Odeon West End

40 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LP

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CF100 on September 5, 2022 at 5:11 pm

Lionel: I never visited in single screen form, but I can say…

In Screen 2, the screen speaker system was JBL 4675’s with JBL 4688 “Triple Chamber Bandpass” subwoofers. (Later, JBL/Harman faced litigation from Bose for patent infringement, lost, and the TCB design products discontinued.) As you’d imagine, the surrounds were 8330’s.

No baffle wall, but (standard practice today) the wall behind the screen was covered with absorptive material (Rockwool) to control acoustics (i.e., sound bouncing off the unperforated parts of the screen to the wall behind, back and forth.)

Dolby Digital, DTS and SDDS all supported.

Very good sound.

Regarding “Return of the Jedi;” this was on the cusp of improvements to the B-chain, including the THX programme and the JBL 4765’s with (then) cutting-edge high power drivers and “bi-radial” horns, c.f., the old “cell horn” (HF section) designs, as in the old Vitavox, Altec Voice of the Theatre, etc.

Over the weekend, I did visit the Screen 1 (Dolby Cinema) in the new OWE, which features a very good Atmos install. Write-up to follow on its Cinema Treasures page!

Thanks for your fascinating story and link to photos.

CF100 on September 5, 2022 at 2:22 pm

HowardBHaas: Good to see your photos!

I’m finally back out and about, and over the weekend, I saw this building (in finished form) for the first time in daylight. I have to say that I was very surprised–there is a real depth to the facing materials. The faience tiles positively gleam depending on the angle they’re lit/viewed. It really must be seen in person.

Agree with you about the demolition, but try to be realistic…

Lionel on September 5, 2022 at 2:17 pm

I only saw 2 films there (both in 70mm) and it was still a single-screen theater: Rocky III in 1982 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. I remember that the sound was crystal clear, probably an aging sound system but still in good condition to correctly reproduce the sophisticated sound mix of “Jedi”. And with “Jedi”, an impressive panel had been install on the building front showing not only the film poster bill, but with additional red neon lines that blinked to simulate the spaceships (TIE fighters) laser shots. Good pictures of the single-screen cinema on Flickr here.

HowardBHaas on September 5, 2022 at 12:19 pm

I am an American who for more than 20 years, has every year (except for the Pandemic years of 2020 & 2021) visited England. I saw many movies at this theater, though only once it had 2 screens, and remain upset it was demolished. As to the new building which I saw in May, it is an exceptionally nice building, with beautiful materials. I’ve now posted 2 of my photos on that theater’s page. I would like to see a movie in the larger auditorium in that new building.

CF100 on September 5, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Biffaskin: Finishes of the new building’s façade include blue faience tiles and “crystal white” granite cladding.

Full details are available in the following planning application under “Facade Material Samples”:

18/02417/ADFULL – Details of facing materials samples pursuant to Condition 28 of planning permission dated 29 November 2016.

Biffaskin on August 28, 2022 at 7:36 am

It’s still crass that such a beautiful building was demolished for a typical glass/steel/concrete carbuncle… no doubt the business rates in a 5* boutique hotel is far higher than a mere cinema… money talks…

d8rren on September 26, 2021 at 5:40 pm

replacement cinema is now open

CF100 on September 21, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Hard to believe it was 7 years ago, but I still remember the following comment:

“curmudgeon on December 16, 2014 at 8:01 am Disgraceful! More history gone. Bet the proposed basement cinemas never eventuate.”

I replied that it was a planning condition that, in effect, they would. The local authority is Westminster Council, and this is Leicester Square of all places… and so they have.

The following dated 24th March 2020 is listed on Westminster Council’s planning site:

“20/02104/ADFULL | Details of evidence the cinema has been provided with services and made ready for fit out by the relevant tenant [pursuant to planning permission conditions…]

Of course, this does not mean that everyone would consider the eventuated cinema to be any better than no cinema!

rivest266 on May 21, 2021 at 6:21 am

Also uploaded the October 11th, 1991 ad as well.

CF100 on March 28, 2020 at 2:15 pm

The hotel’s website now says that the hotel will be “premiering late 2020.”

CF100 on March 13, 2020 at 1:07 pm

Façade is (finally!) nearing completion. A photo taken a couple of weeks ago has been uploaded. Looks very good.

As an aside, I had a very odd dream last night in which I visited the foyer of the “new” OWE. It had opened before the hotel, was at ground level, not very big but very busy. A frequent cinema-related dream that I have is a nightmare about the old Empire 1 being stripped out; the replacement OWE is highly unlikely to leave an such indelible impression on my soul, as it were!

CF100 on January 1, 2020 at 5:50 pm

According to a brochure on the hotel’s website, the opening date for the hotel is June 2020. Among the many facilities listed in the brochure are “two screening rooms,” which I assume is a reference to the new Odeon’s two auditoria—which will of course, in any case, be available to book.

(The renderings of the hotel’s interior look impressive, but this isn’t “Hotel Treasures” (!)—suffice it to say that it’s too bad that a “hotel palace” is being completed on the site of a “picture palace.”)

CF100 on November 23, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Update: Looking at the new building externally a couple of days ago, the majority is obscured by scaffolding with fire-retardant sheeting.

However, it appeared that at least some windows have been fitted, and much Rockwool was at the ready on multiple levels.

According to a newsletter posted on the ground-level site hoarding, dated August 2019 (!), “facade works are in progress on all elevations”. Mechanical & Electrical service installation and fit-out are also “in progress on all levels.” Of course, it might well be expected that this does not include the cinema fit-out just yet…

CF100 on September 7, 2019 at 5:54 pm

A website has been launched for the hotel (“The Londoner.”) According to the site, the hotel is scheduled for opening in Spring 2020.

CF100 on August 5, 2019 at 12:29 pm

I think the rendering shows the basic form/layout of the auditoria but I can’t imagine that the finishes will look as shown. The seating arrangement drawn seems to include some oddities, too; but it does suggest that the recliner/premium seating approach will be taken with a commensurate reduction in capacity.

Disappointing to see a floating screen in the main auditorium; that’s how it is drawn in the planning application also.

Still, the larger auditorium, as drawn in the planning application, includes a ~50ft. wide screen, so one might still hope for an ISENSE screen with laser projection and Atmos sound…

mike2001 on August 1, 2019 at 11:20 am

Photo uploaded of the 2 new screens

mike2001 on August 1, 2019 at 11:14 am

Having checked the, “ ianvisits,” site. A picture does show 2 Auditoria sited at right angles to each other.

HowardBHaas on July 17, 2019 at 4:56 am

article about construction, including rendering of the cinemas but I only see one auditorium-where is relation to it, would be the 2nd? https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2019/07/03/inside-the-londoner-a-new-hotel-for-leicester-square/

David Rayner
David Rayner on May 31, 2019 at 7:17 am

I’ve no idea, curmudgeon, as I don’t live in the London area and yes, regarding the notice stuck to the back of the still, not exactly the kind of information that you’ll find by Googling. It’s something you just drop on through sheer good luck.

curmudgeon on May 31, 2019 at 5:32 am

Hi David Rayner, what a wonderful piece of history. BTW, what is happening about the two new cinemas at this site to appease us for the loss of modern history in London? Surely the new building is now complete, but no news of the promised screens.

David Rayner
David Rayner on May 29, 2019 at 11:50 am

Another ancient British premiere for your list. Today (Wednesday, May 29th, 2019), I received from an eBay seller in Glastonbury, Somerset, an 85 years old glossy 8 x 10 publicity still from the 1934 Columbia Picture “NO GREATER GLORY”. Stuck to the reverse of this photo is a piece of typewriter printed paper announcing that the film will open at The Leicester Square Theatre in London on Monday, October 29th, 1934.

CF100 on December 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

HowardBHaas: Thanks for the links.

Wider rendering of the 2008 proposed “amorphous blob.”

Update: Had a look around the outside of the building again today—nothing of note externally visible since my last update.

HowardBHaas on December 7, 2018 at 5:25 pm

“amorphous blob” (to quote above) 2008 rendering- https://www.standard.co.uk/news/coming-soon-movies-in-the-odeon-basement-6830391.html

much improved 2014 rendering (though I’d rather than original theater have stayed)– https://www.citmagazine.com/article/1228193/leicester-square-odeon-cinema-demolished-new-hotel

CF100 on December 7, 2018 at 5:13 pm

davidcoppock: The original interior had long been lost—the original ceiling did remain above the one “inserted” below in 1968, albeit by the time of closure, in something of a “crumbling” state, and punctured by services in numerous locations.

Whilst the exterior was not listed, it did have a measure of protection afforded by the Leicester Square Conservation Area designation.

Looking through the planning documents in a couple of applications relating to the redevelopment of the former OWE and adjoining properties, English Heritage (as it was then) did object to the entire block being demolished. The redevelopment project has gone through a few iterations over the years; a document with the description field “EH REBUTTAL 11.10.13 – APPENDIX” in application 13/07443/FULL, makes reference to a response by English Heritage in application 08/03016/FULL—alas, I can’t find this anywhere.

(N.B. The two above-linked planning applications relate to the first and second schemes, distinct in their differences—the second scheme is the one that is under construction, albeit with some alterations set out in later applications; of particular relevance here, the cinema layout was substantially altered.)

Nevertheless, the “EH REBUTTAL 11.10.13 – APPENDIX,” whether one cares to agree with the assertions therein, is a pretty good overview of the heritage “situation” as it was.

I think it is fair to say that, whatever the merits of the replacement “basement” cinemas, and it would surely be better if they were more ambitious in scope, externally the new building looks a great deal better than what was there before; above all, the view from Orange Street of the metal sheeting to the side of the former stage house. It is also a vast improvement over the original “amorphous blob” proposals shown in the 2008 application, with its form and “rhythm” better echoing the previous Leicester Square Theatre/OWE.