Enhancing the cinematic experience—with food as the protagonist.

“When it is possible to have a cinematic experience in your own home, venues need to think about how they can enhance the experience,” says Sam Bompas, director of Bompas & Parr, in conversation with JWT Intelligence. “Remember they are competing with every other form of leisure activity too.”

Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, the culinary wizards behind experiences such as Alcoholic Architecture and The Joy of Bees, recently presented their unique Food Film Festival. The four-day event, which will be repeated annually, featured six films that celebrate the importance of food as a key contributor to cinematic history. The showings were brought to life with workshops, events and culinary talks from guest curators such as Guardian critic Grace Dent and BAFTA-nominated director Jamie Jay Johnson.

BMoF_FoodFilmFestival_3(Copyright Bompas & Parr)
Food Film Festival. Image courtesy of Bompas & Parr
BMoF_FoodFilmFestival_2(Copyright Bompas & Parr)
Food Film Festival. Image courtesy of Bompas & Parr

“It is crucial that cinemas find new ways to inspire and delight audiences if they are to stay relevant,” says Parr. For the final film showing, Bompas presented the horror film The Descent and explored the relationship between cannibalism and cinema by offering up a variety of “cinematic bloods” to taste test. The recipes were taken from horror films and consumed from a real human skull chalice. The audience favorite was Kensington Gore, a recipe used by Hammer productions, which tasted like golden syrup and peppermint. This sensory exploration of cannibalism enhanced the experience by forcing audience members to taste the taboo and questions their relationship with human flesh.

As home watching and video on demand continue to grow, cinemas are having to make more effort to capture their audience’s attention. The Prince Charles Cinema in London has created various movie marathons, showing up to eight films that run overnight. This Netflix-style model allows audiences to binge on masterpieces such as the films of Wes Anderson and the career highlights of Stanley Kubrick.


For those who crave something more high-tech, Veero created an immersive cinema experience for Halloween 2017 with a virtual reality (VR) pop-up. The United Kingdom’s first VR cinema company equipped viewers with VR headsets and 3D headphones to bring the action to life. Cineworld offers cinema-goers the chance to “be in the movie” with its 4D experience, which includes high-tech motion seats and special effects like wind, bubbles, rain, scents and fog.

With Netflix and Amazon revenues expected to exceed UK cinema box office takings by 2020, according to PwC, cinemas need to do more to attract audiences. Enhanced cinematic experiences can lure viewers away from their sofas and into movie theatres, keeping the category alive.

Main image: Food Film Festival. Image courtesy of Bompas & Parr