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  1. Palace Westgarth interior
    Photograph: Charlie Kinross
  2. The Astor Theatre
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  3. Outside at Lido Cinemas
    Photograph: Graham Denholm

The best cinemas in Melbourne

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

Rebecca Russo
Written by
Rebecca Russo

Streaming is convenient, but sometimes you just can't beat the experience of going to the cinema. The ruby-red 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.

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. 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 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. 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.

  • 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. Catch an arthouse, foreign or major Hollywood blockbuster film on one of the Classic’s ten screens, and enjoy sweet and savoury refreshments like olives, bao, edamame, beer, wine and hand-made choc tops in flavours like rocky road and salted caramel. 

  • 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. 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.

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 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.

If you'd still rather watch from home

  • Film

 Binge is another Australia’s streaming service that comes from the same hands as Foxtel and Foxtel Go. Binge has the added benefit of hosting a huge selection of HBO television shows, which makes it ideal for those keen to catch up on “prestige” television shows like The Wire, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. But what else has Binge got to offer? Here are some of our favourite TV shows currently streaming on Binge.

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