Cinemas, IMAX South Bank

London's – indeed, the UK’s – biggest cinema screen at 540 square metres, the BFI Imax stands alone in the centre of a busy roundabout next to Waterloo station. Like a princess in a fairytale it’s surrounded by a labyrinth of eerie tunnels, which heroic filmgoers must brave if they wish to sample the delights within. But trust us, it’s worth it. The screen is, of course, absolutely massive, the sound quality is spectacular and the seats are arranged at such a vertiginous angle that there’s no chance of a head blocking your view. It’s not cheap – as much as £20 for a premium seat – but if you like your blockbusters vast and noisy (and who doesn’t?) there’s really nothing else like it in town. One word of advice – locate your nearest loo before the film starts if you’re prone to a mid-film pee, because they’re all but impossible to find.


Venue name: BFI IMAX
Address: 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk
Opening hours: Ring for times
Transport: Tube: Waterloo
Price: Standard prices £7.90, concs £6.50, children (4-14) £4.95, under-threes free
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  • Time Out says
    3 out of 5 stars
    According to the blurb, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ is ‘the first computer-animated film designed, created and produced… exclusively for the 3D experience’. Whether it looks any better than a 2D-to-3D transfer like ‘Meet the Robinsons’ is a moot point, b...
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  • Time Out says
    4 out of 5 stars
    This Imax film, narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, comes from a team well-seasoned in making films shot in space: its writer-director-producer-editor Toni Myers was behind films including ‘Hubble 3D’ and ‘Space Station 3D’. But it’s the first such fil...
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  • Time Out says
    3 out of 5 stars
    You definitely wouldn’t have bet your spaceship on this Han Solo spin-off movie being anything other than a hunk of junk. The ditching of original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (‘21 Jump Street’) – which was well published and just shy of a...
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Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Wow, definitely one of the biggest movie screens ever! If you're a huge movie fan then this is treat! It is slight more expensive than your local cinema but worth it for all the great action blockbusters! The way the seats are angled means that nobody's head gets in your way, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the movie!

There are also double seats, so if you want to feel like you're at home on your couch then these are perfect! 

The usual popcorn and snacks are available too, they also have a Costa coffee downstairs and ice cream!

Nearby all the wonderful restaurants along Southbank are open til late so you can make a real day out when in the area! :)


I was not at all surprised to learn that the IMAX is the biggest cinema screen in Europe, it is gargantuan!

Although a little on the pricey side, this is an excellent way to see a high action film. As well as the high level picture which feels like it's being directly projected into your brain, the surround sound is also excellent quality. 

Standard seats are only about £5 more than a normal cinema experience so I actually think this is well worth it for the right film.


Wow! What an amazing way to see a film! The sound was phenomenal! Saw the new pirates in 3D.


The building itself is quite cool. Its an eight storey, circular Perspex edifice with gigantic posters trailing the latest blockbuster alternating on the outside.

The sound is excellent, both in terms of volume and quality. You may want plugs if you have sensitive ears, they definitely have it turned up to 11, but the system is up to it and the quality is good even at that level. 

The screen is vast, the largest is the UK, 540square metres of it. The 3D quality is fantastic for those films made for it, in fact, some specialist films can only be seen at their best in an IMAX cinema.

It is not cheap and the seats are not comfortable enough to sit through a full movie easily. There seem to be too few toilets for the size of the venue, each time we have gone the queues have been long before and after the film.

However having said this, it is a unique experience and it is worth going at least once to see either a made for IMAX film or a big 3D blockbuster.


BFI IMAX is quite obviously a docked alien mothership plugged into the London tube's electrical grid, gathering power and intel as it gears up for city-wide annihilation. The moment the power chamber batteries reach capacity it will rip out of the ground with such otherworldy force that Waterloo bridge will crumble straight into the Thames, not unlike a piece of popcorn dissolving into a large Coke Zero at the cinema, such as the one which this unspeakably destructive UFO has been (unconvincingly) masquerading as for over a decade now. If eBible Fellowship leader Chris McCann is as trustworthy as his organisation is old, which is really not very,  the the doomsday ought to be occurring any minute. At the hands of a bloody overpriced one-screen cinema. 

Who can stop it now? We can! Hop on your nearest fully upgraded laser-equipped Boris Bicycle T-2000 and take this mother down. There's ten thousand of these flyable death-dealing machines in London, so make like the boy from E.T and get on yer' bike. Together we are going to do it... 

Today we are cancelling the apocalypse! 

But yeah I saw Pacific Rim here and it was sweet. This whole thing has been a way of getting in that epic line from the film. 

moderatorStaff WriterTastemaker

Excellent cinema especially when the film merits a big experience. Great for films like Star Trek and Interstellar.

Staff Writer

Recently went to watch Jurassic World in 3D at the IMAX and it was fantastic. Hugely fun to watch on the massive screen and the surround sound was epic. The compère (Nicholas) introducing the performance was incredibly funny and added to the whole experience. 

Staff Writer

Best cinema I've ever been to. I've made it a habit to watch all superhero films there since IMAX is really good for sci-fi action films. The screen is massive and the sounds are just too good. The surround sound system is comparable to none. I've watched films there like, Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers 1 and Avengers 2 etc. It makes 3D movies well worth it.

This should be a great cinema. But it isn't. Finding the entrance is the first challenge. Buying tickets is generally easy and there is a self serve option. But then you have to trek upstairs and you get let in at the bottom of the cinema. You climb interminable steps to get to your seat. The seats themselves are uncomfortable for any length of film except 20 minutes. So not much good then. The only decent seats are at the very top of the auditorium for which you pay a premium. The exit at the end of the film requires you to go up to the back of the auditorium and then take endless winding stairs down. There is a lift if you are clever enough to find it. The loos on the same level as the top of the auditorium are small and over crowded. I have been there for blockbusters and for opera. The screen is great, but not worth the extra cost or discomfort.