By Chris Thompson
Those of you living in the UK are hopefully already quite familiar with the wonder that is Secret Cinema … But starting next year the rest of the world will be able to experience it and find out why for themselves. Created in 2007 as a way to make cinema a more interactive and immersive experience, Secret Cinema transforms top-secret venues into living breathing sets filled with actors and props that bring to life whatever is showing on their screens. In the past they've tackled Prometheus, Brazil and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel – and more recently, under the Future Cinema banner, they've brought to life the Ink & Paint Club from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Now they're bringing everything back together under the Secret Cinema banner as they prepare to take the brand global in 2015 – but not before they go Back To The Future first. That's right … From July 24 until August 10, Secret Cinema will transform a secret London location into the quaint town of Hill Valley where Marty, Biff, George and his family reside. Initial screenings have sold out in record time (under four hours!) and the organisers are now looking to secure additional dates for those who missed out.
While details of these screenings remain under tight wrap, you can get a glimpse into what a night at Secret Cinema is like thanks to my Who Framed Roger Rabbit? review:
One of the best things about cinema is the way it brings together a group of random strangers for an intimate shared experience. It may not be 'live' – and the film may not change – but those particular individuals at that particular time make it unique. Of course, in this modern age with so many things competing for our time and attention, sometimes it's necessary to offer a little something extra to make the experience more enticing. You won't get that in a multiplex or a cineplex, but you can find it if you keep your eye out … Case in point: the recent Who Framed Roger Rabbit? screenings at The Ink & Paint Club (aka The Troxy in Stepney) presented by Future Cinema.
I'm sure most of you have heard about Secret/Future Cinema before (despite their clandestine nature) and their quest to create unique interactive experiences based around popular/cult films. What started as an underground movement has poked its head above ground, while still maintaining all the things that made them special. I had the pleasure of attending their latest event on February 22nd, and it was nothing short of amazing. Actors were interacting with patrons on the street as we waited to get in through the secret entrance ("What's the password?") and the encounters only grew in scope as you got inside.
There was a real sense of being in a genuine '50s-style nightclub, complete with a cabaret show topped off by a real-life Jessica Rabbit! I wonder how many patrons had fantasized about that and just how much wish-fulfillment the night entailed for organizers? I have to say she was spectacular, and I doff my cap to her and all the team behind the show. From the actors to the bar staff to the people on the door, they remained in character throughout the evening – obviously reveling in the fun and fantasy of their roles. There wasn't a weak link in the chain, and it enabled you to fully buy into the fantasy of The Ink & Paint Club.
As for the film itself, I have to say it held up well. I hadn't seen Roger Rabbit in a number of years, so it was the perfect vehicle for a night like that … And in keeping with the idea of random strangers being brought together for a unique shared experience, we ended up sharing a large round table with two other groups who we chatted with over drinks and nibbles. In fact, one of our table-mates Minnie (surprisingly not a toon alias) was caught on camera with one of the actors – so if you're out there, Minnie, this one's for you!
Keep your eye out for the release of more tickets and other upcoming events – and remember, the future of cinema lives and dies with you.
As promised and teased, Secret Cinema are opening up extra dates for Back To The Future between August 14 and 31. Tickets go on sale today (Wednesday, June 11) at 1pm, so don't delay! While Secret Cinema may not be for everyone, you'll never know until you try it for yourself. You can expect a full report soon!
Chris J. Thompson is the host of the Pop Culture Hound podcast and participates in The Orbiting Pod:
Pop Culture Hound – www.popculturehound.com
The Orbiting Pod – www.orbitalcomics.com/podcast