London’s cinemas are facing an unprecedented challenge. As the coronavirus bites, the capital’s screens have closed. But there are still ways we can support our local cinemas: by buying memberships now that will still be valid when the crisis is over.
‘If you have a favourite cinema or chain,’ says filmmaker, Londoner and all-round champion of the city’s cinemas Edgar Wright, ‘and if you can afford to, consider buying a membership for yourself or for someone else. In this dark period where the cinemas are shuttering, any fan should do what they can to make sure these places of worship are still open on the other side of this. Anyone who knows me is aware that I spend more time at London cinemas than on my own couch. I am still a big advocate for the communal cinema experience and will stump up for it whenever I am able to. See you all on the other side, but in the meantime – support your local picture palace.’
To that end, we’ve made a list of all the cinemas in London offering membership schemes, for anyone that wants to help:
Arthouse Crouch End
Where can I use it? At Time Out readers’ favourite independent cinema, the Arthouse.
Price: £45 for basic membership, £300 for lifetime.
Perks: Four free tickets, plus bar and box office discounts.
Best bit? Priority booking for some amazing Q&As – Ken Loach, Jo Brand and Mike Leigh are three recent big names.
Where can I use it? At the home of UK cinema, the BFI Southbank.
Price: From £37 annual membership.
Perks: Two free tickets, plus discounts at the box office and bar and money off excellent streaming service BFIPlayer.
Best bit? Priority booking for some of London’s biggest film festivals, including star-studded gala screenings at the LFF.
Where can I use it? At gorgeous old-school community cinema the Castle in Hackney.
Price: £29 a year for basic membership, £120 for ‘premier’ membership.
Perks: Free tickets, discounts on drinks and tickets, and more.
Best bit? Just soaking up the unique atmosphere of a cinema that opened in 1913.
Where can I use it? At lively non-profit community space Deptford Cinema.
Price: £25 a year to become a patron
Perks: Every ticket is discounted to £4.50, plus you get a stylish film-themed membership card.
Best bit? Getting to be part of the city’s most hands-on cinema.
Where can I use it? At independent East End multiplex the Genesis.
Price: £20 per month or £30 for Gold membership. Vouchers are also available.
Perks: It’s pricier than most, but you get unlimited access to every film showing, plus discounts at the bar.
Best bit? Watching absolutely everything, from blockbusters to cult one-offs.
Where can I use it? At Catford’s independent cinema and arts space.
Price: £40, or £25 for over 60s and students.
Perks: You get three free tickets, discounts on all other tickets, and a ten percent discount on food and drinks.
Best bit? Popping by The Refugee Café on a Thursday or Saturday for a home-baked pre-movie pastry.
Where can I use it? At friendly, volunteer-run single-screener The Lexi in Kensal Rise.
Price: £35 for basic single annual membership; joint, student and senior rates available.
Perks: Three free tickets and £2 off all other tickets, plus a discount at the bar.
Best bit? During the current crisis the Lexi is running a free ‘Virtual Cinema’ with curated films to stream and regular online discussions. And 100 percent of its profits go to charity, so you can feel pretty smug about supporting it.
Where can I use it? At beloved early-twentieth-century local The Phoenix in East Finchley.
Price: £35 per year for the basic deal, others are available.
Perks: Three free tickets, plus regular discounts at the box office and bar.
Best bit? Knowing you’re helping to support an icon of the London film scene.
The Prince Charles
Where can I use it? At iconic repertory cinema the Prince Charles, just off Leicester Square.
Price: £10 for a year, £60 for a lifetime.
Perks: Discount tickets and money off at the bar, plus 10 percent off at some local businesses.
Best bit? Regular £1 members’ screenings of classic movies.
Regent Street Cinema
Where can I use it? At London’s oldest cinema, the beautifully restored Regent Street.
Price: £40 a year, £30 concessions
Perks: Two free tickets, plus discounts on tickets and at the bar.
Best bit? Spending an afternoon soaking up one of its wonderful classic film double bills.
Where can I use it? At arts hub, live venue and three-screen cinema the Rich Mix in Shoreditch.
Price: £35 for basic membership, other deals are available.
Perks: Three free cinema tickets, plus discounts at the bar and box office.
Best bit? Go beyond the movie screen with exclusive deals on the Rich Mix’s programme of theatre, art and live music events.
ICA Red Membership
Where can I use it? At The Mall’s famous old independent cinema and art space, The Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Price: £20/month or £240/year.
Perks: Unlimited access to all exhibitions, films, talks, concerts and performances, as well as priority booking and free entry to ICA keynote programmes, and 10 percent off at the bookshop and canteen. Happy days.
Best bit? The membership fee goes towards helping keep this unique cinema and arts venue independent. You don’t just get access to free art-house movies; you also get the warm glow that comes with being a champion of the arts.
Where can I use it? At classic art deco filmhouse the Rio in Dalston.
Price: £30 for basic annual membership, £300 for lifetime.
Perks: Free tickets, discounts, three months of Mubi and money off at a number of local businesses.
Best bit? Its fantastic selection of late-night classics and Sunday double bills.
The Curzon chain
Where can I use it? At Curzon cinemas across London and beyond
Price: £65 for the classic membership, others are available
Perks: 4 free tickets, plus discounts at the box office and bar
Best bit? Discounts on streaming service Curzon Home Cinema, which would be particularly handy at the moment.
The Everyman chain
Where can I use it? At Everyman cinemas across London and the UK
Price: £95 a year for the basic package, others are available
Perks: A whopping 7 free tickets
Best bit? Every Monday it’s buy one get one free, so you can bring a friend.
The Picturehouse chain
Where can I use it? At any of London’s Picturehouse cinemas, from Hackney down to Dulwich
Price: £62 for the basic London package, others are available
Perks: 4 free tickets, priority booking and discounts at the bar and box office
Best bit? You can get discounts at Picturehouses across the country, so take it on your hols!