Venue review: Picturehouse, Stratford East

Some say it’s down to the saltiness of the popcorn, others the price of the post-film analysis pint. In this series, we search out the best venue for watching films. For our first visit, Daniel Geeves heads just down the road to take on Picturehouse, Stratford East.

In brief

Independent or Chain? Small chain

Ticket prices? £4.50 – £8.50

Location? London

In a sentence? The film schedule is standard chain fair, but the retro design, obliging bar and knowledgeable staff give it a truly independent feel

The Whole Story

The background

The first Picturehouse cinema was opened in Oxford in 1989 and since then another 20 have followed, including two in Scotland. This is a relatively small cinema chain in comparison to Cineworld, Vue and the Odeon; however their prices, offers, hospitality and all round experience can easily match (if not better) the cinema big boys.

The Stratford East Picturehouse cinema is one of the biggest venues within the chain, hosting four screens with capacity ranging from 151-258.

How many squids?

The ticket prices were surprising. If you were to go in the week (Monday – Friday) then you would pay considerably less than going to a Cineworld complex.

For example, a student ticket for Cineworld in West India Quay would cost you £7.47. A student ticket at Picturehouse from Monday – Thursday would cost you a mere £4.50, which is nice and convenient for students who have boozed the rest of their money away.

Disappointingly, taking a trip to Picturehouse from Friday – Sunday will cost an extra £2 making the prices still good but not too different from Cineworld.

Popcorn, confectionery and drinks are about the same price as the more popular chains of cinema but from the ticket prices, it seems that they need to make up their money somewhere.

Numb bums or sitting on a cloud?

The rooms are nicely presented and clean and the screen size is reasonable for the size of the room. Wherever you sit, you are not too far away or too close from the screen. To complement this, the seats are extremely comfortable, I am sure you will not feel any discomfort throughout a long film.

The projection and sound quality are at a high standard for a small room.

The minions

The staff are how staff should be, warm and welcoming but not too suffocating that the experience becomes uncomfortable. As there are fewer employees it gives the cinema a family feel, it seems the staff appreciate the films that are released and the film industry itself rather than competition and profit.

The extra shiny bits…

On first impressions, when standing in front of the Stratford East Picturehouse, I did not know what to expect. What intrigued me most about its appearance was the traditional style display (used before the digitally lit screens were introduced) showing the latest release films. It was this small feature which particularly caught my attention. Picturehouse Stratford East have continued with their traditional style indoors with the film titles presented on a marquee sign similar to outside.

What makes this cinema unique is the fully licensed bar, which provides a range of meals. Impressively, you can even take your drinks into the screen.

Picturehouse has a lot to offer, including the E4 Slackers club, which gives students the monthly chance to see an exclusive free film, usually a preview or all-time classic.

The downsides

The major downfall of Picturehouse is the increase in ticket prices over the weekend, it is almost as annoying as Vue’s peak time increase in tickets prices.

The screens could also be a little bigger but with the size of the venue it’s a satisfying size.

So, worth the pennies?

Overall, this is a very well presented and run cinema, it gives you a slightly different experience to main cinemas and the ticket prices are still very well priced indeed, especially for London.

★★★★☆

Daniel Geeves

Stratford Picturehouse, East London, Salway Road, London, E15 1BX. Standard tickets start at £6.50, memberships at £35. Concessions are available.

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