Culture Contributor Laura Mosley gives the run-down on the best independent cinemas in the city
There’s nothing like it; when the cinema screen lights up and the music kicks in, teasing you about movie moments yet to come. As you grab your seat (and perhaps some popcorn if your student loan allows it), your anticipation is heightened as to whether your film was truly worth the price of a cinema ticket or whether you should have just watched a low-quality screening on your laptop. Whilst Odeon and Cineworld are the renowned porters of the cinematic experience, they are not the only ones. Large and commercialised with sometimes a questionable amount of chewing gum under the seat, they can fail to capture the uniqueness of cinema which entices you to go in the first place. Here are three independent cinemas in Birmingham which don’t break the bank and offer a slightly more refined experience than your average cinema chain.
Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen
With student tickets at £4 a pop, this is the perfect alternative to a night out. Tucked away in Digbeth’s iconic Custard Factory, this cinema is a little bit more off the beaten track but one well worth discovering. Hosting an array of both new releases and movie classics there’s something for everyone and with an assortment of events to add in the mix, including quizzes and tributes, you’re guaranteed much more than a second-rate screening. This intimate setting also hosts a bar and kitchen, so there’s no need to worry about finding a pre-movie snack elsewhere. Plus, you can get 25% off your food bill when you show your cinema ticket whilst ordering – who isn’t a winner? If you go, make sure you try one of their craft beers, and also give Digbeth Dave a shout out if you see him, he’ll make sure you have a good night!
Operating as an independent network of boutique cinemas, Everyman places emphasis on comfort and quality. Adorned with red sofas; you feel as if you’ve been whisked off straight to the golden age of cinema. Screening the latest releases, as well as recordings of productions from The Royal Opera and The Royal Shakespeare Company to name a few, the cinema can provide the perfect alternative to the stage with the added convenience of not having to trek all the way to London. This snug venue can be found at Birmingham’s Mailbox with an entry overlooking the canal. Tickets are priced at a more premium rate of £11.50 if you want to relax on one of the cinema’s bespoke furnishings. However, when you get to sit in style surrounded by a wealth of Birmingham’s finest restaurants (the venue also offers its own bar menu), this cinema is almost definitely worth visiting if you’re thinking of treating yourself when the loan comes in.
Established in 1909, The Electric is the oldest working cinema in the UK, and it certainly has the rustic interior to show it. A perfect option for if you like a bit of history with your film or if you’re into your indie attractions, this venue will help you give the impression that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to cinema. Situated right next to New Street station, the proximity of this cinema means you barely even have to step outside before you’re in the midst of vintage movie posters, a bar and a selection of plush leather sofas. Tickets come at £6.50 each for the cheapest seats and this cinema does Meerkat Movies, meaning if you schedule your cinema trip for a Tuesday or Wednesday you can see your chosen film for just £3.25! Waiter service is also available if you decide to splash a bit more cash and get a more premium seat. Having won the 2017 What’s On award for Best Midlands Independent Cinema, this cinema really is something special and when you get wrapped up in its unique and timeless feel, you’ll see exactly why.