How Elvis, Conor McGregor And The King Of Waltz (!) Are Adding To Cinema\'s Record Year

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Fathom Events

The first weekend in August was a fairly tepid one for new film openings around the world. Holdovers such as Mission: Impossible — Fallout, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Incredibles 2 finished 1-2-3 in the overseas box office derby. In fact, there wasn't a new opener in the top ten until you got to Disney's Christopher Robin, which came in at No. 8.

But dig deeper and you'll discover the real story of that weekend wasn't an animated bear, Dwayne Johnson dangling perilously from a Hong Kong rooftop or extended family members inexplicably bursting into song on the Croatian coastline. Instead, it was the event cinema presentation of Andre Rieu's 2018 Maastricht concert, Amore: My Tribute To Lovewhich debuted to nearly $3 million internationally. To put that in perspective, the film in effect finished 11th at the overseas box office, despite being a one-night-only event.

Who is Andre Rieu, you ask? Rieu is a Dutch violinist and concert conductor, best known as the King of Waltz. Rieu, who has sold over 40 million albums worldwide, has generated concert receipts that rival those of many A-list rock and pop acts, racking up over $500 million in concert ticket sales over the last 10 years.

Several years back, Rieu and his team decided to film concerts in his hometown of Maastricht for presentation in cinemas throughout Europe and Asia. He quickly became one of the most successful acts in international event cinema. The conductor's fan base in North America has been growing over the past few years, although his in-theater presentations on these shores haven't come close to approaching the foreign numbers. Rieu will try again when his latest filmed concert hits U.S. cinemas on Aug. 28.

Rieu's contribution to theater chain bottom lines echoes the overall rise of event cinema, one- or two-night events shown in theaters at non-peak play times, generally during the week or weekend matinees. The highest-grossing EC presentations in North America have historically been the live performances of the Met Opera, some of which gross $2 million on 900 screens on the Fathom Events platform. The highest-grossing EC event of 2017 was the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight, which topped the $2.5 million mark.

Fathom is the industry leader in event cinema in the U.S., distributing over 150 events a year to cinemas across the country. The company brings to market everything from anime titles to faith-based films, ballet and opera presentations and even niche events like e-sports competitions and drum corps contests.

Discussing Event Cinema's appeal, Fathom's CEO Ray Nutt told me, "Our recent showing of Broadway's Bandstand was, on a per-screen basis, the No. 3 film in the national marketplace on its opening day." Nutt continues, "We are also extremely excited about the upcoming season of The Met Opera, which has always been a core part of the Fathom business."

Another event presentation that is highly anticipated is this month's showing of the 1968 Elvis Presley comeback TV special.

Event cinema began in the 2000s as "alternative content," a clunkier name that confused moviegoers and could be found buried on theater chain websites somewhere below how to book your next birthday party. But with the emergence of domestic event cinema distributors such as Fathom and Screenvision and several entities in the U.K., Ireland and Europe such as Trafalgar Releasing, More2Screen and CinEvents, cinemas are finding that these one- or two-night events have the ability to significantly add to their bottom lines>.

Fathom's theatrical landscape focuses primarily on mid-size-to-large markets in the U.S., but small-town, independent cinemas now have the chance to exhibit live and pre-recorded one-night events as well thanks to Nagra's myCinema broadband platform. The company forged a deal with the Cinema Buying Group, which represents many smaller independent theater owners across the country, to show events at off-hours, which is especially important for small-town exhibitors that face empty auditoriums on the second and third weeks of a Hollywood film's engagement.

"Ultimately, myCinema brings together thousands of content providers with thousands of exhibitors, and our service provides content via broadband rather than satellite or DCP, which minimizes costs for both content owners and exhibitors," says Nagra vice president Tim Warner Jr. The service's offerings include Spanish-language films, comedies and even a sci-fi mystery revolving around NASA's Apollo space mission.

As successful as the North American market has been for event cinema, overseas revenues have often dwarfed their U.S. counterparts. Melissa Cogavin, Founder and former CEO of the Event Cinema Association and current correspondent for the Digital Cinema Report, explains, "U.K. exhibitors aren't on a 'network' per se, so basically every cinema has access to all content." She continues, "Producers such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre were early adopters and are such brand names here in the U.K. that these days the events pretty much sell themselves."

There have been occasions when theaters in international markets such as Stockholm and the Midlands area of the U.K. reported 50% of tickets sold for a week were attributed to event cinema presentations.

Event cinema grosses in the U.K., Ireland and Europe have, as in North America, been a bit on the sluggish side for the first quarter of the year, but EC experts predict that the new seasons for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company and concerts from Jonas Kaufman and Cliff Richard should give the sector a chance at another record-breaking year. An advantage that the U.K. has over North America is that live in-theater events are shown in one time zone that encompasses the region, rather than the four that U.S. distributors have to deal with when presenting a live event in North America.

What has surprised many in the EC space is the lack of interest shown by Hollywood studios in entering the market. Sony Pictures dipped a toe into the event cinema waters in the early 2010s with its Hot Ticket brand, which brought to cinemas productions such as concerts from Kenny Chesney and Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil shows and the final Broadway performance of the hit musical Rent. But the company dissolved the brand, and other studios have stayed away from the sector despite their relationships with top-line talent and the fact that many of their parent companies also own record labels.

In addition, Hollywood stars are famous for wanting their "pet projects" made into feature films even though they often lack commercial appeal. Event cinema is a way to allow studios to keep their A-listers happy without the massive costs associated with producing, marketing and distributing a full 3,000-location national release.

While industry estimates show event cinema accounts for only 1% to 2% of the North American box office, the chance to drive theater attendance even by such a small percentage is welcomed by cinema chains. What is especially valuable about event cinema is that these moviegoers are coming at off-peak times. It also introduces modern moviegoing amenities to customers who perhaps have not been to their local movie theater in years but come to see the new Degas exhibit from Copenhagen or the Royal Ballet from Covent Garden.

As the quest for available white space continues to dwindle, theater chains will continue to focus on Event Cinema as a way to fill their screens at off-hours. That means that subjects as diverse as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pokémon, and, yes, Elvis will continue to find their way onto cinema screens and exhibitors' balance sheets.

Who knows, it may even propel theater owners to offer fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the concession stand.

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Fathom Events

The first weekend in August was a fairly tepid one for new film openings around the world. Holdovers such as Mission: Impossible — Fallout, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Incredibles 2 finished 1-2-3 in the overseas box office derby. In fact, there wasn't a new opener in the top ten until you got to Disney's Christopher Robin, which came in at No. 8.

But dig deeper and you'll discover the real story of that weekend wasn't an animated bear, Dwayne Johnson dangling perilously from a Hong Kong rooftop or extended family members inexplicably bursting into song on the Croatian coastline. Instead, it was the event cinema presentation of Andre Rieu's 2018 Maastricht concert, Amore: My Tribute To Lovewhich debuted to nearly $3 million internationally. To put that in perspective, the film in effect finished 11th at the overseas box office, despite being a one-night-only event.

Who is Andre Rieu, you ask? Rieu is a Dutch violinist and concert conductor, best known as the King of Waltz. Rieu, who has sold over 40 million albums worldwide, has generated concert receipts that rival those of many A-list rock and pop acts, racking up over $500 million in concert ticket sales over the last 10 years.

Several years back, Rieu and his team decided to film concerts in his hometown of Maastricht for presentation in cinemas throughout Europe and Asia. He quickly became one of the most successful acts in international event cinema. The conductor's fan base in North America has been growing over the past few years, although his in-theater presentations on these shores haven't come close to approaching the foreign numbers. Rieu will try again when his latest filmed concert hits U.S. cinemas on Aug. 28.

Rieu's contribution to theater chain bottom lines echoes the overall rise of event cinema, one- or two-night events shown in theaters at non-peak play times, generally during the week or weekend matinees. The highest-grossing EC presentations in North America have historically been the live performances of the Met Opera, some of which gross $2 million on 900 screens on the Fathom Events platform. The highest-grossing EC event of 2017 was the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight, which topped the $2.5 million mark.

Fathom is the industry leader in event cinema in the U.S., distributing over 150 events a year to cinemas across the country. The company brings to market everything from anime titles to faith-based films, ballet and opera presentations and even niche events like e-sports competitions and drum corps contests.

Discussing Event Cinema's appeal, Fathom's CEO Ray Nutt told me, "Our recent showing of Broadway's Bandstand was, on a per-screen basis, the No. 3 film in the national marketplace on its opening day." Nutt continues, "We are also extremely excited about the upcoming season of The Met Opera, which has always been a core part of the Fathom business."

Another event presentation that is highly anticipated is this month's showing of the 1968 Elvis Presley comeback TV special.

Event cinema began in the 2000s as "alternative content," a clunkier name that confused moviegoers and could be found buried on theater chain websites somewhere below how to book your next birthday party. But with the emergence of domestic event cinema distributors such as Fathom and Screenvision and several entities in the U.K., Ireland and Europe such as Trafalgar Releasing, More2Screen and CinEvents, cinemas are finding that these one- or two-night events have the ability to significantly add to their bottom lines>.

Fathom's theatrical landscape focuses primarily on mid-size-to-large markets in the U.S., but small-town, independent cinemas now have the chance to exhibit live and pre-recorded one-night events as well thanks to Nagra's myCinema broadband platform. The company forged a deal with the Cinema Buying Group, which represents many smaller independent theater owners across the country, to show events at off-hours, which is especially important for small-town exhibitors that face empty auditoriums on the second and third weeks of a Hollywood film's engagement.

"Ultimately, myCinema brings together thousands of content providers with thousands of exhibitors, and our service provides content via broadband rather than satellite or DCP, which minimizes costs for both content owners and exhibitors," says Nagra vice president Tim Warner Jr. The service's offerings include Spanish-language films, comedies and even a sci-fi mystery revolving around NASA's Apollo space mission.

As successful as the North American market has been for event cinema, overseas revenues have often dwarfed their U.S. counterparts. Melissa Cogavin, Founder and former CEO of the Event Cinema Association and current correspondent for the Digital Cinema Report, explains, "U.K. exhibitors aren't on a 'network' per se, so basically every cinema has access to all content." She continues, "Producers such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre were early adopters and are such brand names here in the U.K. that these days the events pretty much sell themselves."

There have been occasions when theaters in international markets such as Stockholm and the Midlands area of the U.K. reported 50% of tickets sold for a week were attributed to event cinema presentations.

Event cinema grosses in the U.K., Ireland and Europe have, as in North America, been a bit on the sluggish side for the first quarter of the year, but EC experts predict that the new seasons for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company and concerts from Jonas Kaufman and Cliff Richard should give the sector a chance at another record-breaking year. An advantage that the U.K. has over North America is that live in-theater events are shown in one time zone that encompasses the region, rather than the four that U.S. distributors have to deal with when presenting a live event in North America.

What has surprised many in the EC space is the lack of interest shown by Hollywood studios in entering the market. Sony Pictures dipped a toe into the event cinema waters in the early 2010s with its Hot Ticket brand, which brought to cinemas productions such as concerts from Kenny Chesney and Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil shows and the final Broadway performance of the hit musical Rent. But the company dissolved the brand, and other studios have stayed away from the sector despite their relationships with top-line talent and the fact that many of their parent companies also own record labels.

In addition, Hollywood stars are famous for wanting their "pet projects" made into feature films even though they often lack commercial appeal. Event cinema is a way to allow studios to keep their A-listers happy without the massive costs associated with producing, marketing and distributing a full 3,000-location national release.

While industry estimates show event cinema accounts for only 1% to 2% of the North American box office, the chance to drive theater attendance even by such a small percentage is welcomed by cinema chains. What is especially valuable about event cinema is that these moviegoers are coming at off-peak times. It also introduces modern moviegoing amenities to customers who perhaps have not been to their local movie theater in years but come to see the new Degas exhibit from Copenhagen or the Royal Ballet from Covent Garden.

As the quest for available white space continues to dwindle, theater chains will continue to focus on Event Cinema as a way to fill their screens at off-hours. That means that subjects as diverse as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pokémon, and, yes, Elvis will continue to find their way onto cinema screens and exhibitors' balance sheets.

Who knows, it may even propel theater owners to offer fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the concession stand.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamos/2018/08/10/how-elvis-conor-mcgregor-and-the-king-of-waltz-are-adding-to-cinemas-record-year/

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