Busan Cinema Centre (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 31 May 2019

11 of the coolest cinemas in movie history

Grab the popcorn! From Spain to South Korea, Norway to India, these gorgeous picture palaces from around the world are film stars in their own right...

1. Electric Cinema, Notting Hill, London, England

This beautifully restored Grade II listed cinema on London’s iconic Portobello Road is easily the most luxurious and comfortable place to catch a movie in the British capital.

Patrons sit in sumptuous leather armchairs, each with its own cashmere blanket, footstool and side table to rest the wine and snacks brought to you by a waiter. 

Recent renovations have seen the first rows taken up by six double beds, and a row of spacious sofas up back.

There’s a new American-style doughnut bar in the foyer too, offering decadent flavours like Maple Bourbon, Bergamot Orange, Ginger Chew, Mexican Chocolate and Berry Trifle.

More information: Electric Cinema

2. Busan Cinema Centre, Korea

Busan Cinema Centre at Night (Shutterstock)

Busan Cinema Centre at Night (Shutterstock)

Bombastic and attention-grabbing, the Busan Cinema Centre was built to host the Busan International Film Festival, one of the biggest and most respected in Asia. Designed by Austrian architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, it features the world’s longest cantilever roof.

All the exterior ceilings are covered in LED lighting that constantly changes colours, forming stunning visual displays, just as entertaining as the movies shone within. Interesting fact: Locals call it Dureraum, which is Korean for 'everyone seeing movies together'.

More information: Dureraum's official website

3. Matadero Cineteca, Madrid, Spain

Tucked away in one of Madrid’s more unfashionable suburbs, Matadero Cineteca is the only cinema in Spain dedicated solely to showing documentary films.

It has two movie theatres, a movie studio, a café, a free-to-browse film archive, and a mission to inspire future filmmakers.

The building began its life as slaughterhouse, and much of its bare, brutal aesthetic remains. Brick walls are bare and exposed and repurposed irrigation pipes form part of the building's skeletal frames.

It seems it was always destined to become a cinema. When it was first abandoned, filmmakers used it to shoot scenes for war movies. And Pedro Almodóvar shot some scenes for his film Matador in 1986.

More information: Cineteca Madrid

4. Elgin Winter Garden Theatre, Toronto, Canada

The Elgin & Winter Gardens Theatre is one of only two stacked Edwardian theatres in the world. Basically one theatre on top of another, it was built in 1913 to cater to two very different clientele.

The lower level theatre was home to continuous vaudeville acts and silent movies, while the upper-level Winter Garden was reserved for big name acts and more affluent patrons. 

The Winter Garden level was designed to evoke a country garden under the stars atmosphere and is painted with murals of plants and garden trellises, with tree trunk columns and lantern lights.

This elaborately furnished space plays host to screenings during the Toronto Film Festival, and can be admired on tours of the building that are held every day.

More information: Heritage Trust

5. Pathé Tuschinski, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Pathé Tuschinski at night (Shutterstock)

Pathé Tuschinski at night (Shutterstock)

Situated a stone's throw from Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam’s city centre, the Pathé Tuschinski is arguably the most beautiful Art Deco movie theatre in the world. Built by Abraham Icek Tuschinski, a Polish Jewish immigrant whose first intention had been to sail for America, it was the biggest cinema in the country and cost of 4 million guilders to build.

The cinema was designed to impress, with a grand entrance an imposing Art Deco façade and two towers rising above the neighbourhood. The decadent interior simply takes the breath away. 

Painstakingly restored, the main auditorium of the Tuschinski has been reduced to 740 sets, but with the addition of love seats and private boxes for a truly spectacular experience.

More information: Pathe's official website

6. Raj Mandir Theatre, Jaipur, India

Raj Mandir cinema in Jaipur (Shutterstock)

Raj Mandir cinema in Jaipur (Shutterstock)

With its pink Art Deco-inspired exterior made up of waves and asymmetrical shapes, the Raj Mandir reflects both architecture and colour of the city, as well as the wild technicolour sensibilities of the Bollywood movies it shows. First opened in 1976, it has over 1,200 seats that sell out nearly every session.

As such, watching a movie at the Raj Mandir is the ultimate Bollywood experience. The National Anthem is played before every screening, and your three-hour Hindi epic will have ample interludes for your to stretch your legs and buy snacks.

Don’t forget to join in with the locals and clap when the hero shows up on screen. Or boo whenever the villain enters a scene.

More information: The Raj Mandir

7. Kino International, Berlin, Germany

Kino International film theatre in Berlin (Shutterstock)

Kino International film theatre in Berlin (Shutterstock)

Located on Karl-Marx-Allee in former East Berlin, the Kino International is a relic from the Cold War - a stark, brutal-looking building that reflects the aesthetics of the time. Before the fall of the Wall, it was where all films in the German Democratic Republic were premiered, many with strong socialist messages.

Although the design is simple and clean, much effort was made to ensure moviegoers enjoyed an optimal viewing and sound experience. The acoustics are similar to that of a recording studio. The walls are covered with acoustic dampening panels and wood. 

The Kino received heritage status in 1990, meaning that outside facade of Kino International, along with its interior furnishings, cannot be altered. Today, Kino International boasts a well-rounded art-house program and hosts a strong list of premieres, festivals and events.

More information: Kino International

8. The Castro Theatre, San Francisco, United States

The Castro at night (Shutterstock)

The Castro at night (Shutterstock)

With an exotic design inspired by Mexican cathedrals, the Castro is one of San Francisco’s oldest and most iconic cinemas. Built in 1922 by the Nasser brothers, it is still run by the family who reclaimed ownership in 2001. 

The neighbourhood that surrounds it is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly locations in the United States, something the Castro has embraced. The Art Deco Castro is famous for its sing-along screenings and has become a the hub for LGBTQ pride in San Francisco.

More information: Castro Theatre

9. Puskin Art Cinema, Budapest, Hungary

When it opened back in 1926, the Puskin was one of the most impressive cinemas in Europe.

Its star has faded a little since, but its old world interior, featuring original sculptures made by architect Sándor Krisztián, still impresses.

Try to catch a show in the main theatre, with its golden ceiling, illuminated by hundreds of vintage-style bulbs, held aloft by imposing marble columns.

The old world charm is reflected in venue’s programme of events, that includes traditional puppet shows for children.

More information: Puskin's official website

10. Colosseum Kino, Oslo, Norway

The Colosseum Kino in Oslo, Norway is the largest cinema in Northern Europe and the largest THX cinema in the world. It is famous for its large spherical dome. It's 40m diameter rivals even the dome of St. Paul’s Basilica.

First opened in 1921, the cinema has constantly moved with the times, becoming the first Norwegian cinema to install the CinemaScope format in 1954 and installing a new Alcons Audio CinemArray sound system in 2009.

The distinctive copper roof was added in 1988, with copper sourced from Hämeenlinna in Finland.

More information: NFKino official website

11. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles

Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard (Shutterstock)

Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard (Shutterstock)

Arguably the most famous cinema in the world, Grauman's Chinese Theatre was first opened in 1927 and has been the go-to place for big budget movie premieres ever since. It was built in its distinctive Chinese pagoda style after the success of the nearby Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, which opened five years earlier.

The theatre opened with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings and has since since hosted the premiere of the first Star Wars movies and hosted three Academy Awards ceremonies.

Today, the cinema is equally famous for the concrete blocks set in the forecourt, which bear the signatures, footprints, and handprints of popular motion picture personalities from the 1920s to the present day.

More information: The Chinese Theatre's official website

Follow Team Wanderlust