Empire Cinemas - London Haymarket

63-65 Haymarket,
London, SW1Y 4RQ

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Showing 1 - 25 of 139 comments

FB on May 15, 2023 at 2:22 pm

Now closed as of last Thursday.

empirefan on February 14, 2023 at 5:26 pm

Suddenly we’re in 2023! Is there any news about what should be a very exciting re-furb???

HowardBHaas on June 13, 2022 at 1:11 pm

This remains one of my favorite movie theaters to visit when I visit London (from Philadelphia) as I did last month, after a Pandemic pause for me since 2019. Renovations mentioned above have not taken place yet. I posted photos of the main upstairs auditorium and the foyer, both of which I love since they are ornate. I saw “Top Gun: Maverick” which looked great on the huge screen and sounded great with 7.1 surround sound.

CF100 on November 9, 2021 at 11:41 pm

Somehow, I didn’t notice the façade of this theatre in the trailer, until someone pointed it out to me!

How images were acquired/created would be interesting–the old neon spectacular adverts at Piccadilly Circus (aka Piccadilly Lights) also make an appearance in the trailer, so perhaps they are CGI versions composited in. Highly likely the case for the large format “Thunderball” advert on this cinema’s façade that appears in the trailer.

I did enjoy “Baby Driver” for the cinematography and otherwise being well put together; great fun. Reviews for this have been lukewarm. Hmm.

HowardBHaas: Good to hear that you really liked the film!

HowardBHaas on November 4, 2021 at 10:51 am

Lionel, yes, “Last Night in Soho” was very exciting and very much set in London. It is worthwhile.

Lionel on November 4, 2021 at 8:02 am

I too recognized the architecture of the Carlton/Haymarket around the Thunderball marquee when I watched the trailer but I have no other information. Howard, was the film good? I’m always eager to see a film set in London.

HowardBHaas on November 3, 2021 at 4:38 pm

The new Edgar Wright horror movie, “Last Night in Soho” shows a theater with “Thunderball” as part of 1960s swinging London. This theater, the Haymarket was used for that shot! Not sure if any interiors of the Haymarket were used in the film, did not see the lobby or any views of the auditorium as such, though there was some red backgrounds that might have been used in the film in interior scenes.

CF100 on October 16, 2021 at 1:56 am

Thank you, Zappomatic, for the planning reference.

It turns out that the proposals are extensive indeed, and need to be seen in the context of building’s 2018 listing.

In particular, the freeholder is the Crown Estate, who are redeveloping the surrounding area (“St. James’s Market Phase 2”), with Chapman Taylor as their architect, and from the Design and Access Statement:

  • “The works undertaken by the landlord [my emphasis], which form part of this application for listed building consent, would include…”

In summary, the following: basement cinema auditoria reconfiguration, new lifts, restoration/alterations to the façade, and–

  • “the repair of historic interiors and the reinstatement of lost detail in the main auditorium and sub-basement bar.”

It further states that:

“Other works would be at the operator’s discretion and would be subject to a further application for listed building consent[…] The operator would also refurbish areas that do not contribute to the significance of the listed building and may not require listed building consent.” However, “indicative” proposals for said refurbishment are given in this application.

The proposals include retail/offices behind, which at upper levels will–-I kid you not!–-“overhang” the cinema’s roof–hidden behind the existing front parapet.

The work is proposed to be “conservation-led” with the retention/restoration of remaining original or replica fabric and finishes, and sympathetic treatment to surrounding areas. This includes stripping of paint and sampling of original colours, as well referencing relevant heritage colours and finishes.

Alas, the planning application documents are very much “TL;DR.” However, for anyone interested, or for academic purposes, there is a wealth of information, including historic, within the Design and Access Statement–a very high level of attention to detail being demonstrated.

(Read: I’m too tired to properly digest and summarise them.)

Luxury seating will be installed throughout with the stadia in Screen 1 reprofiled over the original. The four basement auditoria will be “back-to-back” (like the IMAX/Superscreen over at Cineworld Leicester Square), are more symmetrically shaped than the existing centrally-subdivided original stalls, and the replacement screens look to be about the same size as the existing.

The scheme looks to be very much be in the vein of “arthouse” operators such as Curzon, Everyman or Picturehouse; and, of course, there is much space available (and proposed to be used) for presumably upmarket food and beverage offers, as in bars, lounges, etc.

Empire Cinemas do have their own similar premium brand, “Tivoli,” with sites in Bath and Cheltenham–so perhaps they will adopt the same branding here? Incidentally, the website of Tivoli states that they use laser projection, so one might have high expectations here in respect of audio/visual presentation quality.

Should these works be completed as detailed or similar to that indicated in these proposals, I imagine some contributors to this site will be absolutely delighted.

rivest266 on May 20, 2021 at 4:32 pm

This reopened as the Classic Haymarket 1, 2 & 3 on January 10th, 1979. Grand opening ad posted.

SethLewis on February 27, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Slightly under appreciated because of its location it will be great to have this back if the programming is differentiated enough from the other LS theatres…one of the few times I was stuck in the front row - opening weekend of Presumed Innocent it was actually survivable

moviebuff82 on July 29, 2020 at 12:57 pm

is it worth a visit from the us?

HowardBHaas on July 29, 2020 at 11:50 am

Great that this wonderful historic movie palace will continue to showcase movies!

Zappomatic on July 28, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Planning permission granted (reference 20/01144/LBC) for a full refurbishment with a reinstatement of original entrance design, screen 1 overstepped to allow for sofas to be installed, screens 2 and 3 subdivided to provide four screens, and a refurbishment of the basement bar and toilets.

Lionel on December 30, 2018 at 8:58 pm

I wrote that I’ve never been there but I suddenly have a doubt. I think I may have seen Dragonslayer in 1982 there, in one of the smaller auditoria, when I was a kid. I remember of classic and classy foyer surrounding looking like those found in old West End theatres (wooden panels and carvings, and that kind of things). Could somebody confirm that Dragonslayer was released at the Carlton too ?

HowardBHaas on December 28, 2018 at 8:18 pm

Lionel, I like to sit in the rear, the raised balcony section. With huge new screen, I sat in the top row (for max leg room) & screen still looked large! Most people though sit in the regular section of seats before the balcony, mid back to all the way back. All sight lines are great with this large screen!

Lionel on December 28, 2018 at 8:16 pm

I’ve never been to this cinema before but shall give it a try on my next trip to London. Howard, considering the new bigger screen, where would you recommend sitting ? Thanks.

HowardBHaas on December 23, 2018 at 1:09 pm

Visiting annually from the States, I love this cinema & try to see at least one movie upstairs in main auditorium. Picture & sound quality (7.1) were excellent! The picture filled the screen. I estimated the new larger screen at about 40 feet wide (for scope). The prior screen I had estimated as 32 feet or larger (for scope) & had seemed like a very large screen, considering sightlines. “First Man” which I saw in October, was great in this auditorium. In October 2017, “Blade Runner 2049” was what I had seen.

CF100 on December 23, 2018 at 12:05 am

Kers: See OLS projector alignment example.

A bit of “cropping” should not be a problem, or is even desirable.

I’ve seen some “scope” films having with slight black “bars” to the left/right edges on some shots and not others, which is extremely irritating.

In the old CRT days, TVs invariably “overscanned” the image, with the edges cropped. TVs today still have an (anachronistically named!) “overscan” option setting, and sometimes it’s factory set to “ON.”

Anything that needs to be seen does not belong in the very edges of the frame. (This, of course, gets complicated by the existence of the IMAX-exclusive versions of films having scenes in 1.43 or 1.9:1 ratios, whilst the standard theatrical release is cropped to scope, but that’s another story…)

In any case, how did you find the picture/sound quality?

Kers on December 19, 2018 at 8:56 pm

Further to my post of 2/9/18, I have since been back to Screen 1 a couple of times and I am pleased to say that the projected image does now completely fills the screen. Although I do wonder if the centre of the image is slightly cropped top and bottom. At a tenner per ticket this is probably the best value for money in the west end.

CF100 on December 18, 2018 at 7:07 pm

Good news, and from my POV, unexpected, as I hadn’t been overly optimistic about the prospect of listed status being granted!

Historic England Listed Building Entry—extensive information.

Lionel on December 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

Recent program about the Carlton broadcasted on YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJI_qZ-twwM

HowardBHaas on October 30, 2018 at 4:52 pm

another article about the great news! https://www.savebritainsheritage.org/campaigns/item/526/Listing-success-Historic-cinema-in-Londons-West-End-is-celebrated-and-protected-through-listing

Zappomatic on October 24, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Following a campaign, this cinema is now grade II listed: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2018/londons-empire-cinema-home-kneehighs-brief-encounter-granted-listed-status-following-campaign/

CF100 on September 13, 2018 at 7:37 pm

Kers: Thank you for the photos and the update.

A few weeks I spoke to a member of staff at the Cineworld (Empire) Leicester Square, not necessarily someone you’d expect to know about higher level decisions but who had been working there prior to the Cineworld acquisition, and they told me that they understood that Empire Cinemas were minded to refurbish Haymarket.

Wasn’t expecting further changes so soon!

Wonder if the screen upgrade will help draw in more trade to this now somewhat “secondary” location?

Zappomatic on September 2, 2018 at 11:35 am

That’s an impressively large screen but does look a bit like a temporary set of scaffolding! Shame the masking has gone.

The canopy lighting was installed just prior to Brief Encounter. From the photos the seats are not new but in fact the old ones with covers fitted over the top, done for Brief Encounter.