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 HDthe 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.”

More Legit

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

  • By the Way Meet Vera Stark

    Off Broadway Review: 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' by Lynn Nottage

    After writing two harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, “Sweat” and “Ruined,” Lynn Nottage is entitled to have a little fun. But while this revival of her new play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” walks and talks like a screwball comedy, it has a real brain in its head. Before we get too serious, let’s meet [...]

  • Merrily We Roll AlongRoundabout Theatre CompanyMERRILY

    Off Broadway Review: 'Merrily We Roll Along'

    Like the optimistic youths at the end — or is it the beginning? — of “Merrily We Roll Along,” creatives keep going back to this problematic Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, re-imagining the show in the hope that the end results will be different this time around. They’re not. But disappointments are often off-set by new [...]

  • My Fair Lady Laura Benanti

    Listen: Laura Benanti on 'My Fair Lady' and the Secret to Her Melania Trump Impersonation

    Laura Benanti is now playing her dream role on Broadway. At the same time, the Tony winner (“Gypsy”) is also playing her toughest part ever. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “It’s the most demanding part I think I’ll probably play,” said Benanti, now appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater’s well-received revival of [...]

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content