My Visit To The Overlook Hotel (On The Green, London)!
This past Friday, I was honoured to be an invited guest of Warner Bros UK at a screening of the long-awaited sequel to 1980’s horror movie, ‘The Shining‘ entitled ‘Doctor Sleep‘. Once again based on the novel by Stephen King, the film opens around the world on October 31st. The event was held at The Screen On The Green Cinema in Islington in London. I had until this night, never been to this venue although I admit I am aware of it and have been for many years. Upon arriving, I have to admit that a thrill went through me. You see, the venue is a classic cinema, not one of the all-singing, all-dancing multiplexes that we see everywhere these days. This was a PROPER cinema, one that I recall from my youth. From the classic outside of the building to the simple but loving entrance into the screen, this is how I used to love going to the movies when I was young. No video screens playing the trailer for Harry Potter 47 or Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji 19, this is how cinema should be.
Upon entering the screen itself, I was taken aback with what I saw inside. Staff were standing at the side waiting for the guests to arrive and couldn’t have done more for the audience members if they tried. None of this point to where you had to go and ignoring you after, the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Again, this is exactly how I remember visiting the movies years ago. A bar had been set up inside the screen and it was serving cocktails to the arriving audience. I must admit to accepting a cocktail or three during the night’s proceedings! Usually, I’m teetotal but it seemed rude not to accept the offer presented to me.
We, the audience could sit where we preferred. None of this allocated seating nonsense, again a throwback to yesteryear where you could walk into a screen and choose where you wanted to sit without having to book a seat first. But to my amazement, there was no normal seating in the screen. All the seating were two-seater sofas! With footstools! Again, this was a complete luxury. The screen was decked out like a hotel lobby if you will which is exactly why Warner Bros chose it to accommodate this screening. It fitted in so well with the film we would shortly be seeing and was a magnificent throwback to the original ‘The Shining‘ and its indoor sets. The only modern twist that was added to the mix was projected ‘spooky’ messages on one of the walls but even this seemed fitting to the night’s events and the venue.
At the end of every sofa, built into the framework was a table that contained boxes of free popcorn and free bottles of water for us to consume through the course of the evening. Alongside this were packets of children’s Pineapple sticks that had the films logo embossed on the front. On our way into the screen, we were all given a keyring with the films logo embossed on one side and the number 237 on the reverse (fans will get the reference) alongside a proper key itself. This was a really nice touch to the proceedings. On our sofas, they were embossed cushions with the films poster on one side and the films logo and title on the other. These were really nice and brought the feeling of being in a hotel lobby even more to the fore. And we got to keep them after the film was over!
Before the film started, we were given a 30-minute question and answer on-stage interview between UK film journalist and Sky Movies presenter Alex Zane and the film’s writer/director Mike Flanagan and producer Jon Berg. Flanagan discussed why he chose to helm the film, his reservations and his respect for not only Stephen King and his work but for the Stanley Kubrick foundation also. Flanagan informed us of how he went to the Kubrick foundation to get their blessing to proceed with the making of the sequel as the late director made the original ‘Shining‘ and he (Flanagan) didn’t want to offend the Kubrick family with what he was going to do in the new film. He also went on to explain how he sought the blessing of King himself for the project and of how he would have walked away from the film if King hadn’t been happy with the film being made. King has been really vocal on his dislike for the film version of ‘The Shining‘ and it was thought he would almost certainly be against any attempt to film the sequel.
After King gave the filmmakers his blessing to make the film, Flanagan went on to praise his cast and crew and especially young actress Kyleigh Curran in her portrayal of the character Abra Stone, one of the vital roles in the entire film. Flanagan went on to describe an audition reading between Ewan McGregor and Curran where after the young actress had left the room, McGregor turned to the director and said ‘It’s her, right? It HAS to be her, she’s perfect’ and of how McGregor and co-star Rebecca Ferguson were in awe of Curran’s performance with Ferguson spending time with the youngster between takes and building a solid friendship. Without a doubt after seeing the film, everyone is correct, Curran IS extraordinary in the role and has a huge future ahead of her.
As the three left the stage after the half an hour was over, the lights went down and the curtains pulled back (another classic cinema touch) and we were greeted with the opening music as the film started to run.
Is the film any good, I hear you ask? That would be telling! My review will appear here once the film has opened this coming Thursday.
I had a wonderful time during my stay at The Overlook On The Green. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a relaxing and enjoyable time. Of course, my enjoyment was made possible and bettered by the amazing staff at The Screen On The Green Cinema in Islington and by the team at Warner Bros UK who made the event such a fantastic evening.
I wish to extend my most sincere thanks to all the hardworking staff at The Screen On The Green Cinema and to the team at Warner Bros UK for staging such an incredible and enjoyable event. I have been to a few press screenings before but this is the best one I can possibly say I’ve attended. If I get the chance to check in there once again, I shall certainly pack my bags and stay there once more.
Until next time.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones and Horror movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!