Save our Independent Cinemas! This week: the Rich Mix

Location: 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Screens: 3
Capacity: 181, 132, and 59
Tickets: £9 concessions/offers available
Visit the Rich Mix here!

Upon entering the Rich Mix, a particularly community-minded arts and culture endeavour located in Shoreditch, East London, you’re greeted by the box office, and the first sight of what will prove to be a thoroughly hospitable and knowledgeable team of staff. To the right is the cafe, which is open daily from 7am to 6pm. Go here for your hot and cold snacks – your pastries, your sandwiches, even your salads if you’re one of those unfortunate vegetarians. They’ve also got free wifi going on here, which is always handy. For those with priorities of a more refreshing bent, after purchasing your ticket you’ll want to go left. Not only will you find that this in fact is the way you must go to eventually reach the screening rooms, but also that – before you make it that far – you’re accosted by the rather excellent bar area.

Rather than the poky little token effort in the corner you may familiar with in many other cinemas, the Rich Mix has made a considerable effort. It possesses the air of a local gathering place for those of an artistic nature, and you’ll notice a lot of talk about ongoing projects amongst the patrons. Vitally,there is a well-stocked bar (reasonably priced, for this area of London anyway), which faces a large open area that alternates as a seating area and dance floor. The most interesting aspect though is the stage to which the bar is perpendicular. Not exactly a common sight on trips to the cinema, but a welcome one. It’s here that the Rich Mix hosts its theatre, music, comedy, and poetry nights – many of which are free! (Check the website for details, skinflints.) It’s got a relaxed, student-bar vibe going for it, though with presumably less chance of pulling an inebriate who would normally know better, which is no bad thing in a cinema. It all adds to a general impression that the Rich Mix is about more than just watching films.

That, however, is precisely why we are here so put down your drink and head on into the cinema itself. Or take it with you if you like, but you’re asking for trouble – mid-film toilet breaks are the bane of many a drunkard film-fanatic’s existence. The complex boasts three screens, ranging from 59 to 181 seats so they are all quite cosy (plus the size does wonders for the sound quality), but what you gain in intimacy you lose in screen size – which is fine for more art house fare, and that happens to be the Rich Mix’s bread and butter. The more vertically-enhanced may have a slight difficulty with leg room, but for most this will not be a problem. The atmosphere in the audience is again a departure from the norm, with the sense that everyone is a real film-lover and not just here for a night out. I counted quite a few souls who’d gone by themselves, and that’s the kind of cinema audience I like. People embarrassed to go to the cinema alone should stick to karaoke nights or whatever, is my humble opinion.

Tickets will cost you £9 for all shows. Compare that to what you pay at one of the big chains; go on, I’ll wait. There, do you see the financial sense I’m making? They’re also working in conjunction with Tower Hamlets Council to offer all Tower Hamlets Idea Store and Library Members tickets discounted to the rather lovely tune of £5 every Monday and Tuesday. Also, a large popcorn and drink will run you about £6 – this still doesn’t represent value for money but it’s a fact of film-going life that only a small fraction of ticket prices go into a cinema’s profits, so they have to make their money somewhere. And £6 still comes to about half what you’ll pay at a chain. Once again, do the mathematics.

But above all the mad, massive savings, you’ll appreciate the warm feeling inside gained from supporting what is fast becoming an endangered species – an independent cinema. They’re all eminently worthy institutions, but the Rich Mix kind of demands particular kudos. Not just a cinema, the organisation is striving to create close ties with the local communities with a view to enhancing the artistic and cultural opportunities and prospects throughout the area. Commendable.

About The Author