There are movie theatres, and then there are retro, boutique and some of the most quirkiest and unique cinemas!
Catch the latest releases with a tub of freshly popped popcorn at Australia’s retro, individually unique and boutique cinemas. They’ve got charm, they’ve got soul, and a little bit of razzle dazzle. But, best of all, they showcase great films!
Make your next picture palace experience one to remember thanks to our list of Australia’s most amazing retro, unique and boutique cinemas.
New Farm Six Cinemas
When it comes to fancy cinemas, there’s one cinema franchise in Queensland you must know: Five Star Cinemas. It’s a family picture business launched by the Sourris brothers, Stephen and Peter. And their most eye-catching venue is New Farm Six Cinemas which blends retro with new age; with their futuristic movie theatres and quirky foyer. As well as your standard cinema experience, we recommend opting for the gold rooms, where you can sip wine and nibble on cheese during your movie session.
Yatala Drive-In is also under the Five Star Cinemas umbrella, and it shows! It’s one of the most unique cinemas in Australia, all the way down to the aesthetics. Park your car under the stars and enjoy a groovy movie, and step back in time at the nearby snack bar that looks like it came out of the 1950s. Of course, you don’t have to sit in the front seat – bring a rug for the back of your ute or pop open your spacious boot. Please note: you need a radio that can tune to FM to listen here. It can even be portable!
New South Wales
Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
If Hollywood had an architectural genre, this would be it. The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace is divinely retro, adorned with a style of art deco that pays homage to that Los Angeles cinematic neighbourhood. And if the interior décor isn’t retro enough, this place also showcases a Wurlitzer piano that rises up from the floor on the main stage, and is then played prior to your show. Wurlitzer pianos were originally used to accompany silent films, but this one is only played at certain screenings. Definitely one of Sydney’s most quirkiest cinemas!
Golden Age Cinema & Bar
For a quaint cinema that sits around 50 people per session, the Golden Age Cinema & Bar is more than its size. Found just below street level in Surry Hills, expect a boutique establishment that automatically makes every customer feel part of the family. When you arrive, ticket in hand, mosey on over to the bar for a ridiculously good cocktail and a nibble before your screening. Talk about a boutique cinema turned cool!
Just a 10-minute walk from Coogee Beach in Sydney’s southeast is another opulent picture theatre that screams art deco. And the exterior is just as scene-setting as the inside. Ritz Cinemas is also one of the few Australian film theatres to have a second level balcony in their main theatre, adding to the uniqueness. Grab yourself a stiff martini from the Ritz Bar and waltz into your cinema with all the flamboyancy of a 1940s diva.
The Astor Theatre
One of Melbourne’s best cinemas – at The Astor Theatre, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re walking into a musical or play theatre rather than a film theatre. It’s easy to think this with the square-structured ceiling, the dangling chandeliers, and interior decor that fits the 1950s. As well as playing some of the latest and greatest, The Astor Theatre also screens classics throughout the year, as well as seasonal greats. Because nothing says retro like watching a classic film at The Astor.
Cinema Nova is regarded as one of the largest cinemas in Australia. With 16 screens and an on-site bar and kitchen eatery, it offers plenty of variety for movie theatre goers. They are also one of the pioneers for screening stage productions and art from around the world. But, size aside, it is their cinema rooms that make them perfect for our list of the most unique cinemas in Melbourne. Instead of the usual art deco fanciness, Cinema Nova is very new age with their interior decoration. Just don’t forget the popcorn!
Village Cinemas Rivoli
Australia’s most retro and art deco cinemas continues at Village Cinemas Rivoli – owned and operated under Village Cinemas. The interior, and even the exterior, are festooned with shapes and symbols that come out of the 1940s. This includes the flooring that is delightfully psychedelic. Matched with varying sized screens for all sorts of fastidious audiences, and you’ve got a picture-perfect-place to relax your way to stardom.
In Tasmania, the most well-known cinema experience is also the most unique. With a history spanning 100 years, it has showcased plenty of silver screen stars, and now it’s doing much more! As well as 11 screens to satisfy any moviegoers tastebuds, they also have an onsite bookstore and a large cafe bar to fill your stomach before your screening. Browse for your next darling novel, sip on a tasty coffee, then take a seat to watch a blockbuster! Talk about being one of Tasmania’s best movie theatres!
The Paragon Theatre
Hidden in the small city of Queenstown, Tasmania, The Paragon Theatre captures the era of the 1930s. And that’s considering it had to be fully revamped in 2003. Featuring original art deco style, the theatre was the paragon of cinema experience. And now it is both a window into the world of Hollywood, as well as a door into the past. While you can catch a movie here, we recommend taking a tour, or checking out upcoming stage productions.
There is so much splendour to be said about the Capri Theatre. First and foremost, it houses the second-largest Wurlitzer organ in the Southern Hemisphere. It is played before evening sessions on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On top of this, the entire building is heritage listed. And if that’s not enough to wow your eyeballs, it is entirely staffed by volunteers – from ushers to AV tech support. For a retro cinematic establishment, it really does take the cake!
Odeon Star, Semaphore Cinemas
The Odeon Star Semaphore Cinemas is a classic retro movie theatre that is wholly family owned. But the greatest selling point is the inexpensive tickets, which remain at just $10 for any session. Talk about a great night out without the jaw-dropping price tag! The main auditorium offers 1960s nostalgia, budding with grandeur and stardom, adding to the beauty of whatever movie you wish to see.
Out of all the quirky, boutique and unique cinemas in Western Australia, the one that caught our eye the most was Rooftop Movies. It’s aptly named as they screen their movies on a rooftop surrounded by the city skyline of Perth. Utter bliss! The tickets start from beanbag and work their way up to premium lounge, and for those who are hard of hearing, they even offer open captioned screenings. Be sure to snag a burger, popcorn or beer before (or during) your film.
Lounge outside in the open evening air while your favourite stars act on the big screen at Darwin’s Deckchair Cinema. It’s a very Darwin thing to do but, regardless, it’s still one of the coolest and most unique cinema experiences in Australia! If you arrive well before your screening starts, you’ll get to enjoy a drink and a feast as you watch the sun set across the Beagle Gulf. Of course, as Darwinians would expect, this unique cinema is only open during the dry season between April and November. But it’s well worth the wait!
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