The new concert venue or the new television?
When the Metropolitan Opera announced last year that some of its productions were going to be beamed to movie theaters, you could count me as one of the skeptics. With attendance down, an artform that’s rather commercially stuck in the past didn’t seem like the proper antidote.
Then, I realized exactly how little I know about anything. I started hearing about packed houses all across the country. Even the more modern pieces were drawing well. Now,Playbill Arts just announced that the Met will be beefing up its schedule even more this year.
The Metropolitan Opera is set to present its high-definition simulcasts on up to 400 movie screens in the United States during the coming season — nearly triple the number of venues from last season.
The company announced today a renewed and extended deal with National CineMedia (NCM) to present the live Saturday afternoon broadcasts at between 300 and 400 cinemas across the country. The operas will be shown at participating AMC, Cinemark, Georgia Theater Company, National Amusements and Regal theaters; according to the Met and NCM, more affiliate locations are being added to NCM’s digital high-definition network.
The movie theater simulcasts were seen as a bold but risky venture when the Met launched them last season. In the event, they proved an enormous success, with more locations and screens being added over the course of the year and repeat presentations added at some locations. The program attracted press coverage all over the world, and the broadcasts themselves were extended during the season from the U.S., Canada and Great Britain to seven countries on three continents.
Good for them. It’s great to see not only supporting their local movie theaters, but opera as well. What does this mean for the future of movie theaters though? With a more obscure idea like this working, what will come next?
In fact, this is far from the first non-film foray into cinemas in the past few years. Numerous rock groups like the Rolling Stones and Green Day have recently had live concert simulcasts in theaters. In the Boston area, you can even watch Red Sox games in select locations on a regular basis.
Maybe this is a good thing. It’s giving a lot of people a reason to visit, possibly people that wouldn’t come otherwise. But by showing the same type of stuff you can see on tv, is a movie theater just becoming a bigger screen and that’s it?
How much does the format of programming contribute to the moviegoing experience?
(Thanks to Sciamano for providing the photo.)
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