There’s a lot of doom and gloom when it comes to conversations about the state of the UK cinema market. With few exceptions – 1917the most obvious recent one – movies that aren’t animated, sequels, franchises, based on something pre-existing, or a combination of all of those are struggling to break even.
Film studios are reducing the number of films they’re willing to put into cinemas, because, simply, more of us are opting to watch anything but the biggest releases at home. It’s got to the point where a studio such as Paramount has now decided to co-produce Beverly Hills Cop 4as a Netflix project, rather than aim for a big cinema release.
Yet beyond the headline figures, cinema exhibitors have been looking elsewhere for fresh ideas. And in the world of ‘event cinema’, they might just have found it.
The main events?
Event cinema is a broad umbrella term that covers watching productions beyond just a new release in a moviehouse. The highest profile event cinema has been the Secret Cinema line, where over the past few years you can pay around £50 to watch the likes of Back To The Future, Casino Royale, The Empire Strikes Back and most recently Stranger Things in an environment that recreates that of the film or show. You have an ‘experience’ of sorts, pay for some expensive drinks, then sit down to watch the movie. Ideally in costume.
A beamed-into-cinemas recording of a West End show is cheaper, a shorter commute, and you’ve got a better chance of getting a car parking space.
But fast growing, and lower profile for the minute, are the likes of live theatrical performances, beamed concerts, ballet productions, e-gaming competitions and even compilations of old episodes of Friends. Certainly in the world of theatre, event cinema has been driving accessibility. The cost of a theatre ticket for a West End show is prohibitive to many of us, let along being able to get a ticket when you want one in the first place. A beamed-into-cinemas recording of said show is cheaper, a shorter commute, and you’ve got a better chance of getting a car parking space.
As testament to the growth of event cinema, just this month it’s been announced that the global musical monolith Hamiltonwill be getting what’s likely to be the world’s biggest-ever event cinema release. In October 2021, a recording of the show featuring its original cast will be released into cinemas worldwide. Not a film adaptation: just a specially-filmed version of the show. Disney has reportedly paid $75m for the rights to be the ones to distribute it.