In the face of fierce competition from home-streaming services, cinemas have upped their game in recent years to define themselves as the ultimate way to catch a blockbuster. Better screens, bigger sounds, comfier seats and well, frankly better everything, make these local picture houses worthy of your attention.
Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
Housed within a majestic former church in the centre of Tunbridge Wells, Trinity Theatre is the best placed cinema for locals, within easy reach of all the excellent restaurants and venues of the town. On This feels like the grandest cinema on offer thanks to its stunning setting, but that doesn’t detract from the intimate feel. The stained glass windows are tucked behind the cinema screen, and you can take in the church’s original stonework interior from your seat.
Trinity is pickier than most (a good thing, in our books) saving its screen time for latest releases that have garnered critical acclaim. You’ll also find an eclectic slate of indie films and world cinema, as well as family film matinees in the school holidays. Plus, before the film, enjoy the work of local artists in Trinity’s gallery and just try to resist the cakes and sweet treats in their cafe!
Everyman in Oxted is a cinema that feels like an independent, even though it’s got a bit of budget behind it. This is great news for cinema-lovers, as its single screen doesn’t shy away from the biggest releases or latest technology, and yet it has all the charm of a cinema taken straight from the history books. Comfy sofa-like seating offers a step-up from the usual, and means you won’t get the usual cinema cramp, meanwhile the range of refreshments from the well-stocked bar means that you can sit back and relax.
Picture House, Uckfield
Food and film in a perfect package, the Picture House in Uckfield has been sitting majestically at the top of Uckfield High Street since 1916. Family-owned by the Markwick family since 1964, the love and attention given to it is clear, with renovations throughout this time meaning it matches bigger names in technology and can offer the latest movies across its generous three screens. What sets this cinema apart is the restaurant, which boasts a menu that blows the usual cineplex chain restaurants out of the water. Regular deals combining food and film mean Picture House is a date-night dream, and will quickly become your regular hang out.
Moonlight, Paddock Wood
When you tell friends about what Kent is known for, you may have omitted that we have the UK’s biggest drive-in movie theatre. The Moonlight Cinema in Paddock Wood is holder of that title, and is certainly the least conventional on our list, as it’s a revival of the drive-in movie experiences we’ve longed to enjoy since that scene in Grease and, well, every other American TV show ever. Turn up, tune in on your radio and get comfy, as this is the only cinema on our list where you can truly recline your seats! To get the full drive-in experience, order some of the diner-like hot dogs, burgers or nachos and you can expect to drive away from the experience with a southern-drawl that suddenly seems appropriate for leafy Kent.
Scott Cinema, The Atrium, East Grinstead
At the top of the glass-front Atrium in East Grinstead is the local branch of Scott Cinema, a chain covering the South of England that doesn’t just go for the big-guns. This three-screened multiplex is clean, modern and has all the latest movies, but also offers event cinema (such as opera and theatre) and takes part in ‘OurScreen’, which allows the public to choose and schedule screenings of classics that are rarely seen on a big screen. Great pricing, comfortable seats, a varied selection of drinks at the bar and a loyalty scheme mean that this is a cinema that’s well worth making your regular.
Kino have done a brilliant job of bringing cinema to small communities where big screen flicks were once a long-distance luxury. In the heart of Hawkhurst, the single-screen boasts an HD digital display and sound system that boast quality well above the diminutive size of the building. This is definitely a cinema for movie lovers, and its regularly refreshed listings give a broad variety of genres to cater for every taste. This cinema has a cafe attached and also does really good wine, which is something we wish we could say about more places!
Stag Community Arts Centre, Sevenoaks
The Stag Community Arts Centre is in the heart of Sevenoaks and is a non-profit run entirely by volunteers. That’s not the only thing making this an ideal venue for movies- a complete refurbishment of the cinema in 2016 means it’s got top spec technology behind the scenes and comfortable seats to sink into. With big names on the line-up and an impressive roster of lesser-known films also on the bill, this is one cinema venue you can definitely feel good about supporting.
Odeon, Tunbridge Wells
While it may not have the atmosphere or intimacy of its smaller competitors, Odeon Tunbridge Wells is the venue for the latest blockbusters, with nine screens to show a range of movies, although you won’t catch as many of the smaller, artsier titles here. Situated on the North Farm Estate, it’s a bit out of the way, but uses this space wisely to fill with family-friendly restaurants and fast food chains, so is an easy option for outings with the whole family in tow.