The concept is simple. The film is secret; the location is kept secret, (until a few days before the performance) and all the information the audience is given is the dress code and an identity to assume.

Don’t tell anyone we told you, but over the past few years, London’s Secret Cinema has been quietly taking the nation by storm. Embracing new technology and social networking, each performance fuses film with music, theatre and live performance to create a truly unique, immersive, sensory and interactive experience.

It is the perfect antidote to the passivity of the multiplex and a prime example of experiential marketing done right.

Case Study: Prometheus

To coincide with the release of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus in 2012, a team of 80 actors and crew transformed a London warehouse into a spaceship for an epic Secret Cinema production, which was screened 38 times over a 28 day period.

The audience played an integral part in the event, having been assigned roles in advance. Dressed in protective boiler suits and armed with surgical masks, gloves and various religious artefacts, they were transported into the world of Prometheus. The set was filled with original props from the film including rover trucks and parts of the film’s spaceship and to add to the sensory experience, Secret Cinema partnered with Framestore on the visual effects for the show and with cult band Radiohead on the soundscape.

The events attracted 25,000 guests and grossed £730,000, which was extremely impressive, considering that their marketing strategy was to tell people nothing.

Taking secrecy too far?

You may be aware of the recent furore surrounding the cancellation of Secret Cinema’s highly anticipated Back to the Future events. The news prompted outrage from fans, who found out about the cancellation 90 minutes before the show was due to start.

The reason for the cancellation has not been publicly disclosed, but Company founder Fabien Riggall said in a statement; “we look to push the boundaries of what we can achieve in each production and this has been the most ambitious and complex production to date…on this occasion we have come across a number of issues that we have not experienced previously.”

It remains to be seen how this setback will affect the long-term future of Secret Cinema, but there is no doubt that it has transformed the cinematic experience and started a trend for a host of new ‘secret’ experiences, such as secret dining, secret music, secret galleries and even secret swimming.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on