Sold-Out Shows to Sold-Out Screens: Live Events Are A New Cinema Box Office Draw

November 16, 2023 • Seán Roberts, VP UK & Ireland

Last summer, "Barbenheimer" gave a £105 million boost to the UK box office. But with EU and UK cinema attendance yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, exhibitors are embracing new content and genres to maintain attendance levels.

Box Office Success

As exemplified by last month's theatrical release of "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour," cinema is seeing a surge of live and as-live content.

  • IMAX likened demand for Eras tickets to that reserved for big-budget box office releases
  • "Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé" has driven millions in pre-sales, and will reach UK cinema screens this month
  • This follows hot on the heels of the re-release of Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense" concert film, which was the biggest IMAX Live event screening to ever cross the Atlantic

Marketing Live Events to cinema goers

IMAX have focused on pursuing new revenue streams from concerts, celebrity Q&As and other showings via the IMAX Live network. We've worked with them to market recent screenings including Renée Fleming and Indochine. This involves new audience mapping, creative and messaging to convey the Premium Large Format experience for those more attuned to a live music environment, whilst still reaching cinema-going fans with a new proposition. Here's how we approach it:

  • Paid media targets fans of the band or artist, emphasising talent over other traditional drivers normally included in film audience cohorts (like genre or acclaim).

  • We create additional "live event" campaigns. Buying concert tickets is typically a longer-lead decision; we inject urgency for cinema.

  • We target broader audiences looking for things to do near them, as opposed to a narrower audience of motivated cinema goers.

  • We add extra awareness drivers to effectively communicate more about the event and what audiences can expect from the screening.

More than music

Whilst concerts on the big screen can make the experience more accessible and affordable, the upsurge in live event cinema is not restricted to music:

  • Comedian Kevin Bridges is bringing his latest show to the big screen across the UK & Ireland this winter
  • Vue cinemas screened the England Women's World Cup Final appearance live in August
  • Odeon currently offer a big screen gaming experience

As cinema continues to bounce back from Covid, this diversification in what we see and do at the big screen is an opportunity for consumers and exhibitors alike. To learn more about how we can help you sell out an upcoming event, get in touch.

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