When I was pregnant one of the regular pieces of advice I got from parents was ‘go to the movies while you still can!’
Fortunately having kids hasn’t completely curbed my cinephile habits and a number of Melbourne’s cinemas cater particularly well for kids.
VJunior is Australia’s first dedicated cinema for kids and you can find it at Village Cinemas Southland and soon Village Cinemas at Fountaingate.
The 2 screen cinema combines movies and play, with a play area in the foyer and a slide inside the cinemas itself. Other features include modified sound and lighting, an intermission, light up dance floor and special candy bar.
VJunior is popular so make sure you book ahead. You can even choose from comfortable standard seating, beanbags or recliners.
VJunior, Village Cinemas, Southland, 1239 Nepean Highway, Cheltenham 1300 555 400
Every weekend and school holidays ACMI’s Kids Flicks program shows films that are a bit different from your run-of-the-mill fare.
Inside the uber-comfortable cinemas with grandstand seating (so everyone has a great view) you can discover latest releases and international animated features (with subtitles). ACMI is also the host of the annual Little Big Shots, a short film festival for kids with a curated collection of the best kids’ short films from across the globe.
Before or after your film you can drop into the ACMI Bar & Cafe for snacks and meals.
ACMI’s Kids Flicks, Federation Square, Melbourne 8663 2200
3. Hoyts Jnr
Hoyts regularly runs a Hoyts Jnr cinema program with the family-friendly films at a cheap $9 per ticket. Sessions generally screen every Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday mornings and the programming is generally geared towards preschoolers, so they tend to feature familiar characters and films that are approximately 60 minutes long.
Hoyts Jnr, various Hoyts cinemas
4. The Astor Theatre
Experience olde worlde cinema at the historic Astor Theatre.
The program is similarly unique. You’ll often find family-friendly Hollywood classics, offbeat arthouse films, sing-a-long sessions and animations, particularly during school holidays.
If your kids are able to sit still for long enough you can book for a double bill.
The Astor Theatre, Corner of Chapel Street and Dandenong Road, St Kilda 9510 1414
5. Coburg Drive-in
Melbourne doesn’t have many drive-ins anymore so the Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-in is an experience not to be missed.
Drive your car in with your own pillows and blankets, snacks and drinks, and the drive-in can be an economical (and exciting) movie-going outing.
Kids under 12 years are free.
Coburg Drive In, 155 Newlands Road, Coburg
Older kids will be awed by the world’s second-largest IMAX screen presenting 3D films on a giant screen, including blockbusters.
Better still you can visit Melbourne Museum afterwards. Get half price entry into Melbourne Museum with any IMAX Adult ticket purchase! (Kids and Concessions are FREE at Melbourne Museum)
IMAX, Melbourne Museum Precinct, Rathdowne St, Carlton (03) 9663 5454
7. Babes in arms sessions
If your child is still a baby then catch the latest releases at a Babes in arms sessions. Most cinemas have them – check out what’s showing at Hoyts, Palace, Village, Reading and independent cinemas such as the Sun Theatre and Classic Theatre.
8. Outdoor cinemas
During summer lots of outdoor cinema events pop up around Melbourne, including Rooftop Cinema, Moonlight Cinema, Rooftop Drive-In, Open Air Cinemas and Cameo Outdoor Cinema. While these cinemas are mostly geared towards adult audiences sometimes they run family-friendly programming.
Many local councils will often set up free family films in outdoor areas over summer too.
Note films that are showing in a summer outdoor cinema don’t screen until after sundown (which can be as late as 9pm with daylight saving) so it may not be suitable for little kids who have an early bedtime.