Dammit, Frightfest, we were just getting used to the new venue and you go and upset the apple cart again. Attendees of the UK's largest genre festival had to cope with a move from the long term Frightfest home of the Empire in London's Leicester Square, to the couple-of-doors-up Vue cinema in 2013. The closure of the former's massive Screen One that seated the entire festival audience, all one thousand of them, forced the organisers to look for a new venue. The move to the Vue saw the audience now split into three across its biggest auditoria, a move that some anticipated would adversely affect the atmosphere of the festival. As it turned out, things stayed pretty much as they'd always been and Frightfesters embraced their new home.
Fast forward two years and we're all on the move again; due to essential maintenance at the Leicester Square Vue, it will not be available for the festival this August Bank Holiday so the event has upped sticks and will take over the entire, 12-screen Vue Cinema in Shepherd's Bush. As usual, with any changes to Frightfest, there's been a mixed reaction. For out-of-towners such as me, it makes little difference as it's just another location in London to sort out accommodation for. London-based people have been slightly less impressed, especially those for whom the move involves more difficult travel home each evening. And then there are those who tried to get the jump on West End hotel prices by booking their accommodation well in advance of the date, assuming it would still be taking place in Leicester Square. You can't, as they say, please all of the people all of the time.
In addition to the venue move, Frightfest has also parted ways with its long time headline sponsor Film4. A new sponsor is currently being lined up, but the organisers are keeping details of who it might be close to their chests. The other tradition that will cease this year is the annual 'Sleepy Queue' - where fans camp out overnight to get their choice of seats. All ticketing will be done online, which hasn't been a crowning success in previous years despite the organisers' best efforts.
The big question now remains: assuming a successful festival at this year's new venue (and there's no reason it shouldn't be, the Frightfest crowd very much makes it what it is), will we ever see it return to Leicester Square? Only time will tell.
Official info below:
FrightFest, the UK’s biggest and most popular genre film festival, will relocate to the Vue Shepherd’s Bush for its annual 5-day August Bank Holiday event, taking over all twelve screens between Aug 25 – 29, 2016.
In a two-year deal with Vue Entertainment, the festival has the option to return to the Vue Leicester Square in 2017, following maintenance to the venue.
FrightFest co-director Ian Rattray said today: "After much consideration, and in consultation with the Vue Management, we decided the 12-auditoria establishment in Shepherd’s Bush would not only fit our demanding bill, but give us a whole new raft of exciting opportunities to expand all the core FrightFest entertainment values. Our continuing, collaborative partnership with Vue means that FrightFest can grow and continue to offer film-goers a unique cinematic experience”.
Daniel Goodwin, Events Manager for Vue Entertainment added: "We are delighted to see the return of FrightFest and proud to host this sought after and iconic event for another frighteningly brilliant film festival".
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