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Trafalgar Square to host free open-air film screenings

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Trafalgar Square is to host a series of free open-air film screenings as Londoners were today urged to ditch the box set and get back to live cinema.

The six films will be shown over the August bank holiday weekend, and will include the James Bond movie Skyfall, the original Star Wars film, Bend It Like Beckham and a Mary Poppins sing-a-long.

A total of 1,500 tickets will be available for each screening, of which 150 tickets will be reserved for key workers for four of the films.

Actor Simon Pegg and director Richard Curtis were among the names backing the “Back to the big screen” initiative from Sadiq Khan.

Pegg, best known for Shaun of the Dead, said: “I’m supporting the Mayor of London’s initiative to get people back into the capital’s world class cinemas.

“The pandemic has hit this integral part of London’s cultural heart, hard. It’s time to fill these spaces again and feel the thrill and magic of theatrical cinema.”

Curtis, whose films include Notting Hill and Love Actually, said: “I’m really delighted to hear about this movie plan by the Mayor of London.

“Many of my happiest memories in London are to do with going to the cinema and then going on to enjoy all the other wonders of the city.”

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Simon Pegg is backing Sadiq Khan’s campaign / PA

The screenings start on Thursday August 26 with Rocks, an acclaimed coming of age drama set in east London. It is followed the next day by Skyfall.

On Saturday August 28, there will be a matinee performance of Mary Poppins, followed by Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) – the new name for the first instalment of the original trilogy – in the evening.

The Sunday matinee will be Paddington 2, followed by Bend It Like Beckham in the evening. The key worker tickets will be for the Saturday and Sunday screenings.

The events, in partnership with Luna Cinema, are part of the Mayor’s £7m Let’s Do London initiative to encourage Londoners and domestic visitors back to the West End to help boost the capital’s entertainment economy.

Each of the films has been made or set in the capital. Each will be preceded by a trailer showcasing a range of emerging talent, curated by the Barbican, Film London, Bafta and BFI.

Over the last five years, film and TV productions made in and around London generated more than £10bn for the UK economy.

Mr Khan said: “London is a global capital for film production and our cinemas are a huge draw for Londoners and tourists alike, but the last 17 months have been incredibly challenging for the whole industry.

“TV and boxsets helped so many of us through lockdown, but with cinemas opening their doors again and big screens installed in public spaces, I’m joining with industry leaders to encourage everyone to get Back to the Big Screen to rediscover the magic of film and also support our central London hospitality businesses.”

Amanda Berry, chief executive of Bafta, said: “Nothing quite beats the joy and thrill of watching a film on the big screen with a live audience.”

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