The Empire strikes back ... at a secret London location

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2015 12:48 PM

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Joel Flynn

LONDON (Reuters) - Hooded jawas search for treasures and stormtroopers patrol the streets on the lookout for suspicious activity. Nearby, R2-D2 trundles alongside C-3PO while Chewbacca makes his way past huts and tents.

A galaxy, far, far away has arrived at a secret location in London for a "Star Wars" film screening with a difference.

Secret Cinema, which specializes in immersive film events, is bringing back to life one of the most popular film franchises of all time in a summer screening of "The Empire Strikes Back".

As the name suggests, little is revealed of what the evening entails and attendees are asked not to unveil details.

The secrecy begins as soon as the 78-pound ($124) ticket is bought -- a price some say is too steep compared to past events but organizers justify by the scale of the sprawling production.

Buyers are given codes and identities as they join the "Rebel Alliance" against the Empire.

Upon arrival, they are transported into the space fantasy mingling among aliens and well-known characters in a narrative that begins with "Star Wars: A New Hope".

"I think that audiences are looking for experiences that go beyond the traditional theater, traditional concert, traditional gallery, traditional restaurant," Secret Cinema founder and director Fabien Riggall told Reuters.

"People are looking for a new way to experience culture and I think what Secret Cinema has untapped is that desire is increasing with every technology that comes out."

Organizers said that up to 1,500 attendees are expected at each event with shows running until Sept. 27.

Last year, Secret Cinema transformed a London site into Hill Valley for its "Back to the Future" screenings.

Everyone from food-stall sellers to security staff are in costume and character, making it easy for revelers to join in.

"I was learning a little bit about the intergalactic spice trade," explorer "Disco Reen" said. When asked what that involved, he replied: "I shouldn't say too much -- it's not legal on this planet."

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Joel Flynn; Editing by Mark Heinrich)