Budapest became one of the main cities for cinema when it was first invented. When equipment became semi-portable, cinema houses began to spring up like mushrooms, and many of them are still with us today. The malls and their multiplexes have somewhat forced these institutions to go further underground, but many of these cinemas are still packed all the time and are making quite a living. They have managed to do this by changing their tune; instead of summer classics, Budapest old school movie theaters have instead become art house theaters, and this suits them rather well. Here is a list of some of the old school cinemas in the city that are still open.
Located on the Buda side of the Margaret bridge is the ever famous Bem theater, a place that has been open forever, and although it no longer shows movies, the place is still a hangout for the art crowd, and sometimes concerts are held there, but the place has somehow retained its former glory, even though it went bankrupt as a movie theater.
The strange name is home to an even stranger space, one that is the smallest movie theater in Europe. Literally a tiny room with a large internal depth and a canvas that takes up half the room, the atmosphere is cozy, welcoming and a little claustrophobic even. Not many people go to the screenings that are held here, and as such, you never have to fear of large crowds. Really only showing documentaries and arthouse flicks, this is still a very important cultural space for Budapest independent cinema.
Another runner up for the smallest movie theater in Europe is the Örökmozgó, which is a traditional establishment in every sense of the word. The screenings on their single theater is almost always themed, and usually lasts for several days at a time, as they rarely take just one movie and screen it. Located near Király utca, this is in a very central location and is readily available to anyone who comes to Budapest.
Perhaps the largest and fanciest of all movie theaters in Budapest is the Uránia, which is also one of the oldest establishments to still stand in its original form. The place is quite literally a theater, as it was built for cabarets in the 1890s, and was gradually turned into a movie theater, but there is still a stage where dances, concerts and small performances are held. In 1945, the first post war screenings were held at the Uránia, and this place is incredibly historical. Usually, the semi-mainstream movies that can’t make it into multiplexes are the ones that are shown here, and usually winners of smaller film festivals are played for weeks on end in one of the theaters that show movies.
This place is the nonplus ultra of artistic self expression. A café with installations and small exhibits as well as a movie theater showing almost only art house classics and new movies, this is really a place where the people who make the movies go when they want to see a movie. The café is somewhat overpriced, but very high quality, and the theater itself is classic in the Budapest sense of the word; big comfy seats, a projector, and a tiny crowd, which only swells to a horde when the theater is putting on premiers and first screenings.