Tyler Durden glares at the surrounding circle of event attendees. “Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
The underground Domain car park has been transformed into Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. There are references everywhere; branding on coffee cups, quotes written in red paint on hanging sheets, actors storming around harassing guests. There are make-up artists on hand to paint your face bloody and “group therapy” sessions to get your Tinder addiction under control. A food truck pulls up just outside and a small bar is flowing with selected wine, beer and pre-made cocktails.
This mayhem is Popcorn Therapy, the first immersive cinema event put on by new events company Curious Cartel. Co founders Amy Kings and Sarah Emery are passionate about combining theatre and cinema – to offer movie buffs an immersive film event. Emery says, “We’ve all watched films and wondered what it would be like to live those characters’ lives. It’s the ultimate escapism.”
Secrecy is key. In the lead up to each event, guests are given a series of clues to follow to the location. “Our guests have no idea what to expect, they just have to follow their curiosity and trust us. Some guests will pick up on every nod to the film throughout the evening. Others will realise what the clues were as they watch the film.” Just as no two films are the same, each night will be completely different. “It’s like guessing the end to a movie all the way through.”
Keeping a tight lid on future events, Emery says they’ll move on to something else before they ever become predictable, “What we can tell you is that there will be music, food, a supporting cast of characters, the most curious of locations, interactive activities and unique screening set-ups.”
Immersive (or “secret”) cinema has been lapped up in London, but has yet to gather a big Australian following, other than events put on by Underground Cinema. With a sold-out first event it looks like Sydney is curious for more.