Along with the Pearl and Dean theme’s propulsive swing and desiccated hot dogs, Orange Wednesdays, more recently rebranded EE Wednesdays, is firmly embedded in the UK cinema-going experience.
Whether you were a student in need of a cheap date. Or you were fond of those droll ads featuring execs riding roughshod over directors’ pretensions with crass commercial concerns (‘Lord of the Ringtones’, indeed), there was a lot to like about Orange’s offer.
But like Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth epics, all good things must come to an end. And over ten years into its life, EE is calling time on what must be the UK’s longest-running promotions on February 25th.
We don’t know what EE’s got planned as a replacement yet, only that we've been told to 'expect something exciting'.
What we do know right now, though, is that with just over a month to go until EE Wednesdays is no more, you’ll want to get down your local Vue cinema to take advantage of two-for-entry while it lasts.
Here, we name the movies we’ll joining the mid-week queues before the end credits roll on the promotion. We think you should too.
1 Big Hero Six
Think Battle of the Planets. Think the anime tradition meets Disney. Think a team of 'tween heroes hewn from Marvel Comics. Then add loads of kinetic action and a sprinkling of charm and you’ve got Big Hero Six down-pat.
Still not sold? Maybe its slew of award nominations will sway you. Controversially in the light of The Lego Movie's absence from the shortlist, it's favourite to scoop the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. And it's up for the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film too.
Big Hero Six opens January 29th.
Adapted from a comic from the pen of Kick Ass writer Mark Millar and directed by Matthew Vaughan, Kingsman is a blend of Bond-style espionage, gleaming gadgets and icy cold ultra-violence.
Colin Firth stars in role of super-spook Harry Hart, who decides to rescue wrong ‘un Eggsy (Taron Egerton) from a life of petty crime by recruiting him to crack spy team, the Kingsmen.
Support comes from Samuel L Jackson as villain Valentine. Oh and there’s Michael Caine too, whose turn as Harry Palmer in the ‘60s spy caper the Ipcress File means Kingsman is bathed in reflected cool. And surely won’t have harmed his chances at the casting call either.
Kingsman opens January 29th.
3 Fifty Shades of Grey
Controversial casting decisions (Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are the leads) haven’t dented the box office appeal of this adaption of EL James’s publishing phenom. From pre-sales alone, it’s already on course to be the fastest-selling R-Rated movie ever in the US.
Find out for yourself artist-turned-director Sam Taylor Wood has jugged fidelity to the book with the need to keep censors appeased when it opens on February 13th – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Fifty Shades of Gray opens February 13th.
4 Ex Machina
Beach author and video games auteur Alex Garland makes his directorial debut in this promising British Sci-Fi outing.
Very much in the tradition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Garland’s thinky techno fable concerns itself with a young programmer who's selected to work on an experiment with a female artificial intelligence and tasked with assessing her human qualities.
The twist? She also happens to be a staggeringly beautiful example of female A.I, capable of weaving a powerful cybernetic spell over her assessor.
Winningly, the soundtrack was written by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, whose work on the Dredd OST mined the fantastic big synth sound of ‘80s John Carpenter. Let's hope for more of the same this time.
Ex Machina is in cinemas now.
Michael Keaton (the best Batman, still?) gets all meta in this Charlie Kaufman-style look at the lot of a washed-up, troubled actor and one-time screen superhero, Birdman.
Playing on Keaton's real-life career trajectory, hero Riggan Thompson is bidding to relaunch his career in a self-financed Raymond Chandler play, while nursing delusions of having actual superpowers. And fighting a losing battle with the schizophrenic, bats-in-the-belfry voice of Birdman he hears in his head.
As a examination of celebrity, this is a very smart, very clever bit of film-making. But because the jokes land so regularly and Keaton delivers such an accomplished comic turn, it's loads of fun too.
Birdman is in cinemas now.