London Style: The Luna Cinema

When we lived in Austin, one of our favorite places to go was the Blue Starlite Drive-In at Austin Studios. You’re encouraged to set up a blanket in the backseat of your car, enjoy some popcorn, and make out (just like the olden times) while watching a projected golden oldie movie on a giant inflatable screen.

The first time we went, we saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Five minutes before the end of the movie; however, the screen was getting tossed in the wind by an impending storm sending the “Twist and Shout” scene into disco-mode. The film was stopped, and we were sent home without knowing if Ferris got caught.drive in austin

We went again a few months later to see Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin and Beetlegeuse–a double feature for the Halloween weekend. Seeing those two films two months before we were moving really made the night special. Our time was short in Austin, and we embraced the quirkiness all the while looking forward to the move. But I was secretly worried we wouldn’t find anything quite as cool as radio frequency movie dialogue and outdoor movie watching in stuffy London.

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As far as cinema experiences go, London is far from stuffy. You can find theaters with anything from cushy red couches to bean bags on cement. And while we don’t have cars, there are plenty of outdoor screenings all over this city! When the weather is nice (and even not nice), the royal parks flood with people curled up on blankets with bottles of wine and bags of popcorn. This last week was no different when a friend of mine invited me to see The Lost Boys at Kensington Gardens. I think the only way to make that more British was if they were screening Shaun of the Dead with tea.

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The odds were against us seeing this film between the complete shut down of the tube for its second strike in six weeks and the impending rain clouds that gave me flashbacks to our night with Ferris. But we are brave Londoners now, and we made it to the majestic and picturesque Kenginston Palace for our nighttime screening.

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From May to October, The Luna Cinema hosts dozens of films in a handful of venues such as: Warwick Castle, Crystal Palace Park, Kew Gardens, and even Hampton Court Palace. You go and find a patch of grass to set up your picnic and settle in for the film. They have all kinds of goodies to purchase since they are sponsored by a couple beer corporations, but you can also buy blow up triangle chair-backs for about £15 so you can fully recline and kick your feet out.

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I had never seen The Lost Boys, so I had no idea what to expect. But I was expecting was rain. My umbrella was propped over our legs to keep our legs and feet dry, and we huddled under our rain coats in a quasi-fort. It only sprinkled on us for a few moments, and it did nothing to dampen the mood of the movie goers. Covered in parkas and hoodies, the crowd piled in.

The film began just as the sun set over the palace, and it was awesome. The sound was clear and loud, and the picture quality was pretty good! I missed a line here or there, but Elizabeth knows the movie so well, I just turned to her as my go-to subtitles.

As I sat with my mouth agape in awe, I thought, “What a crazy movie that in no way would ever get made today.” So I did a little reading about the film and saw that the inspiration for the story actually came from: “What if Peter Pan was a vampire?” The title makes a lot more sense now since the troupe of children Peter falls in with in Neverland are called “the lost boys.”

In the first draft of the script, the lead vampire, David (Kiefer Sutherland), was actually named Peter, but many of the names got changed before filming. However, as a direct homage, the mother’s name stayed the same: Wendy. Also in the original draft, all of the characters were children in the 5th or 6th grade falling in with other movies of the era like Goonies and The Never Ending Story. But when Richard Donner, the original director, got caught up with Lethal Weapon, Joel Schumacher came on board.

Schumacher is the man responsible for putting nipples on the bat suit for Batman and Robin, so it was no surprise, he wanted the children changed to teenagers to amp up the sex appeal.

There are a couple of sequels that were made and releasedbut they did not reach the same acclaim as the original. But that is a whole other discussion of why we need sequels to perfectly good, stand-alone films.

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We had an awesome time at The Luna Cinema. If you’re in the London area (or near a venue), I recommend checking out their line up and seeing a film in this unique fashion. It may be a movie you’ve seen a hundred times or it could be your first viewing, but the experience is pretty incredible.

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