Inside the Hackney Picturehouse: exclusive preview of the Mare Street multiplex

Hackney Picturehouse Mare St Lon E8 Oct 2011 © DA

THE Hackney Picturehouse opens on Friday 28 October in a handsome building opposite the town hall and near a plethora of bus and railway stops, potentially delivering plenty of customers.

Inside are four theatres with big screens, although none is 70mm wide, a café-bar providing chef-directed meals and locally supplied beer.

The conversion from the failed Ocean music venue, into which Hackney council sunk millions of pounds, never to be hooked back [cut the line; this metaphor is drowning], cost City Screen, owners of the Picturehouse cinema chain, £3.5 million.

The decor, by the West End architect Fletcher Priest and BW Interiors, of Borough, is funky enough with its fashionable lighting, brightly upholstered sofas, slightly worn-looking armchairs and Eames-style café chairs to appeal to Rio fans. But it is not so overpowering as to deter the kind of audiences attracted by the Stratford Picturehouse.

Actor Michael Fassbender @ launch of Hackney Picturehouse © ∂å
Popping into Hackney Picturehouse: like, wow, it’s Michael Fassbender
The cinema will also stage art exhibitions and comedy.

The look is art-house yet blockbuster, and engenders a feeling of capaciousness, as well as stunning views of the town hall square. That may end when the full-length name sign is posted outside the building, blocking the windows.

Disabled access seems good and, unlike the Rio, the Picturehouse has the induction-loop system. Seats are adjustable like those on a plane – but with more space.

* Prices: for non-members of the PH or the Rio, the Dalston venue is cheaper overall but on Mondays the PH is cheaper. Membership: the PH gives you single tickets to three screenings, the Rio 2; the PH gives £2 off a ticket, the Rio £1.

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2 thoughts on “Inside the Hackney Picturehouse: exclusive preview of the Mare Street multiplex

  1. You wrote: “Disabled access seems good and, unlike the Rio, the Picturehouse has the induction-loop system.” I have yet to judge the Hackney Picturehouse’s accessibility credentials for myself but it does concern me that neither the Hackney Picturehouse website, nor that of the parent company City Screen, contains dedicated information on accessibility. A major reason why disabled people don’t venture out to unfamiliar venues is that we assume the worst. I imagine it would be relatively easy and inexpensive for Hackney Picturehouse to display this information. I wonder – have they chosen to withhold it?
    I’ve no particular loyalty to the Rio, although I live near by, but I am impressed by its detailed information on accessibility for disabled people and by its concessionary rate; we often have to employ PAs or induce carers to accompany us. The cost of paying extra for them to sit beside us can make the cost of a trip to the cinema exorbitant for us. Without such a facility, a trip to the Hackney Picturehouse would look prohibitively expensive for , me and many disabled people.
    The Rio does not have an induction-loop system, but it does have an IR assistive hearing system (which the Rio describes awkwardly and inaccurately as “an infra red assisted hearing system for people with hearing aids”). Induction loop is preferred by many wearers of traditional hearing aids but IR systems, such as at the Rio, can have a broader appeal and be of benefit to many hearing impaired people, albeit not always to those who use traditional hearing aids.
    Finally, as a widescreen fan, I have to share that I’ve learned that Hackney Picturehouse exhibits a 70mm projector in its lobby (the Oscar-winning Philips DP70). Maybe I’ll forget the movie and just go over there and salivate over the projector.
    [I am showing weakness again by publishing long comments, excellent though they are. Brevity, succinctness, please. – Ed.]

  2. I must drag myself down there some day. I’m glad you mentioned the wide-screen cinemas capable of projecting 70mm film stock …such sweet memories. I first saw Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in such a cinema (in 1968) and it was a profound experience I’ve yet to repeat; although some IMAX movies come close (albeit just technically).
    Those who are under the misapprehension that digital is best should check out:
    http://www.lenardaudio.com/education/17_cinema_2.html

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