Ten Places to Watch Movies in Christchurch

  • Academy Gold Cinema
  • Alice Cinematheque Christchurch
  • Hoyts Westfield
  • Hollywood Cinema Sumner
  • Geraldine Cinema

Although Christchurch has great weather much of the year, inevitably there will be days when it is wet, windy or too wild to enjoy outdoor activities. When you've had your fill of mall shopping, museums and Lego you might want to consider a trip to the movies.

We thought we would share some insider information about where to go and what to see around the city, especially since some of the old favourite movie theatres have relocated post quake. (And to make up the 10 we've added a few outside Christchurch as well).

1. Best Value Movies - Readings

Without doubt, Readings Cinema at the Palms, Shirley is the most cost-effective way to go to the movies - especially if you have a bunch of kids in two. Since re-opening back in 2012, Readings has consistently offered the cheapest movies in town, at $10 per ticket (adults and kids), plus an booking fee if you book online. Parking is free and plentiful, with disabled parks near the upstairs entrance to the theatre. There are plenty of places to eat and drink at that end of the Palms as well, so you can have a coffee or a meal before or after the movies if that suits. There's even a kids playground at the bottom of the escalators if you need to distract the kids for a bit before going into the movie. 

2. Most Character-filled Movie Theatre - Hollywood

If you are visiting the city, we recommend a day trip out to Sumner to enjoy a session or two at the Hollywood theatre. One of the city's privately owned cinemas, the Hollywood opened in 1938 with a showing of Wings of the Morning, starring Tyrone Power. There are now three cinemas in the complex showing a mix of mainstream and a few more arthouse movies. The pace is very relaxed, the lolly packets a little loud and the beach is just a block away for a walk before or after. 

The Hollywood has a few movie and meal deals with local restaurants, plus if you go on a Tuesday the price is $13 for adults and $10 for children/seniors.

3. Smallest Movie Theatre - Alice's

The only functioning picture theatre in the central city is Alice's Cinematheque - incorporated into Alice in Videoland video shop and right next door to the popular (and quirky) C1 Cafe in Tuam Street. Locals know that Alice's is the place to go for independent movies or DVDs - the ones that you won't find on Netflix or at any mainstream DVD hire shop (if they are still in existence!). The staff at Alice's are passionate and knowledgeable movie buffs and the clientele appreciate being able to enjoy a movie far from the madding crowds. The theatre seats 38 and the surroundings have an Egyptian theme which helps to transport you away from the every day. You can pick up a glass of wine or a coffee next door and bring it through, or get the usual snacks at the nibble nook. Tuesday is also discount movie day with all tickets just $11 instead of the usual $17 for adults and $12 for children/seniors.

You are right amongst the rebuild with a number of large construction sites not too far away, so parking can be a little challenging - keep your eyes peeled, or park a little further away and enjoy the walk and evolving city surrounds.

4. Art House Movies - Academy Gold

Academy Gold at the Colombo in Sydenham is now home to the Academy Theatre (formerly in the Christchurch Arts Centre) and Metro Gold (formerly behind the Cathedral in Worcester St). The three theatre complex is handily located with plenty of parking and shows a mix of art house and mainstream movies. Coffee, alcohol, ice creams, hot nuts and cake are all for sale from the ticket counter, and popcorn is fortunately absent!

You can book online and once again, Tuesday is the day for special pricing with all tickets at $12. Normal pricing is adults $17 and children/seniors $12.

5. Hoyts Northlands

Hoyts are probably the best known movie chain in Australasia and they have a consistent offering pretty much everywhere you go. The Hoyts theatres at Northlands are upstairs near the entrance off Langdons Road (and within walking distance from Christchurch TOP 10 if you feel like stretching your legs). If you park in the adjacent parking building you still need to enter through the front of the mall - there is no direct access from the car park. Full price tickets are $18 for adults (or more for 3D movies) and $12 for children. Once again Tuesdays are discount days, with a flat price of $11.00 per ticket. Note that if you are looking for ticket prices on their website, you won't see any until you start the online booking process - apparently because the pricing can vary so much between their different offerings.

The complex is licensed so you can enjoy a wine or G&T with your movie - but if you are on a budget, feel free to ask the cost of beverages before you buy! If you would rather eat/drink before or after the movie, Lone Star has a large bar downstairs and right across the road is the West Coast Bar and Grill. Be aware that Hoyts will be packed during the day if it happens to be school holidays and parking can be a definite challenge.)

6. Hoyts Westfield, Riccarton

Hoyts Westfield is located in Upper Riccarton, and the entrance is upstairs on Rotherham Street. The complext includes an Xtreme screen and the largest cinema screen in the South Island. The best free parking is in the building across the road and you can drive up to the same level as the theatre then walk across the airbridge, or catch the lift up or down accordingly. Ticket pricing is the same as Hoyts Northlands with cheap tickets on Tuesdays. There's a Starbucks downstairs that is open in the evenings and a Coffee Culture across the road that usually closes around 10.30.

Rotherham Street is also home to Timezone One, which is guaranteed to be packed during school holidays. You will also be able to find frozen yoghurt over the road, or down on the corner of Riccarton and Rotherham. Being one of the city's biggest malls, you are also very close to the upstairs foodcourt, so there's no excuse for any tummies rumbling during the movies.

BONUS THEATRE NEWS:

If you are in town for Christmas 2015, look out for the brand new Deluxe Cinemas, run by the team from Alice's and opening at The Tannery. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with progress.

Out of Town

7. Town Hall Cinemas, Rangiora

Just half an hour's drive north of town via the motorway is the town of Rangiora - which has virtually become a suburb of Christchurch, post-quake. Rangiora's picture theatre is up and running and worth a visit if you feel like a bit of a drive.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the beautifully refurbished and restored historic Town Hall complex has re-emerged with a fully restored auditorium and three state-of-the-art digital cinemas. Two theatres have 23 seats each for an intimate movie experience, and there's also a 93 seat theatre with a big screen and surround sound for the blockbusters.

Our friends from Alice in Videoland are also running this impressive new theatre. Award winning wines and selected craft beers will help to further enhance the new cinema experience.

8. Regent 3,  Ashburton

Sometimes you just want to get out of town and away from the crowds and the large theatres at Ashburton's Regent 3 pretty much guarantee you won't be queing for long or competing for the popcorn. You can't book directly online but you can email through the website or call ph. 308-1230 to book seats.

Ashburton is an hour's drive from Christchurch and if you are thinking of heading down there for a day trip, you might also want to check out the brand new pool and sports complex

9. Cine Cafe, Akaroa

An expedition to Akaroa is lovely when the weather is great, but if it threatens to turn a bit pear shaped on you, it can be useful to know there are a few indoor activites you can enjoy as well. The Cine Cafe theatre is a modern, 'petite' cinema where you can have a more intimate movie watching experience. Bookings in advance are essential over the winter months, and during summer showings start from midday. You can reserve seats by phoning 03 304 8898.

10. Geraldine Cinema, South Canterbury

Geraldine is a picturesque country town about an hour and a half drive south of Christchurch. Often travellers will drive through it en route to the Southern Lakes, although many are missing the township itself by turning inland at Orari (thanks to their GPS). If you turn inland just over the Rangitata River bridge, you will travel through Geraldine itself and be able to explore the cafes, shopping and of course, the Geraldine Cinema in Talbot Street. Built in 1924, the Geraldine Cinema was one of the first buildings in the area to be wired with electricity. The cinema is one of a few left of its type and age in the country.

If you have fond memories of sitting upstairs at the movies and peering over the balcony, this is one place you can recreate that experience. Check the website or the Flicks app to make sure there is a movie on, and if you want to book by phone, call 03 693 8118 (evenings only after 5pm). Keep an eye out too for live music gigs which are also hosted in the Cinema from time to time.