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How to run a sci-fi themed community cinema screening

Get inspired by BFI’s sci-fi season with these great ideas on hosting an awe-inspiring sci-fi screening.

  • Children playing in the street
    The Day the Earth Caught Fire

After the success of the BFI’s 2014 sci-fi season - Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder – we’ve come up with some great ideas on how BFI Neighbourhood Cinemas can run a sci-fi screening that’s out of this world.

  • Choose a crowd-pleaser

    Whether your audience is keen to see a high-octane sci-fi blockbuster or a rarely-shown cult classic, make sure you choose a sci-fi film that will draw in the crowds. Run an audience vote in advance using social media, or even screen a double bill with a family-friendly afternoon screening followed by one for adults later in the evening.

    Some of the top sci-fi films for community cinemas:

  • Sci-fi fancy dress

    Turn your screening into a night to remember by getting your audience to dress up in sci-fi themed costumes. You could ask local companies to sponsor a ‘best dressed’ competition, take photos for your website or hold an after-party in a local pub. If your audience isn’t the full fancy dress type, maybe bring a fancy dress box of sci-fi inspired accessories along for people to wear for photos on the night.

  • Deck out your venue

    Get everybody in the mood by decorating your venue with a sci-fi theme. Make some life-size character cut-outs, buy some inflatable aliens and silver and black balloons, dig out some mirrors and tinsel or even ask the children to help make some homemade spaceships. You’ll create a fun atmosphere that doesn't cost the earth.

  • Serve up some sci-fi specialties

    Before your screening and during the interval, why not sell some sci-fi inspired refreshments? You could go all out and create your own Romulan Ale from Star Trek or Blue Milk from Star Wars, or just keep things simple with some popping candy, Space Raiders or Monster Munch and homemade alien cupcakes cakes.

  • Sci-fi DIY

    Bring the whole community together by asking people to shoot their own science fiction spoof at home, or to remake the trailer for their favourite sci-fi film. Just using the camera on a smartphone would be fine, as it doesn’t need to be great quality. You can show the entries before the main screening and ask people to vote for the best home movie as a fun – and funny – way to bring your audience together.

  • Run a movie quiz

    A film quiz is a quick and easy way to create excitement around your sci-fi film night. Cover lots of genres, but perhaps have a sci-fi films picture round, or include some famous sci-fi quotes. Give out question sheets as people arrive and ask them to hand them in after the film for the chance to win a prize at your next screening.

  • Sci-fi in your community

    Keep an eye out for other events or festivals happening in your area – you might be able to join forces with their organisers to create a really memorable sci-fi experience. Perhaps your local school children and their parents would love a sci-fi matinee, or your local pub’s regulars are secret sci-fi fanatics? You might be surprised about how many people you can get involved.

  • Need some sci-fi film inspiration? Take a look at our 10 great films about aliens visiting the earth and 10 great films about the end of the world lists on the BFI website.