Rio Cinema

107 Kingsland High Street,
London, E8 2PB

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Rio Cinema (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Classic Cinemas (UK), London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd.

Architects: Percy C. Adams, Frank Ernest Bromige, George Coles

Firms: Adams & Coles

Functions: Movies (Classic), Movies (Film Festivals), Movies (First Run), Movies (Foreign), Movies (Independent), Movies (Revival)

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Kingsland Empire, Classic Cinema, Classic Cartoon Cinema, Classic Continental Cinema, Tatler Cinema Club

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 440207.241.9410

Nearby Theaters

Rio Cinema

Located in the (now) trendy east London inner city district of Dalston, and built on the site of the Kingsland Palace of Animated Pictures (a 1909 shop conversion). It was a very grand early silent cinema that opened in 1915 as the 1,000-seat Kingsland Empire, designed by architects Percy C. Adams & George Coles of the architectural firm Adams & Coles, in an elaborate Neo-Classical style.

By 1934 it was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd chain. It was re-modeled in an Art Deco style by architect Frank Ernest Bromige in 1937 and became the Classic Cinema screening repertory films. Seating was provided for 561 in stalls & circle levels. It was rebranded Classic Cartoon Cinema in 1958, and in 1960 was refurbished to reopen as the Classic Continental Cinema screening foreign language films, before reverting back to the Classic Cinema name and screening classic films in repertory. In 1970 it became the Tatler Cinema Club showing uncensored adult double bills with a live strip-tease burlesque show.

In 1976 a local businessman took it over and re-named it Rio Cinema showing revivals of Elvis Presley movies, Kung-Fu films and Bollywood films. In 1979 the lease was taken over by a co-operative of local residents as a community non-profit cinema. In 1996, it was closed for 18 months for renovation & restoration, which was funded by the National Lottery. The original tiny foyer was enlarged by incorporating a former retail unit and expanding into the rear of the stalls seating area. The seating capacity was reduced to 402, with 188 in the stalls and 214 in the circle.

The programme covers the best of independent cinema, numerous film festivals, pensioners classic matinees, parent & baby screenings and educational screenings for local schools.

In 2017 the Rio Cinema ran a successful fundraising campaign supported by the Mayor of London to restore the exterior to its Art Deco style glory and build a second screen in the large basement space, and this 31-seat screen opened to the public in December 2017.

In March, 2022, in partnership with Oreo biscuits, the Rio Cinema was temporarily re-named “OREO” cinema. The name change was part of a week-long takeover of the Rio Cinema, to celebrate the release of the film “The Batman”. External signage and posters advertising the cinema were changed to match the blue branding of the biscuit brand.

The Rio Cinema became a Grade II Listed building in 1999.

Contributed by Tom Mo, Andrew Woodyatt

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

woody on May 16, 2009 at 6:05 am

night time photos may 2009, suddenly this area is mega trendy with the opening of the new bar and club next to the Rio called Dalston Superstore
View link

woody on June 15, 2010 at 1:55 am

a press ad from dec 1979 showing a week of rep booking, and a very 70’s Rio logo, some great titles in here:

Ian on September 25, 2010 at 1:51 am

Two photos of the Rio, taken in 1989 before the major renovation to the cinema in 1996:–

woody on February 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

another press ad from march 1971 as the tatler showing lurid smutty double bills

Ian on August 23, 2011 at 12:44 am

A set of images from 2011 of this great cinema






Well worth seeing a film here!

William Mewes
William Mewes on February 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm

This is a screen capture from Series 3 Episode 2 of “Whitchapel”


HowardBHaas on April 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Yes, here in the States I’m watching now that Whitechapel episode. It also filmed in the theater’s back and in the interior, too, in the auditorium and stairway.

Woody_London on December 1, 2016 at 5:41 am

From the IDEAL KINEMA Feb 10 1938

The Classic, Kingsland Road, London, which was opened recently to be run on a repertory policy by C. Seeman of the Classic Baker St, is a reconstruction of the old Kingsland Empire. The whole interior was gutted leaving the walls and roof, a new circle installed, and new waiting spaces, foyer, operating box and plenum chamber constructed. The front was remodelled and was designed to give full play to the elaborate neon scheme designed by the architect. The neon scheme consists of the word “Classic” in in Kingsland High Road, the letters averaging 10 ft high, and on the corner a metal and glass sign projecting 6ft 6 inches from the wall and 33ft high illuminated by banks of neon tube. A new canopy with an illuminated facia completes the remodelling. The interior is decorated in a modern style with sweeping lines, and the colouring is in a grey-blue and warm brown, and the seating in a dark red, which is set off by red festoon tabs. Contracts Main contractors, Parker and Addison, Streatham, fibrous plaster and decorations and front elevation treatment, Campbell Bros, 28 Albert Embankment SE11, exterior sign, canopy and ornamental metal work, Garton and Thorne, 44 St Pauls Crescent Camden Town, heating and ventilation, London Radiator Heating Co Ltd, Brentford, electrical work Troughton and Young Ltd, 143 Knightsbridge SW1, fire appliances, Independent Sprinklers, Sardinia Street, London, seating, carpets and curtains, Pathe Equipment Ltd, sound apparatus, Western Electric, neon lighting, Borough Electric Signs Ltd, Ranelagh Road SW1.

popcorn_pete on January 28, 2017 at 8:16 pm

More info on the second screen here: There may even be a chance of a third one later on.

Woody_London on March 1, 2017 at 3:43 pm

The Rio Cinema Dalston making global news with its spoof prank on the La La Land/Moonlight Oscar fiasco

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