Comments from CF100

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CF100 commented about ABC Sidcup on May 16, 2022 at 9:09 pm

davidcoppock: The main façade was not retained. Ground floor is now retail with 2 floors of apartments above that have windows facing onto the High Street.

To be fair, particularly upon closure, the main façade wasn’t much to look at. However, its replacement is remarkable for its complete absence of elegance.

Having a quick look at the rest, it seems the auditorium block was demolished, but the building that was between the vestibule and the auditorium seems to have been repurposed, albeit with extensive alterations.

Parts of its original frontage can be seen from the High Street, behind the single storey building that is to the left of where the cinema’s main entrance was.

CF100 commented about UA King of Prussia Stadium 16 and IMAX on Feb 1, 2022 at 12:42 am

HowardBHaas: Good to hear that it does offer a “premium” experience.

It’s not that there is no difference between operators' own-brand “Premium Large Format” (such as “RPX”) auditoria and “regular.” As you say, you would expect a relatively big screen, high-end projection/sound, etc.

For a proprietary premium format such as ScreenX (with the image extended along the sidewalls using additional projectors)–if the contract (with CJ4DPLEX of South Korea–yes, the “dreaded” 4DX is from the same company!) is terminated, then ScreenX versions of releases (which contain the additional image data for the sidewall projection) won’t be supplied.

Therefore, (even if retained) the sidewall projection can’t be used. By definition, it’s no longer a “ScreenX” auditorium.

Whereas, removing “RPX” branding would make no difference if nothing else has changed–the auditorium would still provide the same experience…

Maintaining a “premium” experience does require upgrading to meet current expectations. Perhaps that explains what’s happened here; for example, if the RPX lacks Dolby Atmos? This is certainly specified for parent company Cineworld’s “Superscreen” PLF own-brand auditoria.

CF100 commented about UA King of Prussia Stadium 16 and IMAX on Jan 31, 2022 at 8:09 pm

“RPX” is their own “Premium Large Format” brand; they can call any auditorium they like “RPX”* (unlike, e.g., IMAX, where IMAX supply all equipment, auditoria are built or modified per IMAX spec., IMAX-specific versions of releases are supplied, etc.)

If they have dropped the “RPX” branding, then it would still be equipped with the same projection/sound, unless equipment was downgraded?

(*Regal’s website says the following: “[RPX provides] a giant immersive screen [which] is illuminated by high-quality digital projectors and completed with a state-of-the-art sound system.”)

CF100 commented about UA King of Prussia Stadium 16 and IMAX on Jan 11, 2022 at 12:16 am

Cinedelphia: According to LF Examiner – Theatres Listing, “KOP” is equipped with both IMAX Laser GT dual projection and IMAX 70mm projection.

IMAX Laser GT projection is intended to replace IMAX 70mm projection, and this has been the case for most venues. But not all–the IMAX in London’s Science Museum (recently refurbished) is one that retained 15/70 projection. (Not that there’s much point…!)

The BFI London IMAX is an oddity, given it’s very much an iconic venue. However, a scheme to redevelop the site it’s on and surroundings is in the planning stages. BFI have signed confidentiality agreements with respect to this. Whilst a replacement IMAX, one might imagine, would be likely (à la Darling Harbour IMAX, Sydney,) it’s hard not to draw conclusions on why responses such as the one offered to yourself are given to queries about IMAX Laser GT not being installed.

Fay Studios (Movie Theatre Interior Services) – “KOP” IMAX Refurbishment Photos:

During works.

After completion.

CF100 commented about Odeon Bournemouth BH2 on Jan 6, 2022 at 1:58 pm

davidcoppock: The car park was open to the public:

Google Maps Street View.

I’m slightly puzzled by the reference in the description to a bus station being on the site. Using the “Historical Imagery” function of the desktop version of Google Earth to look at aerial images dating from before the leisure complex was built, I can see only a flat “surface level” car park.

CF100 commented about Odeon Bournemouth BH2 on Jan 5, 2022 at 11:40 pm

BH2 is covered in the June 2017 issue of Cinema Technology.

Projection is NEC; NC3240 in the iSense (or is that isense? Odeon don’t consistently apply capitalisation, and it turns out that both variations have been filed as trademarks by them…)

The speaker system specifications are not included in that article.

However, the screen speakers for the similar and almost contemporaneous Odeon Orpington iSense are:

L/Lc/C/Rc/R: 5xLW Speakers LW-5109-BI screen speakers (4-way, dual 18” bass drivers.)

LFE: 4xLW Speakers LW 6117 (2x21” per cabinet=8x21” drivers.)

(The Orpington iSense is covered in the September 2016 issue of Cinema Technology.)

Obviously it would be different in BH2 given that the speakers are from JBL, but the above should be indicative of the likely specification.

Per Dolby Atmos theatrical guidelines, LFE speakers are installed in one cluster on the floor behind the screen (for mutual coupling.)

In the BH2 iSense, adjacent to the stadia, sidewalls are covered in blue stretched fabric from handrail level up. At the screen end it appears to be black stretched fabric from fire exit door opening level up. That means that the thick mineral wool slabs behind the stretched fabric cover the sidewalls adjacent to the screen at the level of the main screen speakers, controlling lateral reflections.

The standard material up to stretched fabric level is an “acoustic carpet” product (or that’s how it’s marketed, it’s like hard wearing car carpet in appearance.)

CF100 commented about Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square on Jan 3, 2022 at 7:10 pm

Bagnall Demolition — The Empire.

According to the above-linked page, when UCI operated the cinema, this company performed an asbestos survey, in which asbestos-containing materials identified included “spray coatings, asbestos insulation board ceilings and cement.” Subsequently, removal work took place (logistically not so easy) and a new survey to update the asbestos register was undertaken.

Hmm. I’d still be surprised if no asbestos removal was needed above the ceiling during the strip-out of the old Empire 1. I’m fairly surprised that the old wall/ceiling tiles apparently didn’t contain any… (otherwise the wall tiles wouldn’t have been removed aggressively ASAP after the auditorium closed for renovation.)

CF100 commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood on Jan 3, 2022 at 6:54 pm

The Cinerama Dome Isn’t Planning To Re-Open Imminently; Here’s What’s Really Going On.

According to the linked article, re-opening date is unknown. Refurbishment at planning stage.

CF100 commented about Cineworld Belfast on Dec 29, 2021 at 5:43 pm

Cineworld have uploaded a video on YouTube:

Video: “Take a look inside Cineworld Belfast - featuring IMAX, 4DX and ScreenX!”

The “abstract” sidewall features look better to me than the inelegant arrangement of red rectangular boxes on the sidewalls of Cineworld’s IMAX builds over the past few years. The “IMAX Belfast” sidewall signage really should be positioned differently, though. (Or, I might suggest, removed altogether…)

Black upholstered seating with red accents looks good, and means (in an unfilled auditorium!) less light reflecting back to the screen–important to get the most out of the IMAX with Laser projection.

This does seem to be yet another Cineworld IMAX that’s opened with a 1.43:1 screen with 1.9:1 projection capability only, albeit this time it is a refurbishment of an existent auditorium. This results in much “letterboxing” for “scope” content (~40% of the screen height.)

CF100 commented about Odeon Marble Arch on Dec 27, 2021 at 8:51 pm

Plans for the replacement Odeon Marble Arch are available within the premises licence, issued in July 2020:

Premises Licence.

These reveal a 5 screen basement cinema to be branded “Odeon Luxe and Dine.” Seating is shown as all-recliner.

Seat counts:

  • Screen 1: 46
  • Screen 2: 30
  • Screen 3: 30
  • Screen 4: 46
  • Screen 5: 46

Screen widths all look to be under 30ft. with some of the auditoria being relatively deep.

This clearly is a very different scheme to the replacement Odeon Luxe West End. Hardly unexpected; but anyone who may have hoped for at least a tenuous nod to the heyday of large format super cinema wonderment is, alas, out of luck.

CF100 commented about Odeon London Leicester Square on Dec 25, 2021 at 8:45 pm

Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all. Fingers crossed that cinemas will continue to operate at a reasonable level of normalcy!

CF100 commented about Vue Watford on Dec 5, 2021 at 8:35 pm

As well as recliners being installed, auditoria and public areas were fully refurbished to current Vue house style. Main fit-out contractor was Swindon Interiors:

Swindon Interiors - Vue Watford Project Description.

CF100 commented about Odeon London Leicester Square on Nov 25, 2021 at 2:11 am

Fred Fullerton (former Chief Projectionist at the Empire Leicester Square) has recently uploaded many videos on YouTube, some of which are particularly special.

Odeon Leicester Square — Safety Curtain.

The above-linked video was taken just before the 1997 refurbishment. Two sets of tabs opening and lowering of the safety curtain can be seen, as well as “The Duchess” Compton organ emerging from the stage.

I had forgotten that the screen used to be positioned so low and at such a steep angle.

Another video shows the matching splay wall decorative lighting feature from 1987:

Odeon Leicester Square — Flo Neon.

I can’t say that I have ever heard of “flo neon,” although I did wonder how that effect was achieved. These days, addressable LED strips could do similar (and more!)

I remember this interesting feature well, however. By the time this video was shot, it looked somewhat dated, partially because it didn’t appear to be under digital control, going by the not-quite-perfect timing. Also, not infrequently, sections would be in need of replacement.

I also found that, whilst I liked it, it gave me an oddly unsettling feeling, rather than being relaxing before the programme… although I’m really not sure why…

At the start of the second video, the “Thieves are Silent” snipe featuring an animated snake can also be seen. Back then, this was also often shown in the old Empire 1.

It is very unfortunate that FanaticalAboutOdeon is no longer with us. He would surely have been delighted to see this footage of those old tabs.

Speaking for myself, however, I am very grateful that these videos have been shared.

CF100 commented about Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square on Nov 10, 2021 at 8:25 pm

terrywade: Beautiful indeed but I’m afraid this is a blast from the past as those lights date from 1962, with lighting control from an ARRI unit as of 1988.

In 2013/14 the auditorium was converted to an IMAX (so no tabs or masking) and the replacement lighting was 151 LED bars containing high power red, green and blue OSRAM OLSON LED’s (i.e. top-of-the-line.)

No expense spared, then, on equipment and I’m certainly glad that it’s there. (Cineworld had better keep it intact!) It is still quite impressive (albeit sidewalls/ceiling now black fabric, so challenging to “wash” with light.)

However, it could be noted that there are no footlights and the programming doesn’t make full use of the colour mixing possibilities. All are synchronised to the same colour (including additional red/green/blue LED modules behind the seats) and they cycle between red, green, and blue, holding for something like 40 seconds with a 15 second cross-fade, if I remember correctly.

CF100 commented about Empire Cinemas - London Haymarket on Nov 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!

CF100 commented about Showcase Cinemas Foresters Park, Derby on Nov 7, 2021 at 8:47 pm

That the design of these original generation Showcase Cinemas in the UK came over from the US apparently even extended to, in at least one location, having the surface car park’s kerbs painted rather than double yellow lines on the adjacent road surface, as used in the UK to indicate “no parking.” Quite strange.

I always rather liked the external design of these multiplexes, even if not the highest quality finish (c.f. cladding, powder coated metal, etc.) Alas, what was once the clean and modern face of the future of movie exhibition has not always survived exposure to the elements so well, at least being in need of a coat or two of paint.

28 Days Later report.

The above reveals that it still had a “first generation” multiplex interior that gave such venues a bad name–-now thoroughly obsolete. It seems hardly necessary to go through all that’s wrong with it; but of particular note is that carpet design–-what on Earth anyone was thinking when it was specified will likely ever remain a mystery…

Absorption/insulation behind the pleated (“Soundfold”-type) auditoria sidewall panels is visible where they are coming off in a couple of places.

One Christie film projector can be seen. 2D/3D lens changeover instructions reference Sony SRX-R320 S-XRD projection.

rivest266: Not sure about this being the “same” design as the Commack Multiplex; “historic” aerial views show a completely differently shaped building. The main frontages aren’t the same, either.

I notice that the Commack Multiplex site is now home to a Lowe’s Home Improvement store, which I suppose is (very tenuously) ironic…!

CF100 commented about Odeon Luxe London West End on Nov 7, 2021 at 4:14 am

Edgar Wright has posted a video of the entrance corridor to the Dolby Cinema auditorium.

AFAIK this is currently the only Dolby Cinema in the UK to include the “AVP corridor” feature.

CF100 commented about Odeon BFI London IMAX Cinema on Nov 5, 2021 at 8:37 pm

According to an article published on the 1st September 2021, which links to reports from Lambeth Council, feasibility studies for an “office-led” scheme encompassing the IMAX site continue, with a further £150,000 funding allocated.

One may still be slightly puzzled as to why laser light source projection has not been installed, for it could always be moved over to any replacement venue built as part of such a scheme, and it has been six years since the IMAX GT dual-laser projection system was installed in Leicester Square…

But it does seem to be the most likely explanation for the lack of substantial investment in this ever-popular venue; another example being the auditorium seating, which looks very tired.

CF100 commented about Odeon BFI London IMAX Cinema on Nov 5, 2021 at 8:33 pm

Full “Dollhouse” 3D tour available on private bookings site:

3D Tour.

In addition to the cross-sectional 3D reconstruction, many 360° photos throughout the publicly-accessible areas can be seen.

Looking at photos of the auditorium, it appears that some more recent changes have been made. The sidewall fabric looks darker, and new decorative lighting added.

The screen frame and speakers are visible, including the “Kanga” speakers for GT venues. (The older IMAX “Proportional Point Source” speakers were replaced in 2012 when a new screen was installed.)

Non-IMAX speakers can also be seen, including the very strange arrangement of two sets of screen speakers with neither of the two centre speakers quite centrally positioned, as well as the rear array on the auditorium side/back walls.

Obviously, no IMAX sides/overheads as IMAX with Laser upgrade has not occurred, hence 12 channel IMAX audio is not supported.

CF100 commented about Odeon London Leicester Square on Nov 5, 2021 at 5:41 pm

Full “Dollhouse” 3D tour available on private bookings site:

3D Tour.

In addition to the cross-sectional 3D reconstruction, many 360° photos throughout the publicly-accessible areas can be seen.

CF100 commented about Arc Cinema Beeston on Oct 21, 2021 at 3:42 am

Particularly attractive arrangement of linear LED strips/stretched fabric wall coverings. This demonstrates how, with a bit of thought, tasteful design possibilities can readily be achieved with these industry standard off-the-shelf components*; too often the result is either bland or suggests non-existent aesthetic sensibility.

(* Not to suggest these are not very high quality parts; they are.)

CF100 commented about Odeon Luxe London West End on Oct 18, 2021 at 10:58 pm

SethLewis: Odeon are/were the leaseholder for both the West End and “Covent Garden” locations, with redevelopment of both sites proposed/completed such that cinemas are spatially not the primary use, that instead being hotel accommodation/associated facilities.

The current state of the Odeon Covent Garden appears to be that the 2017 planning application was rejected, and on 10/03/21 was dismissed on appeal. I could not find any further applications on Camden Council’s planning database.

That being said, from the 2017 application, unlike the OWE, for any redevelopment of the “Covent Garden” site incorporating a cinema, another operator would need to be found. Clearly, any such redevelopment is years away from completion…

CF100 commented about Empire Cinemas - London Haymarket on Oct 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.

CF100 commented about Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square on Oct 15, 2021 at 9:51 pm

Photos of the old Empire 1 (press conference with actor Robert Vaughn) taken in 1966:

Photo 1.

Photo 2.

Shame they are not colour!

CF100 commented about Odeon Luxe London West End on Oct 9, 2021 at 10:47 pm

Ian: Thank you for posting links to those photos. It looks like Screen 2, happily, has a masked screen (c.f. the floating screen in Screen 1;) do you know if moveable masking is in use?

It also appears to be exceptionally bland–not even linear lighting to add a dash of colour to the sidewalls?