How long has it been since we were last in an actual cinema? So long you would have forgotten what you saw were it not still plastered hauntingly to the side of multiple buses? Us too. But since July 4, the option of stepping into the dark and taking in a movie is back on the table – if you feel ready to do so – although the choice of films to see and cinemas to see them in will be limited for the time being.
In short, many of London’s indie and arthouse cinemas will be staying shuttered a while longer. Here are their latest plans – and information on how to support them during this period of uncertainty.
- 1 The Lexi Cinema
- 2 Barbican Cinema
- 3 Prince Charles Cinema
- 4 Close-Up
- 5 Whirled Cinema
- 6 Genesis Cinema
- 7 ICA
- 8 Ciné Lumière
- 9 Riverside Studios
- 10 BFI Southbank
- 11 Peckhamplex
- 12 Rio Cinema
- 13 The David Lean Cinema
- 14 JW3 Cinema
- 15 The Cinema Museum
- 16 ArtHouse Crouch End
- 17 The Castle Cinema
- 18 Catford Mews
- 19 Phoenix Cinema
- 20 Rich Mix
- 21 Archlight Cinema
- 22 Regent Street Cinema
- 23 Everyman Cinemas
- 24 Vue
- 25 Cineworld and Picturehouse Cinemas
- 26 Odeon Cinemas
- 27 Showcase Newham
The Lexi Cinema
Likely reopening date: September for public screenings
Kensal Rise’s much-loved community cinema is getting bigger and better, with a major extension in the pipeline. Before then, it will be opening initially for small private hires in August (a two-hour film for 15 guests will cost £325, or £275 for key workers), and then resuming regular public screenings in September.
How to support it: join the Lexi here. Like many cinemas, existing memberships will also be extended by five months when the cinema reopens.
Likely reopening date: September (TBC)
Unlike its art gallery, which reopened on July 13, the Barbican’s cinema won’t be open again until the autumn. ‘Two of our three cinema spaces are currently undergoing refurbishment work and won’t be able to reopen until later this year,’ says the Barbican’s Ian Cuthbert. ‘We’re currently reviewing the government’s official guidance and hope to announce when and how we’ll be able to reopen soon.’
How to support it: become a member here or rent a film from the Barbican’s new Cinema on Demand service.
Prince Charles Cinema
Likely reopening date: autumn (TBC)
Not a single spoon has been lobbed at a single screen in this majestic off-Leicester Square cult-iplex since March – and it will be staying that way for a little while longer. Though they’ve announced no reopening plans, the PCC has removed its summer programme from the website, which indicates a later rather than sooner approach to reopening.
Likely reopening date: September (TBC)
Shoreditch’s intimate haunt for cineastes has a less commercially-driven programming philosophy from many other London venues but in common with other indie cinemas, it won’t be rushing to reopen before the autumn. The current plan is to reassess in September, with the Close-Up team busy ‘figuring out ways to continue our programming and sustain Close-Up through this difficult period.’
How to support it: become a member here.
Likely reopening date: late August
Pre-lockdown, Loughborough Junction’s lovely little Whirled Cinema was a great place to watch an arthouse gem. It will be again when it reopens, though not until later this summer. ‘We do not believe now is the right time to open,’ says its co-owner Mike Atterby, ‘as we don’t feel we can offer the cinema experience we’d like to with the current restrictions.’ Whirled has the August bank-holiday weekend earmarked for a possible reopening.
How to support it: sign up for Whirled membership. As per other cinemas, existing memberships will be extended to compensate for the lost months.
Likely reopening date: open now
Mile End’s luxe mini-multiplex is the first of London’s independent cinemas to reopen. You can settle down to one of the very few new releases currently out or an old fave in a socially distanced environment for just over a fiver (Mondays to Wednesdays). ‘Parasite’, ‘Interstellar’, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ are all getting encores on Genesis’s five screens.
How to support it: become a member or buy gift vouchers here.
Likely reopening date: autumn
The Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall’s temple of all things independent, experimental and radical, has had to postpone its annual Frames of Representation festival. ‘While we can’t put an exact date on our reopening right now, we are working towards an opening for the ICA in autumn 2020,’ says the ICA’s head of cinema, Nico Marzano. ‘We will let everyone know as soon as we can.’
How to support it: become a member of the ICA here.
Likely reopening date: August 26
The South Kensington cinema and unofficial home for all that’s French and cine-related in the city, Ciné Lumière will be ouvert again in late August. ‘We are going to reopen on August 26 and we very much look forward to it,’ says head of marketing and PR, Natacha Antolini. Magnifique.
How to support it: become a Ciné Lumière member here.
Likely reopening date: July 24
This Hammersmith arts hub and two-screen cinema had only been open for a few months, after a five-year redevelopment, when Covid hit. Happily, the plan is for a re-reopening later this month.
How to support it: become a Riverside Studios Founder Member here.
Likely reopening date: September 1
If the riverside cine-palace has been a glaring absence from your life these past months, good news: it will be reopening at the beginning of September. It will be playing a role in this year’s modified, hybrid BFI London Film Festival in October too, hosting a few of the fest’s 12 UK premieres.
How to support it: join the BFI here.
Likely reopening date: July 24 for Curzon Mayfair, July/August for other venues
Curzon Mayfair will be the first of the chain’s London screens to reopen, with ‘a staggered reopening’ planned for the other venues later in July and August. If you want to recreate the Curzon experience at home in the meantime, its streaming service, Curzon Home Cinema, has you covered.
How to support it: become a Curzon member here.
Likely reopening date: late summer (TBC)
A bargain-priced temple for south-east London’s regular movie goers, Peckhamplex has been working hard on plans for reopening with social distancing measures in place. No date has been set yet, though. ‘We regularly review our thinking,’ says Peckhamplex chairman John Reiss, who cites staff and customer safety and a fuller release slate as key factors. ‘The dates of the releases could change again if the pandemic remains at its current height in America.’
How to support it: sign up for the Peckhamplex e-newsletter for the latest on reopening.
Likely reopening date: September
‘We think September is the most likely time [to reopen],’ says Oliver Meek, the Rio’s executive director. ‘For independent cinemas, summer is always a quiet time – we don’t tend to do very well with blockbusters. [Most of all], we want all of our staff to feel confident and our customers to feel safe.’ With rumours that the cinema’s board was looking at significant cost-cutting and even a sale, a campaign was launched in June to keep the Dalston community cinema independent.
The David Lean Cinema
Likely reopening date: October
This much-loved Croydon community cinema hopes to reopen, probably with a limited capacity, by this winter. As a partly volunteer-run cinema, ‘We’ll continue to see if we can start in October, even in a limited way, if we possibly can,’ says operations manager Roger Dowling.
How to support it: sign up for the Save The David Lean Cinema campaign newsletter here.
Likely reopening date: early September.
This Jewish community centre and arts space on the Finchley Road is a key cultural and communal hub in north London. The plan for reopening is still being formulated, with September earmarked for a limited schedule of live arts events and one-off Q&As.
How to support it: make a donation, become a friend of JW3 or buy gift vouchers here.
The Cinema Museum
Likely reopening date: TBC
Lambeth’s award-winning treasure trove of movie memorabilia is also a go-to venue for classic and silent movie screenings. Its likely reopening date is tied in with the museum’s ongoing campaign to raise the funds needed to survive. ‘Covid-19 has been a drawback for The Cinema Museum,’ says co-founder Martin Humphries, ‘but it’s really just an expensive diversion from our main aim, which is to ensure that The Cinema Museum is not a fatality of the regeneration in Kennington and Elephant & Castle.’ Keep an eye on the official site for more news.
How to support it: sign the Save The Cinema Museum petition or donate to its crowdfunding campaign.
ArtHouse Crouch End
Likely reopening date: early September
Early September is earmarked for Crouch End’s beloved boutique cinema to fire up its projectors again. As with other indie cinemas, the plan is heavily caveated by external factors. ‘We are looking forward to reopening, not just from an economic point of view but also from a redefined cultural perspective,’ says managing director Sam Neophytou. With its role in the cultural life of the area in mind, the ArtHouse is setting up a streaming platform to host the Haringey Streamed Film, Music & Arts festival online.
How to support it: buy membership to the ArtHouse here.
The Castle Cinema
Likely reopening date: late July (TBC)
Homerton’s gorgeous The Castle Cinema is looking to reopen in time for ‘Tenet’ to grace its opulent screen, with all the required safeguarding measures in place. ‘We’re lucky to have our large bar which makes social distancing in those areas much more straightforward,’ says co-founder Asher Charman.
How to support it: become a member of The Castle Cinema here.
Likely reopening date: late July/early August
Lewisham’s new community cinema also plans to reopen in time for ‘Tenet’ on August 12, although the exact date is still ‘TBC’, so sign up for the cinema’s newsletter for the latest news. If you fancy stopping by in the interim, Catford Mews’s café, Compound Coffee, is open for takeaways between 9am-2pm.
How to support it: join the Catford Mews cinema here.
Likely reopening date: September
East Finchley’s beloved two-screen charity cinema had been running virtually uninterrupted since it opened in 1912 – until lockdown in March, that is. The good news is that there are plans to reopen some time in September, although the exact date remains TBC.
How to support it: become a friend of the Phoenix here.
Likely reopening date: September 4
The east London independent arts centre and cinema is working towards throwing its doors open to the community again in early September. Like many indie cinemas, there will be opportunities to hire private screens. You’ll also be able to book seating in socially distancing groups at public screenings, of course. ‘When we reopen we are clear that our focus has to be two-fold: supporting our community through arts, culture and creativity, and ensuring [our] financial sustainability,’ says Rich Mix in a statement.
How to support it: join Rich Mix here.
Likely reopening date: mid-August
Nestled under a railway arch next to Battersea Power Station, Archlight opened in mid-2019 and plans to reopen in mid-2020, give or take, in time for ‘Tenet’ and ‘Mulan’. ‘At the current time we are aiming towards a mid-August reopening,’ says general manager Chris Swney, ‘but this is of course subject to change in light of the developing circumstances across the globe and we are assessing the situation daily.’ If you can’t wait and have 19 cinema-loving friends on a WhatsApp group, private screenings are available for £500.
How to support it: email the box office to buy a gift card.
Regent Street Cinema
Likely reopening date: TBC
The West End cinema is still to decide on its reopening date but will make an announcement in, or before, August.
How to support it: join the Regent Street Cinema here.
Reopening date: July
Everyman’s London cinemas are part of a staggered nationwide relaunch that kicked off in early July with its Barnet, Hampstead and King’s Cross venues. Everyman Chelsea is also scheduled to open again in July. Keep an eye on the official site for news of the next batch of reopenings.
How to support it: become an Everyman member here.
Reopening date: July 31
With its 20 London locations, Vue is a major player on the city’s cinema scene. Like Cineworld, it has pushed its reopening date back to realign with the revised release dates of ‘Tenet’ and ‘Mulan’ in August. Expect its doors to reopen at the end of the month. ‘Customers will be met with a host of quality classics including the tenth-anniversary edition of “Inception” and “The Empire Strikes Back”, as well as event cinema such as the National Theatre Live’s “Fleabag”,’ says a Vue spokesperson.
How to support it: purchase a Vue gift card here.
Cineworld and Picturehouse Cinemas
Likely reopening dates: July 31
Cineworld – and its Picturehouse chain – will be officially open for business at the end of July. ‘[We have] put in place procedures to ensure a safe and enjoyable cinema experience for employees and customers,’ reads a Cineworld statement. ‘Cineworld is excited by the great movie line-up to follow the reopening of cinemas, starting with the highly anticipated new Christopher Nolan movie “Tenet” and “Mulan” immediately after that.’
How to support it: become a Picturehouse member here.
Likely reopening dates: July/August
Odeon has already begun reopening its cinemas around the UK, although, as of July 10, none in London. Its 26 venues in the city, including the BFI IMAX, ‘will be phased over July and August’. ‘We are pleased to be welcoming guests back to selected cinemas across the UK,’ says Odeon in a statement, ‘and we continue to receive positive feedback from moviegoers on their experience and the additional safety measures we have put in place.’
How to support it: purchase an Odeon Limitless card here.
Likely reopening date: open now
The nationwide multiplex chain’s single London location is officially open for business. On the slate as of mid-July are crowd-pleasing classics old (‘Aliens’, ‘Back to the Future’) and new (Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star Is Born’), as well as a smattering of new releases, including killer-croc movie ‘Black Water: Abyss’.
How to support it: buy a gift card here.
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