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Prince Charles Cinema

London’s best cheap cinemas

Seven good value cinemas in the capital where you can get tickets for less than a tenner

By Tom Huddleston
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‘Back in my day, you could see a film for 20p and still have change for a bag of chips on the way home.’ It’s been the anecdote of choice for grumbly codgers for decades, and their disapproving view of today’s cinema prices is hard to argue with. But there are still lots of cheap cinemas in London – you just need to know where to look. Read on for our pick of London’s best cheap cinemas, where the value still won’t impress your grandad, but you’ll at least get change from a tenner.

The best cheap cinemas in London

Prince Charles Cinema

Cinemas Independent Leicester Square

London’s most fun cinema – it’s home to regular singalongs – is also one of its cheapest, with tickets starting at £1 for members. It’s great for catching up on recent multiplex hits, arty vintage classics and indie oddities. But best of all are the famous all-night movie pyjama parties. From back-to-back teen flicks and Arnie marathons to the complete works of Wes Anderson, these dusk-till-dawn happenings are the Prince Charles’s stock in trade. Not all screenings are under £10 (the all-nighters most definitely aren’t). But classic movies tend to be £8.50 or less – and if you buy a £10 annual membership it all gets even cheaper.

PeckhamPlex

Cinemas Independent Peckham

It’s years since the PeckhamPlex instituted their £4.99 per ticket policy, and they’ve shown no sign of raising it. A south-London institution, this beloved multiplex is old-school to the core. It’s the sort of place where the floor’s a bit sticky with spilled Fanta and there are always teenagers snogging in the back row. The film line-up is standard blockbuster fare – action movies, superhero flicks and the odd Oscar-worthy drama – but the location’s handy for the station, and the snacks are as reasonably priced as the tickets. Don’t go changing, PeckhamPlex.

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Deptford Cinema

Cinemas Deptford

A passionate group of film-loving locals in Deptford has transformed a derelict shop into an intimate movie hideout, with tickets at a bargainous £5. Upstairs, there’s a teeny bar space with peeling posters on the ceiling. Downstairs, things get a bit plusher, with a proper 40-seater cinema with surprisingly comfy red velvet seats. The selection skews towards the arty and old-fashioned, and there are often parties and dress-up events as well as straight-up film screenings. Oh, and cocktails are £3.50. What are you waiting for?

Empire Walthamstow

Cinemas Walthamstow

The Walthamstow Empire is your standard multiplex – you won’t find a fancy bar or a chi-chi sofa here. The reason to go is the almost-an-IMAX Impact screen – eye-poppingly huge with great sound. Adult prices are £7.50 at off-peak times and £8 at peak, though they do go up a bit if you’re after the Impact experience. And every Tuesday, everything drops to an amazing £3.95 (or £4.95 for the Impact). The Empire is also one of London’s newest cinemas, the latest addition to the Empire Cinemas chain, in a part of town that didn’t have a proper picture palace for decades.

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Genesis Cinema Whitechapel

Cinemas Independent Stepney

The people of Whitechapel should think themselves lucky, having the beautifully renovated Genesis on their doorstep. If you’re looking for a cut-price cinema in the East End, look no further. Weekends get a little pricier (full price tickets are £9). But weekday screenings are a steal. With the exception of the boutiquey Studio 5, tickets at the Genesis are £4.50 on Monday and Tuesdays and £8 on Wednesday and Thursday. That’s as good a bargain as you’ll find in London. And the upstairs bar is terrific.

Stratford East Picturehouse
Stratford East Picturehouse
Hydar Dewachi

Stratford Picturehouse

Cinemas Independent Stratford

Tucked away at the back of the Stratford Centre (Westfield’s down-to-earth neighbour), you’ll find the cheapest of the Picturehouse boutique chain’s cinemas. Tickets are £7 all day every day, with a choice of classy blockbusters, Oscar-y drama, audience-friendly foreign titles and the occasional classic. You can also catch live broadcasts of operas and theatre shows, though these tend to be a bit pricier than the average movie screening. Oh, and there’s a bar serving booze, coffee and snacks. The family ticket (two adults, two kids) is amazingly priced at £20. Older visitors can join the Silver Screen club for even cheaper tickets and a free tea or coffee.

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Cinema Museum

Museums Film and TV Elephant & Castle

As the name implies, this isn’t the place you go to catch Vin Diesel’s latest – you’re more likely to see some silent Charlie Chaplin, an afternoon of swooning French classics or an evening of indie shorts. But your ticket does allow you to nose round the amazing museum packed with memorabilia and film artefacts, which is worth the price on its own. Ticket prices vary depending on the event, but generally range from about £6.50 to £8.50. Some are more expensive – particularly if there’s a Q&A or food provided – but others, including the monthly VITO Project series of LGBT+ screenings, are donation only.

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