Best Cinemas in East London: Top Picks for Movie Lovers

East London is a hub of independent cinema, with a range of stunning local theatres that have provided the backdrop for some of the most memorable films in the genre. As self-proclaimed cinephiles, the team at London X London know a thing or two about the best places to catch a movie, and they’re here to share their knowledge with you.

From Hackney to Stratford, this guide will take you on a journey through the best cinemas in East London. So, grab your popcorn and get ready to nestle up in a comfy seat and sink into a fantastic piece of visual storytelling.

Best East London Cinemas

Hackney Picturehouse

The Hackney Picturehouse, located in Hackney, is considered the king of East London cinemas. It was established in 2011 by Picturehouse Cinemas and Panter Hudspith in the former Hackney Central Library building. The cinema features five screens, two bars, and a restaurant that provides food and drinks directly to your seat. It also offers monthly Autism-friendly screenings, regular Dementia-friendly showings, and special Toddler Time showings to ensure accessibility for everyone. In addition to being a popular movie venue, the Hackney Picturehouse also houses Dabbers Social Bingo, which is its second London branch.

The Castle Cinema

Another great cinema in Hackney is The Castle Cinema, a community crowdfunded cinema that showcases various artistic and independent movies. The cinema boasts comfortable armchairs that provide a vintage feel, and its bar is a modern take on a speak-easy style cocktail bar. The cinema also offers private hire for special private screenings of classics.

Genesis Cinema

The Genesis Cinema in Bethnal Green shows a combination of Hollywood hits and arthouse treats. The cinema originally opened in 1912 on the site of a pub called Lusby’s, which was formerly a music hall. The cinema underwent a facelift during the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the kiosk and opening The Yard, an outdoor eating and drinking area. Genesis also offers weekly swing dancing classes, work from Genesis hot-desking, and an art exhibition space.

Stratford Picturehouse

The Stratford Picturehouse is located in Stratford’s growing Cultural Quarter and is a modern, purpose-built space that has won architectural awards for its distinctive, minimalist style. The cinema offers a spacious cafe bar that overlooks Theatre Square, providing outdoor seating to soak in the rays during the summer. It describes itself as the “calm away from the storm,” situated well away from the hustle, bustle, and mild chaos of Westfield Shopping Centre.

Everyman, Canary Wharf

Everyman Canary Wharf, located in Canary Wharf’s Crossrail Place, is a new cinematic gem that provides unrivalled comfort in a sleek, modern space with more than a hint of classic styling. The cinema offers a vast range of food and drink, including their remarkable Spielburger kitchen. It also has cushioned sofas that provide a perfect spot to immerse oneself in a rich cinematic experience.

Electric Cinema

The Electric Cinema, located in hipster-central Shoreditch, is part of the Redchurch Street complex and is available for private hire only. It is part of the Soho House Club, and members receive a decent discount on hires. The cinema provides a traditional style big screen experience in a space with opulent, comfortable armchairs and tables with cute little lamps.

Rio Cinema

The Rio Cinema is a beautiful art deco Grade II-listed building located on Kingsland Road in Dalston. It is a community-run space with a 400-seat main auditorium and a stunning, intimate new 30-seat small screen with leather armchairs, cocktail bar, and lounge. The cinema regularly hosts several film festivals, including the Kurdish Film Fest, Queer Film Fest, and London Korean Film Fest.

Close-Up Cinema

Close-Up Cinema, located in Shoreditch, is one of London’s finest cinematic spaces that regularly shows some of history’s most pioneering pieces of film-making. The cinema’s library contains over 20,000 titles, including ground-breaking early movies, the finest world cinema, classics, experimental titles, and documentaries. In addition to the outstanding range of screenings, which are a must-visit for any cinema buff, the library also contains a massive range of books, journals, histories, and an online archive that includes back copies of the prestigious Vertigo film magazine.

Rich Mix

Rich Mix is located in the heart of Shoreditch and opened in 2006. It has become one of London’s premier art spaces, boasting three cinema screens alongside live music, spoken word, theatre, dance, and visual art in their many exhibition spaces. The cinema includes a bar and screens everything from locally produced independent films to the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. This charity-run arts space reinvests every penny made over the bar through cinema screenings to promote arts work in the community and open access to the arts to those who may not naturally be able to unleash their creativity.

Practical Tips for Exploring the Best East London Cinemas

For those looking for a great deal, some cinemas offer special ticket deals during off-peak times, which are typically during the day in midweek. It’s a good idea to check in advance to save some money. All of the cinemas included in this guide are excellent choices for those interested in current indie cinema releases. However, for those who enjoy classic films, Close-Up Cinema is highly recommended.