The jewel in the Picturehouse crown opened in 1992 and has been screening a mix of mainstream releases and independent films from its handy location beside Clapham Common ever since. Like all Picturehouses it’s a super-popular local cinema with a devoted following who come for the snug, anti-multiplex atmosphere and comfy reclining seats. Take your pick from the gut-expanding array of posh snacks and grab a drink at the bar, which has become a destination in itself – and is perfect for a post-film debrief. Plus you can buy a glass of wine to take into the movie.
The Picturehouse has only been open since 2011, but already it’s impossible to remember Hackney without its four-screen cinema. Downstairs, on the ground floor the bar/café (we recommend the burgers) is always buzzing. The programming is a bang-on mix of top-of-the-range mainstream and artier films – and if you’re after blockbuster bangs, make sure you book for screen one, with its beast of a screen, big sound and steep incline for uninterrupted viewing. On the top floor is the Hackney Attic venue, home to music quizzes, open-mic nights and all manner of live events.
Instantly recognisable by its striking glass and brick exterior (which throws buckets of natural light on to the box office and slender upstairs bar), the Greenwich Picturehouse is the number one destination for film lovers in south-east London to watch a movie. There’s everything you'd expect from a Picturehouse cinema here – plump seats, a decent range of drinks and snacks, a programme mixing top-end mainstream releases with artier films – plus a downstairs bar that doubles as a venue for comedy and music gigs. And if you’re feeling peckish, there’s a little Spanish restaurant attached to the foyer.
The Ritzy is a Brixton institution, much loved for its friendly staff and anti-multiplex atmosphere. One of south London’s oldest picture palaces (it originally opened in 1911), today the Ritzy has still got a little of that grandeur. Its five screens are all comfortable and reasonably sized, while the programme strikes the perfect balance between major blockbusters and independent films, plus late-night shows and classics. There are also two bars, one offering a view across Windrush Square and serving slap-up café food, the other tucked upstairs inside the cinema and playing host to an array of club nights and stand-up shows.