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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

GOODBYE, SCREEN ONE - EMPIRE LEICESTER SQUARE

Outside the Empire Leicester Square for the wonderful six-film STAR WARS CELEBRATION DAY of 2005. Images: Ian Trussler.

In a sly and damaging act of business stupidity, the legendary and centrepiece Screen One of the iconic EMPIRE LEICESTER SQUARE Cinema in the West End of London, which had one of the best picture and sound systems in the country (and the comfiest seating!), is being demolished this week and turned into two smaller cinemas- its a truly absurd move, considering that there are are already three or four small mezzanines within the building anyway, one of which you might as well save £17.50 on, stay at home and wait for the film you want to see to come on TV- it's that small!

Its demise is the end of an era, and the decision was apparently made in such an underhand way that no one was able to launch a petition or take their ire to the management before it was too late. Now only the London IMAX at Waterloo and the ODEON Leicester Square remain if you want to see a proper, BIG 70mm/Digital film experience in the main heart of the West End.

A very early 7am start inside the cinema-soon packed to the rafters.

I'll forever have happy memories of Screen One: 1978/79 was my first experience (when I saw the two original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA movies there (in Sensurround no less!) and a re-release of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (and the standout "acid trip" finale on the big screen- I found it a little scary and strangely overwhelming!). I was there the week it reopened with improved sound and accompanying lightshow in 1989 for INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (having had a superb Royal Premiere a few days before), and attending glitzy celebritiy premieres of three STAR TREK movies, as well as a special five movie screening. Beyond the many other movies I've seen there, with regards to STAR WARS, it wasn't until 2005 that the cinema had the rare and quite extraordinary opportunity to screen all six of them in one go -and they looked bloody terrific on Screen One, especially the sound design for EPISODE I and the digital projection of EPISODE II. It was the only cinema in London that truly deserved to have these films, and I was surprised it took so long for it to happen. Now, it'll likely never happen again...

Shame on you, EMPIRE Cinemas, shame on you, for putting a dagger through such an important cinema, and for tarnishing your past and future legacy for both yourselves and filmgoers...

Voice your unhappiness somewhere on their FACEBOOK page: Empire Leicester Square

Empire Cinemas Won't Talk About The Fact They're Destroying Their Monumental Screen One Tomorrow


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