10 of the World’s Most Unique Movie Theaters

I recently read a news story shared by Devin Faraci on the Badass Digest Twitter page about an incredible floating movie theater in Thailand. I was so fascinated by the concept that I started researching international movie theaters located around the world. I love to travel but I don’t get the opportunity to do it often so I enjoyed roaming around the globe from the comfort of my own home. During my armchair travels I came across lots of unusual and unique movie theaters so I thought I’d spotlight a few of my favorite discoveries.

Movie Theater: Kino Pionier – Szczecin, Poland

Why It’s Unique: Poland’s Kino Pionier is currently the oldest operating movie theater in the world. This small but cozy cinema was built in 1909 and only seats 82 but the owners recently set up a second screen in the adjoining bar & cafe where patrons can share a drink while watching silent films accompanied by a live pianist. But don’t visit Kino Pionier expecting to only watch classic movies. They also showcase new foreign films and art house favorites.

More info: Official site of Kino Pionier

Movie Theater: Rooftop Bar & Cinema – Melbourne, Australia

Why It’s Unique: Outdoor cinemas are somewhat commonplace in Melbourne due to the warm climate during the summer months but none of them offer patrons a view as spectacular as the Rooftop Bar & Cinema. The cinema sits atop a six story building originally built in 1925 and during the summer months it operates as a bar and theater showing an unusual mix of classic movies, cult favorites, foreign films and mainstream hits. Seats are limited to 180-200 guests so you have to arrive early if you want a good view of the screen but the cityscape is worth the price of admission.

More info: Official site of Rooftop Bar & Cinema

Movie Theater: Jinbocho Theater – Tokyo, Japan

Why It’s Unique: The Jinbocho Theater opened its doors a few years ago and boasts the latest technology but what makes it stand apart is the space-age design by Tomohiko Yamanashi of the Nikken Sekkei ltd. Architectural Firm. The six story building contains a common lounge area and two theaters that seat 100-126 guests. You might expect a modern movie theater like this to play new films but the Jinbocho Theater devotes itself to showing classic Japanese cinema, which makes it my kind of place!

More info: Official site of Jinbocho Theater

Movie Theater: The Sol Cinema – South Wales, UK

Why It’s Unique: Sol Cinema is the world’s first mini mobile movie theater powered entirely by the sun. It only accommodates 8 adults but patrons are greeted by a smiling usherette who guides them into Sol Cinema on a red carpet. The mobility of Sol Cinema allows it to travel around the UK showing movies on the street or at festivals. If food trucks are currently the next big thing in dining maybe planet friendly mobile theaters are the next big thing in movie viewing? I’m sure there are plenty of people who wouldn’t mind spending their lunch hour at Sol Cinema.

More info: Official site of Sol Cinema

Movie Theater: Sala Montjuïc – Barcelona, Spain

Why It’s Unique: The inviting Sala Montjuïc in Barcelona might be the only outdoor theater showing films in a 17th century castle. During the summer months the Castell de Montjuïc offers outdoor seating while showing classic films and cult favorites. There is no formal seating so patrons must bring their own folding chairs or a comfy blanket. You will find food venders there and emergency services are on site but you can also bring your own snacks or dinner for two. Alcoholic beverages are also allowed making Sala Montjuïc a popular spot for young travelers eager to watch classic movies in a relaxed historical setting.

More info: Official site of Sala Montjuïc

Movie Theater: CGV Cheongdam Cine City – Seoul, South Korea

Why It’s Unique: If you think 3D is the next big thing in movies, think again. At CGV Cheongdam Cine City in Seoul you can watch movies in 4DX! This state-of-the-art theater uses motion, lighting, wind, fog and scent-based special effects so audiences feel as if they’re inside a movie experiencing events for themselves. 4DX is the brainchild of CJ 4DPlex Co. and they’ve recently opened theaters in Mexico, China and Thailand with plans to build many more inside the US. They’re currently offering screenings of James Cameron’s TITANIC, which allow patrons to “go down with the ship” right along with Jack and Rose. Ever wonder what the Titanic smelled like? In the future you’ll be able to find out!

More info: Official site of CGV Cheongdam Cine City

Movie Theater: Busan Cinema Center – Busan, South Korea

Why It’s Unique: Korea’s Busan Cinema Center is a 140 million dollar structure designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au, an Austrian based architecture collective. Besides a state-of the-art outdoor theater that seats 4,000, Busan also contains four indoor cinemas that seat about 1500 more patrons making it one of the largest movie theaters in Asia. But what’s so appealing about Busan is it’s incredible design that includes a rooftop and ceiling equipped with LED projectors that can display spectacular light shows. It’s home to the International Busan Film Festival and devotes itself to development and promotion of young filmmaking talents.

More info: Official site of Busan Cinema Center

Movie Theater: Cine Thisio – Athens, Greece

Why It’s Unique: The Cine Thisio in Athens boasts what might be the most impressive scenic views offered by any outdoor movie theater. Where else can you gaze at the majestic Acropolis and appreciate Greek history while watching your favorite film? This cheerful outdoor theater in Athens has been in operation since 1935. They often showcase classic movies and stay open during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry.

More info: Official site of Cine Thisio

Movie Theater: Golden Village – Katong, Singapore

Why It’s Unique: Luxury cinemas don’t get much more extravagant than the Golden Village cinema in Katong. Amenities include 56 plush armchair style seats that recline at the touch of a button and feature footrests for added comfort. You’ll also be offered a wool blanket in case you want to snuggle up and get cozy while watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster with state-of-the-art picture and sound. Still not satisfied? Then use the call button located on your table to contact the theater staff, who will happily pour you a glass of wine or mix you a cocktail. And if you’re hungry you can sample some of their unique Peranakan cuisine. That’s what I call living! Of course this kind of luxury doesn’t come cheap. Tickets start at around $40 and that doesn’t include beverages and snacks or airfare to Singapore.

More info: Official site of Golden Village Katong

Movie Theater: Futurescope – Poitiers, Poitou-Charentes, France

Why It’s Unique: Want to experience the ultimate modern movie-going experience? Look no further than the Futurescope cinema theme park in France. This huge Disneyland-like complex sits on 130 acres and contains 13 modern buildings (or pavilions) made of metal and glass that were specifically designed to showcase the latest multi-media technology. Main attractions include an outdoor movie theater as well as the space-age crystal-like Kinescope theater (pictured above), which happens to be the only movie theater in the world currently using every type of IMAX technology available.

More info: Official site of Futurescope

These are all armchair observations so please do your own research before visiting any location. Have a favorite international hot spot for watching movies that I didn’t mention? Please feel free to share it below.

46 Responses 10 of the World’s Most Unique Movie Theaters
Posted By revjonflores : April 5, 2012 7:07 pm

How about movies in a cemetery! Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever Cemetery has a summer tradition of showing films every weekend, projected on the side of the mausoleum. http://www.facebook.com/cinespia Thousands of locals make this part of their summer LA ritual, watching movies with the dead!

Posted By revjonflores : April 5, 2012 7:07 pm

How about movies in a cemetery! Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever Cemetery has a summer tradition of showing films every weekend, projected on the side of the mausoleum. http://www.facebook.com/cinespia Thousands of locals make this part of their summer LA ritual, watching movies with the dead!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : April 5, 2012 7:16 pm

My focus, which I hope is somewhat clear if you read the entire post, was on “world cinema.” Not US venues. But that might be a good topic for a future post. I love the idea of watching movies in a cemetery.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : April 5, 2012 7:16 pm

My focus, which I hope is somewhat clear if you read the entire post, was on “world cinema.” Not US venues. But that might be a good topic for a future post. I love the idea of watching movies in a cemetery.

Posted By Peter Denman : April 5, 2012 9:07 pm

I would appreciate someone’s doing a post on the best theaters in the USA in which to see classic films.

Posted By Peter Denman : April 5, 2012 9:07 pm

I would appreciate someone’s doing a post on the best theaters in the USA in which to see classic films.

Posted By Susan Doll : April 6, 2012 12:34 am

This was so cool. Seeing a movie in Barcelona in a castle just made my bucket list.

This comes at a time when Chicago’s cinephiles are fighting the take-over of a movie palace (which shows silent and classic movies) by a church that wants to destroy the marquee, among other structural changes. Reminds me that watching movies in a special venue makes the movies special.

Posted By Susan Doll : April 6, 2012 12:34 am

This was so cool. Seeing a movie in Barcelona in a castle just made my bucket list.

This comes at a time when Chicago’s cinephiles are fighting the take-over of a movie palace (which shows silent and classic movies) by a church that wants to destroy the marquee, among other structural changes. Reminds me that watching movies in a special venue makes the movies special.

Posted By dukeroberts : April 6, 2012 1:08 am

That theater theme park actually makes me want to visit France. I didn’t think anything could.

Posted By dukeroberts : April 6, 2012 1:08 am

That theater theme park actually makes me want to visit France. I didn’t think anything could.

Posted By Robin : April 6, 2012 7:36 am

Excellent article! I didn’t realise that the USA wasn’t part of the ‘world’ lol… just teasing! My favourite is the wee ‘Sol Cinema’ in South Wales – that’s just too adorable! BUT – we have a mobile cinema that travels throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland – maybe that would have made your list – it’s called the Screen Machine – here’s a video if you’re interested! http://vimeo.com/37483900

Hope you enjoy our little contribution to the film world!

Posted By Robin : April 6, 2012 7:36 am

Excellent article! I didn’t realise that the USA wasn’t part of the ‘world’ lol… just teasing! My favourite is the wee ‘Sol Cinema’ in South Wales – that’s just too adorable! BUT – we have a mobile cinema that travels throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland – maybe that would have made your list – it’s called the Screen Machine – here’s a video if you’re interested! http://vimeo.com/37483900

Hope you enjoy our little contribution to the film world!

Posted By Ray (@RaySquirrel) : April 6, 2012 9:37 am

When I went to school in Colorado I worked at the Villiage 4 in Boulder. It hosted the largest movie screen in Colorado. It must have been three stories tall.

It’s a Whole Foods now. The very last thing Boulder needed, a supermarket that sells overpriced produce.

Posted By Ray (@RaySquirrel) : April 6, 2012 9:37 am

When I went to school in Colorado I worked at the Villiage 4 in Boulder. It hosted the largest movie screen in Colorado. It must have been three stories tall.

It’s a Whole Foods now. The very last thing Boulder needed, a supermarket that sells overpriced produce.

Posted By Kerry : April 6, 2012 4:42 pm

Wow!! I love the idea of seeing a cult film on a rooftop in Melbourne. The LA mausoleum theater sounds great, too!

Posted By Kerry : April 6, 2012 4:42 pm

Wow!! I love the idea of seeing a cult film on a rooftop in Melbourne. The LA mausoleum theater sounds great, too!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : April 6, 2012 9:18 pm

Those theatres in Japan and S. Korea look so cool-I will have to tell my son in Japan, that if he gets to visit Tokyo, to see that theatre you listed. Leg rests that are attached to the movie seats-great idea!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : April 6, 2012 9:18 pm

Those theatres in Japan and S. Korea look so cool-I will have to tell my son in Japan, that if he gets to visit Tokyo, to see that theatre you listed. Leg rests that are attached to the movie seats-great idea!

Posted By swac44 : April 7, 2012 12:45 pm

I’ve been to many memorable cinemas over the years, the Melbourne one reminded me of the Deckchair Theatre in Darwin, Australia, which is an outdoor theatre where you can bring your own deckchair (it’s close to the equator, so it can run year round, although I’m sure they take a break during cyclone season). In fact, Darwin had an open-air cinema years ago that ran for decades until it was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy (around ’72, I think), but the site is still there, now a courtyard food court of sorts.

Last month I was in Havana, Cuba, and visited one of the last Cinerama theatres ever built, which still operates on La Rampa (across the street from the hotel that became Fidel Castro’s headquarters when the revolutionaries first marched into the city) as a single screen cinema (no curved screen though). The place is a huge, yet modern-looking, movie palace. I can’t imagine there are many around that still look like that. Extra bonus: a Trader Vic’s restaurant in the hotel that hasn’t changed its look at all since the ’50s, although it’s now called the Polynesie.

Here in Halifax, we have the FilmFesto alFresco, an outdoor cinema with an inflatable screen on the harbour’s waterfront where you can cool off on a hot summer night with some cool ocean breezes and a fun movie (last summer it was a Bill Murray film fest). I suppose with the inflatable screen, they could show movies just about anywhere, maybe they’ll explore that option down the road.

Posted By swac44 : April 7, 2012 12:45 pm

I’ve been to many memorable cinemas over the years, the Melbourne one reminded me of the Deckchair Theatre in Darwin, Australia, which is an outdoor theatre where you can bring your own deckchair (it’s close to the equator, so it can run year round, although I’m sure they take a break during cyclone season). In fact, Darwin had an open-air cinema years ago that ran for decades until it was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy (around ’72, I think), but the site is still there, now a courtyard food court of sorts.

Last month I was in Havana, Cuba, and visited one of the last Cinerama theatres ever built, which still operates on La Rampa (across the street from the hotel that became Fidel Castro’s headquarters when the revolutionaries first marched into the city) as a single screen cinema (no curved screen though). The place is a huge, yet modern-looking, movie palace. I can’t imagine there are many around that still look like that. Extra bonus: a Trader Vic’s restaurant in the hotel that hasn’t changed its look at all since the ’50s, although it’s now called the Polynesie.

Here in Halifax, we have the FilmFesto alFresco, an outdoor cinema with an inflatable screen on the harbour’s waterfront where you can cool off on a hot summer night with some cool ocean breezes and a fun movie (last summer it was a Bill Murray film fest). I suppose with the inflatable screen, they could show movies just about anywhere, maybe they’ll explore that option down the road.

Posted By Lori : April 11, 2012 3:50 pm

Cinemapolis in Ithaca, NY is awesome. A small, independent, non-profit movie theater. One of the screening rooms is tiny and seats about 20 people. I saw “Buffalo 66″ there when it came out in the late ’90s.

Posted By Lori : April 11, 2012 3:50 pm

Cinemapolis in Ithaca, NY is awesome. A small, independent, non-profit movie theater. One of the screening rooms is tiny and seats about 20 people. I saw “Buffalo 66″ there when it came out in the late ’90s.

Posted By sandy ferber : April 12, 2012 11:48 am

Nice to see the Aussies appreciating such a fine cult item as “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” with that impressive backdrop! I’d love to see a film in ANY of these unique venues. Thanks for the world tour, Kimberly!

Posted By sandy ferber : April 12, 2012 11:48 am

Nice to see the Aussies appreciating such a fine cult item as “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” with that impressive backdrop! I’d love to see a film in ANY of these unique venues. Thanks for the world tour, Kimberly!

Posted By sandy ferber : April 12, 2012 11:49 am

Nice to see the Aussies appreciating such a fine cult item as “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” with that impressive backdrop! I’d love to see a film in ANY of these unique venues. Thanks for the world tour, Kimberly.

Posted By sandy ferber : April 12, 2012 11:49 am

Nice to see the Aussies appreciating such a fine cult item as “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” with that impressive backdrop! I’d love to see a film in ANY of these unique venues. Thanks for the world tour, Kimberly.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : April 12, 2012 3:07 pm

Thanks for all the comments and theater recs! My own favorite movie theater is the old Castro in San Francisco. I may have to include it if I make a Top 10 List of unique US theaters.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : April 12, 2012 3:07 pm

Thanks for all the comments and theater recs! My own favorite movie theater is the old Castro in San Francisco. I may have to include it if I make a Top 10 List of unique US theaters.

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : April 14, 2012 11:13 am

Not quite as unique as the venues listed, but I made a point of visiting the Arsenal in Berlin a few years ago.

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : April 14, 2012 11:13 am

Not quite as unique as the venues listed, but I made a point of visiting the Arsenal in Berlin a few years ago.

Posted By Paul Kz : August 13, 2012 10:10 am

Here’s another theatre of interest… a drive-in that allows (requires?) one to rent an airstream trailer for the night and watch classic movies from inside one of the theatre’s classic convertibles: http://www.shootingstardrive-in.com/

Posted By Paul Kz : August 13, 2012 10:10 am

Here’s another theatre of interest… a drive-in that allows (requires?) one to rent an airstream trailer for the night and watch classic movies from inside one of the theatre’s classic convertibles: http://www.shootingstardrive-in.com/

Posted By Kirk : August 13, 2012 11:13 am

Too bad they seem to be projecting “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” in the wrong aspect ratio. The film is 1.33:1 not 1.85, which it seems to be squeezed down to. Of course its probably just photoshopped.

Posted By Kirk : August 13, 2012 11:13 am

Too bad they seem to be projecting “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” in the wrong aspect ratio. The film is 1.33:1 not 1.85, which it seems to be squeezed down to. Of course its probably just photoshopped.

Posted By morlockjeff : November 19, 2012 9:34 am

I was in Athens, Greece several years ago and saw the Cine Thisio space which couldn’t be more picturesque with its location on the side of Mount Lycabettus with views of the Acropolis. Unfortunately it was November and the cinema had just finished its Fall season in October but I could imagine what that experience was like. More recently I went to Amsterdam and visited their new film archive – EYE. Formerly housed in Vondelpark in a grand, imposing pavillion, their new space is stunning (check out the link) and is user friendly with space age pods in the basement that can hold up to three people inside with a widescreen monitor and access to hundreds of films – silents, avant garde, animation, documentaries, newsreel & travel films and an emphasis on Dutch feature films (there are a lot of US films too like Kubrick’s 2001 which is the perfect film to watch in one of these futuristic pods). Plus it’s free. Admission is only charged for their screening series in four different theatres. It is also a wonderful place to have lunch with views over the Amsterdam harbor. http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/eye-opens-%E2%80%93-amsterdam%E2%80%99s-new-landmark-film-institute

Posted By morlockjeff : November 19, 2012 9:34 am

I was in Athens, Greece several years ago and saw the Cine Thisio space which couldn’t be more picturesque with its location on the side of Mount Lycabettus with views of the Acropolis. Unfortunately it was November and the cinema had just finished its Fall season in October but I could imagine what that experience was like. More recently I went to Amsterdam and visited their new film archive – EYE. Formerly housed in Vondelpark in a grand, imposing pavillion, their new space is stunning (check out the link) and is user friendly with space age pods in the basement that can hold up to three people inside with a widescreen monitor and access to hundreds of films – silents, avant garde, animation, documentaries, newsreel & travel films and an emphasis on Dutch feature films (there are a lot of US films too like Kubrick’s 2001 which is the perfect film to watch in one of these futuristic pods). Plus it’s free. Admission is only charged for their screening series in four different theatres. It is also a wonderful place to have lunch with views over the Amsterdam harbor. http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/eye-opens-%E2%80%93-amsterdam%E2%80%99s-new-landmark-film-institute

Posted By robbushblog : November 19, 2012 10:21 am

That looks like some kind of weird “futuristic” airport from the 70′s.

Posted By robbushblog : November 19, 2012 10:21 am

That looks like some kind of weird “futuristic” airport from the 70′s.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 19, 2012 4:16 pm

Thanks for the info about Amsterdam’s EYE, Jeff. The building’s impressive and as Rob pointed out, it’s incredibly futuristic. I love modern design that really pushes the envelope.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 19, 2012 4:16 pm

Thanks for the info about Amsterdam’s EYE, Jeff. The building’s impressive and as Rob pointed out, it’s incredibly futuristic. I love modern design that really pushes the envelope.

Posted By The Last Cinema Bus | Messy Nessy Chic Messy Nessy Chic : February 26, 2013 3:44 pm

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Posted By The Last Cinema Bus | Messy Nessy Chic Messy Nessy Chic : February 26, 2013 3:44 pm

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Posted By Mikeymike : June 4, 2013 2:33 am

In my hometown of Perth you’ll find Movies by Burswood. It runs next to the beautiful Swan river over the summer months with all profits going to charity.

Posted By Mikeymike : June 4, 2013 2:33 am

In my hometown of Perth you’ll find Movies by Burswood. It runs next to the beautiful Swan river over the summer months with all profits going to charity.

Posted By swac44 : June 4, 2013 7:36 am

Mikeymike: Boy, what I wouldn’t give to be watching a movie on the banks of the Swan River right now. I’ll get back there someday…

Posted By swac44 : June 4, 2013 7:36 am

Mikeymike: Boy, what I wouldn’t give to be watching a movie on the banks of the Swan River right now. I’ll get back there someday…

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