Be brave. Take a walk through Leicester Square. Dodge the tourists who are taking photos of themselves inside phone booths. Avoid the souvenir shops trying to sell you thongs with the tube map printed on them. Although these could prove to be useful on those drunken nights when you just aren’t sure where to go, it’s ill advised to unzip your trousers to decide whether you need to take the district line or the circle line home.
Now pause, take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back for getting through this part of London without killing a tourist. After you‘ve done this, find a little side street called Leicester Place. Situated on this short street, halfway between Chinatown and Leicester Square, lies London’s best bargain. The Prince Charles Cinema is on the corner of the street, standing tall and proud with its bright, retro marquee.
A+ for style and originality
Where can you go if you want to see a silent movie with live music accompaniment or swoon over the late Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing? The Prince Charles Cinema. What if you want to go to a Grease sing-a-long or watch stand-up comedy before your film begins? Go to the Prince Charles Cinema. What if you want to have a cheeky pint before or after your film? Well, my friends, you can go to the Prince Charles Cinema for that.
That’s right. The Prince Charles specialises in all things awesome. This includes cheesy 80s movies, cinema classics, and sing-a-long films. I have had the privilege of watching The Wizard of Oz and Ghostbusters at the Prince Charles, and I promise you that no matter how many times you have seen these classics, they are different here. You find yourself laughing at parts you never even thought were funny, thanks to live commentary from fellow cinema-goers. There’s always someone dressed up in movie inspired clothing, which makes it that much more fun.
More bang for your buck
The cinema has two screens; one upstairs and one downstairs. The downstairs room sparkles with charm. It comes complete with red velvet curtains which pull back before the film begins, just like you’re back in the 1950s. The upstairs screen is more modern, and significantly smaller. The old classic films will always be played in the downstairs screen, while the upstairs screen will play current hits (I recently watched The Social Network and Mirrors 2 here).
It’s pretty great that the downstairs screen is cheaper and cooler than the upstairs one. It’s a win-win situation for anyone looking to watch 16 Candles or Rocky in style. Prices vary based on days and times, but you should expect to pay around £5 for the downstairs screen and £8 for the upstairs screen. You can’t grumble at that, especially when a film just metres away will cost you £14.25 at Vue and £15.60 at Odeon. That’s highway robbery and I will never pay those prices. Instead, I have traded in corporate cinemas that lack character and charm for a dazzling cinema that I proudly support with my ticket fees.
It gets even better
Become a member of the Prince Charles and receive discounts on every visit. It’s completely worth the price of membership if you go to the cinema just a few times in a year. I purchased my student membership for only £5, and a regular adult ticket is only £10. Or alternatively, if you know you’re going to be in London for a while, purchase a lifetime membership for only £50.
I typically don’t enjoy weekly emails from companies, but this one is worth joining. You’ll occasionally have the chance to answer a trivia question to win free tickets (this is how I saw Mirrors 2). You’ll also be in the loop for members-only advance screenings.
If you’re up for a funky (and cheap) evening out, go to the Prince Charles. Visit the first Friday of every month for “Feel Good Fridays” which offer £1 beer, £2 wine, and £2 popcorn. Unfortunately, these films seem to be geared toward females (Pretty Woman and Flashdance are on the agenda for February and March), so good luck dragging your boyfriend. But hey – my boyfriend won’t go either, so call me if you fancy a night out.
Stay tuned in to everything happening around the Prince Charles Cinema by checking their website frequently. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.