Article: National Lottery Cinema Weekend offers 200,000 free tickets at cinemas across the UK

Partnerships with multiplex and independent cinemas sees participation increase to more than 500 sites. National Lottery invites players back to the cinema with free tickets on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 June.

National Lottery Cinema Weekend, in partnership with the BFI, will take place on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 June at more than 500 cinema sites across the UK (pending confirmation that restrictions will be relaxed as planned). Cinema Weekend will make over 200,000 free tickets available to watch any film screening across the weekend, as a thank you to National Lottery players for their vital contribution to film. Details of participating cinemas are available at

Through the BFI, the National Lottery supports new and established filmmakers, film education and training, as well as enabling the UK public to see a wide range of films. National Lottery Cinema Weekend is an expansion on two previous Cinema Days (in 2018 and 2019) which enables players to access cinemas for free.

Over 500 venues – across multiplexes, independent and community cinemas (including BFI Southbank and members of the National Lottery-funded BFI Film Audience Network (FAN)) – will open their doors, marking a significant increase on 2019 when over 250 cinemas took part. Venues will show a range of films from classics to the latest releases, including BFI National Lottery-funded titles. Recent BFI supported titles due to be on general release in the weeks after cinemas are scheduled to reopen from 17 May include Surge, Undergods and After Love. Also coming to cinemas is the BAFTA and Oscar® winning Sound of Metal, which received BFI National Lottery support for its UK release. All venues will have safety measures in place in line with current guidance for the prevention of the spread of Covid-19.

National Lottery Cinema Weekend is part of a wealth of activity in June to thank National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million each week to good causes across the UK.

The National Lottery has funded the making of more than 600 films, winning 15 Oscars®, 108 BAFTAs and 29 awards at the Cannes Film Festival, and enjoyed by audiences in the UK and around the world. Thanks to National Lottery good causes, the BFI invests over £50 million a year in the future success of film in the UK by nurturing and supporting new voices and fresh ideas, and enriching independent film culture for UK audiences. From enabling audiences across the UK to see a greater range of films through BFI FAN, through to the gold-standard training of BFI Film Academy for 16-19 year olds and Into Film aimed at 5-19 year olds, the National Lottery continues to be vital in supporting the continued growth of the film industries and opening up opportunities to all.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the BFI has provided a package of measures worth over £5m to support the film sector including: funding for productions that have had to halt before completion; a resilience fund for festivals and exhibitors; a contribution to the COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund for freelancers; a sales company support fund; and funding flexibility for its partners and projects. The BFI is also administering the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion recovery package for arts and cultural organisations.

Tim Platt, Head of Marketing at the BFI, said: “We are thrilled that so many cinemas across the UK are taking part in Cinema Weekend, welcoming back audiences after such a challenging year. There’s nothing quite like the shared experience of watching film on the big screen, which is an experience we’ve all missed so much. The generous support of National Lottery players has been so important for our industry, so what better way to say ‘thank you’ than a free trip to the cinema!”

Adam Chataway, Camelot’s Head of Brand Partnerships for The National Lottery, said: “By playing The National Lottery our players help raise £30M a week for good causes like the British film industry. National Lottery Cinema Weekend is a big ‘thank you’ to our players and a celebration of what they have made possible via BFI who invest over £50M of National Lottery funding a year to develop and support original UK filmmakers and films. We look forward to seeing our players enjoying a free trip to the cinema as they reopen in June.”

The Independent Cinema Office in its capacity as BFI FAN Film Hub South East is the coordinating body on behalf of the BFI Film Audience Network and the central contact point for cinemas. Venues interested in participating in National Lottery Cinema Weekend can request further information by contacting or register their interest here.


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