Live Cinema in the UK

The Live Cinema in the UK Report 2016, supported with public funding from Arts Council England, was instigated in response to there being no national industry research on the live cinema sector. It was in response to a huge growth in the number of film screening events in the UK augmented by synchronous live performance, site-specific locations, technological intervention, social media engagement, and all manner of simultaneous interactive moments including singing, dancing, eating, drinking and smelling.

The first year of research was collected at the Live Cinema Conference, King’s College London, 27th May 2016, where challenges identified through the research period were addressed through sharing issues, building terminological consensus, masterclasses and workshops.

Key findings:

DEFINING LIVE CINEMA – There is general consensus in the film industry that live cinema is a distinct format from event cinema (the broadcast of theatre, opera and other events to cinemas nationwide), though the term is not commonly used by audiences. Live cinema events can be typified as three categories: enhanced, augmented and participatory. Films screened as live cinema events come from a vast array of genres, with silent film as the largest proportion (18%). Cult and genre titles make up over a quarter of live cinema productions (27%), and world cinema titles are a particular area for future development potential.

LIVE CINEMA ARTISTS –  Live soundtrack events constitute 54% of all live cinema events in the UK, providing much work for musicians choosing to specialise in the area, alongside a vast range of other artistic and technical roles in the sector.

PRODUCERS – Producers of live cinema events come from a diverse range of artistic backgrounds. There is a 100% retention rate for live cinema producers: all consulted will continue to create new work in the sector.

EXHIBITORS – 48% of UK independent film exhibitors host live cinema events, constituted by cinemas, festivals and pop up exhibitors nationally, with the North of England, London and Scotland being particularly active regions. There is no national method of box office data collection at present for live cinema events which should be immediately addressed. There is cohesion between ticket prices charged nationally for live cinema events, and audiences are generally satisfied with the price they pay.

LICENSING – Licensing film content is a common barrier for artists, producers and exhibitors. Best practice for acquiring licenses is presented here, and encouragingly 100% of content holders consulted would like to license for films for live cinema events.

AUDIENCES – The majority of live cinema audiences are frequent cultural event attendees with 61% regularly attending the theatre and 54% attending popular music. Live cinema events encourage audiences to attend other cultural events: 46% want to attend  more immersive theatre events, 48% more popular music events, 32% more classical music and 28% more dance events. Discussion of live cinema events online provides opportunities for live cinema organisations to position themselves as unique brands, and deeper engagement with individual events has room for development.