LONDON — U.K. exhibition chain City Screen has pacted with Arqiva to install a satellite network between its 18 theaters. The network, which will be the first of its kind in the country, will enable the theaters to screen live entertainment and sports.
Marc John, City Screen head of digital development, said that the exhib will be looking to program live opera, ballet, filmmaker Q&As and other arts events to appeal to the chain’s upmarket, sophisticated auds.
The first event to be screened will be the long-awaited return of Amnesty International’s comedy and music event “The Secret Policeman’s Ball” from London’s Royal Albert Hall on Oct. 14.
The cinecast of “Policeman’s Ball” is 98% sold out in the Cambridge site and 50%-75% of tickets are sold in the other 16 theaters showing it. The only theater not showing the show is East Grinstead due to technical difficulties.
The move is a leap forward for the U.K. exhibition sector, which is constantly striving to find new ways to differentiate the cinemagoing experience from other leisure activities.
This summer U.K. exhibition chains with digital screens experimented with screening soccer matches from the World Cup tournament in Germany. Results were mixed with screenings of England games attracting auds but less high-profile matches proving less of a hit for exhibs.
Arqiva will install and maintain the permanent satellite infrastructure at the Picturehouse theaters and also provide the outside broadcasts to enable the live transmission of events. Live feeds will be collected on location, turned around and distributed nationwide via a range of satellites.