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Event 57: Downtown Vancouver Movie Night…ALL WE NEED IS RADIO GAGAGAGA…

Downtown Vancouver cinema night – when thousands sit on “cold” concrete to watch a movie…but it was more than a free movie – it was togetherness and it was a leisure activity. Welcome to how using space otherwise used for “passing through” can create memories…

F0877A92-8580-4FFC-B4D1-01CB94633B8FWhat was the event?

What: Vancouver Art Gallery Outdoor Movies

When: 29 July – Bohemian Rhapsody

Where: Downtown Vancouver

The story begins…

Arriving to the event by accident the movie started to play at 9:45pm but by 8pm hundreds of people had took their spot. A constructed environment with food trucks, a DJ warming up the crowd and a large screen. It was simple but had so much benefit to the local area. Deck chairs and blankets covering the space as people nibbled on snacks and chatted away as the sun set on a Monday evening in Vancouver.


What do pop up cinema’s do for the urban society that they take place in? Well, this is a very good question…let me answer. Research states it’s a way of challenging norms, opportunities for envisioning and reimagining opportunities for the space for the future and a chance to take back from corporate space owners. Or actually it’s a way of disguising property owners hidden agendas – but it works. The growth of engagement with the arts is also something that is argued to be an agenda point for why pop-up cinemas are important for the area. For example, those that attend maybe are not involved or part of the arts community but by introducing to pop up cinemas can be the first step to engaging for the future. Its how people are captured and further similar products are sold to them for the future.

In Vancouver – on the website “Vancouver Best Places” they have a list of around about 8 different locations in Vancouver where a whole host of number one movies are shown. Everything from Disney to Westerns – a treat for all! The variety in genres and different locations turns pop up cinemas into “tourism”. People need to travel to a “new” or “unfamiliar” location and they spend money on food, transport, drink and whether those are local or tourists from abroad without the event there is a very small chance anyone would be in that space at that time.


For me I fell into the event the night the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was playing – and I was delighted. A movie which I have seemed in total 5 times in the last 7 months of travelling with every flight entertainment packaging offering this uplifting movie. Arriving at the steps I settled in to watch and get ready for a great night. I warmed up my voice in the preparation for everyone busting out the DOOAOAOAOAOAOAOAOAOOOOOOOooo…but nothing. No one was really engaging with the movie – they were just watching. Static engagement. But without anyone there to provoke the emotion I can understand why. A few food trucks, toilets with the Pride colors beaming on them (due to it being Pride week in Vancouver) and a #VAN where some of the customer touch points. Nothing that was causing a disrupting positive experience.

The crowd was mixed. It was a school night so halfway through the movie many families began to leave but in the majority it was either couples, groups of friends and the occasional individual having no problem sitting to watch the best movie of 2018. As I sat watching I really wanted to get everyone going. But it wasn’t that type of night or crowd. Although – it has so much potential for being a proper production. Imagine this. Imagine a platform to the right of the screen where someone in Freddie Mercury outfit or even just something engaging starts the sing song – it would go down so well – because it would be orchestrated. And orchestrated experiences then give opportunities to provoke a lasting message for the spectators for the future.

Orchestrating at events can change the atmosphere and the emotions that the spectators leave with evoked. Orchestrated experiences then give opportunities to provoke a lasting message for the spectators for the future. Its about understanding the consumers and understand the constructed experience. This is not just a cinema. This was a performance for urban regeneration and space awareness. This was not just a film. This is the future of community integration and selling the city to the locals and the tourists.


Well done Vancouver…but use the event more for enhancing opportunities for the future.

One thing to take away…

Movies are quite an easy way to create engagement. Put it in a public space and through time more than a movie is being watched. I observed people sitting in a space on a Monday night most people would not have been until 11:30pm. So think about city planners…what spaces is their to be best used to create life changing memories?

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