Whether you’re a slave to the latest blockbuster or an unashamed art house aficionado, London’s mix of quirky, local and mainstream cinemas will have you scoffing the popcorn in no time.
This cinema is part of the respected British Film Institute (BFI).
Why bother? It has a huge 20m by 26m screen the UK’s biggest, plus it hosts events such as all-nighters, 3D films, and a monthly movie quiz.
Best for: Film buffs who like it bigger!
» Charlie Chaplin Walk, SE1 8XR Waterloo (bfi.org.uk). From £13.50
It’s the official theatre of the Institut Francais.
Why bother? It’s not just French films on show here, this cinema also screens flicks from all over the world. “We offer a programme for people who seek out small, rare films,” says cinema spokesperson Naomi Crowther.
Best for: Francophiles.
» Queensberry Pl, SW7 2DT South Kensington (institut-francais.org.uk). £7-£15
It has been the Clapham Picturehouse since 1992, before that it was a local snooker hall.
Why bother? The cinema also broadcasts live opera and plays from the National Theatre.
Best for: SW locals who want a bit of culture.
» Venn St, SW4 0AT Clapham Common (picturehouses.co.uk). £6.50-£11
The Curzon Soho
The busiest of London’s five Curzon cinemas, the Soho has been pulling them in for half a century, showing mainly independent films.
Why bother? Its fittingly sophisticated café and bar is a bonus.
Best for: The black beret brigade.
» Shaftesbury Ave, W1D 5DY Leicester Square (curzoncinemas.com). £8-£12
The Lexi cinema
Opened in 2008 in Kensal Rise, this 77-seat digital cinema has one of the top five sound systems in the UK.
Why bother? It’s London’s first social enterprise theatre, with 100 per cent of the profits going to The Sustainability Institute in South Africa, an eco-village outside Cape Town.
Best for: Those who want to help the world.
» Chamberlayne Rd, NW10 3JU Kensal Rise (thelexicinema.co.uk). £5-£12
The Prince Charles
London’s only truly independent cinema in the West End. “A lot of independent cinemas in London have shut down in the past decade,” says The Prince Charles’ Robin Priestley. “We get a lot of cinemas around the world asking how we survive.”
Why bother? If you’re a member, The Prince Charles currently boasts the cheapest movie tickets in London. Plus it shows classic vintage films that you can’t see anywhere else on the big screen.
Best for: Hipsters on a budget.
» Leicester Sq, WC2H 7BY Leicester Square (princecharlescinema.com). Membership is £16 per year or £50 for life. Tickets to matinees £1.50 for members, and start at £5 for non-members
The Ritzy is located in Brixton in a lovely 100-year-old building, and is part of the same stable as the Clapham Picturehouse. “Issue-based, important, intellectual cinema is key here,” spokesperson Gabriel Swartland says about the movie house.
Why bother? Combine cinema, music, comedy and cocktails at the movie house’s bar Upstairs at the Ritzy. Plus the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival screens many films here.
Best for: Intellectuals who like a drink.
» Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Ln, SW2 1JG Brixton (picturehouses.co.uk). £7-£9
Opened earlier this year, Vue Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush describes itself as the biggest all-digital cinema in Europe. It boasts 14 screens, five of which are 3D.
Why bother? Not only is it brand new, but it screens 35 films at any one time, so there’s bound to be something you want to watch. “This is a completely modern, very stylish experience,” says Vue’s Lucy Drake on what Westfield offers.
Best for: Watching the blockbusters.
» Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, W12 7GF Shepherd’s Bush (myvue.com). From £6.50
Best of the rest
This old gem features in the film Notting Hill.
» Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LB Notting Hill Gate (coronet.org). £7
Comfy sofas and a glass of Pinot with your film.
» Branches in Hampstead, Belsize Park and Baker Street, (everymancinema.com). From £11
East Finchley’s independent community cinema.
» High Rd, N2 9PJ East Finchley (phoenixcinema.co.uk). From £6-£9
An underground art-house cinema and bar.
» Brunswick Centre, WC1N 1AW Russell Square (curzoncinemas.com). From £7-10.
Hip and happening East London flickerfest.
» Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA Liverpool Street (richmix.org.uk). From £5.50-£8
Screen on the green
Islington’s favourite boutique cinema.
» Upper St, N1 0NP Angel (everymancinema.com). £7.50-£12.50
Ubiquitous but reliable local chain. The West End branches host red carpet premieres with stars making regular appearances.
» Throughout London (odeon.co.uk). From £7.80
Words: Borana Greku