Why You Should Be Watching Movies in Smaller Cinemas

Why you should be watching movies in smaller cinemas

Why you should be watching movies in smaller cinemas

Stuart Hanson, a film historian at De Montfort University, was quoted in The Telegraph as saying that cinema’s are not overly profitable. “For those that are not chains,” he said, “without economies of scale, the margins are pretty tight.” In fact, big name chain movie theatres dominate the UK cinema market, with the leading chains taking up almost 70% of the market share. These same leading chains also happen to take more than half of box-office revenues.

Smaller/independent cinemas like Curzon, The Tyneside, and The Rex often offer cinema goers so much more for their money than the major industry players do, and yet they are still struggling for their share of the market. So what exactly do these smaller cinemas have to offer us, and why should we be buying our cinema tickets from them instead?

They’re great for dates!

A great many high end small cinemas, like the Electric Cinemas for example, are decked out with huge, cosy armchairs and lots of extra legroom. The Curzon cinemas have their own bars, and the new cinema at The Sussex Exchange even has an in-house restaurant. This combined with the smaller, more intimate screen rooms (which many non-chain cinemas have) serve to create a much more romantic atmosphere than your standard cinema chain, making a trip to an independant cinema a great date idea!

Of course you can buy tickets for VIP seating in big chain cinemas, but there are far fewer of these seats available per screen. You can also buy pre-packaged alcohol at most chain cinemas, but it’s not quite the same as sipping a fresh, handcrafted cocktail at the bar with your paramour. And even though these cosy, intimate venues will often have smaller screen sizes than big chains, it’s a price worth paying for the atmosphere that comes with it.

The calibre of film is usually better

The film listings of independent/small cinemas are usually curated by the people who work there rather than the ambiguous ‘head office’, and as result, the listings are far more likely to be planned by film buffs.

In addition to this some smaller cinemas will also screen the classics alongside the new releases. For example, the Prince Charles Cinema regularly screens all manner of classic films; in fact they claim to screen anything!

However big chain cinemas are willing to show all the latest blockbusters, and not just cherry pick their favourites. And they’ll often run their movies for longer periods of time, which not all independent cinemas can afford to do.

With that being said, independant cinemas will likely show a combination of blockbusters and more niche films, which means you’ll be able to the best of both worlds. There are even some small cinemas, like the Prince Charles, which will pick up films “just off-release thus expanding their theatrical lives.”

You’ll be supporting your local community

The fact that the Curzon Soho is under threat of demolition has caused much of the film community, both in and out of the ‘biz to rally in support. Indeed, the Curzon Soho has been described as “part of a vital community that’s being eroded.”

By going to small or independent cinemas in your local community, you can help these communities flourish. And with the cinema market being so largely taken up by big name cinema chains, the Curzon Soho is not the only small cinema in danger. Every ticket you purchase from a small or independent cinema can help to keep a valuable, irreplaceable piece of local colour alive.

You can get to know like-minded-cinephiles

Even though going to the movies usually involves sitting quietly in a dark room for roughly 2 hours, going to an independent cinema can be a far more social affair than you might think.

Often, smaller cinemas will host film-themed or seasonal events, like movie marathons, costume parties and sing/quote alongs. So no matter what you’re into, you can find an event at an independant cinema full of like-minded cinephiles ready for you to get to know. Even if you’re not looking to meet anyone, it’s still a fun way to get a little something extra out of your cinema experience.

There are far less distractions

If movie quote-alongs don’t appeal to you, then you’ll also appreciate independent cinemas for their clientele.

If the size of their market share is anything to go by, then you are far more likely to be distracted by texting tweens or screaming infants at a smaller/independant cinema; because the big name cinemas are where the most people are going.

Independent cinemas on the other hand are where the other people who are serious about film are going. After all, it’s hard to imagine a Curzon full of ringing phones and rowdy secondary school students. So let the rabble go to the big chains, while you go instead to an independant cinema where you can enjoy the silence with people who give the medium of film the respect it deserves.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.