Filmgoers kept title mum after live screening event
Secret Cinema, which has unspooled 18 event performances of classic pics in the past five years. The four-week run of the Secret screenings, which ended Sunday, smashed ticket sales for a single venue for “Prometheus,” grossing £720,000 ($1.1 million) across 38 shows in 28 days, beating the performance at London’s BFI Imax (the biggest-earning cinema screen in the U.K.), where the pic has grossed $1.02 million so far. The secret film attracted more than 25,000 attendees. Who says audiences aren’t willing to pay a premium for a social and cinematic experience? The sales figures are even more impressive considering that attendees are asked to not Tweet, Facebook or otherwise communicate the name of the film for its entire run. For “Prometheus,” the promoters transformed a 190,000-square-foot warehouse in central London into a futuristic spaceship, including props from the actual movie. Ticketholders, who had been invited to come dressed like those in various scientific professions, met at a spot nearby and were led to the secret screening by actors. The interaction continued with the actors reenacting scenes until the moment the pic began, preceded by a taped message from Scott. The fancy dress-cum-screening-cum-interactive theater event has proved a boon for distribs looking for alternative methods to showcase pics. Secret Cinema’s screenings of 1949 classic pic “The Third Man” grossed $1.1 million in its six-week run. Fabien Riggall, founder of Future Cinema, said Secret Cinema’s success is gaining interest from studios and other distribs looking to get involved. “I think people are now taking what we do seriously,” said Riggall, who added, “It doesn’t take away revenue from a traditional release. It actually creates a culture around the film.” Riggall adds that the company is talking to other studios about future releases. “I think the success of ‘Prometheus’ at Secret Cinema is culturally saying what people want in addition to the current offering,” he said. “If we can get a hoard of people in to watch a film without telling them what it is, there are endless possibilities. We are, of course, not looking to replace theatrical releases but rather work alongside them.” Such an operation is no cheap feat: While Riggall refused to reveal the cost of staging the monthlong event with a team of close to 160 people, the figure sits north of $775,000, a big risk and upfront investment. Brands help with the investment; 3D glasses in the recent perf were provided courtesy of Dolby, and vfx in the venue was provided by London-based post house Framestore. And there’s a plan for expansion: Future Cinema has set up an office in Gotham and plans to launch Secret Cinema in New York this fall. It also has its sights set on Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Moscow. “A film of studio ilk could be released in 3D, 2D and as live cinema experience,” said Riggall. “That could take place in as many territories as the industry wants. We’ve created a new way of experiencing cinema, and I’m hoping that people take it seriously.”
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