Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?

Founder Fabian Riggall says he is 'heartbroken' to have let the audience down

Doubtless there are thousands of disappointed Back To The Future fans who are wishing the creators of Secret Cinema would get in their on-set DeLorean and travel back to the point before they cancelled their first week of shows.

But for founder Fabien Riggall, the “very complicated myriad series of challenges” that led to his decision have not only been obstructive, but they have left him “heartbroken” in knowing he has let his audience down.

Update: Secret Cinema to finally air Back to the Future

Mr Riggall has remained tight-lipped on the exact reasons behind the decision to cancel first Thursday’s, and then Friday’s show, which he says is for the benefit of the near 65,000 still due to attend throughout August, as the “challenges” are directly related to the material and performances that people have paid £53 each to see.

What he will say is that there is “no truth” in the suggestion that animal welfare put the brakes on the production nor have there been any health and safety scares, and it’s not because the set near London’s Olympic Park isn’t finished, either. Those accusations are “not correct”.

Video: Disgruntled customers

“The situation is that the council has a job to do, and they are working with us way above their duty to make this happen,” he said, adding that “it was very hard to make the decision that we wouldn’t open until Thursday”.

“The tragic thing is that we’ve built up this trust that we’ve now taken a hit on, and we’re going to have to work our darnedest to make it up to everyone,” he said.

Unfortunately, the shows on both Thursday and Friday were cancelled just hours before they were due to start, with people turning up to the pick-up area in 1950s outfits, ready to party down in the replica of the film’s Hill Valley set, where Marty McFly is transported to from the 1980s. They had been told not to take their phones along, and some had spent time and money in the “swap shop” on Hackney Road, getting the right clothes or having their hair done.

Read more: actual adults respond to Secret Cinema cancellations

“A lot of people are upset – and I would be angry – but I was really confident that we were going to get there. The show is the most detailed and immersive and interactive, and quite extraordinary in sense of ambition, but I have to put up my hands and say that we weren’t able to open on time, I’m heartbroken,” he said.

The Hill Valley High School on set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event The Hill Valley High School on set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event (Max Letek)

Secret Cinema has overturned its no-refunds policy to offer disappointed fans their money back, or the chance to reschedule for another performance. Those who spent money on train tickets, hotel rooms and even ferries to get to the capital for the show are being reviewed “case by case”.

“We’re really overwhelmed with how many people have come from so far away and we want to do everything we can to make it up to them,” he said.

But Mr Riggall is adamant that the show will go on, stressing that fans will not be disappointed: “We have had dress rehearsals, we have 85 actors and an incredibly skilled artistic team that are working day and night to make sure that we get there.

“We are stretching Secret Cinema to the next level with this; it is out most ambitious and most complicated production and we want to create an experience that meets the level of love that the audience has for this film.” On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event (Hanson Letherby)

The swap shop is intended to be an extension of the immersive experience for Secret Cinema goers, meeting new people and getting involved in the action, while the show’s website features its own radio station and telephone exchange, for people to be able to talk to each other.

“We want this to be a magical world that people can lose themselves in,” Mr Riggall said. “We want them to live in the moment of the show, have a unique experience and to meet with other people.”

Read more: Secret Cinema cancels Back to the Future screenings
Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence