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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

Cinemas Near Me: Brighton

A stint of cat sitting coincided with a special opening event of the Brighton Hippodrome, which is undergoing extensive restoration. I took this pivotal event as an opportunity to have a look at some of Brighton's other cinemas and screening experiences, both past and present.

On Sunday 23 July I took the Volk's Electric Railway from Black Rock station to Aquarium station which offered a fun and environmentally innovative way to travel. Magnus Volk was way ahead of the current trends when he conceived and constructed the railway in 1883. In the Visitors' Centre at the Aquarium station you can have a go with a zoetrope which would have been an accessible moving picture device when the railway first opened. Arriving this way offered a cinematic view of Brighton Palace Pier, a location in many films, and next to the first of the day's current screening venues, which is beneath the zipwire.

Daltons Show Room & Bar's exterior sign made mention of a cinema so I popped in. Looks like a very nice bar. The 'cinema' is a screen that is pulled down for screenings, which appear to be primarily NT Live performances.

Across the road is Pier Nine Casino now occupying the former ABC Brighton. Talking to the staff there, they told me that nothing of the original interior exists, but the facade and foyer look great and there are more hints of its cinema heritage round the back. It's not far from the Royal Albion Hotel that burnt down on 16 July 2023 and is now in the process of being demolished. Lucky it didn't spread down the road.

I carried on down the sea front to the Odeon Brighton which looks, from its exterior, to be an abandoned cinema which belies the bright modern interior which was buzzing with activity, it being #Barbenheimer weekend! I hope there's investment in the exterior as it's really rather a sad sight.

But just around the corner is, fingers crossed, a far more upbeat story - the refurbishment of the Grade II* Brighton Hippodrome by Matsim Properties Ltd. I snapped a few exterior shots which are below with the interior shots from the opening event.

A stone's throw away is Fabrica primarily an art gallery but it does present films with various partners, including the Brighton's annual Film Festival, CineCity.

I rounded off Sunday's walking tour with snaps of the Dukes at Komedia Picturehouse, a full-time cinema and the former Coronation Cinema on North Road.

With later running trains back to Brighton than my home town, on Wednesday I took the opportunity to pop up to London to see Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre, you can read my adventures in London via this Twitter thread. Whilst making my way to the station I leapt off the bus on North Street to grab photos of the former Cinescene now Burger King at no 64 and to pick up the graphic novel, Breakwater by Katriona Chapman, at Waterstones. The graphic novel is set in an old art deco picture house on the South Coast. Clearly the "Breakwater Picture House" is based on the ABC cinema opposite the pier.

Thursday was the first of two open days at the Brighton Hippodrome, and it was great to see it buzzing with people keen to see the work underway at the Hippodrome by Matsim Properties Ltd. This was the first time since Mecca Bingo closed 17 years ago that the public had been allowed in. Approx. £5 million has been spent by the developers to date, with another £10 million estimated for completion. The event was to showcase the completed ceiling (wow!) and to solicit support for its continued resurrection. Work on the building is currently stalled whilst Brighton and Hove City Council planners decide on its fate.

Having spent much of my free time looking at cinema buildings, I thought I'd round off the week by seeing Oppenheimer which was being shown on 35mm at the Duke of York's Picturehouse. But there was one living cinema I had yet to visit, so I grabbed a bus going in the other direction and headed down to Brighton Marina to say hello to the Cineworld. The bus driver must have thought it odd when I got back on the bus again minutes later!

And then on to London Road and the Duke of York's - those famous legs!

Oppenheimer was a magnificent film, looked and sounded stunning, with a complex edge of your seat narrative with a great cast.

Whilst putting this blog together I came across this listing of Brighton and Hove cinemas both living and lost. So when I'm back in Brighton again there may well be a follow up!


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