When movie theaters began showing plays and musicals on the big screen, there was a slight panic among presenting organizations that these broadcasts would take audiences away from the live event—that they would abandon their interest in the theater experience, favoring the accessibility of the nearby cinema instead.
A recent study out of the UK concludes that live screenings won’t actually kill theater, in fact they’re only a “minimal threat” to touring work and more often have a positive impact on theater companies. There’s even a nod to live experience in the data, with more than half of audiences surveyed saying they prefer live theater to the cinematic experience.
In fact, an audience preference for live shows over the recorded alternative was found to be the biggest barrier to attendance of theater broadcasts at cinemas.
So why do they go?
Perhaps of no surprise, cheaper tickets and convenience were found to be the biggest motivations for audiences to attend event cinema screenings rather than live performances.
Yet it's still about the Benjamins (er, smackers?)
While the cost of attending a cinematic experience isn’t a barrier for the UK audience, it does become a real barrier for the theater companies looking to produce digital work—and in many instances is seen as so prohibitive, it’s not worth the potential new income and audiences a cinematic screening may bring.
The full report is worth a read, especially for those looking for some potential next steps on how to make this feasible, affordable, and worthwhile.