It was off limits to the public for 35 years. However, 2015 saw the reopening of the Regent Street Cinema, the oldest cinema in Britain. Situated moments from Oxford Circus, the Grade II-listed cinema now shows a wide range of quality world cinema including current and classic releases, as well as hosts special screenings, workshops, lectures and events.
Situated on the University Of Westminster’s Regent Street campus, the stunning Victorian building played host to the first ever film screening to a British audience back in 1896. French film pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumière brought their cinématographe to the capital on tour with 54 people paying a shilling to watch 40 second clips of moving images – a major landmark in the history of film. During World War II, it – like many UK cinemas – screened newsreels. Following war in 1951, it also made history by hosting the first UK screening of an X-rated film – La Vie Commence Demain, a French movie featuring graphic violence. In its heyday, the cinema was a favourite of the late Princess Margaret. However, in 1980, the cinema was closed off to public and became a student lecture hall for Westminster students.
Back in 2012, the University of Westminster launched a campaign to fund a £6.1 million restoration to restore the cinema to its former glory for both students and the public to enjoy. Following opening last year, the 1920s Art Deco refit has been restored, as has the stunning domed ceiling and 1936 John Compton organ. It’s now the only cinema in the country which can show 16mm, 35mm, Super 8 and 4K digital formats.
Currently, the Regent Street Cinema is running a limited offer to sign up for free one year membership. Usually costing £40 (seniors/students £20) a year, you’ll get discounts on tickets, no booking fees and priority booking to special events, as well as other perks throughout the year.
- Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent Street, W1B 2UW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Regents Park. For listings and bookings, visit the Regent Street Cinema website.
Backyard Cinema Film Festival @ Camden Market: Watch classic, new and indie films in alfresco surroundings
Returning to Camden Market this summer is the brilliant pop-up film club Backyard Cinema. Having already checked out their screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet earlier this year with a live choir, I was looking forward to their next alfresco venture.
For six weeks, Backyard Cinema are hosting not one, but two pop-up movie theatres on two nearby sites in Camden Market. The main stage in Camden Lock Place will be screening new and classic mainstream movies, while the intimate Cuban Screen will feature indie flicks, documentaries and foreign language movies.
Last week, I was invited to the launch of BC’s season at Camden with a screening of this year’s blockbuster Kingsmen: The Secret Service. There’s different ticket packages available, but we had the ‘Full Monty’ (£29), which included the screening, a drink and a burger. Screening only tickets – including seating – start from £14 (Cuban screen)/£16.50 (main stage) .
Accompanying all screenings over the festival, are food/drink stands and trucks, including Brooklyn Brewery, Honest Burgers, The Craft Cocktail Co and Chin Chin Labs Ice Cream. The cinema opened two hours ahead of the screening so we were able to chow down on the delicious burger and fries (with rosemary salt… gorgeous!) from Honest Burgers. We also enjoyed some Moscow Mule cocktails from the Craft Cocktail Co which were lovely and refreshing.
The screening couldn’t start until the sun went down so we headed to our seats shortly before. There’s a choice of deckchairs or beanbag loungers – we opted for the latter which were incredibly comfortable. As the night in question was a bit chilly, the usherettes brought out some blankets for us so I was incredibly cosy curled up on my bean bag watching the film. The movie was an action comedy, starring Colin Firth, Sir Michael Caine and newcomer Taron Egerton (my new celebrity crush now actually…), who managed to look incredibly dapper while kicking some major bad guy butts! A really funny film.
Overall, the whole evening was really enjoyable. Although the drizzle during our dinner threatened to ruin the evening, it fortunately stopped in time for the screening. The Backyard crew also have waterproof ponchos available if you’re unprepared. The food, drink, seating, staff and film were all great. I recommend getting down there this summer, as I certainly hope to be making a return visit. With screenings of films including Birdman, The Goonies, Pride, The Babadook, Empire Records, Dirty Dancing, It Follows, Mad Man and Northern Soul, there’s something for everyone.
- The Backyard Cinema Film Festival runs in Camden Market until 4 September 2015. Screenings take place in Camden Lock Place and The Cuban bar’s courtyard, Camden, NW1. Nearest station: Camden Town or Chalk Farm. Tickets start from £14 at the Cuban screen and £16.50 at the main screen. For more information and booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
For a guide to open air cinemas in London this summer, click here.
For the updated 2017 guide, click here.
Us Londoners don’t get anywhere near the amount of hot weather we would like. So when it is warm and sunny, we all head outside. Of course, this leaves film fans in a predicament – who wants to be stuck indoors when the weather is so glorious? Over the past few years, pop-up and open air cinemas have been steadily rising in popularity and this summer should see no difference. Here’s a guide to the capital’s open-air cinemas so you can enjoy some alfresco entertainment with an ice cold beer or wine… sounds good doesn’t it?
- 19 April – September : Rooftop Film Club
The Rooftop Film Club is for rooftops only (obviously). Screening a mix of films including recent releases and classics. Venues include the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, Roof East in Stratford, Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, and Kensington Roof Gardens. Ticket includes headphones, blankets and deckchairs. Tickets; £14-22. To find out more, visit the Rooftop Film Club website.
- 26 April – September : The Nomad Cinema
Travelling cinema company returns this summer with a new roll call of venues. Locations include Belgrave Square, Grosvenor Square, Coram Secret Garden, Queen’s Park, Bushy Park, Fulham Palace, Brompton Cemetery, Hyde Park Lido, Hoxton Hotel, Hippodrome, Middle Temple Gardens and more. Ticket prices vary depending on package (some include food and drinks and other bonuses). To find out more, visit the Nomad Cinema website.
- 15 May – September : Pop Up Screens
Travelling pop -up cinema appears in both alfresco and indoor venues, with food and alcohol stands accompanying them. Locations include Morden Hall Park, Bishops Park Fulham, Mycenae House Blackheath, Ravenscourt Park Hammersmith, Manor House Gardens Lewisham, Coram’s Field Holborn and East Greenwich Pleasaunce. To find out about screenings and bookings, visit the Pop Up Screens website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Pop Up Screens at Morden Hall Park here.
- 3 June – September : Backyard Cinema
Watch a selection of classic or newer films on cosy beanbags or deckchairs as Backyard Cinema goes to various locations, including Camden Lock Market and the Lynx pop-up in Brick Lane. For more information and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website. To read Metro Girl’s review and details of the Camden pop-up (on over August), click here.
- 9 June – 7 July : Drive In Film Club
A drive in cinema at Alexandra Palace for cars and their occupants. Films including Grease (singalong), Birdman, Top Gun, Pulp Fiction, Back To The Future and 50 Shades Of Grey. Rollerskating attendants will bring hotdogs, popcorn and snacks to your car. Price: £22 per car (all occupants included). Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. For more information and tickets, visit the Experience Cinema website.
- 19 – 25 June : British Summer Time Film Festival
As part of the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park, there will be 10 free film screenings over five days (19, 22 – 25 June). Access is on first come, first served basis so grab a blanket and head down. Films include Wizard Of Oz, Pride, Casablanca, Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and Singalong Grease, among others. There will also be a street food market on site and performances by theatre company Chickenshed. Screenings at 6pm and 8.30pm. Hyde Park, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the British Summer Time website.
- 20 June – 17 August : Pillow Cinema
Enjoy a cosy night in… outside on a giant pillow with snuggly blanket if it gets cold. Films include The Notebook, Birdman, Fifty Shades Of Grey, Clueless and The Imitation Game. Tickets: £12.50pp (2 people per bean bag). Pillow Cinema, SNAP Studios, Wimbourne House, 151-155 New North Road, Shoreditch, N1 6TA. Nearest station: Hoxton, Old Street or Essex Road. For more information and booking, visit the Pillow Cinema website.
- 1 July – 20 September : Luna Cinema
As well as venues outside London, Luna Cinema will be popping up at various venues across the capital this summer. Locations include Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park, Brockwell Lido, Crystal Palace Park, Dulwich Park, Hampton Court Palace, Hatfield House, Kensington Palace, Kew Gardens, Modern Hall Park, One New Change, Opera Holland Park, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Tooting Common. Blankets and wedges available at every screening. For more information and listings, visit the Luna Cinema website.
- 7 – 28 July : Vauxhall One Summer Screen
Vauxhall One host four free screenings over the summer in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Films include Clueless, Zoolander, Dazed & Confused and a public vote choice. There will also be street food from Grill My Cheese, Busan BBQ and Rotli Crew. 7pm onwards on Tuesdays in June. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (Entrance on Kennington Lane), Vauxhall, SE11 5HY. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall One website.
- 22 July – 9 August: Classic Films @ Canary Wharf
Watch digitally-restored classic films from the BFI National Archive on the big screen. Movies include Penny Points To Paradise, The Salvage Gang, Night Ferry, Godzilla, Let’s Go Crazy and others. Free. Screenings at 6pm and 11am on Saturdays. Canada Square Park, Docklands, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website.
- 5 August – 4 September : The Regent’s Place Summer Cinema
Several free film screenings a week, including Mamma Mia, Grease, Frozen and Jumanji. Free. Screenings take place at 6.30pm Wed-Fri and 3.30pm Sat. Regent’s Place, NW1 3HF. Nearest tube: Warren Street. For more information, visit the Regent’s Place website.
- 6 – 7, 14 and 15 August : East Village Film Fest
East Village in Stratford have teamed up with Nomad cinema for a four day free film festival. Films including Thelma & Louise, Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind, The Lost Boys and Paddington will be watched on a big screen, while listening to headphones. Priority will be given to residents of East Village. East Village, Stratford, E20 1AT. Nearest station: Stratford. For more information, visit the East Village website.
- 6 – 19 August : Film4 Summer Screen @ Somerset House
The courtyard of Somerset House hosts two weeks of alfresco summer screenings. Includes screenings of premieres, double bills and classics. Movies include Gemma Bovery, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Graduate, Do The Right Thing and West Side Story. There is also an opportunity for film fans to vote for their favourite film to be screened on 19 August. Tickets start from £16. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website.
- 19 – 21 August : Summer Cinema Series
The gardens of the Trinity Hospice in Clapham will be open to the public for screenings over three nights with screenings of The Breakfast Club, Casablanca and Mrs Doubtfire. Tickets sales go to the Hospice. There will be a licensed bar serving alcohol, as well as popcorn and cake. Tickets: Adults £15, Children £10. Trinity Hospice, 30 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 ORN. Nearest tube: Clapham Common. For more information and booking, visit the Trinity Hospice website.
- 27 – 29 August : Summer Love Weekend @ British Museum
Three open-air screenings from the BFI in the front courtyard of the British Museum. Featuring A Room With A View, Badlands and The Princess Bride. 8.15pm. Tickets: £15. British Museum, Great Russell Street, Holborn, WC1B 3DG. Nearest station: Holborn or Tottenham Court Road. For more information and booking, visit the BFI website.
- 2 – 24 September : More London Free Film Festival
There will be free screenings of films in The Scoop, near Potter’s Field Park. Films include The Imitation Game, Paddington, Ghostbusters, Frozen, The Thoery Of Everything, Moulin Rouge!, Big, Zoolander and The Sound Of Music. 7.30pm. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, SE1 2DB. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the More London website. While you’re there, why not get food or drink from the nearby London Riviera pop-up.
- 17 – 26 September : Hot Tub Cinema
Watch your favourite film while relaxing in a hot tub with your closest pals. Films include Bridesmaids, Dirty Dancing, Superbad and Free Willy. Fully licensed bar available. Tickets start from £24pp. 18 Warburton Road, Hackney, E8 3RT. Nearest station: London Fields. For booking, visit Hot Tub Cinema’s website.
- Once a month : Trader Vic’s Tiki Cinema
Although not outside, Trader Vic’s in the London Hilton are hosting monthly screenings in their Tiki-themed bar and restaurant. Movies include Dr No (8 June), 50 First Dates (13 July), The Rum Diary (10 August), Jaws (14 September) and Top Gun (12 October). Film starts at 7.30pm, food is served from 6pm. Tickets: £13 (including screening and a cocktail). Trader Vic’s, 22 Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1BE. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Trader Vic’s website.
Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo + Juliet is an iconic 1990s film. The vivid imagery, amazing soundtrack and stunning performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes have made the film a modern classic. Personally I’m a huge fan of the film and soundtrack.
This month, fans of the film will be able to have the chance to watch the movie in a totally different way – accompanied by a live choir in a candlelight church setting. Roaming pop-up cinema company Backyard Cinema are setting up camp for three days at St Mary’s Church in Marylebone for a special screening of Romeo + Juliet. Singers from the Some Voices Choir will be performing some of the film’s most popular tracks, such as Kissing You and Everybody’s Free.
Depending on your budget, you can sit in traditional balcony seats (£20), on comfy sofas and deckchairs in the main seating area (£28) or on front row double beanbag with blankets and cushions (£65 for two people). To accompany your screening, there will be a choice of drinks and snacks, including Cream & Country luxury ice cream, Backyard’s posh and unusual flavoured popcorn while a licensed bar will be serving alcohol.
- Romeo + Juliet screenings by Backyard Cinema are taking place on 28, 29 and 30 May 2015. Doors open 7pm, Film screening starts 8pm. St Mary’s Church, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Baker Street and Edgware Road. For more information and tickets, visit the Backyard Cinemas website.
- 2016 news! The screenings are returning to St Mary’s Church from 29 March – July 2016. For a review of the 2016 experience, click here.
For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.
This week sees the 2nd week of the London Short Film Festival 2014. The annual event, now in its 11th year, runs from 10 – 19 January at venues across the capital, including the BFI, Curzon Soho, ICA and Hackney Picturehouse. The festival celebrates the best in short film-making, giving a platform to rising talent.
On Sunday 19th January – the final day of this year’s festival – Hackney Picturehouse is screening a collection of shorts films during their New Shorts: A Winter’s Matinee of Romantic Films event. One of the films being shown is Catch, directed by Londoners Matthew Markham (@mmmarkham) and Jennifer Sheridan (@boatstring) . The three-minute film is an original script by Markham and was filmed on location in Loch Na Droma Buidhe and Drimnin, Scotland, in October 2012. Ahead of Sunday’s screening, Markham and Sheridan spoke to Metro Girl about the making of the film.
Q: Where did the idea for Catch come from?
A: We were inspired by the location and the untamed beauty of Scotland. Matthew wanted a concept which could utilise that stunning location. In such a quiet piece of the world, the subject of loneliness and solitude came up with its pros and cons. The appeal of loneliness in terms of seeking peace and quiet, but also the negative aspects of lacking support or company. Our lead is a fisherman, who lives in such an environment where he would find it impossible to find a mate. A surreal turn of events in Catch provides a surprising introduction with a potential soulmate. We actually got engaged a week before we filmed it, which was a lovely prelude to shooting a romantic-themed film.
Q: What was the biggest challenge during shooting on the movie?
A: Working in a tidal environment was incredibly challenging as the tideline kept changing. We had to keep lowering the camera to keep to the waterline. We ended up having to anchor the boat because it kept moving. Trying to sustain continuity while working with water is really tough. There was the added stress of trying to protect the expensive camera equipment from the water.
Q: What’s the message of the film?
A: There’s plenty more fish in the sea. Expect the unexpected. Love comes along when you least expect it.
- Catch is being screened during the ‘New Shorts: A Winter’s Matinee of Romantic Films’ collection of short films during the London Short Film Festival on Sunday 19th January at 1pm at the Hackney Picturehouse. Tickets: £7.50. Click here to buy tickets.
- For more information on the London Short Film Festival, visit the official website.
For a list of what else is on in London in January 2014, click here.
Watching films in the open air has long been a fantasy of mine since I watched Danny and Sandy go the drive-in in the classic film Grease. On previous holidays to visit my family in Canada, I have been to the drive-in a few times and absolutely loved it. However, when it comes to London, not many of us have cars, and with traffic and parking a bit of a nightmare, drive-ins aren’t such a good idea for the capital.
In recent years, the ideas of pop-up open air cinemas in London has been growing steadily in popularity. The great thing about these pop-ups is the possibilities for locations are endless – parks, rooftops, museums, cemeteries… They screen a mix of new and classic films and appear in venues across the city so there is always something on near you during the summer.
Two weeks ago, a friend and I booked tickets for the Pop Up Screens’ screening of Back To The Future. The 1985 film is a classic and has been a favourite of mine since childhood. While the film has long been a part of my DVD collection, I have always wanted to watch it on the big screen as I never had this opportunity when it was first released. The venue for this particular screening was Morden Hall Park in South West London. Located 10 minutes walk from Morden tube station, or with ample on-site parking for drivers, the park is a lovely large space run by the National Trust, with streams, lots of woodland and the historic Morden Hall and Cottage. Parked outside the 18th century buildings was a DeLorean replica time machine, complete with flux capacitor, which excited the BTTF geek inside me!
We had booked our tickets online – £8 per person – and I was pleased to see the company encourages you not to print out the tickets, but showed your email with reference number at the date on your smartphone in a bid to save paper. Armed with our deckchairs and hoodies for when it got colder later, we pitched up a good spot in front of the screen. Also on site were toilets, a licensed bar selling wine, cider and beer, a Drum & Kernel Popcorn stand and a food stand serving burgers, etc. The prices were reasonable for both and the popcorn serving was very generous and a tasty fusion of sweet and salty flavouring. As always, the film was brilliant, but is special to watch it in a large group. There was a wide range of ages in attendance, including families. When (SPOILER ALERT!) George McFly knocks out bully Biff in one of the film’s pivotal scenes, there was a cheer from the audience, and when the movie ended, there was a round of applause – not what you get in a normal cinema. Overall, it was a great opportunity to watch a classic film on a big screen, be introduced to a part of London I hadn’t seen before and share the cinematic experience with a group of people I didn’t know. Highly recommended.
- Pop-Up Screens host screenings at locations across London during the summer and early autumn, including Fulham, Shepherd’s Bush, Lewisham, Hammersmith, Parson’s Green, Holborn and Greenwich. For more information and tickets, visit their website Pop Up Screens.
For a full list of pop-up cinemas companies, read Cinema under the stars: Guide to open air cinemas in London.
This guide is out of date. For the 2015 guide to London’s open air cinemas, click here.
There’s something a bit romantic about watching a film outside. Although for most of the year it’s too darn cold, over the past few summers, open air cinemas have been steadily growing in popularity. The chance to grab your favourite cushion or deckchair, grab a bottle of wine and some plastic picnic glasses and head to a rooftop, park or other venue is a great way to spend a warm summer evening. Here’s a guide to open-air cinema venues and companies in London this summer.
- The Nomad Cinema
Travelling cinema company returns this summer with a new roll call of venues. Locations include Brompton Cemetery (!), Bushy Park, Coram Secret Garden, Ealing Summer Screenings, Fulham Palace, Homelanz Festival (10 August), Horniman Museum, Hyde Park Lido, Queen’s Park, Roundwood Park and Willesden Sports Centre. To find out about screenings, visit the Nomad Cinema website.
- The Luna Cinema
Locations include Battersea Park, Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Park, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Gardens (Kew The Movies), One New Change, Opera Holland Park, Regent’s Park. For more information, visit the Luna Cinema website.
- Backyard Cinema
Locations include Beach Blanket Babylon, London Fields Brewery and Camden Market. For more information, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
- Pop Up Screens
Locations include Fulham, Shepherd’s Bush, Morden, Lewisham, Hammersmith, Parson’s Green, Holborn and Greenwich. To find out about screenings, visit the Pop Up Screens website. For Metro Girl’s review of a recent Pop Up Screen screening, click here.
- Rooftop Film Club
The Rooftop Film Club is for rooftops only (obviously). Venues include the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, Roof Gardens at Kensington and Netil House in London Fields. To find out more, visit the Rooftop Film Club website.
- Hot Tub Cinema
Unlike the other pop-up cinemas, this company in winter too because cinemagoers sit in hot tubs while watching the films. Also features a BBQ and licensed bar. This summer, the cinema will be on the rooftop of Rockwell House in Shoreditch. Single tickets £30 or an entire hot tub for up to six people £180. To find out more, visit the Hot Tub Cinema website.
- BP Big Screens
Not quite films, but Royal Opera House productions will be broadcast live on big screens in Trafalgar Square, Canary Wharf and Victoria Park on select dates over the summer. For more information, visit the ROH’s BP Big Screen page.
- Floating Cinema
An intimate cinema on a specially-kitted out barge, which will travel around East London over the summer. As well as screenings, will also include workshops and themed nights. For more information, visit the Floating Cinema website.
- More London Free Festival
From 11-27 September, there will be free screenings of films in The Scoop, near Potter’s Field Park. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information, visit the More London website.
- Trinity Summer Series Cinema
The gardens of the Trinity Hospice in Clapham will be open to the public for screenings over three nights (21-24 August) with screenings of Dirty Dancing, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Top Gun. Tickets £15 with sales going to the Hospice. 30 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 ORN. Nearest tube: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Trinity Hospice website.
To find out what else is on in London this summer, read Guide to what’s on in London in September 2013