U.K. Secret Cinema Founder Confirms L.A. 'Back to the Future' Screening, Talks Future Plans

Back to the Future
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The founder of the U.K. immersive movie screening company teased its 'Empire Strikes Back' London event and said it would like to help with the distribution of smaller films.

After revealing in September that it was planning a trip across the Atlantic in 2015, U.K. immersive movie screening company Secret Cinema has confirmed that it will be bringing its hugely successful Back to the Future experience to L.A. this summer.

Back to the Future is coming to Los Angeles,” Secret Cinema founder Fabien Riggall told The Hollywood Reporter, although he was reluctant to reveal more details. “It’s a secret location.”

Despite early issues, last year’s Back to the Future event in London, held over more than 30 nights, saw an estimated 75,000 people, most in 1950s attire, descend upon a location that had been transformed into a replica of the film’s famed Hill Valley, complete with stores, a school, barber shops, a radio station and newspaper.

The film was beamed onto a giant replica of the town hall, from which an actor playing Dr Emmet Brown recreated the scene involving the clock tower, while a DeLorean drove around the site. The immersive experience went on to become one of the year’s biggest live cinema events, pushing Back to the Future back into the U.K. box office top 10.

“The audience will be transported back to the 1955 Hill Valley Fair,” Riggall said of his plans for L.A., hinting that it would be a similar setup to London while adding that he was hoping to “advance it a little.”

He also said that he’d like to follow up the L.A. event by taking the side of his company entitled Secret Cinema: Tell No One — in which there are one-off screenings of secret films at secret venues, only revealed the day of — across the country.

“We’d go to various cities — secret cities in the U.S.,” he said, pointing to previous examples that have seen the likes of La Haine, The Warriors and Miller’s Crossing given special screenings in London. “We’ve done 45 productions and most have gone down pretty well. I’m hopeful that if we pull it off — we will pull it off! — it’s going to be very special.”

The Secret Cinema boss spoke to THR at a pre-party on Monday to celebrate the company's next London event, an immersive screening of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, taking place — again at a secret location — for four months starting June 4.

The event has been billed as "the most ambitious and dreamlike Secret Cinema experience the U.K. has ever seen," but is predictably swathed in secrecy. Riggall says he’s been working closely with Disney on the project and hinted at a multi-layered experience across the web, radio and even a "secret cantina somewhere in London."

Should it prove successful, he suggested that he’d like to take The Empire Strikes Back event to the U.S. as well.

There are also plans to help work with less high profile titles to enhance their distribution.

"We like to use our scale to influence how smaller movies get out," said Riggall, citing last year’s awards favorite Timbuktu, the upcoming Coen brothers film Hail Caesar! and The Lobster, which is having it’s world premiere in Cannes this month, as examples.

"That’s exactly the kind of film we want to help," he said of Yorgos Lanthimos’ English-language debut. “His previously films really — Alps and Dogtooth — really didn’t do that well, or not as well as they should have done. But these are really interesting, unusual movies and they’re not getting the path and it really irritates me.”

"The future is bright and we’re going to see what we do," he added. "We’re just going to get on with building a galaxy first."