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Revealed: what Secret Cinema’s ‘Empire Strikes Back’ is actually like

Posted at 12:30 pm, June 12, 2015 in Arts & Entertainment, Fun London, Photos of London, Secret London

The latest pop-up spectacular from all-immersive ‘experiential cinema’ pioneers Secret Cinema opened to the public last week. Their timely film pick this time is ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’, and the event aims to put attendees in the world of George Lucas’s swashbuckling space adventure. We can’t reveal too much – we wouldn’t want to spoil it for those who have tickets – but here are five reasons why you might, or might not, want to sign up…

GO… If you love surprises


[Photo: Olivia Weetch]

Again, without being too spoiler-heavy, things happen that’ll make your eyes pop out of your head. Much more than just a costume party crammed with bounty hunters, X-Wing pilots and Luke Skywalker lookalikes (and that’s just the audience), the event is best described as a cross between a street-food bazaar and a squat party, in space. Sort of.

DON’T GO… If you resent being yelled at

Star Wars Secret Cinema

[Photo: Mike Massaro]

The interactive element of Secret Cinema can get a bit much: entry to the event involves an awful lot of crouching, running and having orders rudely barked at you by drama students in military outfits. The atmosphere is dramatic and intense – but it’s not very ‘Star Wars’, which was always a more upbeat and jolly take on science fiction. This part feels more like ‘The Terminator’.

GO… If you enjoy a community vibe


[Photo: Al Overdrive]

Attendees are encouraged to interact not just with the costumed extras but with other audience members, making for a friendly, we’re-all-in-it-together spirit. That said, you’ll spend most of your time trying to stop your jaw from dropping open as Chewbacca comes lumbering past, pursued by a phalanx of stormtroopers.

DON’T GO… If you’re strapped for cash


[Photo: Mike Massaro]

It’s not just the £75 entrance fee – which is already hard to justify, unless you’re rolling in it. The food and drinks once you’re inside aren’t exactly cheap. That said, the space cocktails are both delicious and surprisingly boozy, and the grub – though decidedly earthbound – is pretty damn tasty. We didn’t see any blue milk on sale, but perhaps we weren’t looking hard enough.

GO… If you really love ‘Star Wars’

Secret Cinema Star Wars

[Photo: Mike Massaro]

Film geeks will be thrilled to hear that Secret Cinema have invested in a truly impressive projection setup – uniquely for a pop-up event, the picture is crisp and the sound flawless. And where else are you going to be able to sit back as a cloaked, pencil-moustachioed Lando Calrissian clone chats up your girlfriend? (NB: this really happened.) So if the true test of the event is whether it works for the fans, the verdict has to be a resounding yes. – Tom Huddleston

Secret Cinema presents ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ runs until Sep 27.


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