Event cinema organiser cancels opening night of its biggest production to date at the eleventh hour.

Secret Cinema has cancelled the opening night of its biggest production to date, an ambitious outdoor screening of Back to the Future, just hours before its launch.

A statement from Secret Cinema founder Fabien Riggall said: “We are working around the clock with the production team to resolve any issues. We are devastated to have to make this announcement, and we appreciate everyone who has made plans for tonight’s event. We are doing everything we possibly can.”

The event cinema organiser, which has made its name with immersive productions built around Blade Runner, The Shawshank Redemption and more recently The Grand Budapest Hotel, said on Twitter:

“URGENT: Tonight’s Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future performance is CANCELLED. All tickets holders will receive an email with more…”

Within an hour of making the announcement, nearly 250 comments had been posted to Secret Cinema’s Facebook page including one that read: “We have travelled from the Isle of Wight with our two young children, paid for (and are in!) our hotel for the night. We can’t afford to do this again!!! Will you be paying for our travel and accommodation on an alternative night?”

A post on its Facebook page said: “Due to unavoidable circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to receive guests at tonight’s show of Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future. We are devastated to make this announcement and sincerely apologise for having to announce it at this late a stage.

“We are working tirelessly to make sure that this spectacular event will go ahead tomorrow evening. We will be in touch at 11am tomorrow morning with a further statement for all attending guests.

“For those who were due to attend tonight’s Opening Night, we understand that this is hugely disappointing and we are offering you to come back on another show night. We guarantee all ticket holders that their tickets will be re-allocated to one of the below dates, and that all will be given their first choice to reschedule.”

A post from Arran Essex said: “I’m sorry but just putting “unavoidable circumstances beyond our control” shows no respect to the people who have bought tickets, costumes, props, paid for travel, paid for accommodation and any other costs. Surely you could just be honest with every one who has put faith and money into your organization.”

Epic production

Secret Cinema promised its “most epic and detailed production to date” around a screening of the 1985 adventure classic, starring Michael J Fox, and shifted 17,000 tickets in the first four minutes of sale and sold out 42,000 tickets in four hours.

However, when tickets initially went on sale on June 4 the supplier could not cope with the demand and the sale was halted until the following day when Secret Cinema switched supplier to See Tickets, which handles major events including the Glastonbury Festival.

The run was extended to August 31 and more than 66,000 tickets have been sold to date. If all tickets are sold, it will hit 84,000.

Disappointed ticketholders have been invited to performances later in the run, from Aug 14-31.

It is the second time Secret Cinema has had to postpone an opening this year. In April, it was forced to cancel the opening of the 20th Secret Cinema production just hours before its launch due to “licensing reasons”.

Immersive experience

Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future has seen the fictional town of Hill Valley constructed at a secret location in London. Audiences will wander between 1955 and 1985, and navigate secret alleys and entrances in the town that will allow them to travel to the heady future of 2015.

As in previous outdoor productions such as Dirty Dancing, Grease and Top Gun the event will follow an interactive format of immersing audiences into the world of Back to the Future and Hill Valley in the first half of the evening followed by a screening of the Robert Zemeckis film that includes “extra experiential surprise elements”.

A Battle of the Bands contest will determine who will play on stage each night, as well as a secret headline high profile band. The famous ‘Enchantment under the Sea’ Prom dance will take place at an after party venue near the secret location.

Audience participation will feature heavily throughout each event, with audiences becoming characters inside Hill Valley, zipping between the worlds of 1955 and 1985.