London Cinemas, comparisons and opinion.

Swaino

Novice Member
Just saw my first ever IMAX viewing at the Cineworld Leicester Square and now I’m on an obsessive hunt to confirm the different tech in the main London cinemas and hoping for some confirmation on the tech and my overall thoughts.

IMAX Leicester Square;
Video
: 2x 4K digital laser projectors, 26.5m wide and 15.6m high (widest).
Audio: IMAX 12 channel audio.

IMAX BFI;
Video
: 2x 2K Xenon projectors and a 70mm projector, 20m wide and 26.5 high (biggest).
Audio: IMAX 6 channel audio.

Dolby Cinema Odeon (Leicester Square);
Video
: Dolby Vision HDR dual laser projector (4K I assume?).
Audio: Dolby Atmos, 400 speakers with 128 channels.

Dolby Vision Odeon (West End);
Video
: Dolby Vision HDR dual laser projector (4K I assume).
Audio: Dolby Atmos 67 speakers (unsure on channels)

Supercreen The O2 (honourable mention as it’s my local);
Video
: Dual RBG Laser 2k (maybe 4k?) projector.
Audio: Dolby Atmos (couldn’t find specifics)

Looking at cold hard specs is great but it’s very interesting visiting and reading about these cinemas. What I can gather from reading and personal viewings is:

The BFI IMAX is marketed very well but I read unless you are seeing a 70mm IMAX Film then you are better going to Leicester Square IMAX due to the superior digital projectors and better use of the screen. I found the seating in the Leicester Square to be a little crammed, also a little pricey unless Tier 4 Cineworld unlimited members.

The Odeon Dolby Cinema Leicester Square screen obviously has the best audio from the specs. Video is also apparently amazing resolution although obviously lacking IMAX ratio. I’ve seen people have issue with the layout of the Leicester Square screen due to it being a listed building with seating arrangement being bad (comparatively). The West End Odeon is apparently a more “standard” screen layout but the audio seems lesser than the Leicester Square screen (again on paper). Both of the Odeons are advertised as having luxury reclining seats and the price is a little lower than the IMAX, which are both positives.

My local, the O2 Superscreen is massive and the seats are super spacious and comfortable. Projector quality is good, but after seeing IMAX dual 4k I’m unsure if the O2 Superscreen is dual 4k. Also the sound, although Atmos, can get a little tinny and echoey as the auditorium is massive with what seems to be poor aucostics, especially when empty.

I feel like I was spoiled last night with my Leicester Square IMAX viewing but I’ll give the Leicester Square Dolby Cinema a go next I think for the audio and comfort (price is low too).

Thoughts?
 

Peew971

Well-known Member
I have a Cineworld Unlimited card and I always pick Superscreen over IMAX at Leicester Square, especially if I can get a balcony seat. I don't think their IMAX leaves enough room between screen and seats.
All personal preferences though.
 

Swaino

Novice Member
I have a Cineworld Unlimited card and I always pick Superscreen over IMAX at Leicester Square, especially if I can get a balcony seat. I don't think their IMAX leaves enough room between screen and seats.
All personal preferences though.

Oh interesting, do you know if Leicester Square Superscreen uses dual 4k projectors?
 

Peew971

Well-known Member
I've tried to figure it out but I have no idea.
 

SteveAWOL

Distinguished Member
Just saw my first ever IMAX viewing at the Cineworld Leicester Square and now I’m on an obsessive hunt to confirm the different tech in the main London cinemas and hoping for some confirmation on the tech and my overall thoughts.

IMAX Leicester Square;
Video
: 2x 4K digital laser projectors, 26.5m wide and 15.6m high (widest).
Audio: IMAX 12 channel audio.

IMAX BFI;
Video
: 2x 2K Xenon projectors and a 70mm projector, 20m wide and 26.5 high (biggest).
Audio: IMAX 6 channel audio.

Dolby Cinema Odeon (Leicester Square);
Video
: Dolby Vision HDR dual laser projector (4K I assume?).
Audio: Dolby Atmos, 400 speakers with 128 channels.

Dolby Vision Odeon (West End);
Video
: Dolby Vision HDR dual laser projector (4K I assume).
Audio: Dolby Atmos 67 speakers (unsure on channels)

Supercreen The O2 (honourable mention as it’s my local);
Video
: Dual RBG Laser 2k (maybe 4k?) projector.
Audio: Dolby Atmos (couldn’t find specifics)

Looking at cold hard specs is great but it’s very interesting visiting and reading about these cinemas. What I can gather from reading and personal viewings is:

The BFI IMAX is marketed very well but I read unless you are seeing a 70mm IMAX Film then you are better going to Leicester Square IMAX due to the superior digital projectors and better use of the screen. I found the seating in the Leicester Square to be a little crammed, also a little pricey unless Tier 4 Cineworld unlimited members.

The Odeon Dolby Cinema Leicester Square screen obviously has the best audio from the specs. Video is also apparently amazing resolution although obviously lacking IMAX ratio. I’ve seen people have issue with the layout of the Leicester Square screen due to it being a listed building with seating arrangement being bad (comparatively). The West End Odeon is apparently a more “standard” screen layout but the audio seems lesser than the Leicester Square screen (again on paper). Both of the Odeons are advertised as having luxury reclining seats and the price is a little lower than the IMAX, which are both positives.

My local, the O2 Superscreen is massive and the seats are super spacious and comfortable. Projector quality is good, but after seeing IMAX dual 4k I’m unsure if the O2 Superscreen is dual 4k. Also the sound, although Atmos, can get a little tinny and echoey as the auditorium is massive with what seems to be poor aucostics, especially when empty.

I feel like I was spoiled last night with my Leicester Square IMAX viewing but I’ll give the Leicester Square Dolby Cinema a go next I think for the audio and comfort (price is low too).

Thoughts?

ICYMI the Science Museum had LASER projectors installed last year, so is the only cinema in London which can do IMAX 4K and 70mm.


The screen is 24.3m wide and 16.8m high, so somewhere in between dimension of Leic Sq and the BFI.

Oh interesting, do you know if Leicester Square Superscreen uses dual 4k projectors?

@Cheekster is probably the person who’ll know.
 

Cheekster

Well-known Member
ICYMI the Science Museum had LASER projectors installed last year, so is the only cinema in London which can do IMAX 4K and 70mm.


The screen is 24.3m wide and 16.8m high, so somewhere in between dimension of Leic Sq and the BFI.



@Cheekster is probably the person who’ll know.
AFAIK unless anything has changed from my last visit (Jan 2020 when I watched Bad Boys For Life) the original dual Barco DP4K-23B projectors are still in use, as installed when the auditorium was formed when Empire Cinemas was at the helm of this location. This is a 4K projector. It appears to have had an upgrade to Laser Phosphor. However, only one projector was in use at that time. You will not be the first who has commented on Cineworld, LSQ Superscreen as sounding a bit like an echo chamber.

Barco DP4K-23B Projector
 
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Cheekster

Well-known Member
I have a Cineworld Unlimited card and I always pick Superscreen over IMAX at Leicester Square, especially if I can get a balcony seat. I don't think their IMAX leaves enough room between screen and seats.
All personal preferences though.
The requirement that the last row of audience seating be within one screen width of the screen plane is based on IMAX Corporation’s original theater designs, which called for a minimum viewing angle of no less than 53 degrees. While human peripheral vision extends well beyond 53 degrees, this angle has long been considered the narrowest practical viewing angle for a giant-screen cinema.

My two biggest grumbles about Cineworld, LSQ IMAX with Dual Laser are the lack of leg room and the seats could be comfier especially for long 2.5+ hour movies.
 

Cheekster

Well-known Member
Just saw my first ever IMAX viewing at the Cineworld Leicester Square and now I’m on an obsessive hunt to confirm the different tech in the main London cinemas and hoping for some confirmation on the tech and my overall thoughts.

IMAX Leicester Square;
Video
: 2x 4K digital laser projectors, 26.5m wide and 15.6m high (widest).
Audio: IMAX 12 channel audio.

IMAX BFI;
Video
: 2x 2K Xenon projectors and a 70mm projector, 20m wide and 26.5 high (biggest).
Audio: IMAX 6 channel audio.

Dolby Cinema Odeon (Leicester Square);
Video
: Dolby Vision HDR dual laser projector (4K I assume?).
Audio: Dolby Atmos, 400 speakers with 128 channels.

Dolby Vision Odeon (West End);
Video
: Dolby Vision HDR dual laser projector (4K I assume).
Audio: Dolby Atmos 67 speakers (unsure on channels)

Supercreen The O2 (honourable mention as it’s my local);
Video
: Dual RBG Laser 2k (maybe 4k?) projector.
Audio: Dolby Atmos (couldn’t find specifics)

Looking at cold hard specs is great but it’s very interesting visiting and reading about these cinemas. What I can gather from reading and personal viewings is:

The BFI IMAX is marketed very well but I read unless you are seeing a 70mm IMAX Film then you are better going to Leicester Square IMAX due to the superior digital projectors and better use of the screen. I found the seating in the Leicester Square to be a little crammed, also a little pricey unless Tier 4 Cineworld unlimited members.

The Odeon Dolby Cinema Leicester Square screen obviously has the best audio from the specs. Video is also apparently amazing resolution although obviously lacking IMAX ratio. I’ve seen people have issue with the layout of the Leicester Square screen due to it being a listed building with seating arrangement being bad (comparatively). The West End Odeon is apparently a more “standard” screen layout but the audio seems lesser than the Leicester Square screen (again on paper). Both of the Odeons are advertised as having luxury reclining seats and the price is a little lower than the IMAX, which are both positives.

My local, the O2 Superscreen is massive and the seats are super spacious and comfortable. Projector quality is good, but after seeing IMAX dual 4k I’m unsure if the O2 Superscreen is dual 4k. Also the sound, although Atmos, can get a little tinny and echoey as the auditorium is massive with what seems to be poor aucostics, especially when empty.

I feel like I was spoiled last night with my Leicester Square IMAX viewing but I’ll give the Leicester Square Dolby Cinema a go next I think for the audio and comfort (price is low too).

Thoughts?

Cineworld, O2 Superscreen - 22m wide by 9.3m
95 Dolby Atmos speakers
850 seats including a balcony (of which 220 are Gold Class seats)

An Atmos installation such as the Superscreen one at the Cineworld (Empire) Leicester Square will certainly beat 12-channel IMAX but this is a top-end installation (e.g. 5 JBL Screen Array screen speakers with bafflettes and full active digital crossovers) and so its superiority is not only due to the sound format.


Dolby Cinema uses two Christie 4K 6P RGB Laser projectors instead of Xenon bulb-based projection and delivers brightness of up to 31 foot lamberts in 2D and 14 foot lamberts in 3D (IMAX with Laser CoLa is 22fL and 11fL respectively as a comparison). These projectors use special processing to achieve HDR. They have a markedly higher contrast and brightness. This is the main difference between Dolby Cinema and IMAX.

Also able to deliver ‘true black’ and a claimed contrast ratio of one million:1. Rec. 2020 colour space, which means it’s capable of displaying a far wider range of colours than standard cinema (though most films are still mastered to the smaller DCI-P3 colour space).
 
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xar

Well-known Member
I am visiting London in April with the family and wanted to try one of the top end screens. Any view on which one sounds the best? Sounds like it’s the O2 followed by Leicester Square based on the replies above?

We are staying at Tower Bridge so suspect Leicester Square is the easier option, but any advice appreciated!
 

ASL1

Active Member
@Cheekster do you know the number of speakers and channels at the Dolby Cinema Odeon London West End?

Even though it has less speakers than the Dolby Cinema in Leicester Square, I think it sounded better. Probably due to restrictions due to the listed status of the Leicester Square auditorium (not to mention the screen size and distance to seating is too small and too far away respectively - again probably due to it's listed status).

For my money the Dolby Cinema Odeon London West End, is the best Dolby Cinema in London. The recliner seating in both cinemas is the most comfortable in London.

In my view if in London: If the film is in 15/70mm imax format see it at the BFI IMAX. If the film is only released digitally; if it is specifically formatted to view in 1.90:1 watch it at the Cineworld IMAX Leicester Square. All other features watch at the Dolby Cinema at Odeon London West End.

I should say I have not watched a movie at the Science Museum since it was refurbished and now has dual 4k IMAX projectors and a 15/70mm projector, with a 1.43:1 aspect ratio like the BFI IMAX. Theoretically for films like Dune with 1.43:1 scenes and no 15/70mm prints made, it's the best place to see it (there were showings there last week).
 
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SteveAWOL

Distinguished Member
@Cheekster do you know the number of speakers and channels at the Dolby Cinema Odeon London West End?

Even though it has less speakers than the Dolby Cinema in Leicester Square, I think it sounded better. Probably due to restrictions due to the listed status of the Leicester Square auditorium (not to mention the screen size and distance to seating is too small and too far away respectively - again probably due to it's listed status).

For my money the Dolby Cinema Odeon London West End, is the best Dolby Cinema in London. The recliner seating in both cinemas is the most comfortable in London.

In my view if in London: If the film is in 15/70mm imax format see it at the BFI IMAX. If the film is only released digitally; if it is specifically formatted to view in 1.90:1 watch it at the Cineworld IMAX Leicester Square. All other features watch at the Dolby Cinema at Odeon London West End.

I should say I have not watched a movie at the Science Museum since it was refurbished and now has dual 4k IMAX projectors and a 15/70mm projector, with a 1.43:1 aspect ratio like the BFI IMAX. Theoretically for films like Dune with 1.43:1 scenes and no 15/70mm prints made, it's the best place to see it (there were showings there last week).

FWIW that Dolby Cinema screen has 67 speakers, according to this post by the architects who fitted the venue out…

 

Cheekster

Well-known Member
@Cheekster do you know the number of speakers and channels at the Dolby Cinema Odeon London West End?

Even though it has less speakers than the Dolby Cinema in Leicester Square, I think it sounded better. Probably due to restrictions due to the listed status of the Leicester Square auditorium (not to mention the screen size and distance to seating is too small and too far away respectively - again probably due to it's listed status).

For my money the Dolby Cinema Odeon London West End, is the best Dolby Cinema in London. The recliner seating in both cinemas is the most comfortable in London.

In my view if in London: If the film is in 15/70mm imax format see it at the BFI IMAX. If the film is only released digitally; if it is specifically formatted to view in 1.90:1 watch it at the Cineworld IMAX Leicester Square. All other features watch at the Dolby Cinema at Odeon London West End.

I should say I have not watched a movie at the Science Museum since it was refurbished and now has dual 4k IMAX projectors and a 15/70mm projector, with a 1.43:1 aspect ratio like the BFI IMAX. Theoretically for films like Dune with 1.43:1 scenes and no 15/70mm prints made, it's the best place to see it (there were showings there last week).

Regarding speakers at Dolby Cinema, West End… bored_tech (YouTuber) counted 34 surrounds speakers, 6 along each side wall plus rear wall and 16 on the ceiling) SLS MA480AS / MA460AS with 114RT-I-PXO x 4 on ceiling near to the screen and 218-I subs x 2 on each of the side walls near ceiling.

So, a bit of a mystery as to where the remaining speakers of the 67 quoted by the architects are located.

Dolby Cinema is object-based rather than channel-based where each speaker can represent an object rather than numerous speakers representing a particular channel of the audio system.

What is immersive sound? - Trinnov


Ronson Theatre at The London Science Museum London:

24.3m by 16.8m with a total screen size of 408m² (247m² for a 2.39:1 film or 319 for 1.85:1 film).

IMAX with Dual Laser GT
15/70mm IMAX
12-channel audio



BFI IMAX:

26.52m by 20.42m high (almost as high as five double-decker buses) with a total screen size of 540m². However if showing a film with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, only 283m² of the screen will be in use. 365m² for a 1.85:1 movie.

14,000 watt digital surround sound system.

In 2012 the screen was replaced (after 13 years) with a new silver screen (reduces reflections when showing 3D)

2x2K Xenon
6-channel audio
 
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Garrett

Moderator

PlexShaw

Well-known Member
I've always thought the Odeon Leicester Square was massively overrated, even pre-Dolby - the screen feels too small for the environment, so you get a less than satisfactory experience when sitting in the more affordable seats. By comparison, the Odeon West End Dolby Cinema is incredible - it's a smaller auditorium with less speakers obviously, but since you are much closer to the screen, you can really take in how splendid the image quality is.

That said, my main London go to screen is the Leicester Square IMAX. Sure, it's a little tacky aesthetically but that doesn't matter once the lights go down and since it only costs me £5 for the upgrade (a little more if it's in 3D), it's a total no-brainer from my POV (I'm also short, so the cramped seats are less of an issue). I'd only opt for the BFI IMAX for specific films not showing at Leicester Square or 70mm IMAX.

I must also give a shout out to Screen 1 at Picturehouse Central - it has Atmos and also 35mm/70mm projection facilities and I would opt for that over the Leicester Square Superscreen even though I have to pay £6 with my Unlimited Card (versus free for the SS).
 

Garrett

Moderator

SteveAWOL

Distinguished Member
Regarding speakers at Dolby Cinema, West End… bored_tech (YouTuber) counted 34 surrounds speakers, 6 along each side wall plus rear wall and 16 on the ceiling) SLS MA480AS / MA460AS with 114RT-I-PXO x 4 on ceiling near to the screen and 218-I subs x 2 on each of the side walls near ceiling.

So, a bit of a mystery as to where the remaining speakers of the 67 quoted by the architects are located.

Dolby Cinema is object-based rather than channel-based where each speaker can represent an object rather than numerous speakers representing a particular channel of the audio system.

What is immersive sound? - Trinnov


Ronson Theatre at The London Science Museum London:

24.3m by 16.8m with a total screen size of 408m² (247m² for a 2.39:1 film or 319 for 1.85:1 film).

IMAX with Dual Laser GT
15/70mm IMAX
12-channel audio



BFI IMAX:

26.52m by 20.42m high (almost as high as five double-decker buses) with a total screen size of 540m². However if showing a film with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, only 283m² of the screen will be in use. 365m² for a 1.85:1 movie.

14,000 watt digital surround sound system.

In 2012 the screen was replaced (after 13 years) with a new silver screen (reduces reflections when showing 3D)

2x2K Xenon
6-channel audio

Have you visited the Dolby Cinema in Leeds for comparison? As that does look like how I imagine such an auditorium should be and I’m hoping that one of the ISENSE in Milton Keynes will get upgraded as such soon 🙏


1646662503819.jpeg
 

Cheekster

Well-known Member
Have you visited the Dolby Cinema in Leeds for comparison? As that does look like how I imagine such an auditorium should be and I’m hoping that one of the ISENSE in Milton Keynes will get upgraded as such soon 🙏


View attachment 1664108
Not yet but it has been on my list of cinemas that I would very much like to visit for a while. Whilst it is the widest Dolby Cinema screen (19m) currently in the UK, I was disappointed that it is a flat rather than a scope screen.

AFAIK the only Dolby Cinema, of the five that have opened thus far in the UK, to have a scope screen is Broadway Plaza, Birmingham.

I just don’t understand why any new build Dolby Cinemas have anything other than a scope screen seeing as the vast majority of released titles seem to be shot in scope?! :confused:o_O

So, Dolby Cinema, West End was the fifth opening from the initial seven-site announcement. Wonder where the next two will be located and if they’ll be another announcement for further expansion soon? Hopefully a new one somewhere closer down South?!
 
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jdevil

Distinguished Member
I've always thought the Odeon Leicester Square was massively overrated, even pre-Dolby - the screen feels too small for the environment, so you get a less than satisfactory experience when sitting in the more affordable seats. By comparison, the Odeon West End Dolby Cinema is incredible - it's a smaller auditorium with less speakers obviously, but since you are much closer to the screen, you can really take in how splendid the image quality is.

Totally agree, first film I ever saw there was Batman v Superman, I believe in a 70mm print and was completely underwhelmed. £20 tickets for a Small screen in a 1,800 seat auditorium. I couldn't believe the folks that used to rave about the place, I was expecting to be blown away by the audio/video presentation at the very least.
 

Cheekster

Well-known Member
It seems Odeon may have kept those historians with pitch forks at the gates but at the cost of greatly reduced attendances since reopening as Dolby Cinema. A flagship Dolby Cinema installation with a significantly larger screen would have attracted far more people to attend that screen and generated far more revenue imo.

They must lose so much business to competitors including Cineworld across the square with IMAX and Superscreen for all major releases?

And my guess is as the word gets out that Dolby Cinema West End, just around the corner, offers a far superior audio/visual experience will be regularly busy?
 

jdevil

Distinguished Member
It seems Odeon may have kept those historians with pitch forks at the gates but at the cost of greatly reduced attendances since reopening as Dolby Cinema. A flagship Dolby Cinema installation with a significantly larger screen would have attracted far more people to attend that screen and generated far more revenue imo.

They must lose so much business to competitors including Cineworld across the square with IMAX and Superscreen for all major releases?

And my guess is as the word gets out that Dolby Cinema West End, just around the corner, offers a far superior audio/visual experience will be regularly busy?
Vast majority of people that go to West End Cinema are tourist and also folks that live around the area. I've worked at 1 of the sites a decade back and you would be surprised how many famous people you would see such as TV presenters, radio host, footballers and even Hollywood stars walking through the doors.

I think these sites are more of a flagship presence rather than being profit making sites.
 

DaveB86

Standard Member
Not yet but it has been on my list of cinemas that I would very much like to visit for a while. Whilst it is the widest Dolby Cinema screen (19m) currently in the UK, I was disappointed that it is a flat rather than a scope screen.
If the screen goes wall-to-wall does it matter if it's scope or flat? If the screen was scope the screen size wouldn't be any bigger, you just wouldn't see the black bars on the top and bottom? The issue then becomes whether cinema's should install masking so you don't see the black bars.
 

Cheekster

Well-known Member
If the screen goes wall-to-wall does it matter if it's scope or flat? If the screen was scope the screen size wouldn't be any bigger, you just wouldn't see the black bars on the top and bottom? The issue then becomes whether cinema's should install masking so you don't see the black bars.
Often, standard (non-Premium Format) screens that are flat (1.85:1 ratio) do not go wall-to-wall and aren’t particularly large. When scope (short for CineScope) was introduced, you were meant to see more picture (two and a half times wide as it is high) however with so many cinemas (especially multiplexes and megaplexes) taking an one-size-fits-all approach and installing flat 1.85:1 screens, what you ended up seeing was less picture due to letterboxing.

On your second point regarding moveable masking, some premium sites used to have that installed and sure it does provide a higher quality presentation. An example was UCI Wycombe 6 where all six screens were scope and had moveable masking which would be in situ for 1.85:1 movies or would be retracted for scope movies. The best of both worlds. But in the absence of moveable masking and if you could find a flat 1.85:1 ratio screen big enough that when projecting a scope 2.39:1 movie the visible picture was as big as one presented on a large scope screen then I would settle for that. My gripe isn’t the black bars themselves it is that the visible picture is significantly smaller than the entire real estate of the screen. And because the majority of the movies that I watch are in scope it is a big no-no for me to watch scope movies on a 1.85:1 screen wherever possible.

For those old enough cast your mind back to when most households owned a 4:3 tv and widescreen movies were available on LaserDisc and VHS. When watching a scope movie you’d lose what seemed like 1/3 of the screen real estate to letterboxing and the visible image would seem really small unless you had a huge tv.

A number of years ago Philips released the first and only 58” 21:9 ratio LCD/LED tv. Surprised it wasn’t a bigger success and that no other manufacturer seems to offer one as it is ideal for a non-projector home cinema setup imo where the majority of content viewed is likely in scope.
 

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