“ Cinema - Greenwich High Road, Greenwich, London „
In Spring last year I wanted to see a film called Half Nelson which had been out on a somewhat limited release at cinemas, and had been and gone at all my nearest screen's. Browsing the web, the only place in south London that was still showing it was the Picturehouse in Greenwich. Like countless other people, the nearest cinemas to me are all multiplex venues from the big chains like Vue or Odeon, with which I can say I've had no problems, albeit they only show the most recent releases and soon pull films once they don't bring enough money in.
~ location ~
In the London Borough of Greenwich as you might have guessed, and just a stone's throw away from the River Thames and the Cutty Sark, the Picturehouse is located on the A206, also known as Greenwich High Road, and within walking distance of Greenwich underground station. I can't provide any more details regarding the local public transport, but the cinema's website appears to contain good details. If you arrive with time to spare for a performance, there is a bar and restaurant area upstairs, although we didn't go there ourselves so I can't comment on the facilites.
As you approach, the most striking element of the building is the glass frontage at first floor level which covers virtually the entire width of the cinema. This is where the bar and restaurant are located, which I would imagine must get bathed in sunlight on a good day.
We entered and had to queue to collect our tickets. This was on a Saturday for an early evening showing, and I would strongly recommend pre-booking for any film you wish to see here, as when we went the screening was sold out and other people who hadn't prebooked were being turned away. There are only four screens here, together a larger screening room in the basement. Once we had collected our tickets we found our way to the basement screening room where Half Nelson was being shown, and entered. This was like no other cinema I can remember ever being in, it was more like a very cosy living room. As you enter, you pass a bar area to walk towards the seating. The screening area itself is really cosy and from recollection only has about 8 or 9 rows. The seating itself consisted of leather armchairs and double seater sofas. My friend and I chose to sit in two large armchairs at the start of one of the rows. Both our seats had cup holders, which wasn't necessary in our case as we hadn't bought any drinks beforehand. We then discovered that the seating reclined, with leg-rests you could extend, something new to me in a cinema! By the time everyone was seated and the film was due to start, I was incredibly comfortable in a virtually horizontal position. This wasn't a problem as there was so much leg room between the seating in each row that if anyone else in our row had needed to walk passed us, they probably could have done, without me even having to move. The usher then swished a velvety curtain across to divide the screening area from the bar area, presumably to cut out the light, the lights all dimmed and the movie started.
The Picturehouse originally only had three screens, but when it changed hands about 3 years prior to my visit, the new owners renovated it and turned it into four mains screens on the ground and first floor with a large screening room and bar in the basement. Neither my friend nor I need to make use of their restrooms, so can't pass comment on these, however the renovations were reflected in all the other public areas we saw which not only looked very clean but new. The only niggle I had was in the bad choice of carpets.
Ticket prices can vary for screenings, with concessions for children and senior citizens, and also with regular customers who have annual membership.
All in all, if you happen to be in the area, I think this is a wonderful little cinema well worth seeking out. It's right in the heart of Greenwich and therefore I would imagine it serves a useful purpose with the local community who either don't have the means to get to nearby multiplex cinemas, or who would rather watch a film in an altogether more convivial atmosphere.