I have now been told by multiple good sources that one of these new rooms is to house an IMAX screen. The rumours were around from the off, but I’m now confident of their substance.
Empire Cinemas are expected to announce the news officially next week, though at the moment, they’re not speaking. I ran my own “no comment” story a few days ago and now Screen Daily quote an Empire rep’s wriggling:
But aside from confirming it has been closed for development, a representative for Empire Cinemas told ScreenDaily there would be no further comment until early next week, when it will “share further details”.
I have also reached out to IMAX for comment, both via telephone and e-mail, but neither was returned.
The brand name of IMAX actually carries a lot of weight with audiences right now, and I imagine that simply marketing films at the Empire as being IMAX could do their box-office the world of good. And then there’s the ticket price surcharge on an IMAX movie to consider too.
It remains to be seen, however, what sort of IMAX screen we’ll be getting.
The old screen in this room was actually pretty big, and it’s possible that a new IMAX screen won’t be significantly bigger. It’s hard to imagine how it could be significantly wider, in any case.
Hopefully, some specific details will be forthcoming in Empire’s official announcement.
In the meantime, there’s an IMAX screen at Waterloo, no more than twenty minutes walk away from Leicester Square and less if you take the underground. Maybe too far for casual tourists, but it is at least a custom-built screen designed for IMAX viewing from the foundations up. That venue is currently being run by Odeon, the country’s most successful cinema chain, under a temporary contract with the BFI.