Empire, Leicester Square - Today


The Empire 1 screen is the largest, with a seating capacity of 1,330 since its last major refurbishment in the mid-1960s. Empire 2, seating 349, was formerly a separate cinema called the Ritz, located below ground. Since the 1960s refurbishment, the screen has been part of the Empire (although it had a separate entrance until a small refurbishment in the mid-1980s). Empire 3 is a small screen with only a 77-seat capacity. In spring 2008, two further small screens were added; Empire 4 with 96 seats and Empire 5 with 50 seats.

In 2009, Empire 3 was closed and void space was utilised to create three new auditoriums. Empire is now an 8 screen cinema and all screens have digital projection.

For a period in the early-to-mid 1990s, the Empire 1 was notable for the short sound-and-light show, involving laser projections onto the curtains and walls, that preceded the start of each programme.

In October 2005, the Empire was sold to Empire Cinemas Ltd, along with ten other cinemas around the UK, following instructions from the OFT that Terra Firma divest of 11 cinemas in order that their acquisition of UCI go ahead. On 2 April 2006, Irish newspapers reported that all the theatres recently acquired by Empire Cinemas would be rebranded under the Empire brand.

In the summer of 2006, the Empire 1 sound system was completely overhauled, installing a 56 kilowatt THX certified sound system. At the same time as this the screen size was expanded by approximately 4 metres.

In May 2009, the Empire screen 1 was fitted with the UK's first Dolby 3D large screen solution. This solution included a Barco digital cinema twin-projector.

In July 2012, the Empire screen 1 was fitted with the UK's first Dolby Atmos sound solution allowing up to 128 discrete sound tracks and up to 64 unique speaker feeds.

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