Empire Cinemas - London Haymarket

63-65 Haymarket,
London, SW1Y 4RQ

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Showing 126 - 139 of 139 comments

AdoraKiaOra on January 6, 2008 at 8:44 am

It is hoped that during the run of ‘Brief Encounter’ that the two smaller screens will run old black and white movies such as Ealing comedies etc. I think the whole idea and set up is wonderful and i wish it every success.

HowardBHaas on January 6, 2008 at 7:03 am

Thanks to CTA for forwarding a Daily Mail article. http://preview.tinyurl.com/2aqohk The newpaper reported that a stage production based on David Lean’s film Brief Encounters will begin February 2 at “The Cinema on The Haymarket” (this theater) and last until at least June 22. Both stage and screen will be used. The official, gala opening will be on February 17. Top price tickets will be only $29.50 pounds, a bargain for the West End.

Westminster Council agreed to change the use from cinema to live shows on stage.
The article describes the theater as having Italian and Spanish Renaissance “front of house” detail. The articles states that all 444 seats have perfect sightlines because they are designed for a cinema.

The article does not state whether movies will continue in the two auditoriums placed in the former stalls (orchestra).

Ian on September 9, 2007 at 11:19 am

Two September 2007 photos of the foyer here:–

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Ian on August 11, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Two photos from the 1980’s here:–

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AdoraKiaOra on May 3, 2007 at 9:16 am

The only reason to visit this place is to see the screen 1 auditorium as seen in Kens photo above. The building is a perfect example of ‘ couldnt give a damn cinema managment’ I was a regular there in the 80s and from what i hear its just got worse andworse as the years go by.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 8, 2007 at 6:21 am

Gents, below is a quote from the current manager:

“The old lift is still there but has apparently been decommissioned by the Westminster CC Health and Safety team in the late 80’s or early 90’s…

We still have the Soda Fountain restaurant in the basement but this area has been turned into a storeroom when Virgin Group refurbished the Haymarket to accommodate a new Cafe Bar between the Projection Booth 2 and 3."

JFM on January 7, 2007 at 4:53 am

In my day the staff rooms were downstairs, the mens on the right next to the managers office on the ground floor, and the ladies downstairs between screens 2 and 3.

There were 2 floors of offices above the main projection room, which in the Classic cinema days were the main head office. Once they were bought by Cannon and acquired offices in other locations those floors were rarely used, until they converted one of the floors into a state-of-the-art computer facility which housed the companies main financial records. I can remember having a cardkey to access the floor, which was quite unusual in those days.

I wonder if the old lift is still there? It actually started from the first floor rather than the ground, and was on the right hand side as you walk in – you go up the main stairs and it’s immmidiately on the right. Very small, 2 people max and a rickety old thing it was too, forever breaking down.

And what about the Soda Fountain restaurant in the basement? I am a little hazy on the full history, but I believe it was either never actually used or only opened for a very short time, some time in the 70’s. It was located downstairs on the same level as the screens, but had a separate door which was accessed on the way to the main exit door.

When I worked there, it was actually used for premiere receptions and press receptions/special screenings. The soda fountain counter was used as a bar (it still had the metal trays, scoops, the lot), it was in reasonably good condition and actually had fountains, though they did not actually work.

Over the years there were various attempts to sell it off to outside companies, which never came to anything.

Unfortunately there were a lot of problems with the mens toilets which were directly above, they had some flooding and this completely ruined the restuarant – soaked carpets, mildew on the walls etc and it became unusable.

I often wonder what became of it, anyone know?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 6, 2007 at 7:08 am

cjc;The ‘Dress Circle’ you refer to in your Jan 20, 2006 posting was actually a Mezzanine with only three rows of seats. The Balcony above it (currently screen 1) was the main circle.

The Mezzanine was located at street level and its entrance was straight off the main foyer. I presume this area is used for storage or staff rooms etc?

JFM on January 6, 2007 at 6:11 am

I worked at this theatre from 1984 to 1992.

In 1986 there was a fire which gutted most of the foyer. It as believed to have been started deliberately by someone ho had broken in at night, and was set in a cupboard on the right side of the theatre as you walked in the main doors, where the public telephones were located. As a result the theatre was closed for about 6 months, and the film Purple Rose Of Cairo was due to start there the next day. The film, and indeed most of the staff were relocated to the Cannon Royal cinema in Charing Cross road instead.

Because of where the fire started, the structure and the wooden staircase at the left side of the foyer was largely intact, so that side of the cinema was cleaned up relatively quickly and the theatre opened for business while the other part of the foyer was cordoned off and restored. Once the right side was restored, the left side was then closed and restored properly while the right section was opened.

The greatest loss was probably the original ceiling – drawings were taken from the remains and new sections were created to look as close to the original as possible.

Because of the extensive damage to the woodwork on the right side, the bannister and stairway had to be replaced – the difference in quality to the left side in very noticable.

A great shame, as it was one of the fewer older cinemas left in London’s West End.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 19, 2006 at 11:24 am

This a current view of the main screen, located in the former balcony. Decorative details and light fittings are original to the 1929 opening of the Carlton:
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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 26, 2004 at 4:33 pm

The Carlton (as it it still fondly remembered) was designed by architects Frank T. Verity and Samuel Beverley. It was a project of Carlton Theatre Co, a company set up by Paramount Pictures Ltd who owned the nearby Plaza, Regent St. The Carlton opened as a live theatre, but went over to full time film use in May 1929. The original seating capacity was 1,159. After many years being operated by Paramount Pictures it was taken over by Twentieth Century Fox in March 1954 and they installed CinemaScope. In 1960 the stage was brought back into use for the last time when Anthony Newley starred in a special stage show prior to the screenings of his starring movie “Let’s Get Married”.

woody on February 18, 2004 at 12:25 pm

the lobby and screen 1 retain much of the very rich italian renaissance plasterwork although they are painted in very gaudy shades of pink and purple, the interior is very close in design to that of the nearby Plaza which has recently been gutted again this time to become a supermarket!
UGC are rumoured to want to expand the ground floor of the Haymarket from 2 screens to seven and make it a dedicated arts film venue, it does need some money spending on it, the exterior is very grimey and the signage is rusting and faded (not what one would expect from a top price west end hall)

Richardboaste on July 16, 2002 at 7:30 am

The Carlton is actually owned and operated by UGC cinemas, having been acquired in the take over of the Virgin circuit, who took over the old MGM Cannon Circuit, It has never been operated by Odeon, They did have an theatre just up the road from the Carlton, Which closed about two years ago.