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Photograph: Alex Lambert

London has a new favourite cinema

The votes are in for the city’s most beloved picturehouse – and it’s south of the river

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Ellie Muir
Phil de Semlyen

London has voted and it has a new favourite place to watch movies: The Ritzy in Brixton has been voted the city’s pick of cinemas in a new poll. 

Like a popcorn-bearing comet, The Ritzy has raced up Time Out’s reader-voted ranking of the city’s best cinemas, taking top spot from Whitechapel’s Genesis (still a magical venue, natch), and enshrining the Brixton venue’s place in the hearts of locals.

One of London’s oldest purpose-built picturehouses, the Ritzy has been an iconic Brixton institution since it opened in 1911, and even survived the Blitz. ‘It’s stood the test of time,’ says manager Wayne Hall.

It’s the kind of place that brings people together, and not just strangers in the café who bond over their shared love of niche film genres. Its unmissable readograph (the signboard on the front of the building), which was salvaged from a deserted cinema in Hammersmith, has facilitated romcom-style wedding proposals over the years, spelling out ‘Will you marry me?’ for all of Windrush Square to see. ‘The thing that I love the most is the community engagement,’ says Hall. ‘People stop and stare and take pictures.’

The cinema’s film offering ranges from big blockbusters to specialist fare (Icelandic folk-horror, anyone?), and Upstairs at the Ritzy hosts events like Reggaeoke, rare-soul nights and the regular Tuesday evening Queenstown Sessions. The Ritzy is way more than just a cinema, it’s a cultural hub, where, as Hall says, ‘there’s something for everybody’. 

Find out which other picturehouses make our list of London’s 25 best cinemas.

The 50 most beautiful cinemas in the world.

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