Wetherby’s Cinema has had an interesting history in the century or so since it was first built. Over the years, it has changed hands numerous times, with its list of names including ‘The Raby Picture House’, ‘The Rodney Cinema’ and ‘The Wetherby Film Theatre’. During the latter part of the 20th century, it even spent 28 years as a Bingo Hall and Social Club, which finally closed its doors in 1993. However, since then the building has been refurbished and opened again last decade as ‘Wetherby’s Cinema’.
Perhaps as a result of these recent renovations, Wetherby’s Cinema lacks some of the Edwardian charm that other local cinemas of its age possess. The seating, for example, is not your classic plush red velvet – rather, they’re an odd combination of orange and green. The walls too are what you might call ‘interestingly decorated’, with brightly-patterned panels running along the length of them. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – in the world of independent cinema any distinguishing character is good character – it’s just that when compared to other older cinemas in the area, Wetherby’s feels a little out of place.
Though it is much easier to find your way around in a darkened room when your seat is neon green.
Speaking of seating, Wetherby’s Cinema is not the biggest independent picture house around. With a capacity of only 135 people per showing and generally only one screening per night, anyone looking for an evening out at the pictures might benefit from booking their tickets well in advance, or risk not getting in. This capacity is actually smaller than it was when the cinema first opened in 1915, when the building could seat 260. However, this smaller size does lead to a more intimate viewing experience than you’ll find at your local Vue or Odeon, which for some might make up for this.
Plus, there’s a bar, which is rarely an unwelcome addition.
As far as the films on offer go, there’s not much that makes Wetherby’s Cinema stand out from anywhere else you might visit. There’s the usual fare of the latest mainstream releases, coupled with the occasional broadcast of a National Theatre production or a popular musical or ballet. Art house or indie films are rarely to be seen, but this is understandable; when you’re showing only one film per day, the logical choice is the one that will bring in the most customers.
For a local movie theatre, Wetherby’s Cinema is not half bad. It’s relatively inexpensive and certainly has its own distinct sense of character. However, for more serious film fans, there are other cinemas in the area that might serve your interests better.
Part of Adam’s ‘Yorkshire’s Independent Cinemas‘ series for TSOTA. View the full series HERE
Filed under: Film, TV & Tech