, this entire aspect of the presentation is compromised, anyway. It obviously made no difference to the main, scope ratio, feature.

The screen is very generously sized for the auditorium depth.

The red upholstered Lino Sonego seating is comfortable, and the restepped stadia from Cineworld’s 2018 refurbishment provides good legroom.

All in all, as a “standard” auditorium, a good place to see a film. Remarkably non-compromised given that it occupies the former space occupied by the toilets.

Several photos have been uploaded.

CF100 on February 29, 2020 at 6:50 pm

PhilipWW: The unmasked areas of the screen (in scope) are not ideal but the black levels are quite low, so it is not the disaster that it might have been.

A “flat” screen can be advantageous, for one because otherwise the trailers/adverts end up letterboxed within the central “flat ratio” part of the screen. (Obviously, ideally with vertically movable masking.)

As you say, the horizontal resolution specified in DCP for “2K flat” is 1998 pixels. However, on a “scope” screen switching from “flat” to “scope” can be accomplished by simply automatically zooming the lens. (858 rather than 1080 pixels high for “2K scope.”) 2K DLP cinema chips, of course, provide 2048 horizontal pixels.

CF100 on February 29, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Lionel: Those plans were for London and Regional Properties who are the freeholders (owners) of the whole building.

At the time the scheme to which you linked was developed, the adjacent 1-4 Leicester Square (which also happens to house the old Empire 2, now the 4DX auditorium in its basement!) was being redeveloped with the primary use being a hotel, and they had added windows on the reverse side of the building. In a nutshell, there was a “dispute” about this as L&R argued that it affected future development potential of the site, as in the windows would be overshadowed (or completely blocked!) if building higher. However, the “authorities”* sided with the owners of 1-4 LSQ, for one because there was really no evidence that any scheme to develop 5-6 LSQ (aka “The Empire”) had progressed beyond a long term wish on the part of L&R.

theatreofvarieties confirmed that the cinema still has ~60 years on its lease. The casino still ~10 years on its lease and various parts of it have been recently refurbished/altered. Not to mention the amount that has been spent on the cinema in recent years, and the amount (substantially over valuation) Cineworld paid to acquire LSQ and other Empire sites.

There are other constraints, including another hotel, and presumably structural issues given adjoining properties.

So, I wouldn’t expect any similar redevelopment scheme to be progressed any time soon…

(* Namely “The Planning Inspectorate” as it went to appeal. If exceptionally bored (!) see the document titled “APPEAL DECISION” in the relevant planning application documents.)

Lionel on February 26, 2020 at 1:31 pm

I was just looking for plans of the Empire on Google and came across this architect project from 2017:

PhilipWW on February 17, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Good to read that the Superscreen has all the latest projectors.

I presume though that the screen itself is still 1.85 necessitating that all Scope movies are shown letterboxed with no masking. This may be fine for bright day scenes but for dark or night scenes, I think this letterboxing makes a mockery of the presentation.

Additionally if the image is projected with the projector set to ‘Flat’ (as it will be), the sides of the image will be truncated; only 1998 horizontal pixels displayed instead of 2048, thus cutting the aspect ratio down to 2.32.

In all, somehow I don’t think the ‘Superscreen’ concept is quite as super as Cineworld would like us to believe.

CF100 on January 29, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Having not visited the “Superscreen” at this location in years—in fact, the cinema was still operated by Empire Cinemas and it was called the “IMPACT” screen—with some trepidation, I recently attended a screening in that auditorium.

The headline is: As far as I can ascertain, LASER projection has now been installed.

I had wondered if Cineworld would upgrade this location given that they have upgraded both Picturehouse Central Screen 1 and the O2 Superscreen with laser projection, as well as Cineworld rolling out laser projection in new sites.

During the performance, I was impressed by the picture quality achieved, and wondered if this was indeed the case. The “tell-tale” signs of laser—speckle, etc.—however, were either non-existent or hardly noticeable, and whilst well saturated colours were achieved, as well as a very good black level, it perhaps didn’t quite look “laser” in this respect, either. But it hardly looked like Xenon, either.

To add to the puzzle, I was slightly surprised to see that only one of the two Barco 4K projectors was operating, though, as is always for the Leicester Square Superscreen, it was a 2D presentation.

Looking into the booth, as can easily be done from the back of the main seating area (i.e. non-balcony), it was noticeable that on top of one projector was a large black rectangular-shaped unit, and this was not the case for other—not in use—projector.

To cut to the chase, it seems that likely Cineworld have NOT upgraded the Superscreen to all-new projection, but added Barco’s laser “retrofit” option, which amounts to converting the model from a Barco DP4K-23B, as moved over from the old (and very much still missed by myself!) Empire 1 on opening, to a DP4K-23BLP—the unit on top is in fact the “lamp house” for this.

The “LP” stands for “laser phosphor,” so it does not use separate red, green and blue lasers.

To quote from Barco’s website:

“The light source in an RGB projector contains red, green and blue lasers. The light source in a laser phosphor projector contains only blue (and sometimes red) lasers, combined with a yellow phosphor wheel. Both types of light sources create a uniform white light interface that enters the engine; just like a Xenon lamp did before. Only when you analyze the spectral properties of this white light, you can discern the narrow bandwidth of RGB from the broader bandwidth of LP.”

So there we are. Not the “real deal” but a, hopefully, good upgrade nonetheless. It always seemed to me that the auditorium was “made” for Atmos with laser-light source projection.

There’s more to say, but that will have to wait for a full write-up.

The sound was definitely on top form, too, with outstanding rear imaging from the Atmos system.

So, FWIW, I am happy to say that a high standard of picture and, particularly excellent sound quality was achieved; as a modern-style “own brand” with Atmos “premium large-format” auditorium, it is a very good place to see a film.

A photo looking into the booth clearly showing the two Barco projectors has been uploaded.

CF100 on October 31, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Having recently paid a visit to the IMAX auditorium, the sidewall IMAX signs now fade in/out—however, the fade is extremely “stepped,” obviously sequencing through a handful of different levels, rather than smooth.

The sidewall signs were also (irritatingly!) turned on as the end credits started.

CF100 on August 16, 2019 at 8:53 am

In addition to the Superscreen sidewall signage mentioned by Zappomatic, similar signage has also been added to the IMAX auditorium. (Photo uploaded.)

In the photo, this signage doesn’t look so bad; however, the illumination is uneven, particularly for the white “Leicester Square” section, and the kerning (spacing) for the IMAX type (“Microgamma” typeface) is incorrect, with the “X” in particular too far from the “A,” and the second letter “e” in “Leicester Square” is slightly rotated anti-clockwise, rather than being straight.

Also, the quality of the LEDs used does not match those used for the concealed LED bars or house lights of the auditorium (OSRAM.)

Worst of all, for the screening I attended (matinée performance of “Once a Time in Hollywood,”) they remained fully illuminated until the start of the main feature, and then simply switched off.

IMO they look completely ridiculous, and, it hardly seems necessary to remind patrons that they are in an IMAX, when its logo is plastered on all 723 seats.

(Just noticed a correction to the CT description—the seat count given for the IMAX auditorium of 751 seats is incorrect—the 2016 licensing plans state 723 seats [plus 6 accessible spaces.])

In every other respect, the cinema was absolutely fine, with the usual excellent picture/sound from the IMAX with Laser GT installation, effective air conditioning, and all lights were off during the main feature.

CF100 on July 8, 2019 at 1:23 pm

An application [dated received 20th March 2019] to replace the three banner adverts on the LSQ frontage with LED display module screens has been refused by Westminster Council.

(Note that this application was for Caesars Entertainment UK, i.e. the casino operator.)

The document listed as “DELEGATED REPORT” makes for some particularly interesting reading.

In summary, it turns out that none of the existing three banner adverts is approved; although the applicant claims that “Deemed Consent” was obtained by virtue of the high level banner being displayed for more than 10 years, the report shows archival photos demonstrating that it was not continuously displayed for this period; and, the two side banners (which made their first appearance at a later date) constitute an increase in the quantum of advertising which in any event voids this claim.

Apparently, Westminster have, over the years, issued enforcement notices in respect of removing these adverts; however, they were removed and then reinstated at a later date

(The report states that, in relation to advertising, Westminster Council only proceed with legal action as a last resort.)

According to the report, Cineworld advised the cinema’s use of the banners was “entirely at the discretion of Caesars.”

Last Friday, i.e. 5th July 2019, no banners were in place. The “rods” for the side banners remained, and, it looks like some “making good” is needed to the upper parts of the façade.

Presumably, then, Westminster have (again!) taken enforcement action.

Of particular note from the report:

“The theatre is a very significant building architecturally and its status as an unlisted building of merit reflects this. There are a number of architectural features at the main elevation to Leicester Square, including the original ‘Empire Theatre’ sign to the parapet, a tri-partite arch, classical columns and coffered ceiling within the arch.”

This may be of some relief to anyone concerned about future alterations/additions.

In my view, notwithstanding the desires of the casino operator to add advertising of greater promenance—and surely this use should not overshadow the cinema aspect?—the upper/wide banner typically used for movie advertising was a reasonable compromise. The two side banners looked awful, and this scheme, to “bolt on” LED display module screens, is now demonstrably ill-conceived.

Meanwhile, the canopy remains in desperate need of being reimagined…

CF100 on June 28, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Zappomatic: Possible effects on the sound could be at the subtle “audiophile”/“fusspot” level. ;–) Although, I suppose, your comment does suggest that the sound quality hasn’t been ruined!

Too bad that they distract from the picture—and one would certainly hope that Cineworld would notice this issue?

Zappomatic on June 28, 2019 at 3:49 pm

I didn’t notice any effects on the sound but they certainly were noticeably reflective in brighter scenes in the film.

CF100 on June 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Zappomatic: Thanks for the update/photo. Positioning looks dreadful—and acoustically not a good idea to be sticking reflective surfaces up that close to the screen on straight sidewalls (lateral reflections affect dialogue intelligibility [perhaps not too much of a concern here?] and stereo imaging.)

Alarmingly ill-thought out for a premier screen in their flagship site, with this auditorium having a very highly specified sound system!

By the way, do you, or anyone else reading this, know if Cineworld have or are planning on installing laser projection in the LSQ Superscreen?

Cineworld are definitely rolling them out:

Cineworld Group and Cinionic strike 1,000+ unit deal to roll out acclaimed Barco laser projectors to theaters worldwide .

Zappomatic on June 25, 2019 at 8:46 am

Superscreen logos have been added to the side walls of the Superscreen

CF100 on May 25, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Addendum: Ironically, the application for the “advertising” aspect has been approved.

(“Display of two internally illuminated fascia signs measuring 1.00m x 6.25m and 2.49m x 1.15m, a non-illuminated projecting sign measuring 0.60m x 0.60m and retractable awning.”)

Thus, Cineworld may now, for instance, add an awning advertising non-existent “Hotdogs, Jacket Potatoes, Nachos, Hot & Cold Drinks.”

CF100 on May 25, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Westminster Council have refused permission (22nd May 2019) for the food kiosk, on the basis that customers queuing outside would block pedestrian traffic, and as all customers would be served off the premises, it would result in negative environmental/amenity effects (“late night activity, noise and smells.”) Obviously, Cineworld have the opportunity to appeal this decision.

CF100 on April 13, 2019 at 10:22 am

Zappomatic: Indeed, and I bought ice cream from there myself from the kiosk in the linked image! However, the unit’s current use class remains the one in place for the Bureau de Change that previously operated there, so Cineworld still need permission for the change of use to allow the operation of a takeaway.

Zappomatic on April 1, 2019 at 1:24 pm

This unit has in the past been used as an ice cream kiosk (as seen here

CF100 on March 24, 2019 at 4:42 am

Cineworld have submitted planning applications for changes to the frontage and a new takeaway counter in the old “Ritz”/“Empire 2” entrance in 1-4 Leicester Square. (I suppose strictly this should go under its separate page on CT, but to my mind it reads as part of the cinema as a whole?)

The main “FULL” application is dated as received 8th February 2019, with the (sloppily written!) “Design and Access Statement” summarising the scheme, including a rendering on p7; Chapman Taylor is the project architect.

In summary, the proposal is for a “HUNGER GAMES” (Cineworld’s own brand) “kiosk,” removal of the existing brown granite to be replaced with black metal cladding, and the installation of a 6.55x1m LED display module screen above (to display static images only.)

A good idea to bring that section of the frontage back into use, but it looks quite tacky, albeit the rendering is of poor quality—and must Cineworld dispose of yet more high quality finishing materials?

It wouldn’t surprise me to see that the LED screen aspect will go to appeal.

CF100 on March 23, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Some further information on Cineworld’s 2018 foyer/lobbies refurbishment and 4DX conversion of the former Screen 2 is available in an article on the website of AV Magazine, dated 22nd March 2019.

The relevant sections of the article are:

Foyer/lobbies: Under the heading “Making a grand entrance.” 4DX: A few paragraphs under the sub-heading: “Four types of 4DX.”

I will summarise relevant key points from the article here (with the 4DX information added to its own page on CT.)

  • As suspected from the branded protective sheeting in Zappomatic’s photos of the foyer/lobbies refurbishment, Maeve Contractors—principal contractor for the conversion of the former Screen 1 to IMAX/Superscreen—are confirmed to have been also involved in this project.
  • LED modules used are from Chinese company Konka Media, with Cineworld Group having previously worked with the them in Prague.
  • Standard DVI/HDMI input to the module controllers supplied by Konka.
  • For the signature installation on the vestibule stairs up from the main Leicester Square entrance—risers being a non-standard installation location—the modules are installed in a “safety unit” for protection from patrons, with the requirements of building regulations in mind. The installation also allows maintenance access to the modules from the front.
  • Total modules used for the stairs—65; number of stair risers: 14; total size: 4.8mx2.2m; resolution 960x416 pixels.
Lionel on March 19, 2019 at 11:29 am

I just posted my first film on YouTube. This is a Super 8mm film I shot in 1986 and 1988 showing fronts of West end cinemas (including this one) and theatres :

My description on YouTube : Old silent 8mm film showing fronts of West End cinemas and theatres, made with two different cameras and film stocks in 1986 and 1988. Bad quality due to age. The close-up of 70mm advertisement for “a winning double bill” was at the Prince Charles cinema for a re-run of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The close-up of THX Sound System advertisement was at the Warner cinema. The close-up of the “West End” words was the Odeon West End cinema sign.