It’s truly the end of an era for cinema tickets in London – the beloved south London institution of Peckhamplex has officially been forced to put up its prices for the first time in over a decade amid the cost-of-living crisis and their commitment to paying all staff the London Living Wage.
Up until recently, every single basic ticket there gave you change back from a fiver, but they’ve “reluctantly” increased all prices by a quid.
Seeing a film in the capital’s greatest cinema will now set you back a still-bargainous £5.99, but believe me, it’s worth every penny for the iconic spot’s uniquely raucous atmosphere alone. Watching Cats here, among screeching audience members who were forced to lie down in the aisles for respite because they were so helpless with laughter, remains among the most treasured collective experiences of my life.
Plex might hold a special place in my heart, but it isn’t the only cinema in London doing its best to keep prices as low as possible. Here are some of the other best spots to see a film on a budget – a couple even cash in at a fiver.
A newer kid on the indie cinema block, south east’s Catford Mews opened in 2019, and along with its three screens, the community-orientated space boasts a street food market with local vendors, a well-stocked bar, its own coffee shop, and a collaboration IPA with nearby Brockley Brewery. So far, so fancy, but this place specialises in champagne service for lemonade prices. Annual membership is a steal at £35 – in return, you get five free tickets each year, decent discounts on (the very tasty) food and drink, cheap cinema ticket (peak time tickets are £5.20 for members, while off-peak gives you change back from £5) and three months of Mubi to rinse at home. Meow!
Prince Charles Cinema
This Soho spot specialises in silver screen classics and cult favourites – here, the likes of 2003’s The Room (truly a work of art, and possibly the worst film ever made) are received like Oscar winners – and is also doing its bit to keep things affordable. Memberships are incredibly reasonable (from £15 a year, or £60 for an entire lifetime of discounts) and best of all, they also unlock access to the institution’s £1 member screenings and regular £6 matinees. Let’s go eat, huh!
This south London staple’s sub-fiver ticket might have headed in the same direction as the 20p Freddo, but Plex remains among one of the best value spots in London to catch a film – basic tickets are still a steal at just £5.99, and you’ll find everything from brand new blockbusters to buzzy indie flicks on offer.
It pays to shop around at this Stepney cinema; though big ticket releases are often on the pricier side, there are serious savings to be had if you’re happy to get your film fixes at less popular times. A weeknight screening of Pedro Almodóvar’s new short film A Strange Way of Life is a fiver, just a couple of days after the film’s release – and there’s plenty on offer at that price-point. A Monday night showing of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is £7.50, meanwhile; excellent value considering you could fit two shorter-length feature films into that epic runtime.
Art house and indie film specialist MUBI is branching out into IRL film attendance; the streaming platform now offers a new kind of membership that hands subscribers a hand-picked cinema ticket to enjoy every week at a partner cinema. Previous film picks have included the acclaimed new release Scrapper, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, and Passages; the new Ben Whishaw-starring LGBTQ+ drama. Partner cinemas include the Barbican, Dalston’s Rio Cinema, Curzon, Genesis, and the ICA – and membership (which also comes with MUBI to watch at home) is £15.99 a month. This means that each weekly film ticket comes in at a touch under a fiver.
If you’re a fan of snazzy seats, big releases, and repeat cinema visits, Odeon’s myLIMITLESS offers very decent value – in exchange for £14.99 a month, there’s no limit on how many times subscribers can pop to the pictures. Yep, you read that correctly. Films on offer at the chain admittedly skew towards the blockbuster side of things, but more mainstream indies regularly make the cut, as do occasional anniversary screenings.
If you’re willing to limit your cinema options, three of their London screens might be a good bet. It’s free to sign up as a MyOdeon member, which unlocks five quid tickets, for any film at any time. The only catch? Only a few cinemas in the capital are participating, so you’ll have to go to either Camden, Streatham or Beckenham to get the deal.