Located above Courtenay Central Mall, Reading Cinema has 10 state-of-the-art theatres, with huge screens, great sound and luxury seating. If you are feeling flamboyant, their gold-class option offers large seats and unlimited popcorn. Because of this, there is a hideous smell of popcorn everywhere. Reading has a poor choice of fi lms due to distribution contracts; you’ll only get Hollywood crap.
The best theatre in town, if not the entire southern hemisphere. There is only one screen but the room itself is fantastic, as grand as any concert hall, with top-class leather seats in the centre section thanks to Uncle PJ, and a variety of prices for other seats. Again, Embassy suffers from Hoyts-popcorn distribution and will rarely show a good film. Wait for the Wellington Film Festival and then you must go to Embassy.
Students $8 (February only!)
The Paramount is a great venue for a drink and a view of Courtenay Place. It is popular amongst the Wellington Bohemian crowd for the selection of films available and the worn-out preloved interior design. The new bar and cafe section is perfect for holding your creative meetings, as many already do. There is artwork on display and always something unique going on, from punk-rock bands to Toastmasters to circus performers. Paramount also hosts corporate functions, 21sts, weddings, private screenings, the Wellington Film Society, the Wellington Fringe Festival and many film festivals. The usual movie selection, however, is not so good, nothing mainstream, some very obscure films and the leftovers from other theatres. Paramount also has the best (looking) service staff.
The ‘theatre on the hill’, The Penthouse is hard to get to but worth the hill-trek. It features a delicious cafe/lunch bar, often filled with retired folk and mums with prams. The Penthouse shows a mix of mainstream and art-house films, all of high quality. There are three medium-sized screens and the vogue suite (which is crap, like the theatre on the ferry). I’d recommend Penthouse for mature students or those interested in Wellington cinema history. Take the challenge and get up to Brooklyn.
A contrast to Reading, the surroundings are poor but the selection of Hollywood films is much better. Actually, the films here are very good, it’s a pity they don’t get screened at the Embassy or Paramount where people actually want to go. I have found Rialto to be cramped and ugly. Why are there pillars blocking the view!? It is also awkward to get to, being on a road island and all. Come here only if the fi lm you want to see isn’t playing elsewhere.
Regent on Manners
Students $8.50 (wow)
Big screens, nice seats, with an okay theatre. The selection is similar to Readings, however the overall environment just seems dull. Regent is the multiplex which Wellington has forgotten about. Very cheap tickets – if you don’t want to pay $14 up the road, come here for $9. Their best films also get screen time at Embassy (rumour has it Rialto will be taking over the complex).
The Film Archive
For research, coffee and Kiwi films, The Film Archive holds a copy of all NZ-funded films, including old TV and documentary stuff. They hold private screenings and a feature every Wednesday.
A unique private theatre in Melrose. With just 40 seats, Times Cinema specialises in private functions and screening some golden-age films. The foyer has some ancient film equipment on display. A haunt of politicians also hold a surprisingly-large number private functions here.
A superb cinema in Island Bay, this top quality venue has three medium-sized (100 seat) luxury screens. The Empire shows similar films to the Penthouse. The cafe is always busy and there’s a craft shop out the back. A bit pricey but worthwhile if you want to get away from it all.