Watching a movie in London doesn’t have to involve sticky floors, overpriced Pick ‘n Mix and screaming child-infested auditoriums. Instead, support one of London’s unique independent cinemas; most are cheaper than the multiplexes (and you can spend your savings on the in-screen bar).
The most bargainous of London’s independent cinemas and probably the only one to rival your local grothole Cineworld price-wise, the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel sells adult tickets for £7.50, and seats in its luxurious Studio 5 auditorium for just £8.
Electric Cinema, Notting Hill and Shoreditch
A stalwart of London’s posh cinema scene, nobody can deny that the Electric Cinema’s glamorous old-school movie theatres are among the best movie-going experiences in town. They’ve got footstools, cashmere blankets and an auditorium bar for those last last-minute drinks. Tickets from £8 (Shoreditch) and £12.50 (Notting Hill).
Probably London’s most diverse cinema, the Barbican screens arthouse and independent movies as well as the latest blockbusters. Tickets cost £12.50 as standard, but if you’re under 25 you can sign up for £5 tickets on new releases Mon-Thurs.
You can find Everyman’s luxurious independent cinemas in eleven locations across town, though the Everyman Screen on the Green in Islington is especially nice. (Pro tip: for post-movie cocktails, reserve a spot at 69 Colebrooke Row over the road.) Ticket prices vary between £8 and £20, depending on the location and the standard of seats.
The Coronet, Notting Hill
Currently closed for refurbishment, the Print Room at the Coronet is a one-screen cinema converted from an old theatre. Keep an eye out for reopening details.
The Lexi Cinema, Kensal Rise
This community-run cinema in NW London donates 100% of its profits to The Sustainability Institute, which supports villages in rural South Africa. Tickets cost £7-11.
Rio Cinema, Dalston
The Rio is an Art Deco picture house showing both indie and mainstream movies on its single silver screen. It used to be a theatre and still has its stage, so the auditorium is also often used for theatre, music, talks and cabaret. Tickets cost £8-10.
Curzon Cinemas, Bloomsbury/Soho/Victoria/Chelsea
Another independent cinema chain, best known for its Soho and Mayfair branches, which specialise in art house films. Tickets range from £9-18.
Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
Probably the cheapest cinema in the West End, the Prince Charles shows classic films and ‘marathon’ style screenings. It is most famous for its ‘sing-along’ nights, which include Frozen, Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Ticket prices vary between £7.50 and £11.
Ritzy Picturehouse, Brixton
The Ritzy Picturehouse is 104 years old and the UK’s largest independent cinema. Tickets from £10.50.
The big daddy of London’s cinema screens, the BFI IMAX is the biggest cinema screen in Britain – highly recommended for action-packed blockbusters (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was magnificent!) Tickets cost £16-21.50.
Owned by the same guys behind the Ritzy these days, the Clapham Picturehouse is an independent arthouse cinema screening mainstream, classic and cult films. Tickets cost £9-12.60.
The historic Olympic Cinema is these days a luxurious, velvet-lined picturehouse. Tickets cost £10-15 per person, and freshly made pastries and popcorn are available from a purse-pleasing £2.50 a go.
Rich Mix, Shoreditch
Housed in an old leather factory, Rich Mix is an independent arts space hosting music, live events, exhibitions and more. It also screens mainstream, indie and world movies, from £6-10.50 a ticket.
The Phoenix, East Finchley
Another venerable old movie theatre, the Phoenix’s tickets are under a tenner.
Backyard Cinema, Camden
Choose a deck chair or a bean bag (I recommend the latter!) and park yourself up for some al fresco movie-watching in Camden Market. Movies include recent blockbusters as well as old classics. This year, they’re collaborating with Honest Burger, so go hungry. Tickets start at £16.50 (and £29 will buy you dinner, a movie and a drink). Full review here.
Luna Cinema, multiple locations
Popping up on grassy spaces all over the country, the Luna cinema screens recent blockbusters and classics in partnership with a series of cool street food vendors.
Sister to the permanent Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise, the Nomad Cinema is the roving screen that gives back, with 100% of its profits going to The Sustainability Institute.
Pop Up Screens
Pop Up Screens screen movies all over town in the summer, and try their hand at immersive Halloween and Christmas themed movie experiences when it gets cold.
Rooftop Film Club
Though a little pricier than the other pop-up screens, the RFC always guarantees a good view. You can find them in Shoreditch, Kensington, Peckham and Stratford.
Hot Tub Cinema
If your idea of fun is watching a classic movie in a bubbling cauldron of chemicals and other people’s urine, then Hot Tub Cinema is for you.
Classics in the Courtyard @ Hush, Mayfair
Year-round outdoor film screenings in the courtyard at fancy restaurant Hush. Tickets are £10 a table for parties of 4 & under; £20 a table for parties of 5 and over.
Monday Cocktail Cinema Club @ Belle&Co, Euston
This underground bijou bar screens free movies every Monday alongside special food and drink offers and free popcorn.
Kinema & Kocktails @ Cellardoor
Their website is, it must be said, total balls, but Cellardoor is an awesome little bar. Once upon a time a public toilet, now a celebrated burlesque club, this tiny venue screens classic and silent movies (with piano accompaniment from Peter Saunders of Dexy’s Midnight Runners!) every Sunday afternoon. £19 buys you one of just 25 seats, a cocktail and unlimited popcorn.
Film & Fizz @ One Aldwych
The next season begins in September. Check online for further details.
Film Club @ Charlotte Street Hotel
This swanky Soho hotel hosts its weekend film club every Friday and Saturday night. Three courses and a movie cost £35.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.