Address Charlie Chaplin Walk
London, SE1
United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°30′18″N 0°06′49″W / 51.505°N 0.113611°W / 51.505; -0.113611
Public transit London Underground Waterloo
National Rail Waterloo; Waterloo East
Owner British Film Institute
Operator Odeon Cinemas
Capacity 458 seated
Opened May 1999 (1999-05)
Architect Bryan Avery

The BFI IMAX is an IMAX cinema in the South Bank district of London, just north of Waterloo Station. It is owned by the British Film Institute and since July 2012 has been operated by Odeon Cinemas.[1]

The cinema is located in the centre of a roundabout junction with Waterloo Road to the south-east, Stamford Street to the north-east, York Road to the south-west and Waterloo Bridge to the north-west.


Aerial view at night

The BFI IMAX was designed by Bryan Avery of Avery Associates Architects[2] and completed in May 1999. The screen is the largest in Britain (20m high and 26m wide). It has a seating capacity of just under 500 and a 12,000 Watt digital surround sound system. Although the site is surrounded by traffic and has an underground line just four metres below, the architects and engineers accounted for this in their design and the entire upper structure sits on anti vibration bearings to prevent noise propagation.

The cinema won several awards at the time of opening, including a Design Council Millennium Product Award[3] in 1999 and a Civic Trust Award in 2000.[4]

In 2009, the screen was replaced and a digital IMAX projector was installed alongside the existing 70mm projector. In July 2012, the BFI announced that Odeon Cinemas had been selected to operate it for the next five years, with the option of termination after three years. Odeon will maintain the film programmes, and booking of tickets online and per telephone. This also gives customers the opportunity to watch Operas on the giant screen. The BFI will retain a great deal of power over the cinema's operation however, including parts of the film schedule and the technical operation.[5] The name will remain the same.

To start this move to mainstream cinema, the BFI London IMAX theatre celebrated by having sold 66,000 pre-booked tickets for The Dark Knight Rises in just 5 weeks, giving a total sale in tickets of 21 even before the premiere of the movie.

Other IMAX cinemas in London

Seating in the cinema

London has another traditional IMAX cinema at the Science Museum in South Kensington/Albertopolis and in December 2008 gained IMAX digital cinemas at Odeon cinemas in Greenwich and Wimbledon. In 2011, a digital IMAX screen was also opened at the Odeon in Swiss Cottage. Digital IMAX screens are inferior to traditional film IMAX screens, being much smaller and not offering the same image resolution as 70mm film.

Screen size comparative to other UK large screens

The BFI London IMAX is the largest cinema screen in Britain. It measures 26m by 20m with a total screen size of 520m². However, if showing a film with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, only 283m² of the screen will be in use, or 365m² for a 1.85:1 film. The auditorium seats 485.[6]

The London IMAX is followed in size by:

See also


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to IMAX London.

Coordinates: 51°30′18″N 0°6′49″W / 51.50500°N 0.11361°W / 51.50500; -0.11361

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