Reenchanting the theatre experience


3D was seen in the 2010s as the new way to recreate an experience worth an outing. Since, the trend has faded away as the perceived value does not match the ticket prices. According to the British Film Institute (BFI), the percentage of people who chose 3D over 2D dropped from 71% in 2010 to 37% in 2013. (1) “During the AFM [American Film Market, in California] it was shown that 3D does not work… except in China.” (2) As a matter of fact, 3D was pushed in China by the American majors as such entetainment is not possible to duplicate. This way they seeked to address DVD piracy in China.

Jay Edward Epstein describes theatrical releases as a fashion show when all the buzz around a movie is generated for the following exploitation of the film. (3) The question to address today is how to re-enchant these movie releases?

Innovation could come from the theatres who are the closest to the audience and are able to adjust faster to the audience reactions. For example the Coemedia in Lyon, France regularly offers events with the films they are screening, such as children snack along the projection of the 45-minute animated film “Le parfum de la carotte” or Q&A with the team behind the film.

A new form of cultural events is developing that proves the need for people to meet and share a common experience. For example Secret Cinema immerses the audience within the environment of a film between 2 to 5 times per year since 2007 and projects the movie at the end of the experience. Similarly every summer open-air shows are successfully organised. Spectators can even become programmers thanks to the website “I like cinema” that offers a vast catalogue of films to choose from to project it in one of the partner theatres, a concept that is called “theatre on demand”.

If theatre owners want to keep the audience coming they will need to reenchant the whole experience. Popcorn is not enough anymore.

(1) BFI, “Statistical Yearbook 2013
(2) Glachant, Isabelle, “Et pendant ce temps-là, en Chine” April 2013 in Les Cahiers du Cinema
(3) Epstein, Edward Jay, 2005, “The Big Picture – money and power in Hollywood”, Random House

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