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February 23, 2009 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Where To See Films in Wellington

The Wellingtonian cinéaste is spoiled for choice. The plethora of cinemas and full calendar of festivals means that almost any night of the year somewhere in Wellington something exciting on celluloid will be happening.


The Embassy is the big monolith of the film community. Sitting at the end of Courtney Place. With its single giant screen, it usually only shows a couple of films in rotation. This amounts, most of the time, to one huge blockbuster and one smaller more indie flick, allowing you to pick and choose just how much of your brain you want to use. The seats are comfy, though way up the back it tends to get insufferably hot even in the dank depths of Wellington winter.

Reading Cinemas further up Courtney Place is our resident mainstream multiplex. If you want chemical tinted popcorn, explosions and twelve-year-olds giggling at farts, this is your country.

The Regent on Manners in Manners Mall is a competing mainstream picture house. Sadly, it is slowly drifting towards neglect, seeming at points almost derelict. But, you can always get a seat and private screenings where you are the only person there are not uncommon. As a gritty alternative to the slick Reading this place works.

The Paramount at the mid-point of Courtney Place is the key art house cinema in Wellington. Running three screens, here is where the big international and festival films hit. With a wonderful café and bar attached, it’s a great place to waste an evening.

The Empire in Island Bay and its sibling cinema The Lighthouse in Petone, are a high class alternative to the Paramount. With huge couch seats and proper food, this is boutique cinema at its most ostentatious. The prices are rather restrictively high for students, but, if someone else is paying it’s more than worth the trek.

The Penthouse in Brooklyn fills the gap between The Paramount’s easy access art cinema and The Empire’s velvet film decadence as a slightly out of the way, decidedly middle class establishment. That being said, they usually will have at least one film worth watching on which nowhere else is showing.


The International Film Festival is the major filmic centre piece of the year. Running from the 17th of July to the 2nd of August this year, it will filled with all the big titles from Cannes, Berlin and Sundance, along with one or two local features that are always worth a look.

The World Cinema Showcase (2–15 April) acts as a catchall precursor to the International Festival, including films that would otherwise fall through the gap between festivals.

Many other smaller and more specific festivals like DOCNZ, the documentary festival (12–22 March), and Out Takes, the queer festival (28 May–7 June), dot the year filling out the calender with something to everyone’s taste.

Also, worthy of mention is the Wellington Film Society who, from the 2nd of March, hold a screening every Monday at the Paramount, focusing on forgotten classics and art house international works.


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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  1. There’s also conservation organisation Forest & Bird’s Blue Film Night this Wednesday (March 4) at Paramount Theatre, 6pm. Documentary Wild Oceans and short films with marine theme to celebrate Seaweek. Cost is $15.

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