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Weird cinemas: The most unusual places to munch popcorn

From a Welsh caravan to Guantanamo Bay, Chris Evans reveals some of the world's weirdest cinemas

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

A captive audience

While the self-confessed architect of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, sits in his closely guarded prison cell in the world's most notorious detention centre, just the other side of the wall US soldiers can watch Oliver Stone's World Trade Center on a huge cinema screen. There are two outdoor cinemas within Guantanamo Bay for the 1,000-strong guard force and people who live and work there. They show the latest US releases on huge grass areas about the size of a football pitch with tiered stadium seats.

The Archipelago Cinema, Thailand

Floating in paradise

Imagine floating on a raft at sea in total darkness, with a jungle backdrop and towering rocks either side… Now place a cinema screen into this dramatic landscape. Designed by German-born, Beijing-based architect Ole Scheeren, the Archipelago Cinema was created specifically for the Film On The Rocks Yao Noi Festival in Thailand last year.

“When I saw the beauty of the Nai Pi Lae lagoon, I thought it would be amazing if the audience could float on the ocean while watching movies,” Scheeren says.

Inspired by the local lobster fishermen's rafts, Scheeren and his team created a huge floating device made from recycled wood where the audience sits on bean bags watching an enormous screen secured to the ocean floor. The cinema made an appearance at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale.


Event Cornwall Outdoor Screenings

Ferry fun and forest frights

Event Cornwall kicked off its outdoor screenings in 2009 with water-themed films shown on a ferry as part of the Truro & Penwith College Fal River Festival. The audience was hooked from the first screening of Jaws.

“During that film, there was a lone fisherman's boat that circled the ferry with one light on, which added to the eerie ambience,” Amy Weeks, of Event Cornwall says. “Likewise for a screening of Perfect Storm last year, it poured with rain. It's like a 4D cinematic experience.”

This was taken to the extreme in Tehidy Woods, Camborne. “There was a moment in Friday the 13th where there was a chase sequence through the woods, and you couldn't see where the screen stopped and the woods started. It was really eerie,” says Weeks.

Other dramatic screenings have included Point Break on Godrevy Head, overlooking surfing beaches, and Top Gun in the Skybus hangar of Newquay Cornwall airport.


Sol Cinema, South Wales

A mini adventure

Based in South Wales, but able to travel anywhere in the world, the Sol Cinema is a caravan that includes a red carpet, popcorn, an usher and enough space to squeeze in up to 16 people.

The “World's Smallest Solar Movie Theatre” is the brainchild of Paul O'Connor and Jo Furlong. “We wanted to give important exposure to short films, but also have fun parodying mainstream cinema,” O'Connor says.

Audience members can choose the type of short film they want to see for their allotted 10 minutes, grab a ticket and a bag of popcorn and enjoy the show. The team have travelled to several events, including Glastonbury festival, where they showed a 60-second version of Harry Potter. “We're now trying to organise a tour across Europe, and want to use the caravan as a projector to show films on a big screen outdoors,” concludes O'Connor.


Paris treetop screenings

An epic adventure

If it's childlike wonder or nostalgia you're after then it doesn't come much better than sitting on a specially built mesh platform in the treetops of a Parisian forest to watch the fantasy adventure film Epic in 3D.

“The structure was a real feat of organisation and imagination, intended to immerse viewers deep into the 3D world of Epic,” says Bob Mayson, Managing Director of RealD Europe, co-creators of the event with Fox Studios and Garnier. “When the audience ascended up the rope ladders and found themselves in a fully functioning cinema right in the heart of nature, you could see the wonder in their eyes.”

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The living dead

Thousands of people flock to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery each year with deckchairs and picnic baskets to watch Hollywood classics like Rebel Without a Cause on a screen projected onto the side of a mausoleum. But this is no ordinary mausoleum; it contains the remains of silent-film legend Rudolph Valentino and Oscar-winning actor Peter Finch.

The cemetery screenings are intended to encourage a different interaction between cemeteries and the public. For the more adventurous there are late-night screenings of horror films like The Shining and Halloween, but it's best not to go alone.


CGV Cheongdam Cine City, South Korea

Sensory overload

The Cheongdam Cine City in Seoul takes the cinematic viewing experience to new levels with moving seats, special lighting, wind, fog and even scent-based effects to make you feel immersed in the film.

For a recent screening of Titanic, the audience got to “go down with the ship” as their seats were tilted, mist was created, and sea-scented water was sprayed. This 4DX experience is catching on as there are now similar cinemas across Mexico, China, Thailand, Russia, and more countries.


Kino Pionier 1909 cinema, Poland


The world's oldest continuously-running cinema, this in Szcecin, Poland, has withstood two world wars, and anti-communist revolts, to remain standing.

“I actually discovered documents that say the first film was shown in 1907, so it's even older than first thought,” Jerzy Miskiewicz, co-owner of the cinema says.

Featuring two quaint little screening rooms, one in a relaxed cafe/bar area with tables and chairs, the cinema hasn't changed much in more than 100 years, but did receive some restoration work in 2002, including the installation of new technology and comforts.


Cine Thisio, Greece

Acropolis action

The Cine Thisio is the oldest outdoor cinema in Athens, set up in 1935, but what makes it really unique are the stunning views of the Acropolis and Parthenon, which look particularly impressive lit up at night. The cinema also attracts big name stars, including Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for the premiere of Before Midnight.


Golden Village Cinema, Singapore

First class

This is the ultimate in luxury. There are 56 reclining armchair seats and theatre staff on hand at the touch of a button to pour you a wine and supply you with exquisite Peranakan cuisine, should you get peckish.

The concierge service also includes a personalised phone-booking service, collection of movie tickets, transport to and from the cinema, and private party arrangements. But it's not cheap, and you do need to add on the airfare.