Please, please, please do not read this thread if you wanted to go the Empire Strikes Back screenings spoiler free. There really is a lot more to this event than just the movie itself; however my feeling was that I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I have more of an idea of what it was all about before I went.
For most of us this will probably be the first and last times we go to a secret cinema event and at £75 per ticket you really want to get the most out of it.
If you’re happy just to go with the flow then DON’T read this. This will be a review peppered with some helpful hints and tips to get the most out of it.
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT
So from the top.
Okay, fancy dress/ cosplay. As you’ll know probably know the rebelx website will allocate you a character. If you follow the FB page for this event a lot of people are getting upset that they HAVE to buy a costume for something they’ve already paid £75 a ticket for. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO COSTUME and IF YOU DO DECIDE TO COMSTUME YOU CAN DRESS AS WHO YOU WANT. I’d say there was about a 50/50 split between those who costumed and those not. And many of those costumed only had scarves and googles and combat trousers etc. Very few were dressed as specific Star Wars characters. Personally I went as a rebel pilot. Basically orange overalls and a scarf, no one was screen accurate. Many people were just in jeans and t-shirts.
The screenings take please in the old Daily Express print works, a 5 minute walk from Canada Water tube station (I don’t think they’ll move location during the run, but not 100% sure so check) When you exit the station you will see RebelX operatives on the street in hi-vis vests guiding you to the meeting location. Once there they will scan your tickets and stamp your arm. Then in groups of 30 or so people you will be taken into the print works. If you have a bag it will be inspected for camera’s and any drinks removed from your person. NO CAMERA’S ALLOWED. I’ll get onto phones in a moment.
The doors open at 17:30 and last entry is 18:30. I’ve heard they won’t let in after 18:30, how true this is I do not know. I went in around 18:00
Once inside RebelX operatives will take you to the departure dock. At this point you have to put your phone inside a bag for heat sealing, and you keep your phone on you in the sealed bag. Once sealed you cannot use your phone at the event. If you need to make a call you have to go back to the reception area to use your phone and then reseal your phone again before re- entering. I actually think this is a really good idea and added to the event.
You then board a Rebel Transport and are taken to Tattooine. When you exit, you go through customs then straight into the Mos Eisley. This is really something special, lots to explore and see. Stalls selling food and drink, t-shirts. I really looks and feels the business, very authentic.
Okay, another pointer. You can’t use cash at this event. Credit and debit cards only. If you’ve got contactless use that for time’s sake.
After walking through the market place I fell upon the Cantina. Wow, with they really did a fantastic job with this. Again looks the business and the vibe inside was great with a live band. Unfortunately no blue milk. The toilets for the event and smoking area are out the back of the Cantina. I was only drinking soft drinks in the bar so am unsure what they were charging for beer. A can of coke though was £1.50.
By this time it was around 19:00 and I’m thinking “okay, where’s the screen to watch the movie” Is it in another part of the building?, is it outside?, what the hell is going on? I also read on online that at previous events there were was limited seating and I wanted to make sure me and missus were sitting together.
Problem is all the staff are in character and when you ask them what time the film starts or where the screen is they look at you oddly and just won’t break character. Which is fair enough I suppose but didn’t help me.
Then we found docking bay 93 and got on the shuttle to the Death Star. Now I’m thinking “here we go the screening must here right???”...No.
Got taken to the Death Star and left to walk round for 20 minutes. In the end we gave up with that as nothing much was going on other than some stormies wondering around and a small bar deck out like a mess hall. So we took the express shuttle (a corridor) back to Tattooine and sat at the bar and waited. The aimless wondering around really pissed me off and was my biggest criticism of the event.
In the end, we went back to the Death Star around 20:00 and there was a re-enactment of the last 20 minutes of ANH culminating in the medal ceremony. Then Luke, Han and Chewie led everyone into the screening which off to the side of the Death Star/ Rebel base.
EVERYONE HAS A SEAT. And they’re not full to capacity even when sold out so you don’t need to worry about not sitting together. The film started around 20:20.
So here is my tip. Chill out when you first get to Tatooine. There is to lots to take in, don’t be worried about getting a seat for the screening. Have a beer relax and enjoy. Unless you want to look around it before, don’t go to the Death Star until at least 19:40.
Regards the screening, first the bad. The picture jumped ahead a few seconds every so often for the first 20 minutes of the film. I was getting really fucked off but then it thankfully it stopped. Hopefully this was just first night jitters. Also the seating was fucking uncomfortable, after an hour my arse was killing me. They are like the seating you get a footie matches with no padding.
Now the good. Seeing Empire with a crowd of fans was great. I’ve seen Empire 100 times but in this environment with no distractions it was really cool. And it really showed how this 35 year movie holds up. It was great and the crowd we were with we really into it. The picture was great and the sound mix top notch, I could hear sounds in it I had never heard before.
Also at key moments “actors” would come out dressed at characters and act out what is going on screen. I won’t spoil at which moments this happens, but what I will say is some work and some don’t. The lighting also reacted to blasters being fired on screen and light sabres being ignited.
It’s the 2004 version of the special editions for those that want to know.
After the movie there was a rave in the Death Star area and the cantina continued to serve drinks. Not sure what time it ended as we had to get our train. I was back in the Tube station by 22:40.
So overall I did really enjoy myself and it was something I’ll always remember. Was it worth £75? Debatable, however I think if I’d of known more of what it was in for before I went I’d of enjoyed myself a lot more.
Hopefully I’ve filled in the blanks some of you may have and allow you to get more out of it. If I can get another ticket cheap before the run ends in September I'd go again.