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Pop-up Popcorn: London’s Temporary Cinemas

Pop-up, pop-up, pop-up…

It’s a social epidemic that’s infected Londoners across all four corners of the city, and its popularity shows no sign of abating.

The ‘pop-up’ concept has exploded onto the capital’s social scene in a big way in the past couple of years. Fuelled by the merciless economic climate infecting wallets and bank accounts up and down the nation, pop-up restaurants, markets, clubs, shops and cinemas (and more) have sprung up all over London. It seems that this is partly as a means of combating the steep prices we are required to pay to enjoy all these establishments in their more traditional, permanent formats.

As the Guardian put it:

“A grassroots movement, where audiences get to participate and experience films communally in unique locations, is the perfect antidote to the passivity of the modern multiplex.”

Buoyed by this innovative approach, there’s a desire to make the pop-up concept one that is fun, different and often rather wacky: an opportunity for the cool cats to forget budget cuts and let their hair down in an unusual setting.

As My ‘Richard Curtis’ London explains; ‘we are constantly expecting more and more from every possible experience and the cinema is no exception. Gone are the days when a simple trip to the local multiplex is enough (although no doubt they will pull their socks up and become cool again at some point)…London is all over this trend and was churning out different experiences before we even realised we wanted them’.

Taking inspiration from the classic drive-in American cinema, the latest surge of pop-up equivalents this side of the pond have been extremely popular. Just this summer there were numerous outdoor cinema experiences, one being ‘four back-to-back nights of  films in the historic gardens of the home of the Duke of Northumberland’ at Syon Park, another the ‘Films on Fridges’ installation in East London, an elaborate outdoor cinema complex made entirely from recycled refrigerators.

The brainchild of 25-year-old American Lindsey Scannapieco, it was inspired by ‘Fridge Mountain’, the 20ft high pile of discarded fridges that towered over the London district of Hackney until its removal in 2005′, the makers wanted ‘Films on Fridges to be a playful, creative but also educational installation.’

Many of you will remember Stella Artois’ innovative launch of ‘The Black Diamond,’ ‘a dramatic mix of on-line experiences and real-life cinema in locations across Shoreditch, staged on various dates back in the summer, offering spectators the experience of becoming part of the cast, immersed in the film itself and surrounded by the actors.

The Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise offers something a bit quirky, but more traditional at the same time: London is Cool describe it as ‘recapturing the spirit of a traditional film community’. Set in the confines of what appears to be an old town hall building and seating a maximum of eighty viewers, ‘candlelit tables are dotted about the front and the room features an impressive light installation by Bruce Munro’.

And, as if this wasn’t cool enough, director Q&As give the audience the opportunity to ask all the questions that bugged them during the film. You can also feel good in the knowledge that all profits go to charity. Plus Lexi has also relaunched its ‘travelling nomad‘ at Whiteley’s Mall in Bayswater, a pop-up cinema ‘sister’ equivalent, offering an eclectic range of hospitality experiences, Saab-sponsored director seats, an inflatable pool of plastic balls, and a fully-licensed bar.

At this time of year, pop-up cinemas are not as prevalent, with most heads coming up with ideas for next summer.

So if you’re in North London, Islington’s Screen on the Green ‘offers superior comfort and service to the usual multiplex, and a glass of wine as you watch your film to boot’ all at a friendly price, in a lovely old building with an old theatre interior, decked with comfortable arm chairs.


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