The Most Unconventional Movie Theaters in the World


Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish actress most known for her role in Casablanca opposite our favorite dashing, silver screen legend, Humphrey Bogart, believed that “no form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight of the soul.”

There’s nothing we love more than a good romp beyond ordinary consciousness into the infinite depths of our soul, and the minds behind these unconventional cinematic experiences obviously agree. As imaginative, quirky and sublimely romantic as the films they play, these inventive theaters might just change the way you’ll want to see movies forever.

From a network of unauthorized cinemas in the catacombs beneath Paris to a rehabilitated vintage mobile caravan to a floating theater in an idyllic blue lagoon, click through to check out the most amazing places in the world to see a movie. Which would you most like to experience?

Speakeasy Cinema at the Richmond Weekender – Melbourne, Australia

Image credit: The Richmond Weekender

Breathing life into an abandoned piano factory, the Richmond Weekender houses a canteen, cinema, and homemaker’s market. Enjoy fancy popcorn, ice cream, and drinks on comfy, felt-covered DIY plywood seating while taking in “screen titles that are overlooked or hard to find, often weird, but always some kind of wonderful.”

Folly for a Flyover – London, England

Image credit: Dezeen

A temporary canal-side cinema under a London freeway featuring screenings ranging from animation classics to early and experimental cinema with live scores, light shows, and performances. Assembled by a team of volunteers over the course of a month using reclaimed and donated materials, the folly also has a café, workshop and boat trips that explore the surrounding waterways.

Archipelago Cinema – Nai Pi Lae Lagoon, Thailand

Images: Buro Ole Scheeren via Architizer

The site of the first annual Film on the Rocks: Yao Noi Festival, curated by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Tilda Swinton, the cinema is an auditorium raft designed to float on the sea. Architect Ole Scheeren explains, “the thought of watching films here seemed surprising. A screen, nestled somewhere between the rocks. And the audience… floating… hovering above the sea, somewhere in the middle of this incredible space of the lagoon, focused on the moving images across the water: A sense of temporality, randomness, almost like driftwood.”

The Sol Cinema – Swansea, England

Image credit: Sol Cinema

A micro movie house powered entirely by the sun, the Sol Cinema can accommodate eight people to watch anything from their library of comedy, music, steampunk, and environmentally themed short films.

DRV-IN – Lower East Side, New York City

Image credit: GrandOpening

Under starry skies and the foliage of a potted oak tree, guests could watch classic films in a one-of-a-kind 1965 Ford Falcon convertible at this temporary pop-up theater.

Dalston Roof Park – London, England

Images: Bootstrap Company

Inspired by a traditional English country garden, Dalton Roof Park was created by Bootstrap Company, a non-profit organization “dedicated to the growth of micro, creative and social enterprises.” A bar, deck area, event space, and allotment gardens allow for a “busy program of workshops and events, including film screenings, puppet shows, gardening, restaurants, and live gigs.”

Unauthorized Cinema by Urban eXperiment underneath the Palais De Chaillot – Paris, France

Image credit: UX via Wired

“On a typical festival evening, UX screens at least two films that they feel share a nonobvious yet provocative connection. They don’t explain the connection, leaving it up to the audience to try to discover it. Last year, the group mounted a film festival devoted to the theme of urban deserts — the forgotten and underutilized spaces in a city. They decided the ideal venue for such a festival would be in just such an abandoned site. They chose a room beneath the Palais de Chaillot they’d long known of and enjoyed unlimited access to. The building was then home to Paris’ famous Cinémathèque Française, making it doubly appropriate. They set up a bar, a dining room, a series of salons, and a small screening room that accommodated 20 viewers.”

Films on Fridges – London, England

Images: Films on Fridges

“Inspired by the disappearance of East London’s ‘Fridge Mountain’ – an enormous pile of discarded fridges which previously occupied the East London 2012 Olympic site, Films on Fridges resurrects this industrial icon in the form of a playful and interactive outdoor pop-up cinema. In celebration of the upcoming Olympics, the cinema will screen films athletic in nature.”

Sun Pictures – Broome, Australia

Images: Norman Jorgensen

Travel and Leisure tells us that Sun Pictures was “haphazardly built from corrugated iron and jarrah wood in 1916 to entertain locals in this isolated outback town’s once-thriving pearl-diving industry.” And, that “the endearingly rickety cinema is the world’s oldest operating outdoor picture garden (first silent film shown: racy racing drama Kissing Cup).” Saved by a wealthy local businessman in the early 1980s, it’s been preserved almost unchanged. The seating is still made up of deck chairs and the bathrooms are marked ‘Humphrey’s’ and ‘Vivien’s’ as a nod to early Hollywood stars.”

Vintage Mobile Cinema – Somerset, England

Images: Vintage Mobile Cinema

The Ministry of Technology built seven of these custom mobile cinema units in the late 1960s, to tour the country, promoting modern production techniques to British industry. Rescued by Rob Howell and Nancy-Rose Mills, this is the sole survivor which they’ve restored to its original traveling glory.