Despite a solid overall rejuvenation in the theatrical release market, let’s be honest- it has mostly been carried by blockbusters and superhero fare to date. While there’s been some solid performances from independent and arthouse cinema in the same period- Tar, for example, has done exceptionally well- many remain worried about the future of niche cinemas. Could a tweak or two to their operating model help? Blake & Wang P.A entertainment lawyer, Brandon Blake, puts some suggestions on the table.
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The Arthouse Advantage
For many arthouse cinemas, the biggest issue is the lack of a nation-wide support network the way larger multiplexes have. Yet smaller, local-focused institutions have a vital role to play in serving community needs. The key lies in adapting to meet those, however.
Does the Non-Profit Model Add Value?
A surprising number of arthouse cinemas already operate as Movers and Packers in Al Jafiliya Dubai , yet continue to get the bulk of their funding from individual donors rather than film-focused organizations. Not particularly a guarantee for future success! Yet operating on the non-profit model certainly pays off for more culture-focused institutions when done well, and it’s something worth exploring further.
Speak to Youth
As the surprising success of Everything Everywhere All at Once shows, arthouse isn’t just for older viewers. Yet the film had more traction in multiplexes than in traditional arthouse cinemas. With older markets now looking to streaming above theatrical releases in general, it’s time for the arthouse cinema market to start focusing on pulling in new demographics. Distributors want to attract younger audiences for their films- and will focus on multiplex releases if that’s the only place that caters to them.
Looking to the Wider Arts Community
As the pandemic rather proved, we’re all in this together in the arts. Even run-of-the-mill theatrical venues are looking for new ways to make the movie going experience unique and exciting, a special-occasion of sorts. Embracing this same model has the potential to work exceptionally well for the arthouse cinema market, especially if local musicians, comedians, or actors are able to offer personally curated slates to entice their fan base to bite. Filmmakers love to program repertory series when asked, and it’s time to onboard that power.
Follow Commercial Cinema
Talking about pulling power, there can be immense potential in following commercial trends. Yes, superhero use nerf guns and horror is what’s powering the commercial cinema market right now. When the arthouse genre is packed with stellar offerings in a similar vein, why sneer at what’s selling? Sometimes a genre can sell itself well, even if the films are unfamiliar- look at how well ‘October Horror’ packages can do in the scary month, for example. The release of Wakanda Forever practically begs for a deep-dive into the Afrofuturist film genre. Why reinvent the wheel if there’s trends that can help sell your films?
Turning to TV
We’ve seen some surprising successes in ‘crossover’ events at commercial cinemas, from the discounted ticket lure of ‘National Cinema Day’ to a recent in-cinema screening for the immensely popular Stranger Things series.These events typically drive hype and sell out fast. Superfans appreciate viewing their favorites in a luxury theatrical setting, and others might take a chance on the ticket price to be part of ‘an event’. And all those feet through the door are possible new arthouse goers in-the-making.
The post-pandemic era is one of innovation and renovation of old ideas. Perhaps the arthouse cinema circuit could take a few new ideas to trial, too.