76 Venn Street, London SW4 0AT. Booking Line: +44(0)20 7498 3323.
Information Line: +44(0)20 7498 2242. Check the website below for more information. „
In this country we have seen the almost 'McDonaldisation' of cinemas over the past couple of decades with many of the multiplex chains offering a uniform environment which ever city or town you happen to be in.
Although 'Clapham Picturehouse' is part of the City Screen Group, each cinema opperates almost independantly from the other 17 picturehouses across the country.
City Screen Group was formed in 1989 and has aquired existing cinemas and has built new ones, the first being Clapham Picturehouse in 1992. Their strategy has been to build cafes and bars within the Picturehouses to enhance the cinema going experience. There are not many cinemas in the country where you can have a drink in the foyer first and then bring a pint of lager of glass of wine into the cinema with you. Of course, popcorn, sweets and drinks are also available.
There are five screens in total in varying sizes and all seem to employ state of the art technology with films shown in digital quality and surround sound.
Picturehouse Cinemas are often found in university cities, such as Bath, York and Oxford where there is a higher demand for niche arthouse and foreign language films. Although, branches will also usually show the main blockbusters, such as Mamma Mia! which I saw at Clapham Picturehouse last year.
They also offer children's screenings, as well as Autism Friendly screenings where the lights are left on low, and the film volume is reduced and customers can make noise and move around if they wish.
Picturehouse also has special live screenings of the Royal Opera and other cultural events from around the globe throughout the year.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Adult tickets are £10.50, Members £8.50 and children £5
Tuesday - Thursday evenings are Adults £8.50, Members £6.50, Children and Teenagers (up to 17) £5
Mondays are cheaper, with tickets at £4.50 for all performances, and this is the price for matinees throughout the week.
There are many more prices for childrens shows and one-off events so check out the website.
The Picturehouse also operates a fantastic website where you can book online, and collect your tickets using your debit card from a machine outside the cinema. (a fee applies for non members)
Memberships are also available, which I opted for. For £32 you get 3 free tickets (which would cost £31.50 alone at the weekend) then you get £2 off all performances and free booking online. You also get a discount in the bar and at local businesses.
In January I saw The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost / Nixon and Milk and hope to see Revolutionary Road next week. I am loving Clapham Picturehouse at the moment, check out the website www.picturehouses.co.uk to see if there is one near you!
I liek Clapham Picturehouse (as well as The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath, and Cinema City in Norwich which are also owned by City Screen) because they have a unique homely feel and a friendly atmosphere that you don't get at the multiplexes. The only bad thing about it is the price which is dearer, but this is understandable due to the smaller scale of the opperation. However, I am willing to pay a little more to support my local cinema and keep it open.
Clapham Picture House underwent a major refurbishment in the 1990's. It now has four screens as well as new seating, and a licensed cafe/bar in the adjacent premises.
I have never had a bad view of a screen or an uncomfortable seat in any of the years I have been coming here. Unlike like the somewhat impersonal experiences I have had visiting a multiplex, the atmosphere is warm and friendly.
The seating areas are much smaller than in a chain cinema, but it feels like a more intimate experience. If you live locally, you stand fair chance of bumping into someone you know!
The range of films is good, usually with several mainstream but not necessarily middle-of-the-road new releases, and one or two more off-beat or independent films. They usually run children's sessions during the school holidays, and special screenings for pensioners, in addition to the usual concessions for OAP's. For example, this may be something to tie in with VE Day celebrations, or a black and white classic film.
The Picture House produces a monthly leaflet adverting coming features and screening times, which you can pick up in-house, have e-mailed to you or sent in the post if you are a member (Friend).
This serves wine, beer and spirits, to accompany a range of bistro-style hot food and deserts. I had an asparagus and cheese crepe, for approx £5 which was seasonal at the time, and pretty filling (I think it was also wholemeal!)
The bar is quite small, although there is extra seating downstairs, and it has a friendly, lively atmosphere. It is the best way to meet a friend before a showing, or gather afterwards to dissect the latest showing.
Prices are very reasonable, with reductions on Mondays - it is not as expensive as the West End in London. Concessions for children and OAP's are available and you may book in advance.
A normal evening ticket would be £8, reduced to £5.50 on a Monday. It is generally £6 for a day time screening, and you can get a reduction to £6.50 in the evening if you are a Friend of the Picturehouse.
http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/site/cinemas/Clapham/local.htm for up to date listings, plus details on how to become a Friend. The benefits include:
- 2 free tickets on joining, and £1.50 off other tickets.
- Programmes emailed to you
- Invitations to special events and screenings
- £30 a year (Joint membership £45)
The nearest Tube station is Clapham Common, on the Northern Line. It is about 2-5 minutes walk away at 76 Venn Street, London SW4.
Several bus routes also run past the end of the street, eg. 88, 345, 155, 60, 137,355, 689. There are also night buses N35, N37 and N155. The large terminus at Clapham Junction Station is about 7-10 minutes away by bus, on the 35, 37 and 345.
This is one of only a few cinemas in this ares of south west London. Opposite is a north African restaurant, if the in-house cafe is not enough for you. There are also several pubs in Clapham Old Town, and small restaurants up and down the High Street, as well as a Sainsbury's, and banks.
(With apologies to Nick Park)