Playhouse Cinema brings arthouse elegance to Sydney Opera House (whether you enjoy the film or not!)

Food, drinks, theatre, music, and now cinema – it’s all happening at Sydney Opera House

If you’re a regular Daily Addict reader, then you probably already know that the good old-fashioned cinema experience has returned to the Playhouse at Sydney Opera House. From 2-5 May, the 70s cinema-turned-theatre studio returned to its cinematic roots with a diverse offering of nine films spread across the weekend. 

We were excited to secure tickets to see Wim Wenders’ Oscar-nominated film, Perfect Days. Mostly because this gentle portrayal of a Tokyo public toilet cleaner who finds the small joys in an imperfect life has been widely acclaimed. But, in all honesty, it was a little too slow and repetitive for my taste.

Kōji Yakusho starring as Hirayama in Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days

Although the fact that nothing particularly exciting or dramatic happens is the whole point of the film, it just didn’t do it for me. The message is relatively profound, but I’m sure you could achieve the same sentiment in a twenty-minute short instead of a two-hour feature.

As the minutiae of the protagonist’s precise daily routines were repeatedly explored, I kept hoping it was all leading towards something. It never did. As a result, I found myself struggling to stay awake. To be fair, this may have had something to do with the fact that I ran the Sydney Half Marathon that same morning and stayed out all day until the evening screening. I’d say ‘We live and learn’, but I never do…

My enjoyment of the film (or lack thereof) aside, the novelty of a screening at the Opera House was delightful. Located on the ground floor on the bridge side of the building, the bar is perfectly situated for a pre-film beverage and you can take your drinks into the cinema with you. It’s nothing ground-breaking or particularly different to other cinemas (it’s just sitting in a dark room with a screen after all), but it’s all very elegant, civilised, and a little bit special thanks to the location.

Calling all new-wave fans! Chris Smith’s DEVO documentary is on its way to Playhouse.
Photograph by Barry Schultz

You arty film buffs out there will be glad to hear that more screenings are coming very soon. From Friday 31 May to Sunday 2 June, a curated cinema program will once again grace the Playhouse as part of Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House. This time, there are six offerings to choose from.

Eno is a documentary about Brian Eno, an accomplished musician and artist who curated the first Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House in 2009. This screening will offer a special one-off version of the film followed by a Q+A session with its director, Gary Hustwit. Other screenings include Devo (fresh from the Sundance Film Festival), a 25th-anniversary screening of Portishead – Roseland NYC, and Sophia Coppola’s cult classic The Virgin Suicides. Other notable sessions are the Afrofuturist sci-fi musical, Neptune Frost and the short film collection, We’re from Outer Space curated by Sydney-based filmmaker, Jonathon Lim.

Saul Williams’ groundbreaking sci-fi musical, Neptune Frost is highly acclaimed.

Arthouse cinema enthusiasts should certainly put a trip to Playhouse at Sydney Opera House on their to-do list. Although the program is still in its infancy and could include mainstream blockbusters in future, it currently offers a diverse and powerful selection veering more towards the avant-garde (think film festival calibre). As such, if you’re more of a superhero and popcorn type of person, Playhouse may not be your cup of tea. But, don’t worry, because Vivid LIVE covers everything from free concerts to decadent dinners. For more information, check out the full program of events at Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House.

Where: Playhouse Cinema, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay
When: 31 May to 2 June 2024
Tickets and film program: 

About the author

Originally from Wales, Siri is a native Welsh speaker and bilingual writer living in Sydney. With a background in film and television production, particularly comedy, she loves to make people laugh - usually at her own expense. Siri writes about all sorts from film and restaurant reviews to marathon running and adventure travel. She loves pale ale and shiraz and is yet to meet a chocolate mousse she can’t devour in seconds. An intrepid adventurer trapped inside the body of a couch potato, there’s nothing Siri won’t try - but she can’t promise to be even remotely graceful while doing it.


When I was asked to review Belle & Sebastian: Next Generation, I was intrigued. Was this a documentary about the offspring of the 90's indie pop band, Belle & Sebastian? Or was it a musical superhero sequel inspired by the life of said musicians? You’ll be glad (or perhaps disappointed) to know that it was neither.

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