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Secret Cinema faces Twitter and Facebook storm after cancelling Back to the Future opening night

Stuck in the past
Fri Jul 25 2014, 12:06
Scene from Back to the Future II

SECRET CINEMA, the darling of quirky movie experiences across the UK, has seen exactly how frightening a bunch of angry hipsters can be after it cancelled the opening night of its latest show, Back to the Future.

For those who aren't aware of the brand, Secret Cinema basically chooses a film that has a big cult following, builds a copy of the set in a secret location, and then allows lucky fans to shell out £53 to watch the film sat in a field while enjoying an "immersive" cinema experience, with actors in among the audience acting out the roles.

For its latest venture, the outfit decided on Stratford's Olympic Village as the location, and set about building Hill Valley, 1955, with the opening night set for 24 July, hot on the heels of an audience preview on 23 July.

But Secret Cinema then cancelled both these performances, giving people less than two hours' notice each day, simply citing "unavoidable circumstances beyond our control".

The short notice and lack of explanation led to a huge backlash on social media, with angry fans taking to Twitter and Facebook to share their frustrations at the handling of the whole thing. Aside from the hundreds of people complaining about pointless days off work taken, and wasted money spent on train fares, hotels, babysitters and hairdos, the biggest criticism thrown at Secret Cinema was that it kept trying to get users off the forums and to instead email it directly for information.

This predictably led to more complaints and accusations, as users called on Secret Cinema to post details openly on the social networks, rather than via individual emails. As one Facebook user summed up, "Secret Cinema, stop pleading with people to email you directly with their 'concerns' - there is no way for you to take this out of the public forum. Stop attempting to hide, and address their 'concerns' here."

At the time of writing, Secret Cinema has made the whole debacle worse by delaying the promised 11am update on Friday morning about whether the second night will go ahead this evening. The last we heard from it was Thursday night on Facebook, and at 11.24am Friday via this tweet:

It's now over an hour past the time slot given for the update, and still no news, leading to a whole new barrage of rants and angry posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Typical response to the missed 11am update: "In your own time SC. I'm only waiting to find out if I am going to work or not today. Nothing like fucking your employer about. You knew a couple of hours ago if today was going ahead or not."

Another angry customer pointed out, "Another classic example of Secret Cinema over promising and under delivering. If they valued their customers, they should have issued the update at 10:45."

The lack of information from the outfit has led to more ranting and online speculation about what could be causing the delays, from issues over confiscating people's phones to the set only being half-built, another blunt reminder that in the era of social media and online, any organisation that wants to thrive has to be totally transparent, and especially when things go wrong.

And while we still don't know the reason for cancelling the first Back to the Future performances, our money's on the Libyans having kidnapped the builders. µ


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