The Stella has gone from “beloved fleapit” to one of the world’s most beautiful cinemas, according to Time Out
Covid-19 has called “cut” for cinemas all over the world, but a new list of the world's most beautiful movie theatres aims to celebrate them “in all their infinite variety”.
Time Out's ‘50 most beautiful cinemas in the world’ list ranges from multiplexes to “opulent indies”, and there's an eye-catching inclusion at No16 – Dublin’s Stella Cinema.
“A beloved fleapit that closed in 2004, seemingly forever, the Stella sprung back into life in 2017 with a Gatsby-esque tszuj that restored it to its old 1920s grandeur,” the global magazine says.
The list is topped by Amsterdam’s Pathé Tuschinski, a mash-up of Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles owned by Pathé, followed by Le Grand Rex in Paris and New York’s Village East Cinema.
The Stella first opened in Rathmines in 1923. At the time, it was Ireland’s largest cinema with a capacity of 1,283 patrons – decades before television brought screens into people’s homes.
Dublin’s Press Up Group relaunched the facility as a plush night-out proposition in 2017, retaining Art Deco features such as its mosaic tiling, handrails and ceiling mouldings, while serving dishes like churros, BBQ pulled pork fries and loaded nachos to cinemagoers’ seats.
“Being side by side with some of the most iconic theatres in the world of cinema is something we cherish and are incredibly proud of," said Karl Geraghty, the group's theatre director.
The cinema's upstairs cocktail club “pushes the Scott Fitzgerald vibe into the realms of French martinis and bourbon cocktails”, Time Out adds.
"Oh, and the screen itself isn’t shabby either, with red armchairs, huge sofas and double beds to pick from. The Stella used to be Ireland’s largest cinema, now it’s just the swishest.”
“Going to the Stella now is an occasion; it shows what can be done,” historian Donal Fallon said in a recent episode of his Three Castles Burning podcast, which looks at the rise and fall of Dublin’s cinemas and a future when we may be able to treat ourselves to a night at the movies once again.
The Press Up Group has also opened a sister cinema in the basement of Ranelagh's Devlin Hotel, although both screens are currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Under Ireland's public health guidelines, cinemas, theatres, conferences and other "organised indoor gatherings" cannot open until Level 2 with social distancing, capacity limits (25pc in the Stella’s case) and other health and safety measures in place.
"Here's hoping that it won't be too much longer until we can warmly and safely welcome our guests back to Stella,” Geraghty said.
Time Out's full Top 50 can be found online here.