Event Cinema: It’s All About Experience Now

It might surprise you, but it is a possibility that in the near future live-streamed or pre-recorded events in cinemas will be much more profitable than presenting “ordinary” films. For example, Bio Rio located in Södermalm, Stockholm nowadays welcomes more guests when events – even live or pre-recorded – are shown there. “It’s over 50 per cent now”, said Katja Uneborg, who is one of the people behind Bio Rio’s success. Sure, in the past few years/decades a huge change occurred in the life of cinema. Digitization revolutionised film-making and the way how people watch moving images. Beyond that, theatre plays, concerts and other performances were able to conquer the screen thanks to new technologies providing such remarkable experiences and shrinking the world at the same time. However, this is only the beginning, and the speakers at ECACon: Stockholm were all aware of that. They shared their thoughts on technologies, audiences and content.

Each and every presenter and the panellist at the conference highlighted certain aspects of the phenomenon of event cinema. David Hancock (I.H.S) gave a short summary on the market, and informed the audience about the fact that the Central European and Asian market for event cinema is growing. The participants in the panel called Technical Delivery – a Scandinavian Perspective discussed the new technological advancements. They talked about the advantages and disadvantages of satellites and broadband technologies. Elise Brandt (Studio 123) said “content and not the liveliness matters, the important thing is who is in it”. She also pointed out that due to the different time zones streaming events live could be problematic.

During the panel Reaching Scandinavian Audiences, the emphasis was on big data and audience segmentation. Big data can help to market more wisely and to pinpoint audiences, and developing personalised e-mails and text messages aimed at targeted audiences surely will result in more ticket sales. Building a community should be also on everybody’s list. Even if no money is involved, using social media sites to communicate with the audience might be very useful. Sites such as Eventbrite and Meetup are perfect tools to reach out to a younger audience.

It comes as no surprise that the participants of the panel The Scandinavian Market/Local Content discussed the audiences’ habit in the region and emphasized the importance of local content. What is more, more local contents should be produced! For example, Norwegians love musical, and many of them travel to London almost every weekend to attend an event there. In addition to that, dance and opera events are usually sold out in the region. One of the main issues cinema operators are facing is that they must think about the translation or the localisation of the content. This might be tricky in Norway, for instance, where Bokmål and Nynorsk spoken in different parts of Norway compete with each other.

The terms that regularly came up during the conference were content and audience, this also happened during the panel called A Night Out in Scandinavia. The panellists agreed that today a personalised connection should be built among the cinema operators and the audience, and one cannot underestimate them. An experience what they need, and that must be given to them in order to convince them to come back another time. As Hancock said during the last panel Event Cinema of the Future: “Cinema as an experience house.” In addition to that, the participants discussed future opportunities for event cinema. Since today audiences mainly encounter with westernised content, there is surely a place for Arabic content, too. The greater the selection of contents, the more knowledge individuals living in one particular country can acquire of other parts of the world. To say it differently, culture develops culture, and interest in culture develops interest in culture.

I’d doubt that event cinema is really the future of cinema, or the only future to be more specific, but it has gained a relatively solid role in the landscape of cinema indeed. It’s our decision whether we participate in this experience or try to avoid it and insist on traditional cinema.

ECACon: Stockholm Conference
Location: Bio Rio
Date: 14 October 2016
More info
Photos: Twitter

Barbara Majsa

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.