Sometimes it's not just about the movie that makes cinema-going memorable. Melbourne's packed with excellent looking cinemas, from art deco relics to new age wonders. Next time you're headed to the movies, pick a flick at one of these architectural marvels and truly immerse yourself.
Melbourne's best cinemas
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 and, for some theatres, super comfy two seater couches. The Sun is such a legend these days even Quentin Tarantino visited on his Hateful Eight publicity tour.
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. Monday is their famed discount day – regular tickets are $7 for sessions before 4pm and $9 for sessions after 4pm (3D movies $13 all day). 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. If you arrive early, take in the view over Lygon Street with a coffee or cocktail in hand at the Cinema Nova bar, or make a pitstop at Brunetti for sweet treats (though the Nova's house made choc tops are to die for).
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.
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. Downstairs you'll find a Huxtaburger diner and make date night complete with a visit to the Lido Jazz Room bar. In summer, Lido also plays host to a rooftop cinema with a separate bar.
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.
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. The classic auditorium theatre boasts a program of new and classic films in 35mm, 70mm and digital formats and it’s a cultural hub for movie fans, with double features, remastered classics, new and independent movies, film festivals and special events.