One look at London’s cinema listings, and you are wonder-struck at the sheer number of films Londoners devour every week. More than 120 movies are showing in London’s theatres at any given day, and about 80 films release there every week.
London cinemas screen almost everything under the sun, including classics, world cinema, short films, and Bollywood. BFI Southbank (located on Belvedere Road) is a big name for serious movie buffs. BFI Southbank was formerly called the National Film Theatre, is operated by the British Film Institute, and is also known for its screening of classics and foreign cinema. It also hosts the London Film Festival.
BFI IMAX, meanwhile, is the biggest screen in Britain. It is over 20 metres high and 26 metres wide, has 11,600 watts of digital surround sound, and seats 500. BFI also takes credit for being home to London’s smallest screen: the BFI South bank Studio has just 38 seats. Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Odeon Mezzanine, and Empire Leicester are other small-capacity cinemas.
Art movie connoisseurs need no introduction to Curzon, an art-house cinema chain has 6 cinemas across London. Independent films are patronized by Curzon as well.
Odeon Cinemas is one of the largest chain of cinemas in Europe, and has about 26 cineplexes in London. The Odeon West End in Leicester Square has hosted the London Film Festival for many years.
Another popular name to reckon with for cinemas is Riverside Studios, located on the banks of the River Thames (Hammersmith, London). Riverside is known for its double-bill screenings of foreign language and independent films. It hosts foreign language film festivals, too.
There are places where you can watch a movie child-free (at the Over 18s screenings), and places (for e.g., he Electric, Rio, Picturehouse, Rue, Odeon) where you can watch a film with a baby.
If Hindi movies are your staple, then head to the Himalaya Palace, Southall, Upton Park Boleyn, Harrow Safari or Willesden Belle Vue; or any of Cineworld’s cinemas at Feltham, Staples Corner or Ilford.
Interestingly, there are increasingly more things to do in London at the cinemas, than merely watch films. You now get to breathe in some culture in the city’s cinema halls some being Odeon, Curzon Cinemas and BFI – which have started screening opera and ballet. In fact, the Royal Opera House has launched a venture that will see some ballet and opera performances being screened in over 700 cinemas worldwide.