Fathom Events and the Metropolitan Opera have renewed the “The Met: Live in HD” screening series, extending a cultural tradition that has delivered scores of performances from the Met’s stage at Lincoln Center directly to theater screens nationwide since 2006.
The partnership between the country’s largest performing arts institution and leading event-cinema distributor will be renewed for three more years, through the 2025–26 season, culminating in the 20th anniversary of the “Live in HD” program.
The announcement comes three weeks ahead of the Dec. 10 “Live in HD” transmission of a new work, “The Hours” by Kevin Puts, based on the novel by Michael Cunningham and the 2002 movie of the same title. The Met is presenting the world premiere staging of the work.
The partnership that began in 2006 with fewer than 100 theaters has grown to an average of 725 theaters and an estimated audience of more than 580,000 annually, according to representatives for both organizations.
The Fathom-Met deal has seen a total revenue of more than $205 million which translates to approximately 10 million tickets sold, Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt tells Variety. Fathom’s events with The Met consistently rank among the top-10 in box office on the event date, according to Comscore data. The Met now accounts for fully half of Fathom Events’ live-event box office revenue.
“The Met is a cultural touchstone and one of the most iconic global performing-arts brands,” Nutt added. “Not everybody can get to Lincoln Center, and this has been a great way to expand the Met’s audience, and ours. We look forward to continuing to work with the Met to bring more high-quality performances to fans around the country.”
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said the innovative partnership with Fathom “has brought the beauty and power of opera to millions of people who ordinarily would not have access to it. We are grateful to have such an excellent partner in Fathom and look forward to continuing our shared mission of making world-class opera available to cinema audiences throughout the United States and beyond.”
The pact with Fathom began during Gelb’s first season with the Met, which has prospered on his watch.
“It was an experiment, more of a marketing exercise than anything else,” Gelb tells Variety. “The hope was that we would, by transmitting Saturday matinees into cinemas, strengthen the bond between the Met and its audience when they weren’t in the opera house. It became, for us, a major success story. Within a couple of years we were not only breaking even but generating a significant amount of net revenue to our bottom line.”
“The Hours” It is one of seven new Met productions presented in the 2022-23 season, including the opening “Live in HD” performance, the Met premiere of Cherubini’s “Medea.” The other new productions are Giordano’s “Fedora” (Jan. 14); Wagner’s “Lohengrin” (March 18); Terence Blanchard’s “Champion” (April 29); Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (May 20) and “Die Zauberflote” (June 3). All performances will be Saturday matinees transmitted live from the Met stage.
The HD season will also feature performances of Verdi’s “Falstaff” (April 1) and Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier” (April 15). A special encore screening of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” will be presented on Dec. 3. Repeat performances of each opera are held on the Wednesdays following the live Saturday screenings.
Metropolitan Opera broadcasts originated on radio in 1931, and they continue on more than 300 radio stations in the U.S. The organization experimented with television broadcasts in the 1940s and 1950s and in 1977 launched the occasional series “Live From the Met” on PBS.
The “Live in HD” series makes the Met the only arts institution with an ongoing global series of this scale that makes it a top provider of alternative cinema content. The U.S. is the largest single market, Gelb says, although almost 70% of the audience for the series is outside the U.S., across 11 different time zones around the world.
Fathom, meanwhile, is among the top distributors of content to movie theaters in North America. It’s owned by AMC Entertainment, Cinemark Holdings and Regal, a subsidiary of Cineworld Group. “Event cinema,” Nutt says, “has transformed the way that movie theaters operate over the years, in a very necessary way.”
(Pictured: The Metropolitan Opera performs “La Traviata” on Nov. 5, 2022)