As expected, the Empire Leicester Square’s screen one conversion is underway, creating one IMAX screen with 750 seats and a second space, a smaller “IMPACT” screen with 400 seats. See the update at the foot of this story for more about this screen.
At the moment, the plan is to get both screens open in December – timed perfectly for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I guess, but unfortunately not in time for Gravity. Don’t be surprised if this now becomes the premiere venue for the Hobbit movie. Empire and IMAX are certainly hoping to keep this venue’s history of hosting premiere screenings going.
When the screen first opens it will have dimensions of 24.5 meters by 13 metres, though the plan is to upgrade with IMAX’s new Kodak-created laser projection systems “later in 2014” and then expand the screen to 26 metres wide and 15 metres tall. As you might expect from a modern IMAX installation on this scale, the screen is going to be curved.
Of course, it remains to be seen how a movie will actually look and sound in this auditorium. At least we’ll know by the end of the year.
While the plans to close the Empire’s screen one have only been public discussion for a few months now, and only really at any volume since Frightfest, it seems that IMAX have had their eyes on this venue for a number of years. There were apparently some structural puzzles to be solved, including the moving of one ket wall, but those have now been overcome.
We’ll keep you posted as the screen nears completion.
UPDATE: IMPACT is Empire’s own large screen format. It’s obviously smaller than a full0on IMAX screen but expected to be larger than a “normal” screen.