Secret Cinema brought Robert Zemeckis’, Back to the Future back to life in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford from the 31st July to the 31st August 2014 with an audience of over 75,000, making this the biggest live cinema event of its kind to date.
The audience, having left their mobile phones at the door, entered Hill Valley through Otis Peabody’s ranch and became residents of a fully functioning town, exploring over 20 shops created from the film including Lou’s Café, a suburban street, the High School featuring the famous Enchantment under the Sea Dance, Dr. Brown’s mansion and a massive reconstruction of the Town Hall with its famous clock tower.
The film was screened on the wall of the Town Hall with the world coming to life around the audience in the central green – 80 actors, several vehicles, including 2 Deloreans, and a series of stunts created a magical atmosphere.
Audiences stepped inside this world from the moment they bought a ticket, registering on an especially designed website, www.hillvalleycalifornia.com, where they were each given a new character, had access to a telephone and left over 100K answer phone messages. As part of the pre-event narrative, the audience could visit Secret Cinema’s pop-up vintage store and café, The Hill Valley Stores on Hackney Road, London.
The town of Hill Valley had its own live radio station, a broadcasting studio where the audience produced short films, a functioning print press and newspaper, as well as Mr. Peabody’s farm, complete with live animals.
Three live music stages hosted over 20 bands with guests including Jarvis Cocker, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Happyness, Ekhah, Money for Rope and Avecsans.
Secret Cinema engaged a cast of 74 actors with 200 members of crew to build Hill Valley. Over 40 of the crew were employed as part of the Newham Workplace scheme, as part of Secret Cinema’s local recruitment initiative.
Over 20 different food stalls brought the taste of 1950s America to the audience and the 4 main bars provided bespoke cocktails to fit in with the mood of the film.
Secret Cinema’s biggest experience to date has reinvented the way audiences experience Cinema whilst catapulting the film back into the Top Ten box office, for the first time since its original release in 1985.
Customers affected by the cancellation of the opening weekend were offered to reschedule or obtain a refund on their tickets, and those eligible to travel on Virgin Trains were offered complimentary train tickets to travel back to Hill Valley at a later date, courtesy of Virgin Trains.
Bob Gale, the film’s writer visited the show on several occasions during a trip to the UK, and says: ‘Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future was a truly amazing experience, and exceeded my expectations on every level. The recreation of Hill Valley was wonderful, the cast was outstanding, the bands were terrific, and the enhanced presentation of the film was awesome. And let’s not forget the audiences: they were fabulous, and their enthusiasm, love and passion for the film really pushed everything over the top. I had an absolute blast all 3 times I attended, and I can’t imagine a better way to kick off the film’s 30th Anniversary. My hat is off to Secret Cinema for pulling off this glorious, magical tribute!’
Fabien Riggall, Founder and Creative Director says: ‘ We looked to build the most epic and detailed experience of this classic and wonderful film. I feel we have delivered this and reinvented how films could be experienced in the future. Audiences are looking for something different, they want to be part of the story and take part in an adventure through the films and music they love. We shall continue to push the boundaries of what we do to allow for another way of experiencing culture.’
Secret Cinema is making plans to launch in the US in early 2015 with it’s Tell No One Strand, and plans to take Back to the Future to Los Angeles in Summer 2015, for the 30th anniversary of the film’s release.
Film courtesy of Universal Pictures.