Secret Cinema: Seeing Films Differently

According to many of the most successful film producers and studios worldwide, the future of cinema lies in the ‘game-changing’, ‘immersive’ quality of 3D film, satisfying a natural desire within cinema-going audiences to feel evermore part of the visual world portrayed on screen. However, for those yet to be convinced of both the validity and longevity of 3D film, there may well be an altogether more tactile, theatrical alternative in the guise of Secret Cinema.

Secret Cinema, “The Pioneer of Live Cinema”, have announced their most ambitious event to date to be held on the 3-5th September 2010.

Since its conception in December 2007, when 400 people came together under London Bridge for Gus Van Saint’s Paranoid Park (2007), Secret Cinema has continued to push the boundaries of how audiences experience film. In June 2010, 7000 people descended upon Canary Wharf for Secret Cinema’s 11th outing to discover the world of Los Angeles 2019 and to enjoy an immersive experience of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982). A vast abandoned warehouse was transformed into the brave new world with littered alleyways, live bands, DJs and over 100 actors, climaxing in a live aerial recreation of the film’s famous final scene (below).

Secret Cinema seeks to revolutionise the traditional cinematic experience, with the secret venue hosting the selected film only ever revealed a few days before the event. On arrival, the audience are lead through site-specific locations from five-star hotel car parks to working city farms, each commandeered to evoke the spirit of the secret movie. Audiences are then encouraged to interact with their “secret” experience by joining up to Secret Cinema’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, where the first seeds of the film’s identity begin to be sown in the weeks ahead of the events.

This real-life interaction with the movie-going audience poses some extremely interesting questions regarding the future of cinema: Will future audiences be able to touch (and to an extent) manipulate the filmic world surrounding them? Will traditional debates concerning film’s voyeuristic tendencies and the cinematic “gaze” be re-addressed to incorporate true viewer interaction? Will future attendees be referred to as simply “viewers”, given the potential for multi-sensory involvement with film?

Secret Cinema may only represent the first, tentative steps towards a ‘new cinema’, but with hundreds and thousands of hungry cinephiles regularly descending upon impromptu events around the UK, Secret Cinema may well prove successful enough to outlive its 3D competitors.

Tickets are priced at £27.50 (£23.50 for students) and are available via

CineVue will be attending the event on 4 September 2010.

Daniel Green