The Best Independent Cinemas in Melbourne

| © Philip Game / Alamy
Matthew Clark

As Australia’s culture capital, Melbourne is home to some of the country’s coolest independent movie theatres. Whether it’s low-budget art-house cinema, international films, cult-classics, or even the latest blockbusters, you’ll be able to catch a good flick, and do so in style. Culture Trip explores Melbourne’s best cinemas.

1. The Astor


The astor
Courtesy of The Astor
Having first opened in 1936, The Astor Theatre is the oldest remaining theatre in Melbourne. This classic single-screen theatre has a seating capacity of over 1,000. It has state-of-the-art facilities, including the highest quality 4K projection hardware that offers the best presentation of films in the country, and is also one of the only theatres in the country that shows 70mm prints of classic films. While providing a top quality viewing experience, The Astor has also managed to maintain its glorious décor and style that is reminiscent of the early 20th century. Check out the session times on The Astor’s website to see when they’re showing a double feature of your favourite cult-classics, or the newest blockbuster in stunning quality.

2. Cinema Nova


© Cinema Nova
Known as the home of quality art-house cinema, Cinema Nova is the place to go to see the greatest current films. Whether it’s the latest Academy Award winning films, or other great contemporary cinema, this inner-city cinema will be sure to show some the best recent films in its 15 theatres. Cinema Nova also offers in-cinema dining opportunities, wherein customers can select a single or three-course meal served in style and comfort in one of their luxury cinemas. Cinema Nova is located in the Italian quarter on Lygon Street, where you can find many of Melbourne’s best Italian restaurants, perfect for a pre- or post-film meal. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a quiet drink to discuss the film, Cinema Nova also has the Nova Bar, a chic cocktail and wine bar, perfect for a relaxed drink.

3. Rooftop Cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater

Rooftop cinema atop Curtin House in the CBD of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia No MR or PR
© Suzanne Long / Alamy
Among the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s CBD, sometimes you want to find a place to chill out away from all the people and the big city, and you can find that at Rooftop Cinema. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a relaxed night and see a movie, take a lie seat on a deck chair under the moon and the stars and watch a film with this unique urban backdrop. This particular cinema showcases classic and art-house films as well as recent releases. Of course, Melbourne’s weather can be a bit questionable sometimes, so it’d be a good idea to dress appropriately for the six-and-a-half weather changes you’re likely to experience throughout the duration of the film.

4. Jam Factory

Shopping Mall

The Jam Factory entertainment and shopping complex South Yarra Melbourne Victoria Australia horizontal
© Bill Bachman / Alamy
One of the most iconic cinemas in Melbourne is at the entertainment and dining complex known as the Jam Factory, located in South Yarra, one of Melbourne’s most chic and popular suburbs. Built in the 1850s, this building has gone through several uses. After starting life as a brewery, it was later turned into a factory that produced preserves and jams, and continued that function for almost a century, until 1979 when it transformed into what we know today. At the Jam Factory you can go shopping, have a bite to eat, and of course, see a movie at the Jam Factory cinemas, where they show current blockbusters in a unique, historic location.

5. Moonlight Cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater

Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens
© Chris Putnam / Alamy
Drive-through cinemas are a thing of the past in Melbourne’s city centre, where most people don’t drive and prefer to cycle or take the tram. But when you want that classic film-watching experience outside under the stars, you can still have it. Located in Melbourne’s beautiful and iconic Royal Botanical Gardens. Moonlight Cinema offers the authentic outdoor movie viewing experience. This is an incredibly chilled-out way to watch one of your favourite classic movies or one of the latest blockbusters, surrounded by nature and the gorgeous foliage at one of Melbourne’s most renowned gardens. Come down with a bottle of wine, a picnic rug and a blanket and watch a film in true, natural comfort.

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