Last night The Stella Theatre in Rathmines, Dublin 6 reopened its doors for a special preview of Cinema Paradiso. Scannain was lucky enough to be in attendance for this preview, where invited guests were treated to the glitz and glamour of the newly restored iconic cinematic landmark.
The cinema has been restored to reflect its 1920’s Art Deco origin for an entire new generation of movie-goers. The original cinema was designed by Higginbotham & Stafford with a granite façade , which was later covered by a metal grille. It opened on 29th January 1923 with a screening of Walter West’s silent film The Imperfect Lover, starring Violet Hopson. At the time the screen could hold 1,283 in the stalls and circle, and advertised itself as the ‘Largest Picture Theatre in Dublin But One’ (The La Scala, later the Capitol, had a 1,900-seater auditorium). Over the years changes were made inside and out, including the installation of a new façade and a concrete ceiling. In September 1981 the Stella was sub-divided into two screens, with seating given as 280 and 180 seats. It closed in August 2004 having fallen behind in terms of comfort and technology.
During the current restoration, some beautiful original 1920’s features such as the original façade were uncovered, along with a typical art deco handrail which guides you up to the first-floor balcony, detailed mosaic tiling of the original Stella logo and original ceiling mouldings which can be seen restored and dotted throughout the theatre. Even the toilets have a 1920’s glamour to them, and how often can you say that?
This revamped version of the cinemas comprises a single auditorium with a large balcony bedecked with a beautifully ornate ceiling, The Stella Cocktail Club, which has its own separate entrance and the Refreshments Bar in the foyer. The auditorium itself is equipped with a state of the art 4k digital projector, full surround sound, and a collection of plush leather armchairs, couches, and even a row of beds at the very front. Each seat comes with a small table and a foot-stool/blanket-box containing a cashmere blanket. This blanket may come in useful as the venue was cool last night. The low lights at each table were unobtrusive, and switched off quickly once the film began.
Service to the seats includes a full bar and a tapas-style food menu that includes mini tacos with sticky pork, seabass with lime and jalapenos, classic cinema-food like nachos, hot dogs, and popcorn. There’s even varieties of homemade fries served in a popcorn bucket. The staff, and there were a lot of them, were very courteous and willing to answer any question or query. Service at the bar was brisk, and there appeared to be a wide variety of beers, wines, cocktails, and soft-drinks.
It’s definitely a different cinema-going experience and has the feel of real luxury and possible decadence to it. Regular admission will be €19, so there is a cost to the luxury. For a special occasion, a first-date, or just for something a little different it will definitely be worth a trip. Warning however to those with bad backs, the soft seats that encourage you to slouch may not be the best. That said, for those of us well north of 6 feet the legroom is very welcome!
The Stella Theatre will be open for business seven days a week screening the newest movies. Every Friday and Saturday we’ll play host to the night owls of Dublin with a special midnight screening and ensure young families are well entertained with our Family Film Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10.00am
Booking via the Stella Theatre website goes live Friday morning at 9am.