Empire Cinemas

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Empire Cinemas Limited
TypePrivately held company
IndustryLeisure, Entertainment & refreshments
Number of locations
ProductsTickets, popcorn, alcohol, drinks & confectionery
Empire Leicester Square (old signage)

Empire Cinemas Limited is a multiplex cinema chain in the UK. There are 14 Empire Cinemas across the country, with 131 screens in total.

Ownership & management[edit]

The ultimate beneficial owner of Empire Cinemas Ltd is Irish entrepreneur Thomas Anderson. Anderson also owns Inspiration Holdings Ltd, a company which now owns Altive Media, Pearl & Dean advertising company, Titan Parking and Clarkebond.[1] The CEO of Empire Cinemas, Nolly, is also an Executive Director of Inspiration Holdings.


Empire Cinemas Sunderland, Sunniside Entertainment Complex

Empire was originally a cinema in Leicester Square in London which opened in 1884 as the Empire Theatre and was a West End variety theatre, designed by Thomas Verity.

Empire Cinemas Limited was formed in 2005 when Empire acquired the cinemas divested from Odeon Cinemas and Cineworld after the Office of Fair Trading had required them to divest 11 of the Odeon chain and six of the Cineworld chain. In 2005, both Odeon and the UK operations of UCI were taken over by Terra Firma who planned to merge the businesses under the Odeon brand. At the same time, Cineworld took over the UK and Ireland operations of UGC and began merging them into their existing Cineworld brand. Empire Cinemas Ltd acquired both groups of available cinemas and began to rebrand them all as Empire Cinemas.

In July 2016, the company sold five cinemas, including the flagship in Leicester Square, to Cineworld cinemas for £94 million.[2] The cinemas transferred to Cineworld cinemas on 12 August 2016.[3] In June 2017 the Newcastle upon Tyne cinema was also sold to Cineworld cinemas [4]

In March 2020, Empire Cinemas and all other cinemas in the UK closed indefinitely due to a national lockdown in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[5]


Empire, in conjunction with cinema chain Showcase, publishes Escape, a bi-monthly customer magazine, distributed free at 50 cinemas. It contains film reviews, interviews and competitions.[6]

Current locations[edit]

Location Screens Notes
Bishops Stortford 6
Birmingham (Great Park) 13 Standard and Premium Seating in all screens, 1 former luxury screen and 1 IMAX screen seating 422 plus 4 wheelchairs
Catterick Garrison 7 Includes an IMPACT screen
Clydebank 10
High Wycombe 8 Sofa and electric recliner seating added in Screens 3 & 4 in 2018
Ipswich 14 Includes 2 IMPACT screens and 2 D-BOX screens. Opened 31 March 2017.[7]
London – Haymarket 3 Acquired in exchange as part of the sale of five cinemas to Cineworld. Under Empire control from 7 April 2017.
Slough 10 1 luxury screen, 1 IMPACT screen
Sunderland 12 Including VIP seating
Sutton 12 Reopened on February 13, 2018 after an extensive refurbishment. Now features 2 IMPACT screens, and 2 D-Box screens.
Sutton Coldfield 4
Swindon 12 1 IMAX screen installed in 2017
Walthamstow 9 Opened 20 November 2014
Wigan 11 Opened in 1996 as Virgin Cinemas before being taken over by UGC, Cineworld and then Empire.

Ealing site controversy[edit]

The remaining facade of the cinema, following demolition of the main building

Empire Cinemas closed its Ealing cinema on 5 September 2008 and demolished the cinema in early 2009 for redevelopment, retaining the front facade. Empire had not yet started building work on the new cinema or (according to Ealing Council) presented a timescale for the building work as of 25 July 2011, so Ealing Council started to pursue a compulsory purchase of the Ealing cinema site. At a council meeting attended by CEO Justin Ribbons on 28 June 2011, Mr Ribbons responded to the council's complaints, saying that the delay was caused by a misunderstanding between Empire and council planning officers.[8][9] At a later meeting between Justin Ribbons and Ealing Council on 14 September 2011, Mr Ribbons said that he was "optimistic that work could re-start before Christmas"[10] however as of May 2012, construction work on the site had not yet started.

On 29 May 2012, Ealing Council's leader wrote to Empire to inform them that compulsory purchase proceedings would now start.[11] On 2 June 2012, Empire Cinemas released a statement to the press,[12] announcing that Clarkebond (a consultancy owned by Empire's parent company, Inspiration Holdings) had been appointed to manage the construction, which would now start in "August 2012"; and that the finished cinema would open in "early 2014". As of 3 October 2012, construction had still not started and Empire changed the start date listed on their website from "August" to "August/September". As of 18 October 2012, any reference to a start date has been removed from the web site. On 19 October 2012, construction and excavation vehicles were seen in operation on the cinema site, however as of July 2015 no further building work had commenced.

Ealing Council served a compulsory purchase order on the site in July 2014, as part of plans to create a new "cultural quarter" in the area.[13] The council announced it had reached an agreement with Land Securities to develop the cinema and buildings nearby, and that Picturehouse Cinemas would operate the new cinema.[14] An inquiry into the compulsory purchase order was launched in April 2015,[15] and was approved in October 2015.[16] Construction work began on the site in December 2016.[17]


  1. ^ Sweney, Mark (21 April 2010). "STV sells Pearl & Dean to Thomas Anderson". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Cineworld buys five cinemas from Empire for £94m". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  3. ^ "IT'S A WRAP". empirecinemas.co.uk.
  4. ^ Hodgson, Barbara (14 June 2017). "Empire Newcastle is taken over by Cineworld cinema". nechronicle. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Closure of Cinemas". Empire Cinemas. March 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Summersault Communications brings together national cinema chains with new look publication". APA. Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  7. ^ "EMPIRE CINEMAS TO ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET IN IPSWICH". Empire Cinemas. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Cinema boss grilled by councillors over stalled development". Ealing Gazette. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  9. ^ "Is this the end of Empire?". Ealing Today. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  10. ^ "Work to begin in six weeks on new Ealing cinema". Ealing Gazette. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Letter from Ealing Council's leader to Empire Cinemas to inform them that compulsory purchase proceedings will now start". Ealing Council. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Cinemainfo for Ealing". Empire Cinemas. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  13. ^ Horrox, Camilla (18 July 2014). "Council serves CPO to enable £100million 'cultural quarter' in Ealing". Get West London. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  14. ^ Horrox, Camilla (23 July 2014). "Ealing faces three more years without a cinema despite council stepping in". Get West London. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  15. ^ Horrox, Camila (16 April 2015). "Inquiry under way into CPO of Ealing's beleaguered cinema site". Get West London. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  16. ^ Morby, Aaron (14 October 2015). "Ealing £100m cinema-led scheme set for approval". Construction Enquirer. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  17. ^ Razaq, Rashid (19 December 2016). "Ealing to finally get cinema as part of £100m regeneration". Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 January 2017.

External links[edit]