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Celebrate the Holidays at London’s BFI IMAX With Elf, Wonka and Festive Favourites

London’s BFI IMAX in Waterloo has announced a huge programme of festive favourite films, including Elf, as the holiday season gets underway.



Wonka (Warner Bros. Pictures)

BFI IMAX celebrates Christmas with a packed programme of festive films for humans of all ages, kicking off on 1 December with the 20th Anniversary re-release of ELF (Jon Favreau, 2003) which screens throughout the month in 4K IMAX with Laser projection. Meanwhile, families and adults who are young-at-heart can enjoy a trip inside Buddy the Elf’s Manhattan department store as BFI IMAX at London Waterloo transforms into the Christmas floor of Gimbels with a complete venue makeover for the entire month.

One of the most anticipated new releases of the festive season can also be seen on the UK’s biggest screen in IMAX with Laser when WONKA (Paul King, 2023) opens on 8 December. PADDINGTON (2014) director Paul King takes on one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved characters, and Timothée Chalamet is a perfect fit as the genius sweet maker, whose adventures around the world feed into the creation of his delectable delights. Elsewhere, audiences can also celebrate the holidays with the 30th Anniversary of TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Henry Selick, 1993) in 3D on 26 November and 13 December, along with THE POLAR EXPRESS3D (Robert Zemeckis, 2004) which steams into the Waterloo venue from 15 December. Grown-up kids can picture themselves moonlighting as Bruce Willis in DIE HARD (John McTiernan, 1988), one of the greatest action spectaculars in cinema history, which plays on the UK’s largest screen on 16 December, while animation fans can revel in the mastery of TOKYO GODFATHERS (Satoshi Kon, 2003) on 14 December when a screening will be introduced by Ghibliotheque podcast creators Michael Leader and Jake Cunningham. Rounding off this fantastically festive programme is an afternoon of Middle Earth adventure with THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, and for its 20th anniversary, THE RETURN OF THE KING (Peter Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003) on 17 December – once again an unmissable staple of the annual December release calendar.

Finally, screening at BFI IMAX as part of the BFI’s major UK-wide celebration of the greatest British filmmaking partnership of all time, Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger, are two of their most beloved pictures. A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1946) on 23 December sees Emeric Pressburger’s wildly imaginative script matched by Michael Powell’s stunning visuals in this timeless classic, while their gothic masterpiece BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) on 30 December is one of the most radiantly beautiful of all Technicolor films and showcases the combined powers of the Archers team at the absolute height of inspiration. There truly is something for everyone this Christmas at BFI IMAX and with a screen size equivalent to over 49,000 iPhone 14s, there is no better place to immerse yourself in the festive magic of cinema.

Still reigning supreme as the nation’s biggest screen, the iconic Waterloo destination is a must for movie lovers. To date, OPPENHEIMER (Christopher Nolan, 2023) has attracted over 50,000 new bookers to BFI IMAX since opening in July 2023, grossing £2million on just one screen. BFI IMAX remains the number 1 screen in the UK, currently 126% ahead of its nearest competitor, and the number 2 IMAX screen for the film globally – with screenings still filling almost four months after release. With audiences travelling from across Europe, the USA and further afield to experience Nolan’s magnum opus in glorious 70MM IMAX, as it was meant to be seen, on 16 August the venue celebrated its 100th sold out screening. In November 2022, BFI IMAX relaunched with wide-ranging enhancements including a new 4K IMAX with Laser projection system, immersive 12-channel sound technology, plush new seats and a brand new 65-foot-high IMAX screen. During the refurbishment, BFI IMAX retained both print projectors: the IMAX GT Projector 15/70mm and a Century Projector that can screen 35mm/70mm. This follows the BFI resuming the day-to-day running and programming of the landmark venue in July 2022.

Meanwhile, across the road at BFI Southbank the feast of festive programming continues with this year’s Christmas line-up including THE BISHOP’S WIFE (Henry Koster, 1947), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (George Seaton, 1947),SCROOGE (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951), THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (Brian Henson, 1992), TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Henry Selick, 1993), TOKYO GODFATHERS (Satoshi Kon, 2003), CAROL (Todd Haynes, 2015) and TANGERINE (Sean Baker, 2015). Seasonal favourites playing under the BIG SCREEN CLASSICS banner, with tickets for just £9, will also include THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER(Ernst Lubitsch, 1940), REMEMBER THE NIGHT (Mitchell Leisen, 1940), MEET ME IN ST LOUIS (Vincente Minnelli, 1944), IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Frank Capra, 1946) and FANNY AND ALEXANDER (Ingmar Bergman, 1989).

BFI IMAX Programme Listings:

USA 2003. Director Jon Favreau. With Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, James Caan. 97min. IMAX with Laser. PG
After years of living with Santa as an elf, Buddy discovers that he’s a human and that his real father lives in New York City. When he sets out to track him down, Buddy finds this new world difficult to adjust to. Twenty years after it was first released, Elf has become a firmly established family favourite and a present that keeps on giving.

USA-UK 2023. Director Paul King. With Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Coleman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant. RT tbc. Cert tbc. IMAX with Laser
Paddington director Paul King takes on one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved tales, offering a refreshing spin on the story of young Willy Wonka and how he became the world’s most famous chocolatiers. Timothée Chalamet is a perfect fit as the sweet genius, whose adventures around the world and the people he encounters all feed into the creation of his delectable delights. And it will be the sweetest of treats on the UK’s biggest screen.

USA 1993. Director Henry Selick. With voices of Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Danny Elfman. 76min. Digital & 3D. PG
Jack Skellington of Halloween Town finds scaring people just isn’t fun anymore, so sets his sights on neighbouring Christmas Town, a place covered in snow and full of joy. However, his attempts at joining the festivities get lost in translation. And following the disappearance of Father Christmas, children find rats and shrunken heads instead of toys in their sacks. Surely this isn’t the end of Christmas as we know it?
WED 13 DEC, 20:45 BFI IMAX

TOKYO GODFATHERS Tokyo goddofazazu + intro by Ghibliotheque podcast creators Michael Leader and Jake Cunningham
Japan 2003. Director Satoshi Kon. With voices of Toru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Aya Okamoto. 88min. Digital. EST. 12A
It’s Christmas Eve and three homeless people find an abandoned baby while searching through a bin. They agree to find her parents but face countless obstacles, not least a hitman and his wife. Estranged from their loved ones and forced to confront the events that resulted in their living on the streets, the trio decide to form their own pseudo-family. Satoshi Kon’s breathlessly inventive anime comedy-drama is a sight to behold.
THU 14 DEC, 18:30 BFI IMAX

USA 2003. Director Robert Zemeckis. With voices of Tom Hanks, Leslie Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen. 100min. IMAX with Laser. U
A young boy living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is sceptical of the existence of Santa Claus, finds himself aboard the Polar Express and on an adventure that will change his life. Tom Hanks takes on various roles as he teams up with his Forrest Gump and Cast Away director Robert Zemeckis, who employs state-of-the art motion capture to create what was, on the film’s first release, a radical new kind of animation.

USA 1988. Director John McTiernan. With Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia. 132min. Digital. 15
A group of terrorists hold an office party in a Los Angeles high-rise hostage. But are they what they seem? It doesn’t matter to New York cop John McClane, in town to visit his estranged wife, who is one of those detained. He becomes a one-man army fighting the well-equipped criminals. One of the greatest action spectaculars in the history of cinema will be a blast on the UK’s largest screen – almost as high as the Nakatomi Tower!
SAT 16 DEC, 20:45 BFI IMAX

New Zealand-USA 2001, 2002, 2003. Director Peter Jackson. With Elijah Wood, Ian McKellern, Viggo Mortensen. TRT 559min. Digital. 12A
See this epic vision of Middle Earth as never before. Peter Jackson’s extraordinary undertaking, bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s world-building classic to the screen, is a testament to the strength of the author’s storytelling, Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyen’s spirited adaptation, the commitment of an excellent cast and crew, and the filmmaker’s singular vision. Seen together, this Oscar-winning behemoth is a towering achievement. More so on the UK’s biggest screen.
SUN 17 DEC, 12:30 BFI IMAX

UK 1946. Directors Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger. With David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Marius Goring. 104min. Digital. U
When RAF pilot Peter Carter plummets towards the English Channel, confiding his last thoughts to an American army radio operator, a fantastical series of events see him conducted to a celestial court to plead for his life. Pressburger’s wildly imaginative script is matched by Powell’s stunning visuals in this timeless classic.
SAT 23 DEC, 15:00 BFI IMAX

1947. Directors Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.  With Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Kathleen Byron, Flora Robson. 101min. Digital. PG
Powell and Pressburger’s gothic masterpiece, which finds a group of nuns driven to jealousy and madness at a remote Himalayan nunnery, is one of the most radiantly beautiful of all Technicolor films. It’s also among the most intoxicatingly sensual films ever made. Shot entirely in England, it showcases the combined creative powers of the Archers team at the absolute heights of inspiration and creativity.
SAT 30 DEC, 14:30 BFI IMAX

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