Secret Cinema

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Secret Cinema
Founded2007; 13 years ago (2007)
FounderFabien Riggall
United Kingdom

Secret Cinema is a London-based entertainment company that specialises in film and television screenings. Founded in 2007 by Fabien Riggall, it conducts screenings at initially undisclosed venues in London, which include interactive performances in purpose-built sets. It also stages screenings internationally, some of which are simulcast at different locations at the same time.[1]


In December 2011, Secret Cinema held a one-off screening of The Third Man in Kabul to coincide with its London run of the film. The film was screened in both Kabul and London simultaneously.[2]

In July 2014, the company launched Back to the Future screenings, set in a life-size recreation of the 1950s Hill Valley town featured in Robert Zemeckis's film.[3][4] The first two Back to the Future dates were cancelled with only a few hours' notice and the company offered a full refund or exchange for the cost of tickets, but not for any booking fees; the opening dates of its 2013 production of Brazil had also been cancelled at short notice.[3][5]

In December 2014, Secret Cinema announced the screening of a secret film in response to Sony's withdrawal from the release of The Interview.[6] The screening was revealed to be Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, which was simultaneously screened in Rome, London, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, in support of Article 19, a charity dedicated to the freedom of speech.[7] Screenings included live speeches and readings, music and performances. In March 2015, the company and its founder were criticised on Twitter and other publications for using unpaid actors; the company defended its practice and described the volunteers as interns who benefited from the experience.[8]

In June 2015, Secret Cinema launched Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back,[9] its biggest production to date. As part of the hundred shows that ran in London, a side-event at Alexandra Palace with musical guests DJ Yoda, Nightmares on Wax and Jamie Jones raised £11,000 for the Refugee Council.[10] A further £29,000 was raised for the charity from the show. The production made it to the top ten UK box office for eleven weeks, generating a total of £6.45 million.[11]

In September 2015, the company announced it would raise funds to bring free movie screenings to Syrian refugees in Europe, starting with the camp in Pas-de-Calais, France.[12]

More recently, as screenings have grown in size and popularity, the company have decided to forewarn cinema-goers of the film to avoid disappointment. Their most recent screening of Dirty Dancing attracted thousands of fans, and it is still subject to debate whether the new set-up is welcome.[13]

In April 2017, Secret Cinema ran an extended production of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! Artists such as Jarvis Cocker and Groove Armada performed for audiences. The show drew attendees such as Poppy Delevingne,[14] Matt Bellamy from Muse,[15] and Lin-Manuel Miranda.[16] Over 70,000 people attended, putting Moulin Rouge back into the UK box-office top ten for eleven weeks.

Subsequent productions have included Blade Runner, Romeo + Juliet and Casino Royale.

Charity work[edit]

In August 2014, the company held a charity screening of Dead Poets Society, to mark the death of actor Robin Williams. All proceeds were donated to the mental health charity Mind.[17] Each Secret Cinema production raises money for charities including Save the Children;[18] the National Alliance on Mental Illness;[19] Refugee Council;[20] and MAC UK, a local Camden charity which provides mental health services to disadvantaged youth.[21]


  1. ^ Cheshire, Tom. "The Screen Saver".
  2. ^ "Shhhhh! Secret Cinema to screen in Kabul and London". The London Evening Standard. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith (26 July 2014). "Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?". The Independent. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Secret Cinema finally opens Back to the Future". BBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  5. ^ "What do we know about the Secret Cinema 'Back to the Future' fiasco?". Time Out Blog. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  6. ^ Antonia Molloy (19 December 2014). "Secret Cinema to host secret screening in protest against censorship, following Sony's The Interview cancellation". The Independent. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  7. ^ Carole Horst. "Secret Cinema Sets Screening to Protest Pulling of "The Interview" - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  8. ^ Jess Denham (19 March 2015). "Secret Cinema denies using unpaid workers". The Independent. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back review: 'ridiculously fun'". The Telegraph. 12 June 2015. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Secret Cinema presents Star Wars - Refugee Council".
  11. ^ Rosser2015-09-27T22:01:00+01:00, Michael. "Secret Cinema audience tops 100,000 as 'Empire Strikes Back' event wraps". Screen. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  12. ^ Kyriazis, Stefan (8 September 2015). "'Give refugee camps free film nights' Secret Cinema screening for Calais migrants". Daily Express. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  13. ^ Hutchinson, Kate. "Secret Cinema: Dirty Dancing review – the UK's biggest hen party". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Poppy Delevingne celebrates her 31st birthday with Moulin Rouge party". Mail Online. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge Is Musical Goals | MTV UK". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Secret Cinema's Moulin Rouge! extends". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Secret Cinema to screen Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society - Telegraph". 13 August 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Secret Cinema presents The Third Man". Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Secret Cinema raised £24K for Charity with Dead Poets Society screenings". Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Secret Cinema raises funds for Refugee Council". LSi Online. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  21. ^ "Secret Cinema X review: 'Amy'". Retrieved 2 October 2015.

External links[edit]