virtual Cinemas and other Mythical Creatures
COVID19 has put our human condition and economies at stake, leaving us on the brink of the disaster where one bittersweet truth has revealed itself: experience won’t save us. We are going blindly: No reference, no maps.
For sure, there will be ones who will try to save their own skin thinking that one can paddle alone to cross a storm and keep their boat afloat. But the path will be long and exhausting, and we will also find the ones who build together new structures and nodes, ready for Who-knows-what-is-coming.
Looking around, some distributors and exhibitors are already hands-on. Apparently, the countries that have being practicing models of collaboration such as Day-and-Date releases and alternative models of distribution are in better shape to be fitted in this new Black-Mirror reality.
In moments of darkness, don’t forget to fire a candle. Here five inspiring initiatives we find around the globe:
- Kinomarquee in the US is a virtual theatrical exhibition initiative for enabling art house cinemas to entertain moviegoers and generate revenue during the coronavirus outbreak. Starting with 11 cinemas, the virtual theatrical project now counts more than 150 participating movie theaters. In a related webinar offered by Screen International, this initiative leader explains they are sending “6 figures” checks to some cinemas”.
- Cineville in the Netherlands raises as an example of a generosity strategy, a virtual cinema that allows cinema-lovers loving even more their nearest arthouse by purchasing a film-to-watch online. All revenue is shared between distributor and exhibitor just as if the user would have bought your ticket at the theater’s box office.
- A similar program has lift up in Spain, Sala Virtual de Cine. More than 80 exhibitors are working together in the same direction to broadcast some programmed titles released online. The main purpose is relaxing the funnel of theatrical releases and make room for high-profile films that are in the waiting line to premiered in summer. We have collaborated with the launch of the documentary Easter in Art just ahead of Easter week in Spain. In other territories, the documentary release was delayed until 2021.
- Film Movement Plus, brings films to North American audiences from around the world, including prizewinners from Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Locarno, Sundance, SXSW and other major festivals. Steaming the best of independent and world cinema by subscription-only.
- Modern Films, the London-based distribution company launched their own streaming platform, the films are released alongside with Q&A and additional content. This level up audience and industry encounters to the digital environment. Won in 2019, Highly Commended Distributor of the Year at the Screen International Awards. In their DNA the alternative models of films value chain were already questioned.
These initiatives are blooming around the world, but particularly in the UK and the US where the day-and-date release patterns were already established for years. This unique virtual cinema window seems an excellent solution to help the cinemas that are currently at risk and maybe allows them to open up for new and fresh views.
Awards are not an exception on the game, The Oscars announced that the Academy will consider films that didn’t play in the theatrical circuit. Since then, many academies around the world follow the example such as Premios Goya, European Film Awards, and Golden Globes, on the top of them. Certain public bodies had to accept this condition as well. Are we coming to realize that content is not necessarily related to the usual windows exploitation? Something already changed and it was violent – but, is the film industry willing to be part of the evolution?
When this alarm will pass, we will have the responsibility to create a new social reality. We might want to start by opening the gates of our theaters to the community who support us in the darkest of times. Coping the humanity and generosity praxis we are seeing around all-kinds of industries and sectors emerge and get reinvented.
In Albert Camus’ 1947 novel The Plague, the virus is Fascism and the threat of the return of the disease is vividly inevitable. In the narrative, Rieux and Tarrou take into the sea, looking for the one thing only that restore their human condition: free the mind. Camus calls this escape “a happiness that forgot nothing” – Is the culture industry entitled to be the sea?
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Are Virtual Theaters Here To Stay? – Filmmaker