Accidental hand holding with sweaty strangers, manoeuvring through sticky aisles, taking multiple groins to the face, the person behind inexplicably kicking the back of your chair. There is a lot to be loathed about the overpriced and underwhelming experience of a modern night at the movies. Luckily, just a few years ago, a bunch of friends came together in a North London garden to rethink what cinema should be and the London institution of Backyard Cinema was born.
To kick off their 2015 season, we went down to their recent sold out showing of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. The screening took place inside the picturesque settings of St Mary’s Church, Marylebone, which had been completely fitted out to match the movies dramatic closing scenes. Endless flowers, candles and glowing crucifixes. To top off the evening, a live choir belted out the big songs that make some of the adaptations most memorable moments; Kissing You, Everybody’s Free and ending with Creep. Getting to hear the choir repeat the phrase "fucking special" multiple times in a house of God was an unexpected highlight; A scene matched only by the eccentric surrealism of the film itself.
For those looking to get their holy communion on, there was champagne, wine and Berliner pilsner; a grown up replacement for your E-number slushy. You’ll also be glad to hear that long gone are the £4 bags of minstrels and nachos with the orange matter formerly known as cheese. In its place is artesian salted caramel ice cream and posh popcorn in styles such as 'goats cheese and black pepper' or 'white chocolate and vanilla'.
The decorations and ambience achieved far exceeded Hawaiian shirts and neon crucifixes. Instead, Backyard Cinema has excelled in creating a genuine immersive experience that shows more passion that the average gimmicky pop-up. It is a new breed of cinematic experience that will have people turning their phones off without being told too. The rest of 2015 sees shows across London including themed showings of cult legends (The Goonies, Clueless), intellectual documentaries (The Crash Reel, Searching for Sugar Man), and new classics (Whiplash, Birdman, Guardians of the Galaxy). There are still plenty of opportunities to upgrade your date night movie this summer. We will see you at the front.
For more information and to purchase tickets click here.
Words by David March.