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Coolest cinemas
Photograph: Time Out

The coolest cinemas in the world – as picked by its most exciting filmmakers

Where do Pedro Almodóvar and Paul Thomas Anderson get their popcorn fix?

Phil de Semlyen
Edited by
Phil de Semlyen
Contributor
Andy Kryza
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If film is a religion, then cinemas are churches. When the lights go down, we’re a comminity. Whether you’re a casual fan or an Oscar-winning director, everybody is equal under the flicker of a projector, sharing the love of cinema and the collective hatered of that guy who keeps looking at his phone. 

Every fan has their favourite auditorium, and the filmmakers shaping the experience within those theaters are no exception. To celebrate these escapist temples, we asked our roster of the coolest filmmakers on the planet – including Jennifer Kent, Nia DaCosta, Edgar Wright, Barry Jenkins, Pedro Almodóvar, Denis Villeneuve, Rian Johnson and Paul Thomas Anderson – to name their most beloved cinema. They shot back with a legendary array of theaters ranging from historic venues and new-wave luxury auditoriums to weatherbeaten multiplexes. World-class directors: They’re just like us… butter-stained pants and all. 

Read on: The 50 coolest filmmakers in the world right now

Interviews by Kaleem Aftab, Anna Smith, Andy Kryza, Ashanti Omkar, David Hughes, Sophie Monks Kaufman, Michael Juliano, Dave Calhoun and Phil de Semlyen

The Metrograph, New York – picked by Mia Hansen-Løve (‘Eden’)
Photograph: Metrograph/Jeremy Liebman

The Metrograph, New York – picked by Mia Hansen-Løve (‘Eden’)

‘If I could just pick one cinema anywhere in the world it would be the Metrograph. For the programming and the atmosphere, and because they programmed Goodbye First Love, a film I made ten years ago, and it was packed. I couldn’t believe it. I thought there would be, like, 15 people there. It was such a rewarding experience.’

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Outdoor screen, Annecy – picked by Mamoru Hosoda (‘Belle’)
Photograph: Flickr

Outdoor screen, Annecy – picked by Mamoru Hosoda (‘Belle’)

‘It’s not a cinema but I would go to the outdoor screening at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France. It’s a special experience.’ 

Pathé Tuschinski, Amsterdam – picked by Annemarie Jacir (‘Wajib’)
Photograph: Pathé Tuschinski

Pathé Tuschinski, Amsterdam – picked by Annemarie Jacir (‘Wajib’)

‘It’s gorgeous. I have a special memory there. And, well, it’s in Amsterdam.’ 

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ArcLight, Los Angeles – picked by Pedro Almodóvar (‘Volver‘)
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/vistavision

ArcLight, Los Angeles – picked by Pedro Almodóvar (‘Volver‘)

‘I’m in love with big screens and the ArcLight’s was very big. Unfortunately, it closed and I can’t believe it. I’m sure that the movie theater will never die, even if it feels like a sort of twilight now – they will always exist. Look at Dune: you have to see this on a big screen. The only way to be kidnapped by a movie is to go to a dark place, surrounded by strangers, where the screen is bigger than your life and you are minuscule in comparison.’

Kino International, Berlin – picked by Pablo Larraín (‘Jackie’)
Photograph: Nicole Kwiatkowski/Shutterstock

Kino International, Berlin – picked by Pablo Larraín (‘Jackie’)

‘This building [is special]. I’ve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey there on 70mm and one of the movies that made me want to be a filmmaker: Fitzcarraldo. It’s a special place, and I like Berlin a lot.’

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Film Forum, New York – picked by Robert Eggers (‘The Lighthouse’)
Photograph: © Peter Aaron / OTTO

Film Forum, New York – picked by Robert Eggers (‘The Lighthouse’)

‘I have probably had the most inspiring moviegoing experiences of my adult life at Film Forum.’

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‘This is a very beautiful question and a very sad one, because I used to go with my former partner to ArcLight on Sunset Boulevard and it’s a very sad thing not to be able to share it with him anymore. They really believed in the rite of going to the cinema: from entering this majestic lobby, to the projection, to how they timed your food so you had it for the movie, to the way someone presented the movie to you. And the dome is a wonderful extravaganza.’

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles – picked by Sean Baker (‘Red Rocket’)
Photograph: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles – picked by Sean Baker (‘Red Rocket’)

‘I’ll spend the extra $10 just to see the latest mainstream film playing in the amazing IMAX auditorium. It’s lush and classic, and the projection and sound is just the perfect presentation of a film. I’m also big fan of Tarantino’s New Beverly, which is just an old-school one-screen theatre. It’s about the crowd and the vibe and the love of movies in the room.’

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Miracle 5 Theatre, Florida – picked by Barry Jenkins (‘Moonlight’)
Photograph: jeterga/creative commons

Miracle 5 Theatre, Florida – picked by Barry Jenkins (‘Moonlight’)

‘In college I’d go to this small five-screen theater in Tallahassee, which played independent and foreign films. My ideal movie house would be a venue like that. When we’re talking about the end of cinema, oftentimes we’re only thinking about it in the most elitist terms – about not be able to see movies in New York or LA because you’ll be watching them on Netflix. But it’s even more critical that people in Boise, Idaho or Tallahassee, Florida, or the Highlands of Scotland can see films like Moonlight when they come out.’

The New Beverly, Los Angeles – picked by Rian Johnson (‘Knives Out’)
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/drtran

The New Beverly, Los Angeles – picked by Rian Johnson (‘Knives Out’)

‘People who love movies come to see 35mm film projected in a theatre and every screening feels like a joyous celebration. It was my church when I was in college and it used to be incredibly dingy – one night a rat crossed the bottom of the screen during The Lady From Shanghai – but Quentin [Tarantino, the owner] has given it a real facelift. One of the last things I saw there was The Bad News Bears and that theatre was rocking. It feels like a really fun raucous church ceremony.’

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Camden Parkway, London – picked by Lynne Ramsay (‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’)
Photograph: Arcaid Images / Alamy Stock Phot

Camden Parkway, London – picked by Lynne Ramsay (‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’)

‘It isn’t there anymore but the Camden Parkway was my favourite. It was all red inside, and going there was the best part of film school for me. Every Monday they used to play silent movies with a little live pianist. I like the fleapit ones but there’s only a few left.’

Cinéma Impérial, Montreal – picked by Denis Villeneuve (‘Dune’)
Photograph: James McNally, Flickr

Cinéma Impérial, Montreal – picked by Denis Villeneuve (‘Dune’)

'I love Cinéma Impérial, which is the most beautiful theatre in Montreal. It's an old-school theatre with an amazing sound system where I discovered most of the movies I love. Going there always brings out deep joy inside me.’

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Grand Teatret, Copenhagen – picked by Ruben Östlund (‘The Square’) 
Photograph: Private

Grand Teatret, Copenhagen – picked by Ruben Östlund (‘The Square’) 

‘I can’t choose between Grand Teatret in Copenhagen and Abaton Kino in Hamburg. It’s because of the people who run them and the vibe they have managed to create. I feel that I like people when I’m in these two cinemas.’ 

The Stella Cinema Rathmines, Dublin – picked by Tomm Moore (‘Wolfwalkers’)
Photograph: Stella

The Stella Cinema Rathmines, Dublin – picked by Tomm Moore (‘Wolfwalkers’)

‘When I lived in Dublin, it was this rundown old cinema that only played The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But it's been refurbished and it’s gorgeous now. It doesn’t have loads of screens but it has lovely seats and blankets and you can take a cocktail in. It makes cinema feel like an event rather than just a place to sell you as much popcorn as possible.’

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Prasads Multiplex, Hyderabad – picked by SS Rajamouli (‘Eega’)
Photograph: Prasads

Prasads Multiplex, Hyderabad – picked by SS Rajamouli (‘Eega’)

‘It’s difficult to get a perfect balance of the sound mix in cinemas – in some theatres, the sub is high or the mids are low and it’s hard to satisfy me. Apart from screen four at the Prasads Multiplex in my city, Hyderabad in India.’

The Regal, Brisbane – picked by Jennifer Kent (‘The Babadook’)
Photograph: Regal

The Regal, Brisbane – picked by Jennifer Kent (‘The Babadook’)

‘It’s close to me in Brisbane and during the pandemic they had a sign that said: “We're not giving up” and it broke my heart, so I try to see as many films there as I can. I lived in Paris for a while and I used to love going to see films like Night of the Hunter or an old French classic in one of those old Parisian cinemas.’

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Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, Texas – picked by Nia DaCosta (‘Candyman’)
Photograph: Shutterstock

Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, Texas – picked by Nia DaCosta (‘Candyman’)

‘The food! And they have some of the best film projectionists in the country.’ 

Most Beautiful cinemas in the world

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