Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on April 8, 2018 at 6:16 pm

PhilipWW: You’re most welcome, I’m glad to hear it’s appreciated!

IMAX don’t use the standard DCP format, they have their own extended version, IDF (IMAX Digital Format.) No idea what resolutions/frame rates are supported.

In any case, a different package would be supplied for laser venues, as the colour grading is different for “IMAX with Laser.” IMAX themselves listed 70mm IMAX, IMAX with Laser and IMAX Digital (Xenon) as the different IMAX formats “Dunkirk” was released in, and see also the IMDb Technical Specifications page for Dunkirk—notice the 1.43:1 ratio for IMAX with Laser.

The “laser” part of the projection is only the light source, DLP chips (or LCoS/SXRD in the case of Sony) are still used. Greater screen brightness, wider colour gamut (increased range of colours), and deeper blacks. On the other hand it has a number of technical challenges, hence IMAX acquired a number of patents from Kodak. The most well known is the “speckling” issue—one way IMAX ameliorates that is by attaching lots of small transducers (speakers) to the screen, which constantly slightly shake it!

I fully agree with your comments on framing and the strange design choices of so-called “large format” screens. I think the concept is, as with IMAX, to present a large wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screen to the patron as soon as they walk into the cinema.

If one looks at a 1928 photo of the Empire Leicester Square Rebuilding Works and compares it to this part (direct link to time in video) of the The Installation of the Empire Leicester Square IMAX, looking carefully at the front of the auditorium on the left, then it seems fairly obvious that parts of the roof structure are “boxed out”—you can see the diagonal parts (I’m sure they have a name?) of the central roof truss.

So it becomes pretty obvious that the LSQ IMAX has the biggest screen size possible within the cinema’s demise. As 1.43:1 IMAX content may well be framed with 1.78:1 in mind for “home video” releases, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that the extra height could be used.

It seems odd that they’d have bothered to “jam” the screen in vertically otherwise, whilst presumably fitting in services (e.g. HVAC ducts), hanging the massive wall behind from the roof to boot, and commensurately moving up the curved parts of the ceiling to allow for sightlines.

It’s all somewhat by-the-by though really, as—because of the excellent geometry/alignment/black levels—1.9:1 content looks absolutely fine anyway. (Of course, for a screen lacking masking, if the projection can’t achieve straight and dark black edges around the picture, the picture won’t be properly framed.)

On the subject of “perfect” projection, or at least projection as good as possible under given conditions, that’s exactly what IMAX tries to do, with daily auto recalibration of picture/sound (camera and microphones in the auditorium for this), and continuous monitoring of the picture with adjustments made by IMAX’s “image enhancer” to keep everything aligned at all times, as well as remote monitoring by IMAX in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada.)

It would, of course, be reasonable to be cynical about IMAX’s claims—albeit some of the system’s details are disclosed in their patents—but at least at the Cineworld/Empire Leicester Square, it seems to work!

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on April 8, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Concerning the image reflecting off the port glass onto the back wall of the booth, I’ve worked in some cinemas where the port glass and its frame were tilted, which prevented that.

Zappomatic on April 8, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Work on the foyer is coming on apace! I look forward to seeing the finished result but it seems to be taking what was once a rather stale, dated space into something more befitting of its location. Take a look at the photos I’ve uploaded.

The flooring in the box office area has been revealed and it’s a matt, grippy finish tile rather than Cineworld’s signature glossy black sparkly number. A wise decision given how slippery this area could get in the rain! Opposite the box office are two 85 inch UHD displays (a few more of these waiting to be unpacked in the foyer).

The balustrades on the stairs have made a return albeit with their tops missing – I suspect we’ll see this lit underneath.

On the ceiling in certain areas are large backlit panels mimicking the gold squares. Due to their size they seem to be sagging in the middle but I’d imagine this will be rectified at some point. Interestingly the coloured LED lights hidden inside the gold inset squares were not on tonight.

Gradually new signage for screens, toilets etc is going up, and the doors to the IMAX screen have lost their padding – perhaps one of the contractors now has a new headboard! The area under the sloped portion of ceiling looks deeper than before but it’s probably just my eyes playing tricks. It would be nice to see a bar added in here to compete with Vue and Odeon but I wouldn’t be surprised to just see some sofas.

Corridor to the Superscreen has new carpet and signage, with the white ceiling painted dark grey. Wall coverings remain the same. The area in front of the stairs to screens 5-7 retains the same ceiling as before with the lower part painted dark grey and the raised section painted red.

Tonight I saw A Quiet Place, which is an excellent demonstration of what can be done with Dolby Atmos. It also demonstrated the incredible sub bass that screen is capable of, with roars, crashes and fireworks shaking the seats. Also the film was shot in Super 35mm and mastered in 4K so really let the projector shine, although black levels could have been better (the image was reflecting off the port glass onto the back wall of the booth, then casting a glow on the screen which is something I’ve never really noticed before).

PhilipWW on April 6, 2018 at 8:01 am

Zappomatic, Yes that sounds as if the Superscreen is 1.90.

The Digital Container has 2048 by 1080 pixels (1.90).

Flat films are shown using 1998 by 1080 pixels (1.85).

Scope films are shown using 2048 by 858 pixels (2.39).

The control of the projector is always set to ‘Flat’ with the Scope zoom lens never activated.

Zappomatic on April 6, 2018 at 6:17 am

CF100: The carpet I spotted is mostly black with large red and grey rings, rather than the standard carpet which has a busier pattern reminiscent of fireworks.

Regarding the Superscreen, flat films fill the screen vertically but not horizontally, and scope films fill the screen horizontally but not vertically. For 2D presentations only one of the projectors is used.

PhilipWW on April 5, 2018 at 3:57 pm

CF100, Thank you for the information; it is appreciated.

My understanding is that “classic IMAX” is indeed 1.43 ratio on film. Digital IMAX is always 1.90 as that is the size of the Digital Container. — 2048 by 1080 pixels for 2K presentations. -— 4096 by 2160 pixels for 4K presentations.

Thus for DUNKIRK, which Christopher Nolan did film in part with classic IMAX film cameras, the presentation at BFI IMAX on IMAX film was at 1.43 whilst any IMAX presentation at Cineworld LSQ Square must have been at 1.90 as it was digital. Over the road at Odeon LSQ, the presentation would have been at 2.20 as it was showing standard 70mm. Confusing indeed.

I must confess that I know nothing about Laser IMAX yet and therefore don’t know about its ratios. If Laser is about how the pixels are projected rather than how they are created, then I would have thought that the there would be no change to the ratios.

One of the pleasures of cinema going to me is seeing a perfectly picture perfectly projected and perfectly framed and masked. This is often the case but not always. With the rush to ‘Large Screen Format’ screens, as cinemas like to call them, some peculiar decisions seem to be taken; installing a 1.70 screen screen when nothing is ever shown in that ratio being one.

CF100 on April 5, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Zappomatic: Thank you, once again, for the comprehensive update and all of the photos, forming a very nice record of the foyer refurb.

The “gold” square panels look glitzy indeed! I had thought that they could have addressable lights, or use LED panel modules, programmed with a “glittering” pattern, so it’s a shame that they are just backlit. Wonder what they’re actually made of?

All sounding rather promising (and expensive!) with the stretched fabric ceiling.

Do you mean the carpet pattern featuring circular shapes?

Seems likely that the former Screens 4/5 will feature large reclining red seating, but not sure there’s enough space in the rest as there are already so few rows…

CF100 on April 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

PhilipWW: The auditorium must be approved by IMAX, it isn’t just the equipment in the booth.

For instance, in the case of the Empire/Cineworld LSQ IMAX, some of the seats are not available for IMAX 2D presentations, and even more for IMAX 3D presentations.

Equipment-wise, the screen and surround speakers are supplied by IMAX also.

If you take a very close look at the part of IMAX’s Installation of the Empire Leicester Square IMAX video (direct link to time) where the screen is being carried into the auditorium, you’ll notice the screen was supplied by Strong/MDI.

No idea whether they make a custom product for IMAX. However, for polarisation-based 3D systems, IMAX does have their own silver spray paint system which is actually applied by a custom rig in-situ, for example:

London BFI IMAX Screen Replacement. (Direct link to time again.)

Of course, the Empire was due to have the laser projection system installed, which uses wavelength-based 3D, i.e. slightly different RGB wavelengths for each eye, with the unwanted wavelengths filtered by the glasses, so I guess they didn’t bother with the silver coating as the screen would need to be replaced. (Ditto at the Chinese Theatre, going by the timelapse video of the IMAX conversion.)

As for aspect ratio, Empire Cinemas stated the screen size as 26.5mx15.6m (~87ft.x51ft), yielding a ratio of approx 1.7:1.

(Notice that the screen isn’t completely filled in the above linked video, as the Xenon light source IMAX projectors were installed then.)

The IMAX with Laser projection system is capable of 1.4:1 for “classic” IMAX venues, and I’m not sure whether the extra height is actually used at the Cineworld/Empire LSQ, although it did seem to be well-filled for “Dunkirk.”

It’s a somewhat moot point as most IMAX content is now maximum (or should that be minimum?) 1.9:1 anyway. The “letterboxing” occurs, of course, with many IMAX features, as not all are 1.9:1 throughout or at all.

Empire Cinemas gave the Superscreen size as 20.5mx11m (~67ft.x36ft.), or approx. 1.85:1 ratio. I’m not sure if the projectors can actually fill the screen either horizontally or vertically (haven’t been there in some time.) It is, however, equipped with dual 4K projection, moved over from the former Screen 1. (2xBarco DP4K-32B.)

Can the LSQ Superscreen be considered as a “premiere” cinema, or is does that monker only truly apply to the IMAX? I suppose we shall see what Cineworld does in due course, e.g. the former Screen 1 was equipped with 4xBarco 2K projectors for the Avatar premiere, to get adequate 3D brightness levels, early adoption of Dolby Atmos, and back in 35mm days, all the digital sound formats, etc. You’d think laser projection would be ideal for the Superscreen…

P.S. On the subject of the various 3D systems, here’s an interview with Dave Norris, former projection manager at the Empire, by Mark “I Hate 3D” Kermode. He states that the IMAX with Laser system at LSQ achieved over 12 foot-lamberts.

PhilipWW on April 5, 2018 at 10:34 am

I presume that the main difference between the IMAX and Superscreen is the equipment in the projection both rather than the screen itself.

I presume that the IMAX screen is 1.90 ratio, perfect for a digital IMAX presentation. For a non IMAX presentation, a 1.85 film would appear very slightly pillarboxed and a Scope film would appear letterboxed.

If the Superscreen is 1.90, the same would be true. However if it was 1.85, as it may well be, a Flat film would fit perfectly while a Scope film would not just be letterboxed but also slightly trimmed at the sides, down from 2048 to 1998 pixels giving an aspect ratio of around 2.32, not be ideal for a premier cinema.

Zappomatic on April 4, 2018 at 9:32 am

Visited today for Ready Player One. Many of the bare plasterboard walls have been skimmed and painted dark grey, and the concessions counter now has a black glass backsplash rather than the more typical hexagonal tiles favoured in recent Cineworld builds and refurbs.

The gold metal squares on the ceiling are now illuminated, and in the box office area a glossy black stretch ceiling integrates them (I only have a photo of this with its protective plastic sheeting in place, which had been taken down by the time I left the cinema). Looks quite smart although I’m disappointed that the centres are just a backlit panel rather than something more glitzy. The lighting around the edge just seemed to be cycling through the colours as did some of the lighting installed at skirting level, none of it in sync – I wouldn’t be surprised if this is usually set on one colour but configurable for premieres and promotions.

Interestingly there were rolls of carpet stored in the foyer for the screen refurbishments, in the pattern usually used for Cineworld’s VIP screens. Will we see big red recliners? On the one hand it would make sense in order to compete with Odeon and Vue but on the other the smaller screens frequently sell out as they are.

CF100 on March 27, 2018 at 8:30 pm

Hmm, assuming that Screens 4 and 5 become 1 and 2, that creates a neat arrangement where, as one enters from LSQ, Screens 1-3 are to the left, and 5-7 are up the stairs to the right.

It would perhaps make more sense if the 4DX was Screen 1. However, that would mean the former Screen 6 would be numbered Screen 4, potentially risking annoyed patrons for the 4DX going all the way down the stairs and up again, only to find themselves in the former Screen 6, and then being sent down the stairs again to get to the 4DX!

I suppose the 4DX won’t be signed “Screen 4” anyway, so in practice it should appear to be a sensible arrangement.

PhilipWW: The IMAX screen is not an “IMAX” when non-IMAX content is shown.

For non-IMAX content, only ONE of the two projectors is used. I can’t remember whether IMAX turn off parts of whatever processing is in their “image enhancer” also.

(By definition, they must, since some of what it does doesn’t apply for single projector use—basically to do with auto alignment of the two projectors.)

Last time I was there for a 3D screening, before the main feature, I explained to some American tourists a couple of rows in front why they could only see through one of the 3D glasses lenses. They thought the glasses were foggy or something had gone wrong—albeit I suspect they weren’t exactly looking for the technical blurb on colour filtered lenses, used for IMAX with Laser, that I fed them with!

Admittedly, the only time I think this has happened for the main feature of a public screening (outside of e.g. Frightfest) is with “The Imitation Game,” and clearly Cineworld are having no problems getting “big title” IMAX films booked.

I imagine all references to the “IMPACT” screen are being dropped by Cineworld, although funnily enough, the current price list on their site actually has the Superscreen logo for the column of the prices table, but beneath it has “Off peak saver… Save £2.00 IMAX & IMPACT…”!

Zappomatic on March 27, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Old > New

1 (Impact) > Superscreen/9

2 > 4DX/4

3 (IMAX) > IMAX/8

4 > TBC

5 > TBC

6 > 3

7 > 5

8 > 6

9 > 7

PhilipWW on March 27, 2018 at 8:06 am

Could someone kindly give all the new Screen numbers, new versus old. I am confused. I presume the IMAX and Impact (if it is still called that) screens are unnumbered, albeit perhaps with implied numbers, as before.

CF100 on March 25, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Zappomatic: Thank you for the update and photos.

Still quite a way to go with final finishes, although it looks hopeful…

The “VIP” bar shown in the photo to which you provided a link is dire!

I’m guessing, from your photo into it in a stripped out state, that the former Screen 4 will be completely restepped with new “luxury” seating.

Robert: The former Screen 9 was indeed at the very upper level, in what was marked in plans in a previous licensing application as the “Film Booking Office”!

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on March 24, 2018 at 7:38 am

I just visited Screen 7 a couple of days ago and it doesn’t look any different inside than it did before. It is at the very top of the stairs to the right of the entrance. I think it used to be Screen 9, as one of the screens at a lower level of the stairs still says Empire 7 over the doors. The movie was in ‘scope, and they didn’t close in the masking for the flat trailers and ads.

Zappomatic on March 23, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Another visit today and a few noticeable changes:

  • Balustrades missing from the stairs, presumably to come back once the flooring is complete

  • New fronts to the box office and concessions stand, with the plain glossy black replaced by a patterned glass effect that I can best describe as almost like a stripy terrazzo, backlit with coloured LEDs. Cineworld usually use this on the front of their VIP bars as seen here:

  • The structure of the new ceiling is becoming more apparent

  • The door to the former screen 4 was open and it appears to have been gutted (other than the screen itself). I could also see into the corridor to screen 5 which still had its leather-effect wall covering.

Just in the process of adding a few photos

Zappomatic on March 11, 2018 at 6:05 am

The fit-out here seems to be more bespoke – others have a backlit frontage and use a white top, as shown here:

CF100 on March 11, 2018 at 3:54 am

I suppose it’s a different situation to the first weeks of a first run film where the distributor gets a large percentage of the net box office. Given the high level of seat fill, it seems that it would be good for Cineworld to do more of these “IMAX Film Festival” programmes off-season.

Regarding the positioning of the new concessions counter, I think you are right that it has been moved back.

Looking also at the “Cinema Level” plan in the 2016 licensing documents, it looks like it’s now in line with the kink in the wall for the store room/fire exit doors to Leicester Place/(what was then) Screen 4, liberating what I estimate to be ~5ft. of space—and thereby alleviating the “concession queues block toilets” scenario.

Is the “fake marble” counter material the same as used in other current generation Cineworld refurbs/new builds?

Zappomatic on March 10, 2018 at 5:29 am

They do this nationwide every year, a one off screening of the top IMAX films over the past year at £3 per film. But this is the first time Leicester Square has been included – they’ve practically sold out all of the screenings and I’d imagine they’ll make a fortune in popcorn sales!

CF100 on March 10, 2018 at 5:07 am

Indeed! Expressed that way, though, even more odd. £3 for an IMAX with Laser screening in the West End?

Zappomatic on March 10, 2018 at 4:04 am

The pricing looks odd because it includes a 70p per ticket online booking fee. In cinema it will be £3.

CF100 on March 10, 2018 at 3:34 am

Thanks Zappomatic for all the updates and photos.

The recent inclement weather particularly affected rail services in my area, so I’ve still not had a chance to take a look.

I’ll be in the West End today, but it looks like there’s an “IMAX Film Festival”—trying to complete an online booking for a single seat results in a message stating that there is a minimum number of seats required. (The pricing is also odd, e.g. £3.70 adult (without “My Cineworld Plus” or an “Unlimited” card.) It works if I try to book 3 seats, at which point it turns out the IMAX auditorium is already fully booked from Row C to N in the central section.

Looks like all plans I have to get there before the foyer is complete are jinxed!

The new concessions counter is looking rather good, I must say.

Zappomatic on March 9, 2018 at 12:53 pm

The work they’re doing to the ceiling is starting to make sense now – I’ve uploaded a photo of the new recesses.

Zappomatic on March 5, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Having looked again the wall finish behind the concessions counter is temporary and presumably will be tiled.

Zappomatic on March 5, 2018 at 1:13 pm

New concessions counter is now open (photo added). I may be imagining things but it seems to take up less room than the old one and the ice cream counter has swapped ends. It has a glossy black front and black marble effect top. Back wall is a black paint effect with some subtle lighting. It’s all a little more understated than other recent openings and returns which have a backlit counter and hexagonal tiles on the back wall.

Now the area on the other side of the foyer (under the sloped ceiling) is hoarded off.