London is filled with Repertory Cinemas. I am not sure exactly how many, but that is the whole point of my latest quest around the city, to find out more. So I promised. And I have snuck it in, during the last day of January, my first of a series of journey’s to London greatest picture houses. To what is possibly London’s quirkiest picture house – The Prince Charles Cinema.
Ah, the Prince Charles Cinema. I am a member, you know? A lifetime member! I joined in 1999 for the princely sum of £15. And I am a lifetime member. Today that same lifetime membership costs £50! And it is limited in number…so when I present my crusty yellow card that states ‘lifetime’, I feel quite proud that I am able to get some of the cheapest cinema tickets in London.
Ah, the Prince Charles Cinema. I have spent far too much time here. The tail end of my teens, the bulk of my twenties and even a lot of my thirties so far have been spent inside one of this cinema’s two screens. Usually the main auditorium. Classics such as Alien, Lethal Weapon II, the Breakfast Club, Desperado, Clerks, Slumdog Millionaire, Metropolis I have seen them all and more. And I have also seen my fare chunk of art house fare too. My Name is Joe, Looking for Eric, The Long Good Friday, La Haine, Bad Education, Amores Perros, Y Tu Mama Tambien, City of God, the list is endless. I have watched more films here than even on television. Hell, I have even sung along to The Sound of Music and watched a late night rendition of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. While my compatriots were getting drunk and trying to get laid in their twenties in lousy bars serving watered down alcohol, I was eating pop corn and failing to get laid while watching movies, in between low-paid jobs and going abroad on exotic trips. My life was quite literally at one point the Prince Charles Cinema…
So for those who are are not in the know, what is the cinema like? Well, it is basic. Two screens, a large sloping auditorium in the basement and a small screen in what used to be the balcony. The chairs are meh comfy, but they do have cup holders! The pre-trailer music is usually funky and in addition to the great selection of films (cult, old, new, unusual, independent, mainstream – the lot) it has managed to keep its prices relatively low despite its location in the heart of the West End, where nearby, cinema tickets can cost up to £20 per person! Plus there are a lot of theme events. So there are horrors on Halloween, slushy movies on Valentine’s etc. There are early screenings to pass away hangovers and double bills for films by the same director or in the same series. I need more time in my life, so I can fully enjoy all this cinema has to offer!
But it is the movies that we, the audience are interested in. And what are they like? One word, eclectic. The Prince Charles Cinema is London’s most eclectic picture house. From one month old releases to movies from the silent era. The Prince Charles has probably screened everything available to it. And more. My favourite picture house in London, and the first on my list London Repertory Cinemas!