Theaters and fans embrace big screen concerts

posted by Patrick Crowley on June 2, 2006 at 9:32 am

Thanks to newer technology, theaters have been experimenting with non-movie content for a while… concerts, sports games, and lectures. In a new report, the Associated Press looks into the rising interest in digital concerts.

Combining rock shows and movie theaters is an idea at least as old as 1970’s “Woodstock,” the movie version of the previous year’s legendary three-day festival. But advances in technology are making it easier to pull off events like the May 9 Widespread Panic show — when the concert was beamed live to 114 theaters around the country, from California to Florida.

And an increasingly competitive marketplace is making the special events attractive for bands looking to reach new audiences and offer something special for their existing fans.

“The artists, the managers, the promoters … have all come to see there is a terrific value in bringing their music to movie-theater screens so fans can gather together to see them nationally — but in a very local and personal way,” said Dan Diamond, vice president of digital programming for Big Screen Concerts.

Comments (8)

ArchStanton007 on June 2, 2006 at 11:11 am

This is a rehash of closed circuit presentations from the 1960’s into the 1970’s, mostly boxing matches, but they did a Daytona 500 car race one time along with Evel Knievel’s jump over the Snake Canyon River, early 1970’s.

But digital is only a natural for these types of presentations.

Would be interesting to see if people would pay for a cable TV big event like the Sopranos final episode. Many people don’t still have cable, believe it or not, myself included.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on June 2, 2006 at 10:15 pm

The Big Screen concerts are only being shown in certain theatres that are associated with National Cine Media.

The only Big Screen Concert’s NJ location is: REG Commerce Center Stadium 18 Theatre, in New Brunswick. The PA locations are: AMC Neshaminy 24 Theatre (Bensalem), Cinemark Pittsburgh Mills 17 Theatre (Tarentum), REG Harrisburg Stadium 14 Theatre (Harrisburg), REG King of Prussia Stadium 16 Theatre (King of Prussia), REG Riverview Stadium 17 Theatre (Philadelphia), and REG Warrington Crossing Stadium 22 Theatre (Warrington).

ERD on June 3, 2006 at 6:50 am

I don’t think this will be too successful. With improvements in home entertainment, why go to a movie theatre for a concert- espcially if it can be telecasted. Also, some of the audiences could tend to get rowdy.

schmadrian on June 3, 2006 at 6:42 pm

‘Perception is reality.’

The key to selling ALL entertainment viewed on a screen in a theatre is to stress the overall entertainment value, something that the exhibitors have been dropping the ball on for years. And it’s ironic, because the ‘alternatives’ have been working overtime to come up with a better experience. (I’ll leave it to you to list the specifics.)

It’s not just the product that matters. Not when people view going to the cinema as a negative. And that is the starting point that everyone on the theatrical exhibition side of the fence has to be prepared to deal with. Blaming falling ticket sales on Hollywood’s incessant production of perceived dreck is the easy way out. The industry has to be prepared to a) diversify, as in the news item featured here and b) do a better job of the only added values it contributes; take a page from places like Barnes and Noble and help create an exprience for the ticket holder.

Maybe the idea of diversification doesn’t sit well with some people. Purists. It’s seen as non-sensical. But ‘they’ said the same thing about VCRs…

GWaterman on June 4, 2006 at 3:05 pm

I work at a multi-purpose public auditorium (not a movie theatre). This is interesting to find this article on the day after I received a call from someone claiming to represent Yahoo, inquiring about renting my hall for a full year in order to stream live performances over the internet.

My initial feeling was that the caller was ill-informed about the venue-management business in general, and the concert business in particular. First, he seemed surprised that we are typically booked a year in advance. And second, his plan was that the live performances in my venue would occur “whenever a band happens to hit town.” No apparent understanding of how a tour is scheduled, the idea of regional exclusivity for an appearance being standard in performers' contracts, the expense and time required to set up a performance, and apparently unconcerned that such a plan would leave a facility empty many days and unable to generate income.

I get a lot of rental inquiries, some of them from knowledgeable professionals and some from naive amateurs, but this one really had me scratching my head.

This fellow must have been motivated by the article into calling around, however lamely he went about it.

GWaterman on June 4, 2006 at 3:15 pm

I don’t want to mislead people into thinking I don’t find some aspect of the idea intriguing, I was just remarking on my naive caller, and my speculation that the article brought him out of the woodwork.

I would imagine that live-streaming concerts could be done relatively easy at any concert venue, and it would likely work where the filming and streaming would take place in whatever venue a band is already booked in. The equipment is relatively compact; all you’d need is the connection.

If this really happens, it will be really interesting to see how it works economically. Certainly the venues would be right there among the parties getting a take of the profits.

(My caller was so clueless I didn’t even get into breaking the news to him that we’d of course take a cut, just like all venues do when an event is filmed, taped, or broadcast).

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on June 5, 2006 at 9:09 am

I think this programming will work best when there’s no way to replicate the viewing experience at home.

Take the Super Bowl, for example. I’m not a huge football fan, but I bet it would rock to see the game without a couple of hundred other fans. Rowdy, loud… but highly entertaining, and something fans would pay for.

ERD on June 13, 2006 at 8:30 am

Pay-per-view is broadcasting a lot of the special concerts and sports events.

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