Odeon Luxe London Leicester Square

26 Leicester Square,
London, WC2H 7LQ

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CF100 on February 2, 2019 at 12:37 pm

SethLewis: Throw your legs over the seat in front? Tut, tut!

I don’t know about “less and less” affordable? Premium options are increasingly available, but on the flipside are “unlimited” cards, and older multiplexes in need of a major overhaul are the new “fleapits.”

Albeit, the new Vue Bromley, for instance, offers all-recliner seating at £7.99 “all day, every day”—not significantly higher than “fleapit” prices.

I’m quite happy with non-recliner seating—but hey, if it’s there, I’m not going to say “no!”

(I, too, haven’t seen any of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy!)

As for “overanalysing”—I think I’m well and truly cursed now—it was only in my pre-teen years that I could just turn up and watch the film—and it’s only got worse since then! :–(

HowardBHaas on February 1, 2019 at 6:57 am

Seth, In recent years, I see few movies with CGI, but back then, I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, at historic cinemas! The 1st I enjoyed at both the Sameric (Boyd) Philadelphia and Toronoto’s Eglington. The Boyd’s auditorium is gone; Englington no longer shows movies. The next two I enjoyed at Washington DC’s Uptown, which is now run by AMC which hasn’t fixed or replaced the motor that opens & closes the curtain/tab so the curtain isn’t used anymore. And, that brings us full circle to the Odeon which AMC decided to make more similar to a “black box” cinema than a flagship, which should have proper curtain & decoration. Also, to add to the list of West End cinemas using tabs, the Prince Charles downstairs and the Regent Street Cinema which also both use proper masking (unlike the Picturehouse Central cited above which has a gorgeous tab but “flat” movies are not masked). I’m in the States, but visit London once a year, and like to see a movie each day – in the historic cinemas.

SethLewis on February 1, 2019 at 4:01 am

I am now 62 years old and have been going to the movies on 3 continents for over 50 years. Have we become that spoiled that we can’t enjoy sitting in the company of others for 2 hours to enjoy the 7th art without over analysing the whole experience – and this from someone who has worked in hospitality for most of that and now lectures in operations management.

Cinemas used to run movies continuously. You could walk in and out at any time – see the end of a film and then the beginning. Seats might not have been the most comfortable, but were good enough for young lovers to make out in, or for singletons to fall asleep in. The popcorn was freshly made, hot and salty. The whole point was that it was an affordable shared experience.

It is now less and less affordable and more and more cosseted. I am relatively proud of the fact that I have never seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy and have never reclined in a theatre…simply thrown my legs over the side of the seat in front of me if it was empty.

Let’s keep it simple, sit and enjoy the show!

curmudgeon on February 1, 2019 at 3:33 am

CF100, I can’t speak for British cinemas, but here in Australia ALL reclining cinema seats have high head rests which proves impossible not to have your head rest against, other than leaning forward for the entire duration of the cinema programme.

CF100 on January 31, 2019 at 6:26 pm

curmudgeon: LOL, goodness!

I really don’t want to rest my head against some putrid patron’s filthy dandruff (or worse)

I am baffled as to why this is a problem that would occur with recliner seating?

CF100 on January 31, 2019 at 6:25 pm

Kers: Thank you for the photos and update.

This reveals a number of “snagging” issues, e.g. the fabric around where the flying ladies will land is loose; the underside of the sloping section above the proscenium has not been covered – assuming it should be covered.

The fabric just has to be “poked” into the profile track that holds it tensioned in place.

I’d imagine that the uncovered section to which you refer perhaps are air conditioning vents that are yet (?) to have grilles attached.

The proscenium end does look better with white concealed lighting installed and operational, although from your photos, it appears to be a distinctly cold white. The “leakage” onto the sides of the screen looks dreadful.

Alas, low power sidewall decorative feature lighting is all that is to be found in cinema fit-out supplier catalogues, and I suspect that it would require a specific effort and awareness to specify the high powered lighting needed to wash the walls.

terry on January 31, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Kers: What you quite understandably thought may be screen tabs are just ‘legs’ to mask the wings; these, although pleated, will be of the same fabric as the screen masking.

I am sorry to say that the only way OLS will ever again have anything as attractive as house tabs and screen curtains will be if AMC were to relinquish the place as a ‘one off’ deal (most unlikely) or if another organisation were to acquire the Odeon circuit. It would have to be a company prepared to treat this theatre with the appropriate respect and to right the wrongs inflicted during the recent ‘dumbing down’……………..

Here’s hoping – and if ever it does happen I shall be the first to say “GOOD RIDDANCE TO AMC!!!”

Kers on January 31, 2019 at 1:13 pm

HowardBHaas: Thank you for confirming the dimensions of the old screen.

davepring: Odeon Covent Garden has tabs in several screens but sadly I have not seen those used for several years.

I have uploaded photographs which show the new screen in both flat and scope dimensions. Additional lighting is now operational which provides more visibility at the stage end. This reveals a number of “snagging” issues, e.g. the fabric around where the flying ladies will land is loose; the underside of the sloping section above the proscenium has not been covered – assuming it should be covered.

Also if you look to the right of the screen masking, the black “tabs” I mentioned can be seen. If these are not tabs I wonder what purpose they serve.

I note that no performances are scheduled for 31/1 and there are some gaps in the programme over the next few days. This could mean further works will be undertaken during this period.

davepring on January 31, 2019 at 8:53 am

Screen 1 of Picturehouse Central has magnificent screen tabs.
The Vue Leicester Square still has golden tabs in Screens 5 and 7

curmudgeon on January 31, 2019 at 7:55 am

What a tragedy. Am wondering if any West End cinemas now use screen curtains? CF100 I personally hate the new trend in cinemas. Dolby Atmos, laser projection and the myriad of new cinema technology will never replicate the thrill of true 70mm 6-track on a huge curved screen revealed to the audience upon opening of the screen tabs following a rousing Overture and the house lighting dimming dramatically to the expectation of what is to come. As for reclining seats, I really don’t want to rest my head against some putrid patron’s filthy dandruff (or worse), along with the disruption of the order of, and delivery, of foul smelling fried food that would make a McDonalds burger and fries seem like a gourmet meal.

CF100 on January 30, 2019 at 6:53 pm

I wonder what the priorities are for fellow Cinema Treasure contributors?

Are tabs and decorative lighting more important than picture/sound quality? Or comfort (seating, etc.)?

(I mean in a general sense, rather than specifically in relation to the Odeon Leicester Square.)

Obviously, this is a somewhat synthetic question as the answer would surely be “both” or “why should one need to choose?” and the experience of visiting a cinema is a total package from entering the door (or before; the “film perforation” tiles on the platform walls in LSQ Underground station “foreshadowing” watching a movie, for example.)

CF100 on January 30, 2019 at 6:32 pm

joeswin: Thank you for finding that out and relaying the information here. A terrible shame.

Incidentally, I dreamt last night that I visited the OLS and the building work had resumed, with a JCB just outside the LSQ frontage handling excavated rubble, with a large trench in front of the entrance. They were allowing public tours of the cinema; the auditorium sidewall/ceiling colour had reverted back to white. I asked various people whether curtains were due to be installed and most did not know, although one said “no… this is after all a business and this does not affect presentation.”

I think I need to go on a cinema “detox” programme! ;–)

terry on January 29, 2019 at 3:12 pm

The mighty Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square. I cannot begin to articulate my disgust with AMC and what they have done there. It has been proven by Independent operators that modern technology and comfort can be combined with a ‘traditional’ ambience thereby providing ‘ the best of both worlds’ but, of course, AMC could not do this, could they? Charlatans!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Oh dear. “Restoring the charm and glamour…” now has a very hollow ring to it. I have to agree with davepring – no curtains and no lighting other than safety-necessary downlighters. Yes, a huge, black hole and no longer a cinema I’ll be making 400 mile return trips to enjoy. If this is the golden age of cinema returned, I’ll give it a miss and increase my footfall in more local cinemas – the majority of which know how to put on a good show.

davepring on January 29, 2019 at 10:32 am

Well if that is the case it is very disappointing. The main auditorium is now a huge black hole and not at all welcoming.

joeswin on January 29, 2019 at 10:28 am

I have just contacted the Odeon Help team regarding curtains via twitter.

They informed me they in turn spoke to the appropriate people in Leicester Square, and there are in fact no curtains installed since the refurbishment. The digital safety curtain is now their permanent replacement.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 28, 2019 at 7:56 am

CF100,I’m not aware of any suggestions that the proscenium arch had been widened, however, in Kers' observations from the stalls, he/she mentioned, “The proscenium arch, as was, appears to have gone…” and this is why I referred to its almost certain survival. Kers did mention the dimness in the auditorium and I too found it hard to see much – other than the screen – from balcony level.

Yes, all coving forward of the cove immediately beyond the balcony was removed during the ‘67 modernisation. The walls and ceiling nearer the proscenium arch, above the leaping nymphs, were ribbed and three further, semi circular ceiling coves appeared above and within the width of the proscenium arch. The ceiling’s descent was maintained but was horizontally straightened once the “stepping” caused by the three abandoned coves was gone. The absence of the coves slightly increased the height of the new, plainer ceiling above the orchestra pit.

There is more than one report of Rank being disappointed by the blandness of the new scheme beyond the balcony front. The otherwise plain splay walls were at first illuminated by each having three pools of light projected from profile spots housed in the lighting box incorporated in the design of the balcony. The overlapping, spherical pools of light were filtered red, bright blue and medium amber (matching the colours used to illuminate the curtains when the lights were “up”). From the run of “Funny Lady”, a vertical design feature was painted on the splay walls above the front stalls exits. The colours of these were brown, cream and pink and the appearance was abstract resembling fountains reducing in width towards the top. Following these came the first serious attempt to compensate for the loss of the nymphs by three dimensional cloud/wave forms in red, grey and pink rolling towards the screen. These were superseded in 1987’s refurbishment by upwardly waving designs incorporating three strips of orange neon all of which faded slowly in and out like rising flames. The design matched that of the appliqued house curtains which came at the same time. In 1998 came replicas of the original sculpted figures and it is these replicas' return that is currently eagerly awaited.

Kers, I was interested to read of the, possibly black, curtains you noticed hanging at the sides of the arch. As the auditorium is now painted dark navy blue, it would be good if these were actual house curtains in the same colour or indeed black perhaps even bearing an appropriate design when closed. The suspense continues.

Considering the straight edged addition to the ceiling at the stage end, it occurs to me that this could even be regarded as corresponding to the cantilevered projection box which largely overhangs the back rows of the balcony and rear promenade and, similarly, makes no attempt to follow the contours of the coved ceiling and walls ahead of it.

CF100 on January 27, 2019 at 10:36 am


Given the new screen is very similar in size to the old one, there would have been no reason to remove the proscenium arch […] so there would have to be a very good reason for meddling with the theatre’s skeleton in this area and I just don’t see one.

I don’t think it is being suggested here that the proscenium opening may have been widened? No such widening is shown in the up-to-date licensing plans. As mentioned, I could imagine, perhaps, that it might have been slightly narrowed if acoustic material had been attached around its edge.

Factually, the screen is not large in relation to the auditorium’s size; and it’s not even that large in absolute size, either, as “premium large format” auditoria in multiplexes grow in size—a recent example is the Cineworld Watford IMAX (with Laser) (opened December 2018) with its ~22m (~72ft.) wide screen (1.9:1.)

Of course, whether it is desirable for the OLS to be equipped with a larger screen is another matter, as is the practicability and cost-benefit of such; including, as you say, tampering with the “skeleton” were such to be placed within the existent proscenium opening.

From 1968 until January of last year, the plain ceiling section where the downward slope of the ceiling accelerated to meet the top of the arch, invariably glowed during brighter scenes rather like an elongated cloud.

I’m assuming that the ‘67 refurbishment involved the removal of the original ceiling? Did the replacement—other than, of course, being smooth— follow the exact profile of the original?

Now, the ceiling from just above the arch to a point roughly midway between stage and balcony is both flat and lower and flat fronted. Presumably this addition contains some of the speakers and, were it to be open at the rear or stage end, might potentially contain some stage lighting.

IIRC, some of the articles on the OLS refurbishment have said that it covers over some of the ceiling speakers, and this does seem plausible. Clearly, the finish is stretched fabric. There is no reason that the profiles used to hold/tension the stretch fabric couldn’t have been curved (as shown in photos uploaded by TheatreofVarieties, the old Empire 1’s curved steels were moved up and then the stretched fabric profiles were attached to them.) In the case of the OLS, it looks as if straight trusses have been suspended to enable “rigging” of the speakers, and stretched fabric then used to cover over. (Presumably, there is plenty of acoustic absorption fitted behind also.)

Thank you very much for the information on the Victoria Palace Theatre refurbishment works, and thank you to Ian for those fascinating photos uploaded on Flickr.

HowardBHaas on January 26, 2019 at 12:52 pm

2014 email from projectionist Nigel Wolland to me with definitive former dimensions: Total screen size on the screen frame 52 x 26 feet 70mm screen size 47 x 21 feet Scope is 47 x 19'6" feet 1.75 is 36'4" x 21 feet 1.85 is 36'4" x 19'6" feet 1.33 is 27'6 x 19 feet

Kers on January 26, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Fanatical About Odeon:

I visited OLS again on 17/1 to see Stan & Ollie and had a closer look at the stage end. The arch is, of course, still there. It did not especially stand out to me first time around, with the new colour scheme and lighting.

If the old screen was 47' wide the height would presumably be 20' for scope and 21.4' for 70mm/2.20:1. My friend and I both think the new screen looks smaller, I might take a tape measure next time.😊

The auditorium was again freezing and the flying ladies still notable for their absence, and my friend’s seat number had fallen off. Someone posted on Twitter that a screening of Glass had to be abandoned for technical reasons, so Odeon have not got it quite right just yet.

Good news – the side masking is now closed for the ads and trailers, and opened as the Dolby Cinema promo starts. The effect is somewhat more professional.

We also spotted what appeared to be black curtains hung either side of the proscenium, which were not there for Mary Poppins. I asked a member of staff if they are in fact curtains and received a completely non-committal answer (I don’t think he knew!). I will try to get a pic next time.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 24, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Ian, The souvenir reopening booklet also contains a photograph of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret descending the stairs from the circle of the EMPIRE Leicester Square in 1952!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 17, 2019 at 4:28 am

Given the new screen is very similar in size to the old one, there would have been no reason to remove the proscenium arch. Furthermore, the side columns of the arch (in this Odeon’s case, purely the termination of the splay walls) contain supporting girders which spring from the foundations. The top of the arch contains a horizontal girder so there would have to be a very good reason for meddling with the theatre’s skeleton in this area and I just don’t see one.

As part of the recent, thorough refurbishment of the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, that venue’s proscenium arch was widened slightly at the same time as the stage was deepened, thereby maintaining good sightlines. Although the height of the proscenium there was not increased, the former, deep house pelmet was dispensed with thus opening up the view from the Upper Circle. The works also included the building of a higher and deeper fly tower necessitating the installation of new vertical and horizontal girders in support. No such reasons existed to justify the Odeon having taken this extremely expensive route, of course, so I fully expect the 52' arch to have survived.

Ian Grundy has posted brilliant and breathtaking photographs of the works and stunning results at the Victoria Palace, including a close-up of the new and wider girder at the top of the proscenium arch, on Flickr.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 16, 2019 at 5:18 pm

CF100: The previous screen had an image area width of 47' when masked for ‘Scope and 70mm. The screen height in 70mm. mode was almost, if not exactly, the height of wide screen/wide angle. Regrettably, I do not have the vertical dimensions.

From my seat in the Royal Circle on 3rd January, the proscenium arch appeared to be intact judging by the elongated, triangular “glows” (coming to a point at the top). The most obvious cause of this would be the proscenium verticals reducing the light spillage from screen to side walls – the tapering of the “glow” could be due to the slight tilt of the screen which, while still tilted, is at a lesser angle than before.

From 1968 until January of last year, the plain ceiling section where the downward slope of the ceiling accelerated to meet the top of the arch, invariably glowed during brighter scenes rather like an elongated cloud. The lighter paint schemes would have intensified the reflection. Now, the ceiling from just above the arch to a point roughly midway between stage and balcony is both flat and lower and flat fronted. Presumably this addition contains some of the speakers and, were it to be open at the rear or stage end, might potentially contain some stage lighting. Both apron stage around the organ and the roundels from which the golden ladies are due to leap once more, were lit a deep purple in Odeon’s photgraph atop their website listing for the flagship.

Like you, the stygian gloom throughout the auditorium prevented me from seeing much other than the seats and carpet near my seat. I’m keeping my powder dry and will, perhaps in the Spring, occupy a seat in the stalls and take a powerful torch with me in case the gloom is permanent. Come to think of it, I could also take a colour gel and a frost filter to demonstrate what a difference a tiny element of light and warmth could facilitate before the performance! That’s just in case the auditorium still resembles a certain proverbial jail in Calcutta…

Fingers remain crossed here for at least a modicum of restored “glamour and charm” – as it is, I doubt either Mr Deutsch or his wife would recognise the interior as it currently appears. All true Odeons glittered and sparkled when new, time for this most significant of all of them to catch up.

Kers on January 14, 2019 at 7:15 am


Thank you for your comments:

It was very cold – in fact I had to use my coat as a blanket at one point!

A member of staff told me about the sound system.

Thinking further about the screen, I am not sure if a lower position (as it used to be) would affect sight lines from the front stalls. Was that a problem before? I never sat that far forward in the old seating. The main problem with sightlines previously was if you were either short and/or had a tall person sitting in front, there could be an obstructed view. Also, the sightlines at the very back of the stalls was a problem for some people, as was the front row of the circle. These issues have now been fixed by changing the position of the screen.

I do not know how the screen now appears when viewed from the Royal Circle. From the stalls the old screen was angled up, from the circle (as far as I can remember) it looked ‘square on’.

As to the size, it would be helpful to have the screen measurements for ‘before’ and ‘after’ – that would give us the definitive answer. The proscenium arch, as was, appears to have gone, although it was very dark when I visited. I am seeing Stan & Ollie this week (from stalls Row G this time) so have another chance to experience the new set up – also going with a friend so will get another opinion.

CF100 on January 13, 2019 at 11:05 am

Brief portfolio page on Malishev Engineers' site, “Odeon Leicester Square Main Entrance.”

To quote (sic,) it “featur[es] several openings with glass fins, bespoke set of door frames and simply large glass units all designed to accommodate substantial blast loading for the whole system, including structural silicone.”