14 Unique Movie Theatres in Auckland That Make Watching Movies Way Better!

Lights, camera, popcorn, please! The best place to watch a film in Auckland is not your couch. It is time to get out of the house!

The movie theatre scene in Auckland ranges from independent non-profits and IMAX screens to landmark nostalgic attractions and modern multiplexes in shopping complexes, which means you are blessed with a diverse assemblage of possibilities for soaking up the pleasures of the silver screen every week.

The hardest part is picking a good movie theatre, so we’ve rounded up the notable cinemas in Auckland to best suit your movie night out.

Academy Cinemas

44 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD

Hidden in a basement on Lorne Street, Academy Cinemas offers all kinds of films in its twin-screen cinema in the heart of Auckland City. Its movies cater to arthouse, thriller, cult, and independent audiences, so be prepared to geek out and freak out.

Every orifice of the Academy exudes film lover, from the vintage film memorabilia in the foyer to the 16 seat boutique theatre and mixed audience who are all united by an enthusiasm for film. There is also a licensed bar offering bottled craft beer, New Zealand wines, specialty cocktails, and trained baristas. The hand-rolled, chocolate-dipped Kapiti ice cream waffle cones are to die for…

What we loved most: $5 Wednesdays, when every film is $5.

Berkeley Mission Bay

85 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay

A great theatre for those in the Eastern Bays, the Berkeley Mission Bay cinema has four screens and a licensed bar and is situated in a classic Art Deco style building.

It usually plays the latest and greatest and is lucky enough to be steps away from Mission Bay waterfront if you want to hang out and talk after the film, or grab a meal. The cinema might be owned by Hoyts, but offers discounted $10.90 tickets Sunday to Wednesday.

What we loved most: Heading here for date night, combined with a meal or beer at Good George and a walk along the beach.

Bridgeway Cinema

122 Queen Street, Northcote

Located just across the bridge in Northcote, locals believe this heritage arthouse theatre with four screens and well run by the cinematic duo who own it.

Lean back in their comfy seats and take in cinematic art outside mainstream blockbusters, with regular special film events and festivals, including the annual Cinema Italiano Festival and Met Opera. A warm, devoted environment of architectural design and arthouse delights. The excellent restaurant Engine Room is also conveniently located next door.

What we loved most: The community feel and unique inner harbour location.

IMAX Theatre

Metro Building, 291/297 Queen Street, Auckland CBD

We are normally not the biggest fans of movie theatre gimmicks like 3D glasses, giant screens, 4D “sensory experiences,” and gourmet food and drink service. They are not normally worth the added ticket prices for us, and we would generally prefer a small boutique theatre with character and charm.

However, there are some times when a blockbuster film’s visual demands need a specific screen to be fully realized — and for that, there is also the IMAX Theatre on Queen St, New Zealand’s biggest screen.

The ultimate in immersive movie-going experiences, IMAX pushes boundaries with precision laser technology, the sharpest, brightest and clearest digital images, stunning vivid colour, with state-of-the-art multi-speaker surround sound.

By no means boutique or arthouse, but this is undeniably one of the best places to watch certain films in Auckland.

What we loved most: The new IMAX with Laser technology is arguably the gold standard for watching movies.

Lido Cinema

427 Manukau Road, Epsom

This Epsom classic cannot go unlooked – especially with its new bar and modernization.

The Lido is the perfect place to go for a new release you just missed at the big chain theatres. It has a much quieter, relaxed atmosphere. Kick back and enjoy the show with a glass of red wine and maple walnut ice cream. Tucked away next to the popular Japanese Sake Bar Nippon, the boutique’s two screens at Lido always ensure a memorable and intimate viewing experience.

What we loved most were the small details, such as the retro-style decor and fresh-cut flowers in the women’s bathroom.

Matakana Cinemas

2 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana

Technically still in Auckland, this charming three-theatre boutique cinema complex settled in the heart of Matakana Village is only 50 minutes north of Auckland. There is a nice selection of movies including modern blockbusters and arthouse, wide luxurious seating with footrest recliners to tempt you into the front row, and Kapiti ice cream in waffle cones. Yum!

Their main theatre has a gorgeous chandelier hanging above it, making the entire experience very ‘Great Gatsby’. Welcoming, local, and memorable, the Matakana Cinemas make a great addition to a day trip north of Auckland and are a mainstay for those with holiday homes in the area. 

What we loved most was the cozy luxury at a bargain price and the fact that you could grab a drink from The Vintry next door.

Monterey Cinemas Howick

4/2 Fencible Drive, Howick

Yes, it’s a little outside the city – but worth the drive! This heritage theatre dates back to the 1930s, with renovated seating and a new location in Howick. Monterey Cinemas is a great-value-for-money boutique cinema showing both the latest Blockbuster releases and more alternative content such as Met Operas, National Theatres, and Live Concerts.

It’s a fun vintage spot to stop and catch a movie for those out East or anyone looking to soak up some Auckland cinema history. It is owned by Kelly Rogers and David Ross, who started and sold Rialto Cinemas. They also own Bridgeway Cinema in Northcote and have recently rebranded the Berkeley Cinema in Takapuna as Monterey.

What we loved most: The upmarket location right in the heart of Howick.

Reading Cinemas Lynnmall

LynnMall, New Lynn

Hardcore cinephiles will assuredly question our choice to include a franchise cinema as one of Auckland’s best cinemas, but (much like IMAX) hear us out. The first location of this national chain in Auckland, Reading Lynnmall, seeks to break the Hoyts-Event duopoly and get our support for offering a modern mainstream multiplex and good value for money.

They offered $10 normal tickets every day of the week after launching in 2015, but that price seems to have slowly nudged up since. Reading Cinemas Lynnmall is still the more affordable of the three main chains if you want a big, modern screen without breaking the bank. Their Titan XC 20m-wide screen and premium dine-in option.

What we loved most: The clean, modern, new theatres and competitive prices.

Rialto Cinema

167/169 Broadway, Newmarket

There’s a bar at this theatre, and you can drink in your seat. They also play amazing documentary films year-round, host special showcases and talks, and host small film festivals, but ultimately, the Rialto Cinema in Newmarket is a great place to get a glass of wine or a cocktail before being visually educated.

There are also great dining options nearby, including our favourite, the Heizo Tepenyaki restaurant across the road. With seven screens showing some blockbuster films they also have a range of art and film festival movies, though the movie theatre itself could do with a refresh.

What we loved most: The wide selection of drinks and good coffee.

Silky Otter Cinemas

228 Orakei Road, Orakei

A new modern and luxurious cinema opened in the Orakei Bay Village. Sicker than your average cinema, Silky Otter channels mainstream movies with luxury recliners, exquisite food and drink, state-of-the-art laser projection, and full 7.1 surround sound, yet is a very boutique experience.

Hidden behind Farro Fresh, it is anything but ordinary. They scoop delicious Duck Island premium gourmet ice cream, our favourite ice cream in Auckland. They also have signature hotdog sliders and a delicious range of freshly baked cabinet food, sweet or salty.

What we loved most: Silky Otter Cinemas provide a completely ad-free pre-show – see the latest trailers, then go straight into your movie. Because if there is one thing we hate, it is paying to be advertised to!

The Capitol Cinema

610 Dominion Road, Balmoral

One hundred years old and still going strong, the Capitol Cinema is a great place to see a movie when you’re out for dinner on Dominion Road in Balmoral. Protected by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust with Grade 1 classification, the Capitol Cinema experience is a step back in time with its vintage fixtures and classic red seats.

If you want a dose of nostalgia with the very best in new-release arthouse films concurrently with upmarket commercial releases, special film events, and festivals, this is the place. There is also a good wine selection, excellent ice cream, delicious baking, and friendly staff—not to mention a dozen wondrous Asian restaurants for a pre- or post-film bite nearby.

What we loved most: The nostalgia.

The Hollywood Avondale

20 Saint Georges Road, Avondale

For movie lovers who don’t care for traditional Hollywood blockbusters, there’s no better theatre than The Hollywood in Avondale (the irony isn’t lost on us).

New Zealand’s longest-running cinema palace, the Hollywood host hosts classic, cult, revival and marathon screenings and selected concerts and events in its neoclassical building dating back to 1915. It’s gorgeous, quirky and a hidden gem of West Auckland with films and events you won’t find anywhere else.

Devoted movie lovers should look out for the Incredibly Strange Film Festival and the 24-Hour Movie Marathon, which is twenty-four hours of the wildest cinema known to humankind. You’ll see sneak premieres – old faves – and some things from their vault that should have never seen the light of day.

What we loved most: The annual 24-Hour Movie Marathon, which has been running for over 20 years now.

The Vic Devonport

48 Victoria Road, Devonport

This Devonport neighbourhood favourite has a rich and proud history, dating back to 1912, the era of silent film, and claims to be the oldest theatre in the southern hemisphere! After extensive renovations and fund-raising efforts (which are still ongoing), this beloved local venue and art deco treasure lives to die another day.

The revamped theatre includes an attached cafe and bar, the Vic Lounge Bar, with an impressive craft beer selection, an extensive wine list, and fresh gelato—all of which can come with you into your movie. A community-focused spot, the Vic offers everything from the latest blockbusters and arthouse films to live musicians and family events.

What we loved most: The Fullers Ferry & Movie Deal is $19 for an adult and $12 per child for which you get a return trip on the ferry plus a movie ticket.

Waiheke Island Community Cinema

127-129 Ocean View Road, Oneroa

We could never forget about our favourite island in the Hauraki Gulf, and thankfully movie buffs are now able to catch a flick without heading into the city.

A quirky 50-seat venue filled with comfy sofas donated by the community, the Waiheke Island Community Cinema is a charitable trust governed powered by mostly volunteers, screening more than twenty screenings each week. They show a bit of everything from arthouse and documentaries to the Met Opéra and recent blockbusters.

What we loved most: Short documentaries about locally made community stories are screened before feature films.

If you’re still watching your movies from the comfort of your couch, you’re missing out! Get out there and experience the magic of cinema in one of Auckland’s fantastic movie theatres. Whether it’s the nostalgia of a historic theatre, the luxury of a boutique cinema, or the thrill of a blockbuster on the big screen, there’s something for everyone in Auckland’s diverse cinema scene.

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