Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 26, 2006 at 1:55 pm

A daytime view of the exterior when screening “The Chronicles of Narnia”:
A nightime view of the exterior:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 26, 2006 at 1:49 pm

The Empire Cinema, Screen 1 auditorium in blue lighting:
The Empire Cinema, Screen 1 auditorium in red lighting:

SHbarney on March 26, 2006 at 10:56 am

Well of coarse but before odeon took empire over empire had roughly 12-14 premiers a year but when they cornered the square it dropped to one every two three months and it will change when the new empire company gets in full motion because odeon will not beable to stop them in bidding and showing distributors and directors that their venue is better suited to a premier than a glorified multiplex. Most directors do not like odeon for that reason but have been forced into the odeon cuz it owned the two of them. plus the sound in empire does not help but that is being changed very soon.

SHbarney on March 24, 2006 at 3:08 am

Also i think Odeon are a bit rude and a bit look at us we have all the premiers we’re something, i walked up to the front doors to get a ticket and the doors were locked and this little skinny guy walked up to the doors opened them and said ‘What do you want?’ in a very rude way. so i just turned round and walked away i will never go back. Empire is although dated has a definate feeling of grandure but doesnt have the attitude of ‘we demand respect’ like Odeon, Odeon are nothing they just try to buy grandure and just get very deluded with how sacred their cinema is.

SHbarney on March 24, 2006 at 2:57 am

Well yeah if its local and you dont want to head into town then your not gona go but thats the same for all leicester square cinemas why would you go see munich in a small Odeon west end cinema if you local one was playing it for cheaper, but if you are there anyway and you like the cinema and the idea of the movie you will go. But the reason Empire dont have King Kong or Harry Potter is because Odeon cornered the booking and made Empire impotent for the whole summer wrong but if you want to make the most money in the square for the summer then you have to be under hand to do that. Also Narnia did really well at empire and played their for three months before anyone else played it. But they wont have major blockbusters this summer until the booking becomes free again and the new empire can actually try for the big features instead of just been given scraps, if Odeom kept Empire they would have shared the blockbusters out but why do it if its a competitor,

tomdelay on March 23, 2006 at 8:02 am

The Empire Leicester Square originally contained a 4/24 Wurlitzer that was played and recorded by famed US theatre organist Jesse Crawford circa 1933. As I recall, Crawford’s version of “My Love Song” was recorded here during this tour.

The organ was removed from the theatre around 40 years or so ago and has been in a private home near London ever since. The organ is in fine shape and is played regularly. It has been described as being the finest sounding Wurlitzer in a home in the UK.

SHbarney on March 23, 2006 at 3:07 am

Unfortunatley When Odeon bought over UCI they did have control of Empire for a short while and they new fully well that they would loose Empire to another cinema brand so they off loaded all the movies that didn’t have a expected high turn over to the Empire cinema and booked all premiers and summer blockbusters to the Odeon Mezzinene resulting in a monoploy of films pretty sneaky but i suppose thats capitalism? The new empire owners will have a hard job pulling summer films in as Odeon have cornered them all! The Di Vinice Code, X-Men 3, Superman and they have already had King Kong, Harry Potter, Munich and now they have V for Vendetta although the premier was held at Empire, Odeon will gain all profits! However once empire fix the sound in Screen 1 and refurb the whole cinema which i believe includes a possible new screen and an extension to screen 3 distributors and directors will be queueing up to hold they’re films there and possibly bring back the glory days of the original premier theatre! But that can only happen if people continue to support the cinema. And the worlds fastest indian isnt that bad! go see it ;)

woody on February 8, 2006 at 8:28 am

The Empire will retain its name and money is being invested in the cinema to improve the sound baffling in the main auditorium. The rebuilding of the nightclub will hopefully also include the long talked about refurbishment and restoration of the front of the building which is in quite poor condition when you look closely.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on February 8, 2006 at 5:30 am

The former stalls area which became the Empire Ballroom/nightclub since 1962 is currently closed and contracters are in that part of the building stripping out and gutting it. I believe the space is destined to become a casino.

davepring on February 8, 2006 at 4:49 am

The Empire is not going to become another Odeon…because of Odeon dominance in the west end the OFT insisted that Odeon divest itself of certain properties.Irish Cinema Chain Ward Anderson has bought the Empire.

kencmcintyre on February 7, 2006 at 7:35 pm

Here is a link with some contemporary photos:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 22, 2006 at 5:03 am

Here is a photograph I took of the Empire in July 1964. The Thomas Lamb exterior was hidden for almost 30 years behind that 1960’s advertising cladding:
View link

ErikH on April 25, 2005 at 12:21 pm

Sorry to hear that the Empire’s days may be numbered. I caught a screening of “The Interpreter” last week while in London and found the large auditorium to be delightful: spacious, comfortable, large screen, curtains, the light show before the lights dimmed (changing colors around the proscenium), etc. A sense of showmanship rarely found anymore.

woody on March 27, 2005 at 3:22 pm

The Empire is one of the cinemas that the newly merged Odeon and UCI chains will have to dispose of, it will be offered to the highest bidder via an agency.
Given its high running costs and the struggle to get decent films to fill 1330 seats, unless one of the two other big chains buy it, its days are numbered which is a tragedy as its one of the finest auditoriums in the world (well screen one at least)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 19, 2004 at 11:18 am

Famed cinema architect George Coles was responsible for the ‘new’ 1962 interior refurbishment of the Empire Theatre. It was the last work of this architect who had designed so many magnificent cinemas in the UK since the early 1920’s.

All that remained of the sumptious Thomas Lamb designed theatre of 1928 vintage was the facade, and that was hidden for many years behind an advertising billboard for the current attraction, until it was restored in the late 1990’s. George Coles single level auditorium was on the same level as the former circle, with the front section floored over what would have been the front stalls area. The former orchestra stalls of the Empire was converted into a dance hall, now used as a disco/nightclub.

bruceanthony on September 6, 2004 at 1:24 pm

The Empire’s main auditorium was much grander in 1975 than what I saw in the 1990’s. I liked the Empire in the 1970’s better than I did the big Odeon. My favorite theatre, where I saw “The Wind and the Lion” was the Dominion.brucec

Dave2 on July 7, 2004 at 7:20 pm

I can remember visiting the old Empire about 1960 as a child to see the roadshow run of Ben-Hur. It seemed like a very old but very grand, and large, theatre that seemed to fit exactly the film it was showing. The one thing I most remember, sitting in the rear stalls, was the large projection booth that had been built downstairs to project the film in 70mm (Camera 65). The screen seemed enormous even from the back of the stalls. I suppose old theatres have to move on, but I’m sure it would be listed today if it still existed in its former glory.

SethLewis on February 5, 2004 at 10:11 am

Among the films in the big room Empire 1 are a couple of the Star Trek films, Jurassic Park, Primary Colours, Ride with the Devil…The last of the Star Treks with the original cast was a treat on the giant screen…It is a generally more comfortable experience than the Odeon Leicester Sq
In Number 2 I’ve seen things like Schindler’s List, Carlito’s Way, Gangs of New York, Henry & June, Jungle Fever…an old fashion large house not unreminiscent of being in the Beekman or Sutton in New York for a quality film…some new seats wouldn’t be unappreciated
I squeezed into Number 3 for Cape Fear but wouldn’t rush back considering the choices we now have in London in local multiplexes

woody on February 5, 2004 at 8:48 am

this theatre is used for premieres and large epics, it recently hosted the UK premiere of Kill Bill and quentin tarrantino loves this theatre becuase of its superb stadium style main screen which has 1330 seats, second in size only to its neighbour the Odeon leicester sq 1800(ish) seats
of the two i much prefer the Empire which has much more legroom, reclining seats and a much bigger screen
the lobby was redecorated and recarpeted in 2003, lots of gold and red plush with huge leather sofas, the marquee remains rather shabby but it is rumoured that it will be restored in the near future
ps there is no remaining original plasterwork from the auditorium ceiling above the current 60’s one in empire 1 or in sc2 (the former ritz)

bruceanthony on November 6, 2003 at 12:42 am

I attended a film at the Empire in 1975 and thought it was a lovely modern film theatre with a huge screen and great sound. I was dissapointed in the 1990’s on what was done in the last renovation. I think it would be lovely if this theatre was restored and used in the same way the large Odeon in the West End is used.It could be used for premieres and the large epic films Hollywood is again producing. I believe this house is jointly owned by Paramount and Universal. brucec

Edd on November 6, 2002 at 6:36 am

When I was last here I was shown that the original ceiling of the old empire still is alive and kicking above the new 1960’s one.

davidpring on January 18, 2002 at 6:41 pm

Once known as the Movie Showplace of the Nation when owned by MGM the Empire is one of the best places to see a film in London.The major 1300 seat auditorium is starting to look a little shabby as owners UCI seem uncertain as how to operate a non multiplex venue.