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Event cinema, or ‘livecasts’, is the screening of alternative content delivered digitally to cinemas across the UK. In 2011, the number of livecast screenings in the UK doubled – 109 compared to the previous year’s 54.
In 2011 revenues from alternative content events were just under £13 million compared to £8 million two years ago and less than £5 million in 2009.
A not-for-profit organisation funded through a subscription service for members, the newly created ECA will act as a voice for non-traditional cinema screeners and work to rebrand live cinema screenings as ‘event cinema’ to access wider audiences.
The ECA will also distribute a quarterly trailer reel in European cinemas to promote forthcoming programming, provide a website with useful information for cinemas and alternative content providers, as well as holding events.
Recent livecast successes include the UK-wide network of local arts cinemas the CAV Network which screened the BFI Film Archive’s world premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s newly restored The Lodger: A Tale of the London Fog, on 21 July, 2012.
Melissa Keeping, Chair of the ECA, said: “Cinema continues to be a thriving part of the UK’s cultural and entertainment landscape. Audiences are increasingly responding to a variety of content, in particular live event broadcasts, which presents new opportunities for cinemas and content providers to engage with a broader demographic.
“Having worked in the distribution business for 12 years, I can see the emergence of alternative content and the opportunities for cinemas to capitalise further on their digitisation and bring both something new to their audiences, as well as bringing new audiences to their screens.
“This area of programming is still a new development in cinemas but a trade association such as the ECA will be able to offer the kind of support that cinemas need in engaging with alternative content as well as to alternative content producers and distributors who want to engage with cinemas.”
Isabelle Fauchet, Head of Cinema, the Royal Opera House and a director of the ECA board of directors says, “The Royal Opera House has been keen for some time to develop a relationship with cinema and has established its own cinema department to develop new business, deliver analyses on new and existing markets, expand the overall cinema network worldwide and tackle technology issues. We need an organisation that will support us in developing our offer to audiences and in marketing the alternative content offer to audiences.”