Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square 4DX

5 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7NA

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CF100 on July 25, 2023 at 2:34 pm

Whatever was going on with Cineworld over the past few years, there’s an “end game”–and it’s an $35m payoff to Mooky Greidinger and colleagues:

Cineworld CEO and top execs secure near $35 million exit payout.

This isn’t what happens to “ordinary folk” when maxxing out all their credit cards!

As for The Empire:

“Cineworld have a lease with 60 years left on it, that’s the landlords next opportunity to take the building back on the basis of a conversion.”

(From comment by theatreofvarieties on Sept 20, 2017.)

Also, IIRC the Casino lease has been extended to 2040.

So, thankfully, I think it’s safe for the foreseeable.

NOODLE2 on July 11, 2023 at 1:10 pm

It seems messing the landlord about isn’t just specific to ordinary folk lol !It’s disgraceful as it is the landlords business to make a profit from property…my feeling is mis management of Cineworld accountants who were toying with collapse instead of coming clean and saying we can’t pay atm..hopefully The Empire will still continue

CF100 on June 21, 2023 at 6:14 pm

Zappomatic: Welcome back?!

Thanks for the info–I only just found out about this via a YouTube comment.

An expert is quoted as saying it’s unlikely to reopen as the landlord (different to the rest of the site) has had enough and wants to take back the space.

1-4 LSQ is owned by Criterion Capital, who also own the Trocadero. As the article notes, they Cineworld were in dispute over rent arrears for Picturehouse Central, and the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the landlord. Presumably, this could be a factor in the apparent breakdown of the relationship.

Criterion seem to have a slightly different approach to other property companies. The Trocadero, in the process of conversion to a hotel, was largely out of action for a protracted period. Also, prime space fronting Coventry Street was used as a very large tourist tat shop…

If the cinema is not going to be repurposed any time soon, then one might ponder the motivation, not least given the costs involved in the 4DX conversion…

(N.B. In saying “Criterion Capital” and “Cineworld” here, I’m ignoring whatever mess of subsidiaries etc. there may be.)

Zappomatic on May 25, 2023 at 4:34 am

From inside the main foyer, there’s no obvious sign that this screen is closed - the doors are closed and the walkway is roped off. A large 4DX sign is still displayed in the foyer too.

Externally, the empty shop unit that previously displayed film posters (and for which planning permission had been applied to turn into a Cineworld-run snack kiosk) has become a shady looking currency exchange office and mobile phone accessory shop, with the window removed and an ugly roller shutter installed in its place.

Zappomatic on May 17, 2023 at 7:01 am

As of Monday this screen is closed and cordoned off, due to disputes with the landlord over unpaid rent. An expert is quoted as saying it’s unlikely to reopen as the landlord (different to the rest of the site) has had enough and wants to take back the space.

rivest266 on August 25, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Grand opening ad posted from 1937.

rivest266 on May 24, 2021 at 9:21 am

Grand opening ad as empire Two on November 9th, 1972 posted. It opened with “Kansas City Bomber”

CF100 on March 23, 2019 at 4:52 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 foyer/lobbies information added to the cinema’s main page on CT.)

  • At the screen end of the auditorium, the floor was lowered by 1 metre, the foundations reinforced to carry the load imposed by the 4DX seating.
  • Companies involved with the project: “Maeve Contractors, GF Holding, PHG Consulting, Eton, Clarkebond, Chapman Taylor, AJR Electrical and Wilden.”
  • 4DX seating comes in units of 4 seats, which cannot be dismantled; they had to be brought down “three flights of stairs with minimum space for manoeuvrability.”
CF100 on June 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Zappomatic: I was surprised by your comment on the screen size as I’d previously estimated it to be about the same as the Leicester Square 4DX in width. I’ve just reestimated it from the licensing plans and it looks to be as much as 50ft. wide.

That being the case, I wonder if dual projectors are being used and poor alignment between them might explain the “ghosting” issue you identified? (Or perhaps they’re not using a suitable screen for the 3D polarisation.)

Regarding 4DX effects, I found that they were sometimes “glitchy,” and the timing wasn’t always quite right. (Could have been just bad programming or hardware bugs/limitations.) If my recollection is correct, after an intense sequence of “motion chair effects” the seats would stop moving and a few seconds they would then slowly return back to unity position, which seemed odd.

When I say beams I mean that the suspended ceiling is interrupted by an off-centre grid of solid sections around 75cm wide that sit flush, presumably supporting the floor above.

Looking at a high resolution photo of the auditorium (presumably reposted from Cineworld press materials) with some post-processing in Photoshop to pull out the low level details, so it is. Well spotted!

I think you are right that the ceiling has been raised, and—I can’t be sure but—above the suspended 4DX gear it looks like there’s an exposed concrete slab. They certainly seem to have used every last inch of space available and I can’t see that there would be much left space for HVAC ducting—it looks like there’s something boxed out above the right sidewall, just behind the suspended 4DX gear.

Many thanks for the Cineworld Unlimited code, I’ll use yours if I decide to proceed so that you also get the free month in return—it would seem to be a no-brainer if the Leicester Square Superscreen doesn’t incur an additional uplift charge. I can’t find the uplift charges for IMAX, 4DX or 3D at Leicester Square, though?

Zappomatic on June 12, 2018 at 7:16 am

Regarding the picture here I actually found it to be one of the brighter 3D presentations I’ve seen, and there was practically no ghosting.

I was not impressed at all with the picture and sound at Wandsworth, other than the sheer size of the screen – picture appeared washed-out with poor black levels and appalling ghosting (so much so that the couple sitting in front of me turned around during the credits and asked me if the 3D was “dodgy” for me or if it was just them), and the sound was pretty lifeless. I’ve not been back to see if this was a one-off or if it really is this poor.

Effects for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom seemed quite effective although there was a moment when the strobes stayed on long enough for it to feel as though the auditorium was floodlit. I was dressed for yesterday’s weather and at times ended up feeling uncomfortably cold and wet thanks to the prolonged wind and rain effects!

When I say beams I mean that the suspended ceiling is interrupted by an off-centre grid of solid sections around 75cm wide that sit flush, presumably supporting the floor above.

For Unlimited cards do bear in mind that a surcharge of £2-£6 is payable every time you see a premium format although for some reason the Superscreen in Leicester Square is included if you have a West End card. Plenty of referral codes about online that will get you your 13th month for free – mine is RAF-35LH-35FJ-42BF-17NU (moderators please delete if this is not allowed).

CF100 on June 12, 2018 at 5:27 am

Zappomatic: Interesting that you didn’t find the projection brightness to be inadequate; hopefully this has indeed been rectified as the projection seemed underspecified!

How did you find it compared to the Wandsworth 4DX, including picture/sound/4DX effects, and did you find that the 4DX effects had been programmed to work effectively with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”?

It turns out that 4DX actually have several versions* of their system with “premium” variants for additional types of “Environmental Effects” and enhanced “Motion Chair Effects” options.

(*At the time of posting this comment, in the “4DX THEATERS” section of this page, with PRIME/PRO/STANDARD/ECONOMY options and respective “Motion Chair Effects” and “Environmental Effects” capabilities listed for each.)

Regarding the structural aspects of the conversion, I’m not sure what you mean by visible beams, save for those used to suspend the 4DX gear?

I suppose I’ll now have to consider getting an “Unlimited” card as seeing a film in all available formats is an absurdly costly proposition for a cinema trip—even allowing for inflation, almost 10x times the cost of a ticket for a weekday matinee performance at Empire 1 in the 1990s!

Zappomatic on June 11, 2018 at 7:39 am

Paid my first visit to this screen since the conversion today (for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and I have to say I am impressed. The screen is noticeably larger than before and has a nice curve to it. Perhaps some tweaks have been made since CF100’s visit as brightness and black levels were good. LFE seemed decent and at a couple of points caused the wind-effect fans to rattle but I agree that the screen speakers could have sounded a little brighter.

I sat in row C which due to the spacing between the seats is far back enough be able to get the entire screen into your field of vision but I think for any future visits I would probably choose row D.

From a structural point of view I noticed that the strange little foyer space under the seating has been eliminated however it’s now possible to walk behind the back row. I think as well as the auditorium floor being lowered the ceiling has also been raised as the suspended ceiling is interrupted by a pattern of what I assume are concrete beams (which sit flush with the rest of the ceiling).

CF100 on May 12, 2018 at 10:06 am

Correction to previous post: The screen is not filled by the pre-show slides, (out of focus) photo uploaded showing the right side unmasked screen area.

CF100 on May 10, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Chapman Taylor – Cineworld Leicester Square – Refurbishment of a World-Famous Movie Premiere Location.

Architectual practice Chapman Taylor now have a project page for the refurbishment, which includes a photo of the 4DX auditorium.

According to the page, the 4DX is 410 sq. metres (=4400 sq. ft.) in area.

CF100 on May 9, 2018 at 3:06 pm

A selection of photos taken yesterday relevant to the 4DX have now been uploaded, mostly of the access from foyer level down to the auditorium entrance.

CF100 on May 9, 2018 at 9:26 am

PhilipWW: I’ve uploaded a photo of the screen, when one of the slides before the programme was displayed, although I don’t think it quite filled the whole screen. Staff were eager to get everyone safely seated and, following the end credits, to clear the auditorium for the next screening, so I didn’t want to start wandering around the auditorium to take photos.

(That reminds me: Given the various issues discussed on CT regarding lighting in Cineworld auditoria, the lighting were well dimmed during the main feature, although they were slightly distracting due to the low ceiling. They were raised up when the end credits started, and raised up again after with the red sidewall concealed lighting and the “4DX Leicester Square” sidewall signs also turned on. Or rather, “sign,” as the one on the right wall had failed! “Non-sync” music playback was also concurrently initiated.)

The two photos you mention were most certainly taken before the 4DX conversion; a photo taken from the back of the auditorium is included in this linked article, and though hardly an accurate method, it does measure ~2.4:1 in that photo.

Based on these photos, referencing to the front right exit door location, the screen does seem to have been increased in size from the Empire Cinemas makeover; it’s about the widest screen that would fit given various constraints including sightlines due to the columns, access to the doors left/right of the screen, and perhaps the arrangement of the void/walls behind.

(Incidentally, IMAX have a patented system, intended for use in conversions of existing auditoria, which allows for the screen to cover front wall exits, and in case of an emergency, part of the screen is automatically moved!)

The non-IMAX version of the film was released in 2.39:1 ratio, with 1.90 used for the IMAX Digital version. IIRC, some shots actually didn’t quite fill the screen horizontally.

It was shot on Arri Alexa 65 cameras, which have slightly larger than 65mm film CCDs for digital capture; full frame = 2.11:1. Of course, in a such a CGI heavy film, some sections may hardly have been “shot” in the first place!

Based on the licensing plans, I’d guess the screen is just under 30ft. wide.

So, the above is a ridiculously long winded way of saying, no, they haven’t put in a “flat” ratio screen!

PhilipWW on May 8, 2018 at 11:44 pm

CF100, you mention the lack of masking. So, is the new screen just 1.85 rather than Scope. The two photos of the screen in the ‘Photos’ section both show a Scope screen. Were these then taken before its 4DX conversion ?

If indeed Cineworld have taken out the Scope screen and replaced it by a 1.85 Flat screen, this does seem rather strange as nearly all films nowadays are filmed for Scope.

Not an improvement in my opinion at all.

CF100 on May 8, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Visiting the 4DX today to attend a screening of “Avengers: Infinity War,” I must first say that the whole experience was tainted by what must be the worst film I’ve seen in a cinema in a very long time—quite possibly ever.

I’m not someone who would normally watch a “Marvel franchise” film, and for me it was 160 minutes of incomprehensible drivel, interspersed with “jokes” (albeit, whilst I rolled my eyes, they were a good source of mirth for the other patrons.)

Onto the 4DX auditorium. As I fumbled around with my phone to check my seat number, a member of staff actually picked my up bag and 3D glasses off the floor, and carried them over to my seat. Fantastic!

The auditorium is exactly as expected—I previously posted the notion that the average patron “might even think that it was entirely purpose-built,” and that was absolutely the case. (I should add that the auditorium and the lobby/foyer areas still retained some of the scent of being new.)

The projection was very well aligned, with slight barrel distortion towards the bottom of the screen, and it did seem to fill the entire screen during the main feature, for which—given the dark surroundings—the lack of masking was not objectionable. There was some fall off of brightness towards the edge of the screen, but this was only really noticeable during the end credits.

However, the projection had poor black levels, whilst this was ameliorated by the 3D glasses, and colours seemed to be reasonably well calibrated, dark areas were clipped, and the brightness was not really sufficient for 2D, let alone 3D.

Klipsch rear array speakers are used. The sound was pretty good, and at times loud, although it seemed to ultimately lack LFE capability and seemed pushed and limited at peak levels. The screen speakers also sounded slightly too dull.

The 4DX seating seems to be upholstered in what I assume is microfibre-type material. The seats are well padded, but the armrests are not, and I suspect wear and tear will take its toll. They are certainly not as comfortable as they look!

Onto technical aspects of 4DX: the seating motion is impressive, the water and stobbing effects aren’t, and the fog and scent effects are reasonable, albeit the fog tends to “drift” in the current direction of airflow within the auditorium.

It worked very well indeed for the 4DX trailer, but it felt very much “tacked on” to the feature itself, and for me it tended to draw my attention out of the film rather than adding to the immersion. As an example, when an on-screen character was physically attacked, the seating poked my back! Frankly, in the context of a feature film, a sound system with good LFE capability is more effective at providing a visceral augmentation of the picture.

A word of caution: the 4DX Safety Warnings, also prominently displayed at the entrance to the 4DX, must be carefully read and understood before entry, and adhered to in the auditorium. For the sake of adding context, for example, the guidelines state that “4DX motion chairs employ strong motion,” and they mean it: the seats move rapidly with tremendous force at times, almost reminiscent of certain rollercoasters (“Saw: The Ride” at Thorpe Park, for instance.)

I think it would be a fantastic system for theme park use, it just doesn’t really work for feature films not created as 4DX-specific content from the outset.

I imagine, however, that the rest of the patrons in attendance enjoyed both the movie and the 4DX element; Cineworld have certainly made something out of a “dud” auditorium, and the limitations of 4DX may well be forgiveable in the context of a film that I liked.

Finally, the auditorium was too hot; it wasn’t stuffy, so the air change rate was adequate, but I didn’t expect to have to rely on blasts from the 4DX fans to cool off!

A few more observations and photos, particularly of the staircase down to the auditorium, to follow.

CF100 on April 29, 2018 at 11:08 am

On the main Cineworld (Empire) LSQ page I previously posted a link to a building control application, which rather confusingly described the works as:

“Cineworld 4D 2.0 – Saturday 28 April 2018. The structure will be truss based and include staging, graphics, Heras fencing, mobile LED screen.”

Details of this are currently available on the Heart of London Business Alliance site — to quote:

“An interactive activation (sic?) will be positioned on the North Terrace of Leicester Square (in the dip), opposite the venue. […]

“There will be a stage and members of the public will be encouraged to sit in a moving chair […] and be exposed to the 4DX elements – water, mist, wind and movement for one minute.”

An “operational set-up plan” can be downloaded from the above linked page.

CF100 on April 22, 2018 at 5:37 am

Wider view of the 4DX.

Photo of the vestibule and another of the 4DX.

From the latter linked article:

“The work turned up some historical artefacts, including a press cuttings book from the early 1950s, with articles about the cinema, visits of Hollywood stars and dancers pulling on tap shoes to mark an auditorium makeover.”

Really now… maybe it was found when they lowered the 4DX’s concrete floor?!

Some more articles with photos:

Photos of the foyer, 4DX, and the “Press Cuttings” book.

View of the 4DX screen from the back of the auditorium.

Still the problem of the low ceiling, but looks like a good remodelling of what was once a throughly unappealing place to see a film. (Particularly if you ended up behind one of the columns as I once did—albeit that was back in the mid-90s!) They’ve certainly managed to “jam” a “4DX” into the old “Ritz” auditorium, and it must have been a nightmare project; it’s so similar in layout to other 4DXs that, if you weren’t aware of the auditorium’s history—and naturally the vast majority of patrons won’t be—you might even think that it was entirely purpose-built!

Zappomatic on March 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Former screen 2 is now bookable for Avengers: Infinity War from 26 April. It’s now named 4DX (rather than having a number however I suspect it’s now technically screen 4) and seating is reduced to 136 across 9 rows (8 rows of 16 and the back row of 8).

Zappomatic on August 21, 2017 at 10:18 am

Quite a lot of work going on to fit in the 4DX, with the floor lowered and old projection booth brought back into use.

“Breaking of the lower level concrete slab of the room and rebuild at a lower level to increase the space required for the system and new seating arrangement. Installation of suspended trusses between the columns which will support the equipment for the 4D effects (wind fans, water spray tanks, snow machine, fog machine) – Removal of all projector and installation of new one at the back of the room, in the former projection booth. – New floor, wall and ceiling finishes – New finishes at the access staircase and lobby. – All fire escapes remain unchanged.” (with thanks to CF_100 for finding the building control application)

Zappomatic on August 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Also no programming next week, I think it’s safe to assume closed for conversion.

Zappomatic on August 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm

No programming in this screen this week, presumably closed for conversion to 4DX.

davepring on April 12, 2012 at 6:39 am

Empire 2 has now been refurbished and has stadium seating and capacity is now 304.