When I moved to Leeds I was expecting busy roads, tall buildings, pickpockets and burglars. (My mum warned me about the last two). What I was not expecting was the gorgeous antique culture available around every corner. Literally, around the corner of my street, two doors down, I stumbled upon Hyde Park Picture House. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I only noticed it as I was on my way back from the adjacent 24 hour Sainsbury's on a midnight biscuit run. A mixture of moving house, starting a new university, and pure laziness stopped me from exploring the picture house, but last weekend, I finally got off my bum and paid them a visit.
I wish I'd not been so lazy! The queue in front of the old school ticket booth crawled out onto the pavement, but shifted quickly. Our (student) tickets were £4.80, which was pleasurable for my purse, and we got to sit on the balcony. The design on the outside of the building is as beautiful as it is inside, and the rich red velvet that appears on the curtain, chairs and (of course!) the carpet is the icing on the cake. There was a cute little booth with a few drinks and snacks, which were gloriously priced for a cinema. The theatre itself was surprisingly huge, and living two doors down, I still constantly wonder how it fits in the building. The seats were comfy and the view was uninhibited, thanks to the craftily simple seating arrangement, something that quite a few cinemas have yet to realise.
I was half expecting the film to be of a quality suited to the décor; somewhat dated. Which in retrospect was an incredibly stupid thought, especially as we were watching a new film that wouldn't have been tarnished to a vintage standard, like those tacky holey jeans that you buy new. The image, I'm glad to say, was crystal clear, and the sound was equally as pleasing. On a slightly irrelevant note the film that we watched was Looper and you should definitely go and see it. Just try to ignore Joseph Gordon-Levitt's eyebrows.
The staff were chirpy and friendly, I'll give a special mention to the cleaner who, when I asked if I could take a photo of the theatre after the movie, replied with "Okay, but I can't promise I won't be posing in it!"
Parking was a slight problem, as in the middle of a heavily populated (and primarily student) area, there's no car park. There are (limited) spaces available on the street outside of the surrounding houses, but park at your own risk. I've only lived here for a few months, and have already seen more near misses and drunken lack of balance than I ever did before. There is a bus stop right outside the cinema though, so if you fear for your car/love the environment, there is a better option.
The only (questionable) set back to this beautiful picture house is the range of new films that they show. If you're looking to see all the new box-office smashers or (heaven forbid) the new Twilight movie then perhaps this isn't the place for you. However, if you are interested in classic films, foreign films, quirky films, and can live with just a few big named films, this is absolutely the place for you. The cinema runs a great program for kids, with Saturday matinees showing loveable (and not necessarily new) children's films, with the adults' tickets at a reduced price of £4.50 and the children getting in for a measly £1. The range of films shown every Saturday at 12 noon is awesome, ranging from the 1986 Labyrinth (yes, the one with David Bowie in those trousers), right up to Despicable Me, which is securely in the list of my top ten films. The picture house has a delightful program of bloody horror films lined up for Halloween, including the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead and the new digital print of that ultimate horror (just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cinema), Jaws.
The cinema has great special offers on tickets, including £4.50 on weekdays before 5pm, buy ten get one free, and they also take part in the Orange Wednesdays two for one deal, which is great value for money. The screen is also equipped with audio description and subtitle facilities. So there really is no reason to not pay a visit!