People don’t just come to the O2 Arena to watch Ed Sheeran play live. There is a cinema here too. The 11-screen Cineworld Greenwich is a multiplex that supersizes everything, from the jaw-dropping dimensions of the Sky Superscreen – the widest in Europe – down to the jam-packed programme brimming with titles. This is also where Sundance London pitches up each year when it brings its film festival to the capital, making this an important destination on the filmgoing map.
One of London’s oldest cinemas (it opened as a theatre in 1884, and as a cinema following World War II) the Empire in Leicester Square was until recently home to London’s biggest non-Imax cinema screen. It’s now been refurbished, with its massive main auditorium separated into one full Imax screen and one smaller, 400-seat Impact (ie, big but not quite Imax) theatre. There are also a number of smaller screens tucked away throughout the building, making a total of nine. Don’t come here to watch an award-winning three-hour Turkish drama. The programme is as mainstream as you’d expect from a central London multiplex, with all the big Hollywood hitters. The prices, too, reflect the cinema’s tourist-friendly location. Snacks are the usual hot dogs, nachos and popcorn.
Formerly known as the Screen on the Hill, the Everyman Belsize Park is now part of the Everyman group of luxury cinemas, which includes the Everyman Hampstead and the Everyman Screen on the Green. Nestled among bars and restaurants in Belsize Park, this is a single-screen cinema with 113 standard seats and 16 premier seats – but the standard seats are pretty fancy too (leather armchairs and sofas). The films are a mix of mainstream and independent, and the food and drink is of the superior kind. This was the first of the luxury Everyman cinemas and so is something of a flagship, alongside its near-neighbour the Everyman Hampstead.
It’s not surprising that the Odeon Leicester Square is London’s number one destination for red carpet premieres. Not only do you get blockbuster bangs at this massive 1683-seater cinema, you get them in splendour. The Odeon Leicester Square still has a fully-operational pipe organ and gorgeous 1930s art-deco nymph motifs on the walls. It’s also one of the few remaining cinemas to still have its circle – from which the view (at extra cost) is pretty spectacular. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience try the Odeon Studios ‘mini-plex’ next door, home to five screens, each seating between 50 and 60.