The Electric Cinema, Birmingham

The Electric Cinema in Birmingham is the oldest working cinema in the UK.

The cinema has been sympathetically restored to its early 20th century design and sits pride of place near to Grand Central Station. With two digital screens, showing a mixture of the latest quality mainstream, independent, foreign and classic films, comfy sofas, snacks and a licenced bar – The Electric is now a Birmingham institution.

The Electric Cinema opened on the 27th of December 1909. It was Birmingham’s first cinema. In 1920, the cinema was bought out and underwent the first of many name changes, becoming known as The Select. After continuing to show silent movies during the 1920s, the cinema added sound in 1930.

After a period of closure, (when it was rumoured that it was used as an amusement arcade!) work commenced on the upper floors of the cinema in 1936. A year later, the cinema reopened as Birmingham’s second news theatre, The Tatler. The cinema showed rolling news reels from Pathe and British Movietone, along with short films and cartoons.

Cohen was a highly successful Birmingham businessman and owed 50 cinemas at the height of the Jacey Cinema chain. Along with being friends with Walt Disney, he also knew Oscar Deutsch, the Birmingham entrepreneur behind the Odeon chain, the first of which was built in Perry Barr in 1933.

The cinema was unusual, as it shot and edited its own regional news, some of which still remains today. News and cartoons were shown until the late 1960s when the advent of TV removed the need for current affairs programming in cinemas

At the end of 2003, The Electric closed, showing Kill Bill for the final screening. A few months later, the cinema was bought by film maker Tom Lawes. Further growth in 2007 made clear the demand for a second screen. In early summer 2008 a state-of-the-art digital projector system was installed in Screen 2.

Unfortunately its doors closed again in March 2020 because of Covid-19. However, new owner Kevin Markwick, who also owns the 104-year-old award-winning Uckfield Picture House cinema in East Sussexand re-opened The Electric along with his daughter Katie in 2021.. the legacy of The Electric lives on.

Vistors can now become part of cinema history. Enjoy year round benefits including complimentary film tickets, no booking fee, exclusive member events, discounts and your own Membership Manager with an Electric Cinema membership here.

Find out what’s on at The Electric Cinema here.

Watch a short film about how The Electric Cinema was brought back to life by former owner Tome Lawes here.


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