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Rivoli Cinemas Camberwell
Photograph: Creative Commons

The best cinemas in Melbourne

Catch a flick in one of Melbourne's best-looking cinemas

Rebecca Russo
Written by
Rebecca Russo
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Streaming is convenient, but sometimes you just can't beat the experience of going to the cinema. The heavy velvet curtains, huge screens with surround sound, cushioned chairs and high ceilings give an immersive experience that you simply can't have at home.

Take that experience to the next level by catching a flick at one of these theatres that are works of art themselves. From art-deco wonders to new-age marvels, these architectural marvels are the best-looking cinemas in Melbourne. 

Want some mid-century nostalgia? Head to one of Melbourne's drive-in cinemas.

RECOMMENDED: Outdoor cinemas in Melbourne.

Time Out's 100 Days of Summer calendar is here to help you plan your entire summer in Melbourne.

Melbourne's best cinemas

  • Film
  • Northcote

Palace Westgarth is like taking a trip back to the golden age of Hollywood – the grand stairwell is just one example – and for such an opulent old cinema, the cosy seats and wide screens make for excellent viewing. The Palace has lovingly maintained the Art Deco architecture throughout, making it a beautiful setting for the mix of independent flicks and Hollywood blockbusters that grace the cinema's screens. Check in often for international film festivals. 

  • Film
  • Carlton

Melbourne’s largest arthouse movie complex, Cinema Nova boasts a whopping 16 screens devoted to new release arthouse and upmarket commercial films, plus regular film events, special screenings and festivals. Since its inception in 1992, Cinema Nova has been renowned for supporting local films. It’s also among the first cinemas in the country to screen stage productions from around the world.

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The Astor Theatre
  • Film
  • St Kilda

The Astor in St Kilda has accumulated the kind of reputation every cinema dreams of – and a loyal fan base to boot. It’s a cinema in the grand, old manner, meaning it’s actually the last single screen cinema of its kind in continuous operation in Melbourne. Beautiful gold curtains frame the screen; the entire experience feels like you’ve flashbacked to old Hollywood. 

  • Film
  • Elsternwick

Located just five minutes from St Kilda, Classic Cinemas screens a variety of Hollywood blockbusters, foreign films and family favourites, as well as being home to the Jewish International Film Festival. The building was built in 1889 and opened as a theatre in 1911, and it's been an important part of the Elsternwick community for more than a century. 

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  • Film
  • Hawthorn

Previously a dead building in the middle of the busy Glenferrie Road strip in Hawthorn, Lido Cinemas was revived into a vibrant, eight-screen cineplex that shows a mix of commercial and arthouse releases from all over the world. Much of the historic interior has been left intact and given a modern touch with swathes of bold colour: deep red walls, purple carpeting and block coloured decor. 

The Sun Theatre
  • Film
  • Yarraville

This pint-sized cinema has been independently run since it opened in 1938. Not only will you find a welcome breadth of arthouse and foreign films on the program, you can also admire its well-preserved Art Deco facade on the way in. Having undergone plenty of refurbishments since its birth as a single screen 1,050 seat cinema (including a period in the ‘60s when the Sun became a Greek cinema) it’s now back to glory with eight individual cinemas each detailed with original Art Deco details.

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  • Film
  • Hawthorn East

The Rivoli has something for every cinema-loving Melburnian. The complex houses eight screens which showcase the latest in contemporary and arthouse film offerings. As a bonus for cinemagoers, you can enjoy a post- or pre-movie bevvie at Nineteenforty, Rivoli’s rooftop bar. Up there you’ll get panoramic views over Camberwell and Hawthorn, with a view towards the Rivoli’s Art Deco façade, which is a major throwback to when the cinema first opened in the 1940s.

  • Film
  • Melbourne

We’d go out on a limb and say the Kino is our favourite cinema in all of Melbourne’s CBD, and its location within a schmancy shopping complex only adds to its charm. An exciting program of local and international documentaries, art house features and on-the-cusp mainstream films are shown in the Kino’s plush surrounds. It’s home to frequent special events and Q&As, its seven screens offer a premiere cinema experience in Melbourne’s metro. Hit the stylish café and bar area before your flick to make it a true date night experience.

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