Jack Knowles explores the best cinemas the capital city has to offer.
What makes a cinema good? Why do we continue to go to the one cinema and form a sort of loyalty to it? Is it the food, the price, the films, or just the general atmosphere?
The top cinemas in Dublin are generally considerd to be the Light House in Smithfield, the IFI in Temple Bar, Cineworld on Parnell Street, and the Savoy on O’Connell Street.
Of course, all cinemas have their strengths and weaknesses. Which one you prefer is entirely subjective so crowning a champion is pointless as everyone has different tastes and requirements.
The Stella Theatre in Rathmines recently re-opened, offering cinema goers a vintage and luxurious cinema experience. With large seats, a wide selection of food, and a 1920s décor, the Stella could become a popular choice for posh nights out, if it weren’t for the off-putting ticket price at €19.
Following the re-opening, it is important to look at what the other cinemas in Dublin have to offer, and why they are all great in their own right.
You’re in luck because most cinemas have great student deals.
First of all, looking at the immediate question: price. Being a student with a student budget is not easy, however, most cinemas have great student deals. The IFI is €5 for most screenings (excluding special screenings) before 7:30pm on a Monday. They have a student concession price for evenings which stands at €8. Special screenings normally cost €15. The Savoy has two tickets for €10 from Sunday to Thursday, after which student tickets cost €7. The Light House’s student price is €8. Cineworld is the most expensive with a student price of €10.30 and if you want the IMAX experience it can cost you €16.80.
But let’s face it, a trip to the cinema is more than just to see a film. So what if you want a snack during the film? The IFI is not your place for cinema popcorn, but it does have an excellent café that serves delicious food which you can bring into the theatre. There are good deals on burgers and beers. Likewise, the Light House has the same operation but with a bar as well as a café. If you want some of that sweet-smelling cinema popcorn then the Savoy and Cineworld are the way to go. Cineworld even has a Baskin-Robbins concession serving up delicious ice cream from the people behind Dunkin’ Donuts.
Let’s face it, a trip to the cinema is more than just to see a film.
Comfort is also a big factor when you go to the cinema. There is just no point watching a film if you’re going to be uncomfortable for 2 hours. At times, the IFI can be a bit uncomfortable on the legs. The rest of the cinemas are all perfect from a comfort point-of-view. I have never found myself tossing or turning in any of them. The Light House is particularly spacious in one of the bigger screens, as is Cineworld.
Now one of the main reasons to have a variety of cinemas in the city is because of the range of films available in each. The IFI will usually show foreign films, lesser-known Irish films, and arthouse films. The films tend to be outside mainstream cinema, but they still show a small selection of the bigger films. The special screenings held at the IFI are usually a film lover’s dream; for example, recently they showed William Friedkin’s Sorcerer. They also get film exclusives such as Jaha’s Promise which comes out on the first of December.
For me, the most important factor of a cinema is its atmosphere.
The Light House is similar to the IFI but tends to screen more mainstream films as well as special screenings. The Savoy and Cineworld mainly show mainstream films, with the Savoy being the cinema of choice for most Irish premieres.
What about the atmosphere though? How does it smell when you walk in? Is it alive with people or dead with just a few people around? The Savoy can be the latter, but it does have that nostalgic fresh popcorn smell. Even when it’s busy at the weekend, however, the Savoy still fails to offer a welcoming vibe. In contrast, the Light House and the IFI are far more appealing and relaxed, each due to different factors. The IFI always has people, even just for the café, which creates this warm atmosphere. The Light House has a cool design and very friendly staff. This, plus all the places to sit around the cinema, makes you feel at home. Cineworld seems to get bigger after each visit, you can appreciate this when you walk up to the IMAX screen on the fourth floor.
What makes a cinema your favourite or the best is completely subjective. These cinemas may have some flaws but they do something magical. They show us unforgettable films in the best possible viewing environment.