The Prince Charles Cinema is located in Leicester Place, just north of Leicester Square in London's West End. With famously low prices starting from as little as £1.50 it shows a rotating program of cult, arthouse, and classic films alongside the best of recent Hollywood releases - typically more than ten different films a week on a single screen with 472 seats. It also hosts the a popular sing-a-long version of The Sound of Music, which has been shown on a regular basis for over five years. The cinema has achieved a cult status amongst fans, due to its great atmosphere and attitude, sticking out as the only independent cinema in the sea of multiplexes and chain cinemas elsewhere in the West End.
It offers annual memberships which entitle the card holder to a discount all films and money off drinks in the licensed downstairs bar, which you can take into the screen. It has also now re-launched The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which regularly sells out.
Built in 1961 and opened in 1962 the building was erected for Alfred Esdaile Esq and designed by Carl Fisher and Associates Architects. The cinema has an interesting history, having originally existed as a theatre with distinctive 'satellite dish' curve to the floor on the stalls. For a period the venue operated as a porn cinema with the UK's longest run of "Emmanuelle" as well as Caligula.. A relic of this past can be seen in the double 'lovers' chairs on the back two rows (these however are brand new clean versions which the management decided to reinstall after a recent refurbishment).
The cinema was famously used as the setting for a number of stunts in the cult British sketch show, Trigger Happy TV. Filming was facilitated by the cinema having a balcony from which aerial shots could be taken, as was the apparent willingness of the management to subject their patrons to some hilarious (and ultimately harmless) pranks. Various sketches involved the show's presenter, Dom Joly along with extras from the show annoying cinema-goers by dressing up as severely obese people trying to squeeze past whilst spilling popcorn from massively oversized buckets, sitting in front of them with enormous fake wigs, and dressing up as Beefeaters taking up whole rows of seats. Other more bizarre incidents involved the use of animal costumes. In one scene two rabbits were seen simulating intercourse, and in another Joly dressed up as a snake and slithered around on the floor, as a supposed addition to a screening advising people to be vigilant about pick-pockets.
Hosting a variety of special previews, premieres, cast and crew screenings and other events the cinema is also available for private hire.
"The Prince Charles Cinema is everything an independent movie theatre should be. For lovers of quality films, this is Mecca" Quentin Tarantino
"The day Kill Bill plays the Prince Charles is the day Kill Bill truly comes home" Quentin Tarantino
The PCC is also rumoured to have a ghost which haunts the upper levels of the cinema. Several sightings have been made by staff, and it has even reportedly tidied up mess and adjusted the volume on films. The upper level of the cinema also falls within the former site of the 17th Century Leicester House which was later converted into the Holophusikon (a museum of curiosities, including many artefacts from James Cook's voyages).
The Canopy above the cinema is a source of public intrigue and amusement. Aside from regular advertising for films it often sports cult film quotes or other obscure messages. Previous messages have cheered on England in the world cup, proclaimed the PCC to be the ninth wonder of the world (after King Kong) and even joked about other cinemas in the area.
During the UK launch of Kill Bill 2 Uma Thurman recorded a special video introduction for a double bill of both movies being held at the PCC. In it she welcomed the audience to "Quentin's favourite UK cinema"
In April 2007 the cinema opened an official Kevin Smith toilet cubicle, after the cult director held a Q&A at the cinema, he is quoted as saying "I don't know, Quentin Tarantino has never turned up here and they name the bar after him, it's my second visit and they haven't even named a toilet after me!" the next day they screwed a framed a picture of him to the first cubicle in the gents and he officially opened the toilet!
As a commitment to promoting environmental causes, the PCC has pledged to screen the oscar winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth every week for the whole of 2007. Often the screenings have Q&A's with special guests, previous speakers have included Tony Juniper (head of Friends Of The Earth), David Miliband Environment Minister and Sir Ming Campbell (Liberal Democrat Leader)
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