Prince Charles Cinema

7 Leicester Place,
London, WC2 7BY

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Prince Charles Cinema (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Cannon Cinemas, Robins Cinemas, Star Cinemas

Architects: Carlo S. Biskupek

Firms: Carl Fisher and Associates

Functions: Movies (Classic), Movies (Film Festivals), Movies (Revival), Movies (Second Run)

Previous Names: Prince Charles Theatre, Cannon Prince Charles

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 44207.494.3654

Nearby Theaters

April 1990 print ad via Patrick Hayward‎.

The Prince Charles Theatre was designed by Carl Fisher & Associates with 358 seats all on one level. It started life as a live theatre on 26th December 1962 with a transfer from the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith of a Canadian revue “Clap Hands”.

Some film use alternated with live theatre beginning in 1964 with screenings of “Tartuffe”, but as a live theatre it was not a success, and it became a full time cinema from 30th May 1965 and on 4th July 1965 it was taken over by the Leeds based Star Cinemas chain and the seating capacity was increased to 414. Success still was not achieved, due to dreadful sight-lines, so it closed in 1968 for a complete internal reconstruction to the design of architect Carlo S. Biskupek, and interior design by Harold Bartram. The stage was removed and the new auditorium was increased in size from 414 to 631 seats in stalls and circle levels. It re-opened on 21st January 1969 with the UK Premiere of Pierre Clementi in “Benjamin”, and became the West End showcase of the Star Cinemas chain.

In 1985 the Cannon Group took over Star Cinemas and it was renamed Cannon Prince Charles. It was refurbished in 1986. On 26th April 1991 it was taken over by the Robins Cinemas chain and the Prince Charles Cinema finally found its niche as a repertory cinema, playing recent hit films, revivals, foreign language and cult hits, at greatly reduced prices on admission and concessions for the West End, where prices are premium.

During November 2008, work was commenced to convert the Prince Charles Cinema into a twin-screen cinema. The former circle has been separated from the former stalls by a drop-wall. Films are shown in the former stalls on the original, large screen, from a projection box located in an area that was formerly the front of the circle. This projection box is behind the screen of the former circle screen, which continues to use the original projection box. Work was carried out overnight and during the mornings and early afternoons, with regular screenings continuing in the stalls screen during the evenings. The twin screen cinema opened in December 2008 with seating for 302 in the former stalls which has a screen measuring 21.5 feet wide by 11.5 feet high, and a 104 seat screen in the former circle. The Prince Charles Cinema has retained its film projectors, and has regular screenings of 70mm prints as well as 35mm and digital presentations. Sometime in late-2021/early-2022 the vertical name sign on the front of the cinema was removed.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

Lionel on November 2, 2018 at 6:35 am

I was reading all comments posted since the beginning. I remember the theatre when it was a single-screen theatre. I went only once, to see The Last Emperor in 70mm, in 1988. Visited the booth with the chief projectionist Ian Mitchell, his assistant was a young French lady. The stalls slope was inverted if I’m not mistaken, so the screen was quiet high for viewers seated at the rear of the stalls, but if you sat at the first row of the balcony as I did, you were almost facing the center of the screen, or at least the upper half of it, and it looked great.

Billy on November 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Visited today for the first time in a few months and noticed a significant refurbishment has taken place, in the foyer and especially the toilets which are much more modern and nicer looking. Still a brilliant cinema with excellent 35mm presentations, £1 member tickets and all-night themed movie marathons.

HowardBHaas on November 21, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Last month, I saw that the Mens toilets had been totally redone & were nice looking. Staff said they had been redone about 4 months prior to my visit. I don’t recall that the downstairs foyer or the ground floor space had changed. I enjoyed 2 classic movies, An American Werewolf in London (DCP) & Death Line (1972, 35mm), both perfect for this visitor from the States. As to the prior comment, I enjoyed better the sightlines from the balcony/circle, which had been open during weekday matinees, and alas is now the 2nd screen. I do have my favorite vantage point in the stalls, about the 10th row from the screen. I’ve not seen a movie in the upstairs auditorium.

Lionel on February 27, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Indeed Howard, these 2 films are ideal for a visitor. I too enjoy films showing London because I particularly love the city. By the way, the Eros cinema shown in “Werewolf” is featured on this site has an extensive photo album on Flicker here : Eros Piccadilly

I wish I could have been old enough to see a film there when the cinema still existed. Never been to a porno cinema in my life, but because of all this nostalgia we have now, This is some kind of an experiment I regret not having. “Death Line” is great too, I saw it a few times and once again recently. This is a very unusual and good film with great scenes of underground stations.

Speaking of nostalgia, I believe we should enjoy what we experience as if it were the last time, but how can we guess in advance that it is something special ? For example, it seemed so common to me to see the restoration of Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm at the Odeon Marble Arch in the summer of 1989. A very exciting memory. I was just 19 years old. Today, almost 30 years later, I realised that what looked like a rather common experience was actually a privilege for few people. When I now tell the young generation about this, they look at me as if I were a war veteran – “Wow, you were there!”. We didn’t realise back then how spoiled we were to have all this. And today we can only mourn the deceased… ;–)

SethLewis on September 24, 2019 at 2:16 pm TIme Out’s annual love letter to London cinemas including of course the Prince Charles

SethLewis on September 24, 2019 at 2:18 pm

A banner year of programming for the Prince Charles including To Live and Die in LA with a live Q&A with William Friedkin (I ended up sitting next to Sherry Lansing), Robert Altman’s The Last Goodbye…am there again soon for Springsteen Western Stars

CF100 on October 3, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Lionel: The flickr account holder “dusashenka” (your Eros Piccadilly link is to an album of that user) certainly does have an amazing and large collection of photos, and I’ve certainly enjoyed browsing through them! ;–)

I still get “goosebumps” in anticipation of seeing a presentation of a first class movie in a first class venue. I don’t think I ever took it for granted—as long as I’ve been old enough to go to the cinema unaccompanied, it was obvious that the largest auditoria were on “borrowed time.”

Less obvious were the coming changes to auditorium design, and, the move to digital photography and projection.

(In the former case, digital cameras, I remember suggesting to someone in the late 90s—that they would NEVER be good enough to match 35mm…!)

Even if we might not consider all the changes to be welcome, I don’t think it is necessary to get too nostaglic. This is an amazing time—ranging from dual 4K laser projection to the “immersive” sound formats to the latest 65mm sensor cameras from Arri, Panavision and Sony.

Select classic titles are getting digital re-releases with new full restorations from the original negatives, in some cases yielding far better quality than would ever have been seen from a release print. For example, just a couple of months ago “Apocalypse Now”—with a Q&A shown after the film.

I do hope you are seeking out the best cinemas in your neck of the woods and enjoy visiting them.

Lionel on November 4, 2020 at 9:45 am

A photo montage of the Prince Charles cinema when still a single-screen. Showing the projection booth with close-up shots of the DP75 projectors, and the auditorium from the back of the circle.

rivest266 on May 24, 2021 at 7:52 am

Grand opening ad posted.

HowardBHaas on June 13, 2022 at 5:22 am

After a Pandemic pause, I revisited London last month & enjoyed 2 movies at the Prince Charles, in the main theater, a 35mm print of “Badlands” (1973) and “The Lighthouse” (2019). I really enjoy this theater and the immaculate presentations with proper use of the curtain, masking, projection, and surround sound. What happened to the vertical sign? Online, it seems to have been there in the last year, but now gone. Why?

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