Pop-up cinema screens classic movies in Ipswich’s Holywells Park
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich’s Holywells Park is being transformed into an open-air cinema later this month. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage spoke to Danny Banthorpe of organisers Pop Up Pictures.
Outdoor cinema isn’t a new concept; with touring promoters popping up in the grounds of the region’s stately homes once a twice a year. The team behind next weekend’s screenings of The Goonies (PG), The Lost Boys (15) and Grease (PG) however are all proud East Anglians. Their mission, to use the amazing spaces and places Suffolk and Norfolk has to offer unique screenings.
The plan for the Great Outdoor Cinema Club, which will grow to include Amercian drive-in style screenings in the autumn and winter, had been in their minds for a while. They were forced to step their plans up when another company launched a viral social media campaign across the UK in the spring, suggesting the same idea.
“It got a great reaction in Ipswich and Norwich so we quickly registered our company and got to work booking in the dates, venues and films. It took a little while for people to trust the brand as many thought that we were the national brand that created the viral frenzy,” says Banthorpe.
He can’t wait to bring the club to Ipswich.
“I love my hometown and my roots are still very much here so I’m really excited to bring this new project home for friends and family so they don’t have to endure the A140 for a change. I’ve probably left a little legacy in Ipswich in creating the Pam’s House event in the mid-1990, which also returns in January for a 20th birthday reunion special.
“Many of the friends I’ve made over those years have settled down with families and have hung up their dancing shoes so it will be nice to bring something a little more palatable for them, that can include the kids with a much earlier finish too.”
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The responses to the initial Norfolk screenings were amazing, with attendances increasing for each pop up. The team only had a few weeks to promote each one so are looking forward to giving more notice for next year’s programme. More places are offering spaces, which is good. The club is looking forward to popping up at the Sundown and Reload festivals at the Norfolk Showground. It will be screening movies in the campsite exclusively for the campers after the headline acts finish on the main stage.
After launching at Lenwade House in North Norfolk, the team staged pop up screenings at Suffolk’s Fritton Lake and Norwich’s Catton Park. The search then began for venues in Ipswich and Suffolk. Talking it over with Ipswich Borough Council about next year’s programme, it mentioned about popping up alongside this weekend’s Maritime Ipswich festival with Holywells Park an ideal nearby arena.
“We couldn’t resist the opportunity to work in conjunction with IBC and be part of its excellent programme of events but soon after it was decided to move the screenings back a week to give a little more time and utilise the festival as a promotional weekend.
“We have since visited the park on a few occasions, it’s recent facelift is amazing. It’s a beautiful space, it’s also got a great catchment area for those living by the waterside and in the town centre while the lovely grassy Myrtle Meadow provides a perfect amphitheatre for our shows so we are really looking forward to popping up there. IBC does a fantastic job with its events programme so it is a privilege to partner alongside it with this project.”
The company has decided to move the Great Outdoor Cinema Club experience forward with a three films over three nights concept.
“Throwback Thursdays will show classic or cult movies from yesteryear, we recently showed Labyrinth and The Goonies. Norwich went Goonies mad last month with a sell-out show so we couldn’t resist bringing The Goonies to Ipswich. Fright Night Fridays show the horror, cult or slightly scarier movies. Our recent screening of Nightmare on Elm Street brought back some frightening childhood memories for many including me,” says Banthorpe.
“The Singalong Saturdays will feature the classic soundtrack movies such as Grease, Dirty Dancing, Mumma Mia and the Rocky Horror Picture show. We are repeating for the first time with the Ipswich trio (of films) as these proved our most popular movies in June and July.”
The club originally bought an eight metre by four metre inflatable screen which inflates in seconds but have moved up to a semi-permanent scaffold structure which gives it a little more security and is viable to put up with the three screenings over three nights. The former is now used for bespoke and single screening pop ups.
The projector is 7,000 lumens, providing a professional cinema experience once darkness falls, he says, adding: “The screen can be seen perfectly hundreds of yards away and actually looks better further away at the back of the arena. We simply ask viewers to seat responsibly, with those opting to bring picnic blankets or bean bags to sit nearer the front and those with chairs to the middle and the back of the arena. It is a first come first served policy.”
Gates open at 6pm. Film-goers are asked not to bring food or drink as there’s a gourmet barbecue and bar onsite. There will also be music relevant to whatever film is showing, often via a DJ or band, with films starting soon after sunset.
The Holywells Park screenings start around 8.45pm and end before 11pm. Tickets are available from www.popuppictures.co or the Ipswich Regent box office and cost £12.50 for adults. All under fives are free while one under 18 is free per paying adult.
The Goonies (PG) is Thursday, August 20; The Lost Boys (15) is Friday, August 21 and Grease (PG) is Saturday, August 22.