BY HOLLY O’MAHONY
Pop Up Screens is returning to Greenwich for the fourth year in a row this weekend, bringing with it a line-up of three hugely popular titles from the film world. The screenings will be held in Greenwich’s Central Park, with Baby Driver getting things off to a flying start on Friday 17th, Bridesmaids bringing in the laughs on Saturday 18th and La La Land winding things down with old-school glamour, romance and memorable songs on Sunday 19th August.
“We love bringing the big screen to Greenwich year after year, there’s a such buzzing and lively atmosphere that makes for a great night of film watching,” says Dave Leydon, who set up Pop Up Screens back in 2011, having realised there was a gap in the market for decent outdoor cinema offerings in the UK.
“The films are picked based on how much we think our audience will enjoy them,” Dave explains. “We invest a lot of time into weighing up what has and hasn’t worked for us in the past. Our aim is always to give people what they want to see.”
Director Edgar Wright’s 2017 film Baby Driver grossed $226.9 million USD according to box office figures. It also won several awards including a BAFTA and Critics’ Choice award for best editing, and Empire Award for best soundtrack – which featured Bob and Earl’s Harlem Shuffle, the Commodores’ Easy and Simon & Garfunkel’s Baby Driver (which inspired the title of the film). The plot follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young and talented getaway driver, who (ironically) lost his parents in a car crash when he was younger. Baby prepares the perfect soundtrack to every job, which he listens to on his iPod – the film’s action synchronising with the soundtrack – as he ferries around a group of bank robbers, to pay off Doc (Kevin Spacey) for stealing one of his cars. Baby’s keen to leave the criminal world behind, and once he starts dating diner waitress Debora (Lily James), he finds he has all the more reason to escape it.
Even if you haven’t seen Bridesmaids, you’ve probably heard it quoted or seen snippets in meme form (Annie ready to ‘part-ay’ on the plane is a personal favourite). The incredibly funny 2011 rom-com written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, and directed by Paul Feig, follows singleton Annie (Krisen Wiig) as she struggles to fulfil her Maid of Honour duties in preparation for the wedding of her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Bridesmaids grossed $288.4 million USD and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards and for Best original Screenplay at the Academy Awards in 2012.
In 2017, La La Land made musical lovers of us all (or most of us, anyway). Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the film follows Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who begin dating following a series of chance encounters. The pair are both trying to make it in Hollywood – Mia as an actress and Sebastian as a jazz musician – but as they start to find success in their respective fields, their work begins to pull them in different directions and as their lifestyles change, their relationship begins to fray. In a way, La La Land is as much an ode to Hollywood and the golden era of filmmaking as it is a film in its own right. It grossed $446.1 million USD following its release and won multiple awards; it won every category for which it was nominated at the 74th Golden Globe Awards – a record-breaking seven wins, and won six Academy Awards that same year, including Best Original Score, Best Director and Best Actress for Stone.
Booking for Pop Up Screens is advised, and screenings will continue to take place even if it rains – so be sure to bring your waterproofs and something warm. You’ll also want to pack a blanket, beanbag or cushion to sit on, but don’t worry if you don’t have one handy – deckchairs will be available to hire for £4, while those who are feeling fancy an book a VIP seat for £20, which comes with a free drink. Guests can bring their own picnic (although no glass is allowed on site), or you can tuck into popcorn and sourdough wood-fired pizzas from Brighton-based Seaside Pizza Co.
Pop Up Screens is taking place in Central Park, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0NW, from August 17 – 19. Doors open at 7pm and films start at 8:30pm, with Baby Driver showing on Friday 17th, Bridesmaids on Saturday 18th and La La Land on Sunday 19th. Admission: £12.50/£7 children under 10. www.popupscreens.co.uk