Out­door cin­ema:

How out­door cin­ema took over the sum­mer up and down the UK

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - WORDS: Julie Lu­cas

How it has taken off and what to see in Nor­folk

Iam sit­ting on a camp­ing chair with a glass of bub­bles and a pic­nic at my feet; a mag­nif­i­cent stately home pro­vides the back­drop. As Richard Gere sweeps Ju­lia Roberts into his arms there is a huge cheer. It’s cer­tainly not the sort of ex­pe­ri­ence you get at your lo­cal mul­ti­plex.

Out­door cin­ema was once the choice of warmer climes, but since its in­tro­duc­tion to the UK, our love af­fair with watch­ing movies in the great out­doors gets stronger by the year.

Ge­orge Wood founded The Luna Cin­ema in 1998, lit­er­ally by ac­ci­dent. A for­mer Dis­ney

Club pre­sen­ter and ac­tor, he was knocked off his scooter and broke his leg. On hear­ing that he would be out of ac­tion for five to six months he de­cided to set up an open-air cin­ema. He never acted again. Ge­orge orig­i­nally came up with the idea when he saw an out­door screen­ing in Aus­tralia.

“I said to my Aus­tralian mates, ‘why don’t we do this in Eng­land, it’s such a great idea?’ Of course, their re­ply was, ‘Be­cause your weather’s rub­bish mate’,” he laughs. “Although we haven’t got a guar­an­teed hot sum­mer each year, what we do have are in­cred­i­ble set­tings, places and great parks.”

From his hos­pi­tal bed he called his coun­cil-run park in Dul­wich, London. His leg was in the air, he had never pro­duced an open-air event and had no idea how he was go­ing to do it. But the event, which screened the clas­sic Some

Like It Hot, was a re­sound­ing suc­cess and this year the com­pany will be screen­ing 175 films around the UK – in­clud­ing two nights at Holkham Hall.

De­spite our un­re­li­able weather, au­di­ences have em­braced it. Ge­orge feels there is some­thing mag­i­cal about the out­door cin­ema ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The mul­ti­plex cine­mas are quite bland places; the cine­mas that seem to be thriv­ing are more in­ter­est­ing, they have a good wine list or so­fas,” says Ge­orge.

Each out­door set­ting is unique. There may be planes fly­ing over or birds chirp­ing, but it en­hances the ex­pe­ri­ence and re­minds you that you are in the open air. It’s even bet­ter when there is a his­toric venue.

We go to out­door con­certs so why not cin­ema? After all us Brits

are a hardy bunch.

Ge­orge says that for­eign tourists of­ten say it would only work in Eng­land. “It’s rain­ing and peo­ple are watch­ing a clas­sic film they have seen 20 times. Maybe in other coun­tries they would pack up and go home.”

He ad­mits ev­ery­thing that could go wrong, has gone wrong – they once had a film be­gin in French – but these days the op­er­a­tion is much slicker.

The venue, he feels, adds to the ex­pe­ri­ence – Jaws is be­ing screened at Brock­well Lido, Brix­ton’s out­door swim­ming pool, for ex­am­ple.

“Our au­di­ences join in and clap and cheer at the end of the film. It’s a shared ex­pe­ri­ence, which makes for a fan­tas­tic com­mu­nal at­mos­phere.

“We get big groups of 15-20 friends or fam­i­lies in a whole age range en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether, which is some­thing that all too of­ten is be­com­ing a rar­ity these days.”

ABOVE: Blen­heim Palace

BE­LOW: Jaws at the Brock­well Lido

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