Electric Cinema

191 Portobello Road,
London, W11 2ED

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Electric Cinema

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Located in the west London inner city district of Notting Hill. Opened on 24th December 1910 as the Electric Cinema Theatre, this was one of the first buildings in the country to be built for and designed specifically for motion picture exhibition. The small 600 seat cinema was soon dwarfed by the palaces of the 1930’s, but remained open (on and off) until the 1990’s.

In 2001, the Electric Cinema was restored and re-opened after a 2 million GB.Pound facelift. A local resident, Peter Simon, funded the restoration, upgrading the sound and the screen. Seating is now provided in 98 luxurious leather armchairs with adjacent tables and plenty of leg-room and 2 two-seater leather sofas at the rear.

The Electric Cinema has now re-opened and is operated by Cityscreen, a small theater chain that exhibits mostly independent and art house films. It was closed ‘temporarily’ in June 2012, due to smoke damage from a fire in the adjoining restaurant. It re-opened late-November 2012, totally refurbished and equipped with digital 3D projection. It now also has six double sofa beds in the front row.

It is a Grade II* Listed building.

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

woody
woody on February 5, 2004 at 7:00 am

weblink www.electriccinema.co.uk
this has to be the most wonderful cinema in the world, huge leather armchairs, a bar at the back of the auditorium, all the original plasterwork and a screen that magically folds out of the original square proscenium

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 26, 2004 at 2:19 pm

The Electric Cinema Theatre address is 191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London. W11. The architect of this 600 seat cinema was Gerald Seymour Valentin. It opened on 24th February 1910 and from 1932 it was re-named Imperial Playhouse until it closed on 12th December 1970. It re-opened as the Electric Cinema Club screening classic Avante Garde movies and since then has had several closing and re-openings. It still survives as one of the UK’s oldest operating purpose built cinemas.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 27, 2005 at 9:44 am

Exterior photo and some history on the Electric Cinema here:
http://www.tnunn.f2s.com/electric.htm

PhilC
PhilC on September 29, 2005 at 10:04 pm

In my student days in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I used to frequent the electric cinema when it was a cinema club (a means of circumventing some of the licensing requirements). Inside it was a bit of a small screen flea pit, but it had a magical charm of its own and generally an audience of film lovers. There were midweek late night double bills starting at 11:15 pm and finishing at 3-4:00 am. I believe that the regulars such as myself were known by the staff as “Charlies” !

There was a little hatch at the rear of the cinema where one could buy fresh coffee, the odour of which wafted across the auditorium. Homemade cold pizza and carrot cake were also available.

Some of my magical memories of cinema were watching the Buster Keaton season with live piano accompaniment and a full house of belly laughing people. It must have been similar 60 years earlier. Another fond memory was of watching Murnau’s silent Nosferatu with Brian Eno’s Music for Films (an album used frequently at the Electric in the intervals) as the backing music then followed by Herzog’s version in German. Where could you see that sort of programme today? â€" but then again who would want to watch it?….. Somewhere I still have an old programme, a badge and a photo of the stylized neon sign â€" if I find them I will try to post them on the site.

A few years ago the cinema reopened as a den of luxury after a long period of closure. The programming while more interesting than most cinemas is less adventurous than in the 70’s/80’s, but we do have to live in the real (commercial) world!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 2, 2005 at 6:26 am

Here is a recent interior photograph showing the rear seating area. The Electric Cinema has this new luxury leather armchair style seating installed right down to the front row.
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 13, 2006 at 11:57 pm

A close-up of the front and sign of the Electric Cinema in August 2006:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zonca/214889425/

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 27, 2007 at 11:40 am

A sunny day in London? I thought they didn’t have any.

woody
woody on March 5, 2008 at 2:08 am

night time shot of the marquee last sunday night for the Fade To Black premiere (new Orson Welles biopic)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2310362199/

woody
woody on June 11, 2010 at 4:06 pm

correction to the main entry, the cinema is run by the Soho House group and programmed by City Screen

photos from the uk premiere of Fade To Black
exterior
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/4689426004/
director and producer on stage
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/4688795033/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/4688795553/

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