Sunday 14 October 2012

The Blond discovers: The Phoenix Cinema

Isn't it sad that there are less and less 'real' cinemas around. It seems like the multiplexes are taking over - if they haven't already. They are these impersonal places, where you just feel like in a shopping center. 

Luckily, London is trying really hard to preserve the old, small cinemas. There are a couple of them in the city: Prince Charles Cinema, Everyman Cinema, or Curzon Cinema.
Built in 1910, the Phoenix is one of the oldest cinemas in the UK. Very often you can see it on the list of the most romantic places in London. It is tiny and very cosy. The hall downstairs, where you can buy tickets and your popcorn hardly fits in more than 10 people. There is a small cafe upstairs, where you can read a newspaper, drink a glass of wine or a cup of tea when waiting for your film.
There is only one theater room with a small screen and a sound system which is quite poor, but for most of the movies they show you won't need a great sound.
The cinema's programme is filled with foreign  less known films and old classics. Some of the recent ones are shown, too but hardly ever will you see the big blockbusters there. Even if, for some reason, they decide to screen Batman or Spiderman, it's better to go to a multiplex to watch that. Phoenix is mostly for those heart warming movies, old comedies or musicals, and for the films with a 'message'.

A great feature of the cinema is the decor of the theatre room, with sculpted ceiling and walls. Arrive a little bit earlier to admire the art work and enjoy the special atmosphere this place has.

The cinema is run by a charitable trust for the community. Your money will go to maintain the building, so there is no profit orientated third party there.

How to get there: 52 High Road, N2 9PJ, East Finchley


  1. Great to see you write about this. I haven't been to the Pheonix but I did get to the charming Curzon many years ago. I studied film and was a filmmaker before I was a travel writer and I spent many years in charming, dark, old independent 'picture theatres' (as my grandparents used to call them) to watch foreign/art house films, and I was heartbroken when I returned to Sydney to discover many of them had closed down. Tragic. I think they'll realise how foolish they were for doing so one day. I also love to see movies when I travel and used to spend a lot of time at foreign film festivals - watching how people watch films can be as entertaining as the actual movies.

    1. I love independent cinemas. My dad used to own a little one in my home country and watching a film in a an old cinema brings back memories.
      It's such a shame that people nowadays don't appreciate the magic and atmosphere these old places have.
      I went to Curzon yesterday and loved it! Such a wonderful place :)