Sci-fi is one of the most popular film genres today, with the huge success of the Star Wars franchise and Avatar as prime examples. While many people buy downloads or DVDs of their favourite films, nothing compares to seeing those sweeping space vistas on the big screen.
This spring, Backyard Cinema have created an immersive cinematic experience to watch your favourite sci-fi movie. Known for their themed screenings of both new and classic movies, their latest offering, Mission To Mars is their most ambitious yet. Following on from previous themes such as their most recent Snow Kingdom, as well as Miami Beach and The Lost World, this experience takes film fans literally out of this world.
Backyard Cinema is located in the corner of foodie haven Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. After a quick dinner of spaghetti al vongole, we headed to BC’s box office to grab our tickets before preparing for Phase One of our intergalactic experience. The entrance has been suitably decked out as a mission control or a space centre, which reminded me of film sets from many classic space movies. Your journey starts with being security scanned, before proceeding through a metallic corridor to board the shuttle to the spacecraft launch pad. The shuttle is similar to ones you ride at the airport, with vibrating special effects creating the feeling of moving fast and a video featuring a space stewardess advising you on what to expect. The whole entrance process really builds up the spacey atmosphere and adds a sense of excitement to what would usually be a fairly normal entertainment experience.
Finally, you arrive at the ‘spacecraft’ itself, full of bean bag seating, the flight deck screen and the space station bar. We headed to the latter to purchase some of the brilliantly branded drinks and snacks, such as the ‘Martian Mai-Tai’ and space invader sweets. Not only did the cocktails fit the theme perfectly, the pouch serving was so handy and practical for a dark cinema as I have been known to spill a few drinks in the past.
After settling down into our beanbags, we had some pre-flight entertainment as an astronaut actor hauled an audience member to the flight deck to help prepare for launch. The space safety demonstration, followed by ‘take-off’, made sure anyone who wasn’t already in the sci-fi mood by now, certainly soon would be. While the adults surrounding me were certainly enjoying the introductions, I think children will particularly love the drama of it all. Finally, it was time for the movie, with the one in question being 1996 classic Independence Day. I’ve seen the film a few times over the years, more recently on TV, and it’s so much better on the big screen. The horror of watching international landmarks like the Empire State Building being blown to smithereens by aliens is fully realised in wide-screen. The US President’s patriotic ‘our Independence Day’ speech and the British Army’s ridiculous ‘oh blimey, tally ho’ accents had us all in stitches, two comedy moments I don’t think the director had in mind.
Backyard Cinema has certainly delivered with their most ambitious theme yet. Children and adults alike will enjoy this immersive build-up to watching a sci-fi film. There’s plenty of classics and new releases coming up in the next few months, with matinees available during the Easter holidays and weekends so I certainly recommend booking soon, as they’re likely to sell out.
- Backyard Cinema: Mission To Mars is on from now until the summer 2018 (exact date TBD). Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle or Borough. Tickets: Adults from £17.50, Children (under 12) from £9.50. Date night package for two: £75 (includes snacks, bottle of Prosecco and blankets). For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
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