When the multiplexes landed in the 1970s, they squashed out anything that appeared less powerful than them. The general consensus was that to build cinema cities where the highest amounts of money could be made during one viewing. The competition presented by the multiplexes often put smaller theatres out of business, and the race seemed to be over. But oh how things have changed! Some 40 years later these megaplexes are now known as extortionate, unattractive and unpleasant giants.
Nowadays, going out to see the latest blockbuster can make you £20 lighter, not to mention spending lots of money on food and drink. I used to be one of those kids feeling ashamed whenever my dad would whip out his Sainsbury’s bag to give us chocolates he’d bought in advance. Now I revel in bringing out my pre-planned cinema feast and laugh at those fools queuing up to get their hands on an overpriced bucket of popcorn. The costs of a night at the movies has even put the most avid movie lovers off of going to the cinema as we’d rather wait for the DVD to come out or perhaps watch it online.
Movie geeks are looking for new ways to experience film and these eclectic mix of previously shunned cinemas are coming out of the dark, offering movie lovers a piece of history in a beguiling and romantic setting, without sticking to simply showing the latest smash hits.
After a summer of open-top cinema madness creeping all over London, movie lovers were offered a romanticized, dreamy movie experience. With winter now in full swing, people are looking for that idealistic film event again, finding force in the plethora of small, independent cinemas hiding amongst the Goliaths.
Prince Charles Cinema is one of the most successful independent cinemas in the country, with a highly valid reputation in the Film industry for being ‘quirky and innovative’. Built in 1961, the theatre has two screens on a beautiful antique red auditorium with 285 leather seats. Often showing complete movie marathons and old classics, the cinema even hosts sing-a-long movie parties; this coming December you can enjoy a Mean Girls quote-along. With prices starting from £1.50, which couldn’t even buy you a pack of peanuts at an Odeon, Prince Charles Cinema is truly what the movies are about: a fun, exuberant experience in which you can sit back and enjoy yourself.
Another independent cinema that owns multiplexes is ‘The Coronet’ in Notting Hill. Opened as a Victorian cinema in 1898, it was soon regarded as one of the finest theatres outside the West End. King Edward II was a guest there and the notorious film Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts resurrected it when it was featured in the film. The two-screened cinema has no less than three tiers of seating with stalls, a circle, and a gallery, allowing film lovers to enjoy classic films and recent releases in an antique setting.
However, it is not just independent cinemas that are gaining newfound popularity amongst moviegoers on a quest to find that old, communal experience that cinema was always about. New projects and movie initiatives are surfacing up and down the country, reminding local communities why they love film.
A Small Cinema, originally conceived as a showcase event for filmmakers in the North West of England, is a unique short film developed out of a fascination and desire to recreate the classic cinema experience. Currently being developed as a community engagement project by artist collective Re-Dock, A Small Cinema is facilitating communities to host their own short film events sharing memories between the participants central to the creation of A Small Cinema. With the catchphrase ‘what cinema used to be’, one of the artists working on the project Sam Meech, says: ‘people think going to the cinema is like going to a theme park. They immediately talk about how much it all costs. The idea of going on a regular basis is impossible’.
A Small Cinema is planning to bring small cinema back to communities: ‘we want to remind people that watching a film is an shared experience to share, no matter where you watch it’.
Since the initiatives start in 2008, A Small Cinema has created short film screenings in galleries, empty shop spaces, music venues and even outdoors.
By thinking outside of the commercial box, A Small Cinema is trying to both bring back and sustain our love for film. In the name of independent film, communities are trying to get their ‘independence’ back. From a backdrop that multiplexes previously owned, the small independent cinemas are fighting back with a vengeance. The meaning of cinema, a place to share your passion for film, is slowly being remembered again.