×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lincoln Center Bets on Its Brand in Bigscreen Market

With the launch of “Lincoln Center at the Movies” tonight, New York arts complex Lincoln Center moves into movie theaters with one eye on claiming a place in the growing market for alternative bigscreen content, and another on creating new performing-arts fans that will sustain its constituent companies in the years to come.

The initiative, which partners Lincoln Center with Fathom Events, kicks off with Sept. 24 screenings in some 600 theaters nationwide of the San Francisco Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the first of a four-title series presented under the banner Great American Dance. The coming months will see cinema presentations of works by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico (pictured above) and New York City Ballet. Adding a little TV-personality star power to the mix, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan host each screening, which will incorporate interviews with the artists and backstage insights into the production.

According to Jed Bernstein, president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the project was hatched to stand alongside Met: Live in HD, the popular, longrunning series of opera cinemacasts originating at the Metropolitan Opera, one of the 11 constituent arts organizations that make up Lincoln Center. Live in HD has ballooned into a $60 million business for the Met, and served as a trailblazer for other efforts in bringing live performing arts to the screen, including NT Live, the successful, expanding series of screen programming from London’s National Theater.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity for more in that space, and as a brand, Lincoln Center is a pretty big umbrella that has some breadth to it,” Bernstein said. Although Lincoln Center presents a range of arts including symphony (the New York Philharmonic) and theater (Lincoln Center Theater), the selection of dance as the theme of the first presentations was strategic.

“There’s isn’t much dance out there in this space,” Bernstein continued. “We felt this was a chance for us, with interest in dance so intense thanks to reality-TV competitions and, recently, the interest in Misty Copeland and everything she’s done,” Bernstein said. “We think dance has an audience that wants more exposure but doesn’t know how to access it.”

Although for years the conventional wisdom, especially on Broadway, held that screen distribution of theater events would cannibalize audiences away from the stage, now most people in the live-arts industries believe canny content distribution, on screens of all sizes, can seed future audiences for the performing arts.

The Great American Dance cinema screenings — costing in the realm of $1 million a piece to capture and market — are part of an overall digital push for Lincoln Center, which in the last several months hired David Link as its chief digital officer. The capture-and-distribution activities of Lincoln Center at the Movies coincide with efforts to spruce up the campus’ overall digital experience, from ticket sales to ordering amenities during the show.

“We have to find a way to to make digital distribution our friend, and be pro-active about how we distribute and engage and what we expect in return,” Bernstein said. “It’s all in the service of more live attendance.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Jonah Hill Passes on Role in 'The Batman'

    After being offered a role in “The Batman,” Jonah Hill has moved on from the project. Why exactly Hill is passing is currently unknown, and insiders tell Variety that when the news was initially reported, it was very early in the negotiations and that a deal was far from closing. The news comes after Zoe [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Elizabeth Moss

    SCAD Savannah Film Festival Honorees Include Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss

    Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss, Danielle Macdonald, Aldis Hodge, Valerie Pachner, Samantha Morton, Sienna Miller, Alan Silvestri and Olivia Wilde are set to be honored at the 22nd Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. Breakout Award honorees include Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jharrel Jerome, Mena Massoud and Camila Morrone. Macdonald, who appears on Netflix in “Unbelievable” and [...]

  • Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman. Alexander Skarsgard,

    Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard to Reunite for Robert Eggers' 'The Northman'

    With his latest film “The Lighthouse” set to bow this weekend, Robert Eggers’ next film has cast two leads, “Big Little Lies” alums Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård. The pic, titled “The Northman,” is described as a Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. In talks to join Kidman [...]

  • Jessica Henwick

    'Matrix 4' Taps 'Iron Fist' Star Jessica Henwick

    Jessica Henwick is in final negotiations to star in the upcoming fourth installment of the “Matrix” franchise. She joins Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who was tapped as one of the leads last week. Neil Patrick Harris also just joined [...]

  • Frozen 2

    Record 32 Animated Feature Films Submitted for Oscars

    “The Addams Family,” “Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4,” “Abominable” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2” are among the record 32 movies submitted for the animated feature film category at the 2020 Oscars. Last year’s Academy Awards race boasted 25 entries, while 2017 had 26 and 2016 had 27 (a then-record). The list of contenders [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content