Activities & Itineraries

12 Of The Best Boutique Cinemas In Brisbane

By Catherine Blake

the front facade of the elizabeth picture theatre

From the time-honoured classics to the latest edge-of-your-seat thriller, movie nights have been a main feature in most of our social calendars since the 3D glasses were still red and blue (feel old yet?). Much as we love the classic popcorn-and-postmix combo, though, there’s something a little special about adding a touch of luxury to your Brisbane cinema ticket.

Whether you’re looking to elevate your next date night, spoil yourself for an upcoming premiere, or just want the option to pair your popcorn with a cheeky glass of bubbles, Brisbane’s impressive melange of boutique cinemas has you covered.

Grab some popcorn, team. You’ll actually want to sit through the previews at these spots.

The Elizabeth Picture Theatre

CBD

The Elizabeth Picture Theatre, located in the CBD in what once was the heritage-listed Tara House, provides movie-going with a touch of classic elegance. Tickets can be purchased from a street-facing ticket box, complete with an attendant in a striped uniform, and then you’ll have to climb up a classy AF spiral staircase to get to the cinema itself. What you’ll find at the top is nothing more than stunning.

Think stained glass windows, a long wooden bar that was repurposed from the original Old Irish Club that utilised the space, and cinemas that were once ballrooms. Yeah, that’s right, two of the cinemas in the Elizabeth Picture Theatre, known as The Tara Room and The Harp Room, were originally ballrooms and come with all of the trappings you’d imagine, including the original ballroom ceiling in the Tara Room.  Catching the latest blockbuster under the alabaster moulding and twinkling lights of a 100-year-old ballroom ceiling? Don’t mind if we do.

Angelika Film Centre

Woolloongabba 

North America’s most successful dedicated arthouse cinema has come to Australia, and they’ve chosen sunny Brisbane for their very first location outside of the US. Opening up at South/City/Sq in Woolloongabba, Angelika Film Centre is best known for showcasing independent, foreign and specialty films, but cinephiles will be happy to know they’re also showing flicks from the major studios, 

Consisting of eight screens, the new film centre features three luxurious SoHo Lounge cinemas, which offer up a first-class experience that combines plush reclining seating with table service that brings delectable dishes and a curated selection of drinks right to your chair. The other five cinemas, while not quite as luxe, are still a step above average, with fully recliner seating and crisp laser projection. Plus, you’ll feel like a VIP regardless ordering your tickets and popcorn under the golden chandelier in the schmick lobby. 

New Farm Cinemas

New Farm

The hub of New Farm pop culture since its opening in 1921, if you live in Brisbane and haven’t caught a film at the New Farm Six Cinemas, you’re seriously missing out. The cinema itself is a shining beacon of old-meets-new, combining vintage movie posters in the foyer with start-of-the-art cinema projection, luxe seating and the cinema’s staple bean bags. And that’s all before we get to the iconic lavender-hued gloriousness that is the Purple Room, courtesy of the 1970s. 

The film selection at New Farm Six balances mainstream movies with quality arthouse films you won’t find anywhere else in Brisbane, and they've revamped the classic popcorn-and-Coke cinema experience with state-of-the-art theatres, service-to-seat Gold Rooms, and a sprawling menu of signature cocktails, nibbles, and wood-fired pizza. If you prefer your flicks without the distraction of a meal, the cinema is situated right in the heart of the popping New Farm foodie district, so you can combine your theatre-going experience with some killer eats. Now that sounds like a win-win to us.

Palace James Street

Fortitude Valley

If you’re looking for the slickest independent cinema in Brisbane, it’s hard to go past Palace James Street. Located in the hustle and bustle of Fortitude Valley, Palace James Street boasts five cinemas with handcrafted chairs brought directly from Spain. Palace is famous for showcasing the best local and international films and has been known to throw a seriously good film festival. Past highlights include the British Film Festival, the Scandinavian Film Festival and who could forget the yearly film extravaganza that is the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival.

Oh and did we mention that Palace is dedicated to ensuring every viewer has the perfect line of sight to the silver screen, no matter where you are sitting, and have implemented reclining chairs for this purpose. Say goodbye to neck pain brought on by awkward viewing angles and hello to kicking back in style. And yes, you can definitely bring your drink in.

Red Hill Cinemas 

Red Hill

The (red) hills are alive with the sound of your own reclining armchair. Giving new life to the area’s old skate arena, Red Hill Cinemas is a bit like your classic Tarantino flick: edgy on the outside; plenty to unpack within. Four Gold Room theatres invite guests to their own leather recliners to await orders of tap beer, house wines and wood-fired pizzas from cinema neighbours Colle Rosso. Pre or post-movie you can stick around to play on vintage arcade games, or just scope out the street art adorning the whole venue.

Cineplex Hawthorne Deluxe 

Hawthorne

Drop the remote: your streaming services ain’t got nothing on this. Cineplex Hawthorne Deluxe has taken all the boons of the service-to-seat cinema experience and slapped an extra-affordable price tag on it. With a menu that deserves the Oscar for Best Performance (sorry, Leo), you’ll kick back with karaage chicken bao, pumpkin arancini, and loaded sundaes layered with hot fudge and whipped cream.

Palace Barracks

Brisbane

Just like its Fortitude Valley neighbour but with more luxury, Palace Barracks is the home of Queensland’s most prestigious cinematic events. Palace Barracks is fitted out with the best of life in mind and features comfy-yet-somehow-artistic furniture, ambient mood lighting, a newly renovated foyer and one killer bar.

You didn’t hear it from us but you’ll actually want to turn up early for your movie at Palace Barracks, not because you’ll have to fight for a seat but because you’ll get to eat your way through a premier selection of beer, wine, antipasti, cheese platters and even, wait for it, pasta that would top even your Mum’s spaghetti. Here’s what we’d do: find out which film festival is next rolling into town, pick a film to watch and pair it with an impromptu wine tasting session. You can thank us later.

Cinebar

Rosalie

Ditch the hundreds of rustling chip packets at your run-of-the-mill cinema for the OG intimate movie experience. Cinebar has long since earned its spot on the Brissie Walk of Fame for its small-scale theatres, cosy red armchairs, and offerings brought straight to your seat. Set up your order before the previews to enjoy a movie-length rollout of cheese plates, buttery popcorn, and wok-fried dishes straight from downstairs neighbour, Thai Terrace. Oh, and if there’s a better romcom pairing than a hot choccy with a cheeky shot of Baileys, we don’t want to hear it. 

Yatala Drive-In

Yatala

The Yatala Drive-In is keeping alive the fond memories of drive in cinemas of ages past. Harking back to a simpler time when heading out in the car in your pyjamas was perfectly acceptable, and half of your movie-going experience would be spent straining to hear the audio from tinny speakers hanging from your car windows, the Yatala Drive-In is something you just have to experience to appreciate. Luckily, things are a little more modern these days and you can now tune into the movie through the radio as well as the conventional window speaker, but the Yatala Drive-In is still a nostalgic option for those in search of a cinema with something a little bit different.

The Yatala Drive-In is famous for screening two blockbuster movies for the price of one at a traditional multiplex cinema, meaning you not only get to chill out under the stars but can also save some pennies. Just don’t forget to hit up the 1950s-style candy bar and stock up on choc tops and sweet popcorn before the movie starts. Trying to find your car by starlight is not nearly as romantic as it sounds.

Dendy Portside

Hamilton

Dendy Portside is the type of cinema that takes the idea of digital cinemas to a whole new level. Each of the five theatres is installed with start-of-the-art technology, including surround sound and premium stadium-style seating. It’s also fully licensed, so you can sip a cold craft beer while enjoying the selection of mainstream films on offer. But, where Dendy really shines is the location.

Situated directly in the heart of the vibrant Portside Wharf dining precinct, Dendy is kind enough to hook you up with some great dining and movie combo discounts. Or, if you’re feeling like indulging in some of the craziest food trends in Brisbane, you could always wander on over to Eat Street Northshore before or after your film. Dendy, you spoil us.

Reading Cinemas Newmarket

Newmarket

Reading Cinemas Newmarket is really upping the stakes on moviegoing. Their features are spread across eight screens, each one kitted out with comfy armchairs in stadium seating and the clearest Dolby Digital sound. Reading will let you customise your viewing experience and level up to the swanky Gold Lounge, with a lounge, outdoor terrace, and in-cinema food and beverage service, or level up even further with the mega swanky Titan Luxe experience, complete with recliner seats, immersive sound, and a whopping 23 metre screen.

Event Cinemas 

Chermside 

You might be heading to the silver screen, but Event Cinemas Chermside plates up a Gold Class experience like no other. The recently-refurbished theatre here is dressed to impress on every level, from your first steps into the glittering bar to the cinema’s full-body reclining chairs and luxurious a la carte menu.

Curated banquets, wood-fired Neapolitan style pizzas, and ‘movie length’ cocktails (weighing in at three standard drinks each) are just some of the offerings here. Before we roll credits, though, it’s worth mentioning the space’s recently-announced ‘Event Boutique’ cinema—a unique experience that currently only exists in a few spots nationwide. Stay tuned.

Fancy staying in? Check out the best movies on Netflix right now.

Image credit: Elizabeth Street Picture Theatre

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