Review: Odeon Luxe Leicester Square Dolby Cinema

posted on Friday, 21st December 2018 by Steve May

Dolby Atmos  Dolby Cinema  Dolby Vision 

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The UK’s first Dolby Cinema is now open for business. After a year of extensive renovation, the iconic Odeon Leicester Square is now the place to go for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, as it becomes the flagship of Odeon’s Luxe theatre stable.

The Odeon group has been developing its Luxe cinema brand since 2016. The concept originated in the UK, but has since spread to Spain. Italy, Germany and Scandinavia.

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this morning, Inside CI was invited in for the first look at this eagerly awaited cinema - and we can report that the hype is warranted. This is a very special venue indeed.

We first visited just three weeks ago, when the site was still very much under construction. Almost incredibly though, the theatre is now spick and span, with the first paying customers through the doors on schedule.

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The transformation from the old Odeon of yore, into one of Europe’s most advanced cinemas, is nothing short of remarkable. In terms of design, presentation and user experience, it sets a high bar for London’s cinema heartland. Odeon has taken out some the seats of the main auditorium to create space, but there’s still room for 800 in a full house.

This isn’t just a spruce up, more a complete reimagining. The exhibitor has kept true to the cinema’s art deco origins, while updating every aspect of the big-screen experience. No other London cinema has anything like Oscar’s bar, a cocktail bar named after the chain’s founder, that overlooks the Square itself. And then there’s the theatre...

The cramped seating and poor rake of the previous iteration have been replaced by spacious recliners and rocker chairs. It’s the difference between flying cattle class and business. And if you harbour fond memories of those leopard print cinema seats, take comfort in the fact that Odeon has retained the leopard print motif for the carpets throughout, so the auditotium still feels like the Odeon Lecister Square you remember.

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So what did we make of it all? Kudos firstly to the Dolby sound designers. They have taken a notorious difficult space, and managed to deliver a powerful, intimate Dolby Atmos listening experience. The object based sound system is genuinely immersive, thanks to the deployment of over 400 speakers, and the deep bass the venue delivers seems to defy physics.

The quality of the Dolby Cinema laser projection is thrilling too. With superb black levels, vibrant colour and a level of image depth that is truly mesmeric, it’s impressive indeed.

There’s been much hullabaloo about the pricing at the theatre, so where best to sit? We were treated to trailers and demo material, seated central in the stalls. We then relocated to the circle, for a screening of Mary Poppins Returns. This gave us a handy opportunity to make a quick comparison.

Both positions proved highly enjoyable, but given the choice I’d recommend the centre stalls (maybe around five or six rows back). The sheer viceral slam of the sound system here is something else. Up in the circle, the sonic attack wasn’t quite so pronounced (although I’m willing to conceded that the sub-bass in Poppins was always unlikely to make my trousers flap).

My stalls preference also enables you to get nearer to that fabulous picture.

It's worth pointing out that the smaller screens (2 - 5) have also been refurbished, but we haven't seen any of those screening rooms.

Overall, our early verdict is an enthusiastic thumbs up. For those seeking a premium screening experience, the Odeon Luxe leicester Square Screen 1 doesn’t disappoint. And for CI professionals and AV enthusiasts the venue offers an additional level of fascination.

Treat yourself to a visit, and see if you don't agree. We'll meet you in Oscar's.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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