The past few years have seen a huge boom in streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have completely revolutionised how we experience films and TV. And while a weekend binge of the latest buzzing series or a cheeky “Netflix & Chill” Friday night certainly has tremendous appeal, there is still an irreplaceable, romantic wonder in going to the cinema.
Sadly, more and more this arguably old-school way to experience film is being forgotten, but as major blockbusters are making a return to cinemas, audiences are slowly but surely being coaxed out of their dark, pyjama-clad streaming hibernation pods and encouraged to remember the sheer awe and razzle-dazzle of seeing a brand new feature on the big screen.
Some films are made to be seen at the cinema. Between the sheer scope of the screen, the surround sound, high definition, 3D or even the exhilaration of sharing the laughs or gasps with a crowd full of fellow cinephiles, the right film seen in the cinema is akin to seeing your favourite band live. Listening to Muse on your smartphone versus seeing them tear up a stage and feeling your chest vibrate with the reverb are worlds apart. Likewise, seeing The Matrix on a big screen versus on a laptop just isn’t even worth comparing. We’re talking about full immersion and losing yourself in a world, which just cannot be translated to streaming it in your living room, keeping the volume down so the neighbours don’t complain.
Of course, going to the cinema isn’t just about the movie – it’s an experience. It’s social, it’s exciting, it gives you a buzz not unlike waking up at the crack of dawn to head to the airport for an exotic vacation. And since the more hermit-included viewers out there need a bit more enticement to leave their home and make the journey to a theatre, the choice of cinema can make all the difference in taking a simple trip to the movies and turning it into a full-bodied, delicious day out.
To that end, allow us to introduce you to Picturehouse Central. The Picturehouse chain has locations all over London and the UK, but London’s Central is a particular favourite. Obviously, the location couldn’t be better. Whether you live in London or commute in, situated just off Piccadilly Circus, this cinema is convenient no matter where you’re coming in from, or what plans you might have afterwards. The ground floor has a cosy cafe, with a variety of healthy or indulgent snacks and a wide range of beverages, so you don’t even realise you’ve stepped into a cinema when you first walk in. The grand staircase, however, transports you to the golden age of Hollywood with every step.
The red tile, the brick walls, the hanging Edison bulbs, the vintage railings all lead up to a gorgeous wall of black and white photos of movie stars and stills, old and new. The signage, neon lights, posters and interior decor seem to be the perfect blended mesh of past decades – but somehow complement each other, not clashing or being overly obvious. The first floor houses not only the box office – with the friendliest cinema staff you’ll find anywhere in London – but a delightful restaurant and bar. Considering you’re in central London, the prices are actually very reasonable and the quality of food is genuinely super!
Although the best bit about this restaurant is that it’s super comfortable and casual and always full of an eclectic group of patrons. You can go there for a work meeting, sit and work over a coffee for a few hours, chillax solo with a glass of wine or have a big group lunch with friends. There’s a cute curtained off little section that can be booked for private parties or just for a quieter place if you’d prefer a more intimate setting.
Picturehouse Central is no stranger to film industry peeps. It’s a popular venue for many prestigious film events, including special screenings, premieres and of course, the legendary Sundance Festival’s London edition. Whether you work in the biz or are just a fan, this cinema is an amazing place to meet new people, network and chat with fellow lovers of the silver screen. The welcoming and friendly atmosphere is almost palpable in the air as you come in!
Picturehouses are also big fans of celebrating legendary films of old, as well as hosting special events, tribute evenings and Q&A’s. If you ever feel sad that you never got the chance to see some of film history’s most amazing films on the big screen, then this is the cinema to change all that! 2021 saw several weeks celebrating the iconic films of Kurosawa and classics like Thelma & Louise, while the new year will bring age-old favourites like The Thing and Leon. They also always have a fantastic selection of foreign cinema films.
Picturehouse Central also provides one of the most considerate and comfortable viewing experiences of any cinema, certainly in central London. The seats are spacious and recline, with plenty of legroom and the screening rooms are always immaculately cleaned between viewings. There’s also plenty of clearance between the front rows and the screen, so there’s no neck-craning even if you sit right at the front. If you want to avoid a big crowd, they offer lots of convenient viewing times throughout the day and if you go on a weekday since most people are at work, you’ll have the screen practically to yourself! They’re also fantastic in terms of facilities for wheelchairs and disabilities, with special screenings for hearing or visually impaired film lovers. And when we say these guys are family-friendly, we really mean it! Not only do they have showings for parents and kids, but they also welcome dogs and have select special screenings where you can bring your pooch to the cinema with you!
Another bonus of Central is their lovely private member’s club. Nothing pompous involved, just an additional private sitting area and bar, where you can comfortably work, have meetings or hang with friends. During summertime, there’s also a fab rooftop terrace overlooking buzzing London and the membership provides a lot of perks, including free tickets, invitations to special events and discounts on all food, drink and concessions.
Whether you want to come alone or with friends or family, be productive or kick back and relax, Picturehouse Central isn’t just a cinema, it’s almost like a cool, retro hotel with every convenience you might need, complete with a treasure trove of epic films. Brilliantly organised, with professional and friendly staff, its inviting warmth and electric atmosphere will not only bring back nostalgic memories but make you fall in love with cinema all over again!