Edinburgh may be Scotland’s capital city, but its population is still less than half a million so it doesn’t have too many arthouse cinemas knocking about. If I were the ruler of the world there would be a cinema for every 200 people in every village, town and city but regardless… Even though there aren’t too many independent cinemas in Edinburgh but the ones it does have are pretty great.
When I visited Edinburgh last month for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, I made a point of researching and hunting out all of Edinburgh’s top indie cinemas. So, if you’re a film lover and want to check out the best independent cinemas in Edinburgh then these are the top three you should visit!
3 of the Best Independent Cinemas in Edinburgh
Address: 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ
Filmhouse is most likely the biggest and most popular independent cinema in Edinburgh. It opened in 1978 after it was refurbished from an old church. The cinema has three screens in total as well as a bar and has been home to the Edinburgh International Film Festival since it’s inception.
My first visit to Filmhouse cinema wasn’t at EIFF 2019 this year. It was actually in 2013 when I worked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a summer. If I remember correctly, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013) was my film of choice. Despite being a relatively ‘new’ cinema for an arthouse movie theatre, it still has that classic cinema feel with plush theatre-style seating and red, heavy screen curtains. Without a doubt, Filmhouse screen the best independent films out of any cinema in Edinburgh. So, if you only hit up one independent cinema in Edinburgh, make it this one.
My blog posts on the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019:
- Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019: Press Pass, Coffee & More!
- EIFF 2019 Reviews: Every Film I Saw at Edinburgh International Film Festival
2. The Cameo Picturehouse
Address: 38 Home Street, EH3 9LZ
I’m not going to lie. Since 2012, The Cameo hasn’t technically been an independent cinema. Picturehouse (an ‘independent’ style chain owned by Cineworld) bought the cinema back in 2012. However, since it’s inception as King’s Cinema in 1914, it’s the oldest cinema in Scotland still operating. And it still very much feels like an arthouse, backstreet cinema. So as long as it’s kept it’s vibe, I’m completely fine with larger cinema chains saving independent cinemas from ruin, especially when they’re an important part of a country’s film history. And I’m still going to include it on this list!
The Cameo screens more mainstream, independent films and some proper blockbusters, too. Random. For example, at the moment The Cameo is screening The Dead Don’t Die (2019) as well as the latest The Lion King (2019). It’s hard to criticize a film’s programming when it’s so tough for indie cinemas out there now… But the addition of The Lion King seems a bit of an odd choice to me. Anyway, have a look for yourself and see what’s showing when you visit Edinburgh!
3. Dominion Cinema
Address: Newbattle Terrace, EH10 4RT
Thomas Bowhill Gibson was a Scottish architect who designed and built no less than nine cinemas, most of which were in Edinburgh. Now, only one remains open. Based in Morningside, Dominion Cinema was built in 1938 in a ‘Streamline Moderne’ Art Deco style and looks exceptionally grand on its very normal and suburban street.
Though you’d probably still call the Dominion Cinema an arthouse cinema due to its style and age, it is and always has been a cinema for the masses. The theatre has four screens and usually programmes the latest and greatest in popular movies. For example, children’s favourites like The Lion King (2019) and Toy Story 4 (2019) are showing. It just goes to show you that sometimes you can see all the big, highly-anticipated blockbusters at independent cinemas. The cinema also has what they call ‘First Class’ seating which looks like leather loveseats with side tables and one of their screens can even be hired out for private parties!
Those are my top three independent cinemas in Edinburgh! Have you watched a film in any of these Edinburgh cinemas? Let me know in the comments below!