Laughter may be the best medicine, but movies run a close second. At least that’s what MediCinema has found.
The U.K. charity builds movie theaters in hospitals, and screens the latest film releases for patients and their
families for free. It recently signed a deal with RealD, and is looking to expand internationally.
Founded in 1996 by Christine Hill, MediCinema has outfitted five U.K. hospitals, as well as a rehabilitation center for injured military personnel, with cinemas.
The pact with RealD, which has promised to install 3D projectors in all of MediCinema’s theaters as part of an ongoing partnership, was a breakthrough for the nonprofit.
“RealD has been really generous,” says MediCinema CEO Stephen Moore, a film industry vet who spent 18 years at Fox and has held senior posts at both Disney and Aardman Animations. “It makes a big difference to our budgets to have their support.”
Moore’s film biz experience has been very useful. The charity has seen considerable funding from patrons including Daniel Day-Lewis, Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Emma Thompson, to name just a few.
“We are very connected to the film industry,” he says. “We rely on their support for product and fundraising.”
The first theater to be fitted with a RealD 3D projector — Guy’s Hospital in London — has 37 seats, and room for five beds and 12 wheelchairs.
Programming needs careful thought, of course. “You don’t want to heighten people’s anxiety being in a hospital,” Moore says. “You try to steer away from high trauma or high drama.”
Recent first-run films include “Muppest Most Wanted,” “Noah,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Rio 2.”
Moore sees plenty of opportunity for the organization to do more good. “There are 1,800 large hospitals in the U.K., so we’ve hardly scratched the surface,” he says. MediCinema also operates in Milan, and plans to open a custom-built movie theater there this year.
The exec has ambitions for further international expansion, but understands it won’t be easy. “We are limited by our ability to raise the money and also the relatively complicated process of building cinemas,” he says, adding that the patients’ stories keep everyone in the organization striving to do more.
He describes the situation of one 14-year-old boy in Glasgow who had terminal cancer: “He had no relationship with his father, because everyone was so angry and anxious. They ended up going to see movies together, and they had something to talk about and something that bonded them. It restores your faith in the power of film.”