The Hottest New Concert Hall: Your Local Cinema
LOS ANGELES — Brooke Green wasn’t sure who the band was, but she was excited about the show. A self-proclaimed live music fan, the elementary school teacher “didn’t really care who was playing.”
“I’ve been home alone for a year on Zoom,” said Ms. Green, who added that she spent thousands of dollars lining up tickets to in-person concerts in the summer and fall. “I can’t wait to get out. ”
For now, she will have to get her dose of concert in a movie theater.
Ms Green and her boyfriend watched a concert recorded on the Florida Georgia Line on a recent Saturday night on a movie screen in Los Angeles. Hundreds of thousands of fans showed up for the same concert, broadcast only one night, on movie screens across the country.
After more than a year of musicians hosting virtual tours and driving shows, the concert industry is tapping into local multiplexes and cinemas to attract fans. Encore Live LLC, which brought sets from Metallica, Garth Brooks, and Blake Shelton to drive-ins during the pandemic, has partnered with Trafalgar Releasing to begin offering unique shows from Bon Jovi, Florida Georgia Line and the United States as well. other stars at over 400 theaters in the United States and over 1,000 international locations.
More than a dozen other concerts are planned from this summer to next spring.
It’s a wedding of the moment. As the United States emerges from the lockdown haze, fans are still cautious about twisting into a scorching horde to pick up their favorite rocker. Big stars won’t make enough money to visit partially full and socially remote arenas, and movie theaters still struggle to attract consumers. So what started out as a stopgap has turned into a global entertainment offering that executives hope to replicate the event to some extent live.
“I was surprised at how wonderful it was on a sensory level – to smell the popcorn and hear people crackle,” said Ms. Green, 53.
A few rows down, Samantha Beatty was taking advantage of her space. She had plenty of room to dance with open seats around her. (The show took place while the capacity limits were still in effect. Most theater chains have now largely abandoned them.) The 25-year-old country music fan came in decked out in a floral summer dress. yellow jeans, a denim jacket and cowgirl boots.
“I’m an anti-social type person so it was nice not to have a bunch of people in my face,” she said. Plus, “It was nice not to struggle to park like you usually do at a concert.”
The upbeat “Get Your Shine On” tune made Ms. Beatty and her companion get up from their seats and sway. “I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it was better than I expected,” she said.
On screen, singers Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, supported by a full band and with flames bursting behind the stage, sang for over an hour. They broke up only to allow a special guest, rapper Nelly, to take the stage for a few songs after joining Florida Georgia Line for a performance of the hit song “Cruise.”
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He also played another hit, “Hot in Herre,” and the cameras on the musicians, who played the concert in advance without a live audience, meant each fan’s ticket was close enough to see them sweat it out. The show was recorded at the Steel Mill, a rehearsal, filming and special events venue, in Nashville.
Mr. Hubbard addressed the audience directly. “We hope you will grant us a lot of grace,” he said.
“Even though we weren’t able to play and vibrate with a live crowd,” he said after the show, “we hope our energy comes to the big screen.” The concert was also shown in more than 300 drive-in drives the same evening.
Prior to the onset of the coronavirus, the global live music industry was in tears, with 2020 said to be the most important year on record for concerts in terms of both revenue and attendance. Instead, global live-stream revenue fell 75% to $ 6.5 billion, from around $ 26.1 billion in 2019, according to media and technology analysis firm Midia Research.
Malti Sharma, a super Bon Jovi fan, has seen the band live over 50 times, traveling to France and England, sometimes seeing as many as eight concerts in a single tour.
She was disappointed when last summer’s Los Angeles tour dates were canceled, but was content to see her favorite music late last month at the IPIC theater in Pasadena. It wasn’t a rowdy crowd, she said – probably because of the theater’s reclining seats and dinner service – so there wasn’t the typical concert dancing, jumping and singing. by Bon Jovi. But she got to enjoy a quesadilla, popcorn, and two Manhattans.
Plus, “it was better on my wallet,” she said. Ms. Sharma, who shelled out (and was reimbursed) around $ 1,300 for her third row VIP ticket to a Bon Jovi show that was canceled, spent around $ 20 this time. Depending on the location, tickets for these concerts cost between $ 15 and $ 20.
While concert films have been screened in theaters in the past, these shows are recorded especially for screenings, which are shown the same evening in markets across the country. Bon Jovi had filmed a few days earlier at the Paramount Theater on the promenade in Asbury Park in New Jersey.
“This type of content, if not in a major arena, should always be consumed in a community environment,” said Walter Kinzie, CEO of Encore. “Can I broadcast to someone’s house?” Sure, but it’s not the same when you watch from your couch.
Over 200,000 tickets were sold for the Bon Jovi show in May in the United States. Still said the show is set to welcome nearly 600,000 fans after screenings in international markets, with box office potential exceeding $ 15 million.
“They’re coming back because they’re Bon Jovi fans, but they’re reconnecting with local cinema,” said Marc Allenby, Managing Director of Trafalgar Releasing.
More than a year of closures and capacity restrictions have decimated the movie theater industry, sending large chains to the brink of bankruptcy and forcing many smaller operators to shut down for good.
Now that the economy is reopening, theaters face a new problem: limited programming. Recent releases like “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “A Quiet Place Part II” have seen encouraging but barely record earnings, but Hollywood studios are still waiting to release their biggest titles and have shipped a number of films in. – home streaming services.
For the concert industry, this is another way to get more fans to more shows, especially as many arena and stadium performers have postponed their tours until 2022.
It’s also a way to extend the reach of an artist tour, especially in rural areas that are within hours of a typical stop. Next month, Encore will begin airing shows on movie screens while artists perform live in front of fans.
“A lot of bands want to go on tour, but there just aren’t any venues available,” Kinzie said. “It’s an outlet to be able to play this year.”
—Erich Schwartzel contributed to this article.
Write to Anne Steele at [email protected]
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