About Us

About Us Values Heritage Vision News


Here is a short history about our company that demonstrates our passion for film and our drive to push the cinema experience to new and exciting levels. As the UK’s leading independent cinema operator we have delivered many UK and world first’s which have helped us strive to deliver the ultimate cinema experience.

How we started

Empire Cinemas was founded in 2005 following the mergers of Odeon and UCI and Cineworld and UGC. The Office of Fair Trading ruled that both new groups should lose a number of their cinemas which created an opportunity for Empire Cinemas to be created. We took our name from the iconic Empire Leicester Square which has been one of London’s most popular cinemas since it played host to the first moving images screened to a UK audience in 1896. It was our flag ship until its sale to Cineworld in August 2016.

Today, we’re the leading independently-owned cinema chain in the UK with 14 locations and 129 screens including our brilliant IMPACT® and IMAX® screens.

Empire’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable teams work hard to deliver a memorable cinema experience, supported by comfortable seating, crystal clear sound systems and the latest digital projection technology. Our investment in digital cinema helps our customers enjoy everything from the latest blockbusters, art-house classics and live performance screenings.

Our Milestones

We have
certainly been busy since we started out in 2005. We’ve worked hard to deliver an ever-improving movie-going experience that our customers love.

This drive for excellence has helped us deliver these important milestones in our history:

2017 and beyond

A new Empire Cinema in the Buttermarket in the heart of Ipswich, Suffolk opened on March 31st 2017 and our Sutton Cinema reopened on February 13th 2018 (after a £5million re-build project) as a 10 Screen complex including 2 IMPACT® Screens and a 30 seat D-Box screen.

These new additions to our portfolio will increase our locations to 14 cinemas with 129 screens across the UK, helping to strengthen our position as the leading independent cinema operator.


Following the sale of The Empire Leicester Square and five other Empire Cinemas to Cineworld, the business established itself for sustained future growth. As part of the deal Empire Cinemas acquired the 3 screen Haymarket cinema from Cineworld as our latest addition to the Empire family.

We partnered with Our Screen to host films chosen by our customers. You can find out more about this exciting innovation HERE.


A busy year for us kicked off with the opening of IMAX® screens at Great Park in Birmingham and Swindon, adding another dimension to the Empire Cinemas film experience. We also launched Europe’s first IMAX® with Laser at the Empire Leicester Square.

Our focus on alternative content saw the screening of leading productions from the world renowned Royal Opera House, National Theatre Live and English National Opera.

In October we opened a 7 screen complex at Princes Gate Shopping Centre at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire. Offering seating for 848 customers, this latest Empire Cinema has an impressive  IMPACT® screen with 247 seats, generous extra leg room, extremely comfortable stadium style seating and breath-taking sound.

The year ended with over 8.5 million movie-goers visiting Empire Cinemas to watch over 500 different films, helping to make it our most successful year.


We opened the first purpose-built Empire Cinema in Walthamstow as part of the award winning leisure and housing development called The Scene with an impressive nine screens, including our  IMPACT® screen format. Our latest flagship offers a comfortable movie experience for up to 1,200 customers.

With this latest addition to the Empire family in Walthamstow, we welcomed over 7.1 million customers to our screens throughout the year.


Admissions continued to break records during 2013. We opened our doors to 7.6 million customers, showing over 500 different movies across our screens which included the latest productions from the Royal Opera House, National Theatre Live and The English National Opera.

We launched The Empire Cinemas Alternative Movie Awards in 2013 and announced our first winner which was The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part two.


It was a big year for the UK box office with the release of Skyfall and we welcomed over 7 million customers to our screens.

Our premium coffee brand Cup was launched across our cinemas. Providing an outstanding quality coffee experience, Cup has been widely praised for the quality of our beans.

The Empire Cinemas values statement supports continued innovation in customer service and our Etiquette Guide was launched in November to help all our customers enjoy the best movie-going experience possible.

In August Empire Cinemas launched Europe’s first Dolby Atmos installation bringing an entirely new dimension in sound to our cinema experience to the Empire Leicester Square.


Empire Cinemas was the first cinema chain in the world to present a 3D version of a film using four projectors at the premiere of Avatar in December.


Our widely acclaimed Escape Magazine was launched in time for the busy Christmas period. Escape highlights all the latest releases, film news and profiles.

The Empire Cinemas Film Card was launched in October, the perfect gift idea providing an easy way to enjoy the latest films at any Empire location.

Our Empire Studio Screen concept (our intimate venue/ultimate viewing screens) was launched at selected cinemas giving us another clear advantage in the sector.


In our first full year we launched the UK’s first all digital cinema in High Wycombe, setting an exciting new standard in the cinema sector. 

Creating a Cinema Community

Empire Cinemas set out to put the community at the centre of the movie-going experience, with the creation of a number of money saving schemes. We’ve been busy putting together a scheme to suit everyone.

Here are our popular schemes:

Parent and Baby – Exclusive screenings for parents with babies, in an appropriate setting.
Empire Jnrs – With tickets at pocket money prices for some of the greatest classic family films and recent releases every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Empire Seniors – A selection of some of the best recent and classic films shown every Wednesday morning for our older customers.

Further Information about Empire Cinemas

If you would like to find out more about Empire Cinemas please get in touch via our Contact Us form.