Cheap Cinemas in London

By Madeleine Wilson

Perhaps our infamous bad weather has something to do with Londoners’ making regular trips to the cinema. We have some gorgeous picturehouses including The Electric on Portobello Road, the Curzon and Everyman groups, which all boast cosy bars and the opportunity to book romantic sofas or comfy leather armchairs – great date venues!

There is just one small problem; the cost! Expect to pay £15, £18 and even £25 for a cinema ticket in the West End. But for any cinephiles hoping to sit in the dark on a budget, I have a few tricks up my sleeve…

Cheap cinema tickets

Try to save your cinema visits for the beginning of the week when some movie theatres offer cheap cinema tickets. Peak times are during evenings and weekends. Here’s our list of weekly cinema deals in London.

Mondays

Barbican: All new-release films at the Barbican cinema are £5 on Mondays if you book online beforehand. A £1.50 booking fee will be added on the checkout, bringing the total price to £6.50 – not bad for a central London cinema. 
Silk Street, EC2

Rich Mix: A hop, skip and a jump from Brick Lane, this multi-media arts venue offers films for a fiver on Mondays and Tuesdays. There are a couple of screens and they show most of the new releases and the best of world cinema. A nice bar for drinks before/after too.
35-47 Bethnal Green Road

Tuesdays

BFIIt’s ‘films for a fiver’ on Tuesdays at the Southbank’s British Film Institute (BFI) bar festivals, special previews and events. The rest of the week the cheap cinema tickets for non-members are £6.50 for matinee screenings.
Southbank, SE1

Coronet: The cinema has two screens, but try and catch the latest release and you’ll sit in the gorgeous theatre stalls or royal circle complete with plush red velvet seats and gilt gold adornment for a mere £3.50 on Tuesdays. Films in their second week of screening are shown in the smaller auditorium, also nice but seating is not on an incline (avoid giants and bouffant hair!), it can get stuffy too. Another perk, there’s no booking fee so call ahead, arrive early to collect your tickets and pick the best seats in the house. It becomes a bit of a free-for-all and the place is always packed out. The rest of the week it’s £7.50 and £4.50 for students and OAPs. On a Monday students can go for £4.50 with ID.
103 Notting Hill Gate, W11

Rich Mix: See Monday listings above.

Orange Wednesdays

For those of you on an Orange network, text “film” to 241 from your phone and they will send your ticket via text. Show this to a participating cinema ticket office and get 2 for 1 on tickets. Most cinemas participate in the Orange Wednesday scheme but it’s worth checking in advance. You can also call 241 from your mobile or go to the Orange World website.

Leave it last-minute 

Another idea is buying Vue standby cinema vouchers for £6.49 from lastminute.com however these are only available Monday-Thursday on showings before 4pm. Choose a date and your preferred cinema (14 locations in London including West End, Shepherd’s Bush and Islington). Go to the cinema any time after noon on the day of your booking and present your confirmation email from lastminute.com to the box office. You can then choose to see any available film before 4pm. *PLEASE NOTE This offer comes and goes, so these cheap tickets may not always be available.

The cheapest cinema in London?

Prince Charles Cinema: Just off Leicester Square, prices are very cheap for such a central location at the Prince Charles Cinema. The cheapest options are for members, repertory films and matinees costing between £4 and £6. At the moment, an annual membership costs just £10 or you could pay just £50 for lifetime membership instead.

Tickets for the latest releases, evening and weekend screenings and non-members cost between £6.50 and £10. Keep an eye out for their ‘Golden Ticket’ scheme whereby they screen one film each week for £1. To top it off, the place has undergone a huge refurbishment with super comfy seats and 2 new screens.
Leicester Place, WC2

Film nights in pubs

Lovely, local and free, arrive early to bag the best sofa seats. All you’ll pay for is a pint or two from the bar (and perhaps some peanuts if you’re peckish).

The Garrison
Sunday Cinema Sessions kick off at 7pm every Sunday in this beautifully refurbished room beneath the Garrison pub. There’s a good old-fashioned intermission and films are relatively new, well, the ones you didn’t quite get to the cinema for including ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ and ‘The Skin I Live in’ planned for March 2011.

Bermondsey Street, SE1

Off Broadway
A bustling American-style bar on Broadway Market makes for a thematic backdrop to the Hollywood exports appearing on their screen downstairs. Films start at 7:30pm or 9pm on Tuesdays and there’s a suggested donation of £2. Enjoy a good mix of classics from the past few years but October triggers a fright fest of Halloween treats and zombie spooks. You can also email ahead to request a film of your choice.

Broadway Market, E8

Free film

Mediatheque: It’s been around for a couple of years now but people don’t seem to have quite cottoned-on. The Mediatheque is a computer suite housed in the BFI and offers free access to a large selection of the institute’s archive. Check what’s available before you go, book ahead or simply turn up (it’s never full), you’re given a set of earphones and a log-in to a computer. Then the archive is your oyster. Recently, I giggled my way through an old episode of Absolutely Fabulous, but currently available is footage marvelling at Amy Johnson’s record-breaking solo flight to Australia, various adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, 1984, Dracula and episodes of Fawlty Towers.
Closed Mondays, except Bank Holidays

Cheap cinema treats

Don’t laugh, but I buy bags and bags of Sainsbury’s basic sweet cinema popcorn. 160g for 98p! But you go ahead and spend £5-£8 at central London cinemas and then see who’s laughing! Oh and pick up a bottle of your favourite fizz or water at nearby newsagents before going into the cinema. They sting you for drinks too typically priced between £2.50 and £4!

Warning, shameless plugging: If you plan to stay in the city, plenty of London hostels host free movie nights with popcorn thrown in to sweeten the deal!

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Thanks to James Nash (aka Cirrus).Martin. and martinhoward for the images off Flickr! 

Have we missed any of your favourite London cinemas? Share your cheap cinema nights below!

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