An Insider’s Guide to the Best Indie Cinemas in Melbourne

Astor Theatre Melbourne

Melbourne is the self-appointed culture capital of Australia which makes it the perfect place to find some of the best independent cinemas the country has to offer. We partnered with Australia’s all-in-one transport solution, Silver Service, to give you an insider’s guide to the best movie theatres the city has to offer.

It’s easy to sit in your home and choose a flick from any of the many streaming services you subscribe to, but there’s something undeniably special about going to the cinema. From the smell of the popcorn, the enveloping surround sound, to sinking back into a squishy chair and letting the big screen take you away; going to an independent movie theatre and watching a film is one of the most enjoyable experiences you simply cannot get elsewhere.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best independent cinemas Melbourne has to offer so you can plan your own pilgrimage next time you feel like catching a movie. To make the experience even more special, consider Silver Service for luxury cabs and a door to door service you can book in advance. Bliss!

The Astor 

The Astor Theatre is one of the oldest remaining theatres in Melbourne, having first opened in 1936. It might be a classic single-screen theatre, but it boasts state of the art facilities including the highest quality 4K projection hardware to give you some of the best presentation for films available in the country. It’s also one of the only cinemas that still shows 70mm prints of classic films. 

Even better, The Astor has retained its beautiful style and decor, giving you the full vintage experience. In fact, The Astor is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, and it even boasts its own cat; Duke. What more could you want? 

The Astor. 1 Chapel St, St Kilda VIC 3182

Sun Theatre 

The Sun Theatre has been independently run since it opened in 1938 and still has the beautiful Art Deco design it would have when it first started showing films. Beloved by locals, it’s full of character and history, and a refurbishment along the way has created eight, individually named boutique cinemas. 

The Sun Theatre, which briefly became a Greek cinema in the 1960s, shows a great range of newly released flicks alongside arthouse and independent movies, making it the perfect choice for movie lovers and film buffs. 

Sun Theatre. 8 Ballarat St, Yarraville VIC 3013

Cinema Nova

Cinema Nova

Beginning life in 1992 as a twin theatre collaboration between the Longford Cinema in South Yarra and the Valhalla Cinema in Richmond and Westgarth, Cinema Nova has become one of the biggest independent cinemas in the southern hemisphere with 16 screens and its own bar.

From an in-cinema bar to a full range of movies from current releases to contemporary greats, Cinema Nova has a lot to offer cinephiles and culture lovers alike. Situated amid the hustle and bustle of Lygon Street, there’s also plenty of options for a pre- or post-film meal. It was also one of the first cinemas in the country to start screening stage productions and offers a range of choices from the New York Met Opera to London National Theatre performances. 

Cinema Nova. 380 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053

Lido Cinemas

Lido Cinemas 

In 1912, the Glenferrie Theatre was built on the site of a former Catholic school. In the 20s, it became the Glen Palais de Danse, a dance hall, then a mini-golf complex in the 30s. In 1939, it reopened again, as the New Glen Picture Theatre, an identity it held for 20 years. 

Between then and now, Lido Cinemas has been a dance studio, a dinner theatre, and a cabaret, before it was finally abandoned and sat empty for over a decade. 2013 saw it come into the ownership of Eddie and Lindy Tamir, experienced cinema owners, renovated it into the eight-screen cineplex it is today, showing a mix of commercial and arthouse releases from around the world, while still boasting a jazz room and a rooftop cinema. 

Lido Cinemas. 675 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122

Classic Cinemas

Classic Cinemas is the longest continuously operating cinema in Victoria, originally destined to become an ice skating rink in 1888. It unsteady became a community hall and meeting place and from time to time a makeshift cinema. Over the years, the cinema has opened and closed, made it through a fire and spent time as a Reading Cinema before becoming independent again in 2011. 

Now fully owned by the same family as the Lido Cinemas and Cameo Cinemas, Classic has ten cinemas including a rooftop theatre, and a bar. It regularly holds film festivals, as well as a decent mix of contemporary films, arthouse and independents, and foreign films. 

Classic Cinemas. 9 Gordon St, Elsternwick VIC 3185

Thornbury Picture House

Thornbury Picture House

If you’re looking for a unique cinema experience you can’t go past the Thornbury Picture House. A family-run independent cinema with 57 seats, it even has its own festival – the Northern Lights Film Festival – to show local short films.

Perfect for cinephiles, the Thornbury Picture House plays a variety of new releases, documentaries, cult classics, and even holds cast and crew events and film premieres for local filmmakers. 

Thornbury Picture House. 802 High St, Thornbury VIC 3071

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