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February 21, 2011 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

Wellington for the Self-Discerning (Read: Self-Important) Cinephile

I’m a very important person. I have many special edition DVDs and my apartment smells of rich Kopi Luwak beans. They are very expensive, I assure you.

It is only appropriate, then, that people ask me questions about things. Important things. Things like going to the cinema.

I do not go to the cinema anymore—I prefer to pay directors for custom-made cuts of their films that I can watch in my own custom-built theatre—so if someone asks me about what cinema to attend, I laugh at them. Then I cast my mind back to when I was a member of the proletariat and attended the cinemas in Wellington, and make appropriate recommendations.

Reading Cinemas.

You will end up here a lot as a poor, cultureless student. It receives all the popular Hollywood movies and some of the less popular ones, and those are really the only films you must view due to the overriding cultural and social imperative you are subjected to. When was the last time someone in your group of friends asked you if you’d seen the latest sexually-charged thriller out of Germany? If you are a Film major, put your hand down and go back to your Penguin Classics edition of On The Road. The popcorn is stale and expensive, as are the tickets—$14 for students—but the screens are large, the seats are comfortable and it is a safe bet if you are not a regular cinemagoer.

The Embassy.

The most ostentatious of Wellington’s cinemas, but it does not deliver on its grand promises (unlike, say, myself). It is the largest screen in Wellington, but it is prohibitively expensive, except on Tuesdays, and only shows two to three films a week, which tend to be big Hollywood films. The only variation comes from film festivals, and aside from the big one (the NZIFF), these seem to be drifting to other cinemas.

The Paramount.

The real crown jewel of the Wellington cinema scene. Tickets are $13 for students and the range of films shown is impressive, from well-received Hollywood releases to arthouse films both big and small. The food is expensive, but that remains the only disincentive to attend, particularly when one of its three cinema screens has couches. Couches.

The Penthouse.

This theatre is just right for those of us who demand the finer things in life, with beautiful architecture, a first-class restaurant/café and expansive screens. It also manages the occasional Wellington exclusive that justifies the journey, and it is a journey. The Penthouse is located in Brooklyn, where only the poor, foolish and old dare to tread. This is a shame, not only is it delightfully high-brow, but weekday screenings are cheap at $11.

The Film Archive.

The cinema itself is built like a mausoleum, but the Film Archive serves the common or garden celluloid fancier well, with screenings of obscure New Zealand films and old prints, Fair Trade coffee and a ticket price of $8 that means you will not miss your next payment on your Schwinn. It is most definitely worth visiting, especially if you are a discerning cinephile.

Student Union Building.

Even someone as important as I am is not above shameless plugging. The Victoria University Film Society holds screenings every Thursday at 6:30pm in this building, and the films are varied and excellent. Plus, it is cheap. In the parlance of the common folk, “just do it”.

For Isobel Cairns’ Wellington gig venue guide head on over to the arts section on


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  1. Mongolian khan says:

    Adam goodall shame on you, you deserve a spanking everyone knows the best place to view movies is readings you can watch 3 movies in a row before the staff get suspicious and you decide to leave before finishing eclipse

  2. Saz says:

    Embassy theatre is the cheapest, and prettiest. Cheap tuesday is $10.50, and students are $12.50, and if you get that student card thing you get in for ten bucks every time.
    As for the films they play, its chosen by head office (in auckland). Do your research.

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