London’s Backyard Cinema celebrated moving to its first permanent residence in Wandsworth on Thursday with a winter extravaganza.
While it’s a little early to start writing Christmas lists, Backyard has prepared for the holiday season with an immersive Winter Night Garden experience.
After entering a Narnia-inspired wardrobe at Capital Studios, guests are treated to a walk through a breath-taking secret garden, adorned with real trees, foliage and fairy lights, before taking a seat in the magical Lost Theatre that needs to be seen to be believed.
Founder and creative director Dominic Davies said: “There is something visceral about being in a magical room to watch a magical film.”
Mr Davies began his journey into event cinema seven years ago by hosting events for friends and family in his back garden.
The venture then grew from humble beginnings into London’s staple pop-up cinema, hosting immersive experiences for new and classic films.
Operations director James Milligan said: “It’s about making it more than just the movie; a night out with a bit of a difference.”
Backyard Cinema has gone from strength to strength with its previous seasons, from the luxurious Miami Beach in Borough to its partnership with Penguin Ventures to bring The Snowman Experience to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland last Christmas.
Now the crew are excited to exercise more creative freedom with their permanent site, an abandoned TV studio in the heart of Wandsworth that the Backyard team have transformed into a theatre, bar and garden after an exhaustive two month refurbishment.
Mr Milligan said: “We were really keen to have a go at doing it all ourselves.
“When we saw this place we thought ‘there’s nothing stopping us’.”
As well as hosting its own events, Backyard is collaborating with food and drink companies such as Honest Burger and Meantime Brewery to help deliver the best night out possible.
Mr Davies said: “I think we bring out that creative burst in people when they work with us.”
Plans are already in place to expand the space in Capital Studios with a cocktail lounge, karaoke booths and mini golf, as well as a second screen set to start building in seventeen days’ time.
Guests can currently book tickets to see some of the biggest films of this year in Backyard’s inspiring environment, such as Aladdin, Rocketman and Toy Story 4, as well as classics such as The Princess Bride, Dirty Dancing and Grease.
Now that the Disney logo is starting to play before more and more of the newest releases, some independent cinemas in the US are finding it hard to get hold of older films from other studios, but the Backyard team aren’t worried.
Mr Davies said: “I can’t wait for Disney+ to come out but I want to ensure that we have access to all the best films.
“We’re starting to get noticed by the studios more now and I’d like to think that they would want to play their fantastic new films on a screen like this.”
Mr Milligan added: “I can’t think of the last time we wanted to play a movie and couldn’t.”
While the schedule is set to October, Backyard has yet to announce its slate of Christmas films coming to the Winter Garden, but Mr Davies promises audiences will have a chance to see favourites like Home Alone, The Holiday and Muppets’ Christmas Carol on the immersive big screen.
However, plans for next season are being held tightly under wraps, although Mr Davies is keen to deliver on audience demand for a haunted house experience.
“I’ve always wanted to do a horror theme, but I also don’t know if that is our demographic,” he said.
Time will tell if we’ll be seeing Backyard Cinema screenings of The Shining in a twisted mansion of their own design come Halloween next year, but whatever the team decide to bring to Wandsworth next, it’s guaranteed to be one of London’s essential cinema experiences.
For more information and to book tickets to the Winter Night Garden visit the Backyard Cinema website.