Odeon Cinemas heralded a triumphant return to film on Thursday evening with the re-opening of their new theatre, Odeon West End Luxe.
Situated on Leicester Square (just a stone’s throw from their Odeon Leicester Square Luxe cinema) in London’s West End, the branch is part of a £300 million development that includes the newly-opened The Londoner hotel. It is also London’s second Dolby Cinema, boasting a dual Dolby Vision laser projector and 67-speaker Dolby Atmos® immersive audio.
The cinema has been designed with a fully immersive experience in mind, offering 168 reclining seats and two wheelchair-access seats, complete with trays for food and drink (available to order from customers’ seats), from which the audiences can watch the 13.3 metre screen.
After entering the cinema from Leicester square down a long, futuristic-looking escalator, customers find themselves in the art deco-inspired Oscar’s Bar (named after Odeon Cinemas founder Oscar Deutsch rather than the Academy Awards) where food and beverages are also on offer.
At Thursday evening’s launch, guests watched a preview of Nicole Kidman’s new $25 million campaign to get people back into cinemas as well as a screening of Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” starring Jennifer Hudson.
The cinema, which closed for refurbishment in 2015, has opened at a tumultuous time for the exhibition industry, with audiences having grown accustomed to watching films from the comfort of their homes (while others may not yet feel comfortable venturing into public spaces due to the ongoing pandemic).
Carol Welch, managing director of Odeon Cinemas U.K., said during the Thursday launch event audiences are trickling back into venues, with the cinema group welcoming over five million guests since it re-opened this summer.
Welch also pointed out that Deutsch, who first bought the cinema in 1946, had used the venue to bring people back into cinemas in the post-war period much as his company aims to do in the post-pandemic period. Deutsch, of course, succeeded in his mission and among the films that went on to receive their premieres at the site in the subsequent decades were “Mary Poppins,” “Crocodile Dundee” and “Sex and the City.”
Certainly things are already looking up for the film industry. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” had seen “the most guests attending since the opening weekend of ‘1917,’ which was way back in January 2020,” Welch said.
“And that’s not just great for the cinema industry, it’s great for the West End because I can see London coming to life as we walk through the streets and as more and more guests feel much more comfortable coming back.”