- Advertisement -spot_img
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Art houses want to bring back the public. Can a MoviePass-style program help?

In recent years, many have been wringing their hands about the impending death of art house cinema.

There was a time a few years ago when small, independent cinemas had to move from 35mm film to digital presentation; or the time in the winter months of 2018 when the venerable Lincoln Plaza movie theater closed on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; and more recently, there has been a pandemic that has closed large and small cinemas for months.

In each case, a series of discouraging news – institution closings, bankruptcy filings, and the like – were greeted with what Eugene Hernandez, Program Manager for Film at Lincoln Center, called “glimmers of hope.” New spaces emerge frequently, new audiences attend screenings, and this time, after having had more than a year to appreciate and comprehend, he said: “People think differently about how to preserve this art house culture, which we all value so much. “

One new idea debuted in the US on Friday in New York. Streaming service Mubi, catering to moviegoers looking for an eclectic mix of films, has begun offering a membership program that will aim to give art house fans a lot of what they could want in one neat package: this movie’s well-stocked streaming service. at home, complete with a weekly ticket that they can use to watch a selected movie in their favorite cinema.

In simple terms, the program known as Mubi Go combines the membership concept behind MoviePass with the convenience of Netflix home streaming for those who love international and independent cinema. But the real key, officials have stressed, is actually something else entirely: curation.

“We choose good films for people and we try to get people to watch them,” said K. Mason Wells, director of US distribution for Mubi. “We want to take our discoveries and share them with the masses – to bring the good to a wider audience.”

The plan, Wells said, is to expand from New York to Los Angeles in 2022 during this pivotal fall film season and then select markets across the country. Mubi Go was previously unveiled in the UK in 2018 and India in 2019. In the UK, the program is currently associated with more than 150 art houses, all of which have stayed with the program, Wells said.

Starting Friday, Mubi Go members can watch one carefully selected, newly released film every week anywhere in New York – such as Film Forum, Film at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, IFC Center, Nitehawk Cinema, or Paris Theater. Wells said Mooby buys movie tickets at art houses. Subscribers receive a ticket code generated through the Mubi Go app.

For a monthly fee that is $ 10.99 for a limited time, they also have access to the Mubi streaming platform. Mubi selects one new film – often from the most remote corners of the world – to add to its platform every day. Mubi himself, who used to have a different name, is now over ten years old. The streaming service is already available in 190 countries and has over 10 million members.

The program, which Mubi called “a first-of-its-kind service,” is one effort to develop small, independent cinemas that, like their larger networked cousins, must rebuild their position. It is also the final test of whether tight control over subscription-based cinema ticket services can work after the meteoric rise and fall of MoviePass.

“We think it’s important for people to be in real theater space,” Wells said. “This is the backbone of the film industry. We are trying to respect that. ” He added that initially, Mubi Go was not planned to launch in the face of a pandemic. But given the time, “it has become something that I think could become an even more important survival tool” for art houses “than we thought.”

Cinemas across the country have been hit by the pandemic, and not in size. The forced closures in 2020 have pushed national networks like AMC to the brink of bankruptcy, and also disrupted small independent cinemas that were struggling to stay in business even before the coronavirus emerged.

“We are shocked at what the new landscape will be like,” said Jesse Trussell, senior film programmer at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. “The darkest days were a tremendous struggle. As with any business, you don’t expect your entire income stream to dry up right away. “

It is not yet clear to what extent movie shows will return to normal. Ticket sales seem to have been somewhat cannibalized by the instant availability of streaming services, with people not returning to films last fall even close to the numbers Hollywood hoped for. North American theaters sold $ 2.2 billion in tickets for this Labor Day in 2021, up from $ 7.8 billion in the same period in 2019, according to Comscore.

Wells acknowledged that some people began to view “streaming as the enemy of theaters.” But one of Mubi Go’s goals, he said, is to foster collaboration “between different parts of the industry that usually see each other as a threat.”

“They all eat the same things,” he said. “If we all bring more people to the film, it’s usually a clear win for everyone.”

Officials at some of Mubi Go’s new partner cinemas say they love the program because its curated approach echoes their own.

Matthew Virag, founder and CEO of Nitehawk Cinema, said he sees Mubi Go as a “complementary system” that will help “fill in the cracks” during slower periods. He added that Nitehawk plans to roll out its own membership program next year.

More broadly, Rebecca Fons, director of programming at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, said art houses and independent cinemas have survived so long precisely because they tweak their offerings for their audience members. Employees know people’s names, can anticipate their concession orders, and premises become an integral part of the cities they serve.

“We’re not anonymous,” said Fons, who is also part of the working group that leads Art House Convergence, a nationwide association of film exhibitors. “We have a community that cares about us as much as we care about them. We offer this special, personalized approach. “

New York City is the epicenter of art house cinema, and there was indeed some boom in the sector before the pandemic. Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn and Metrograph in Manhattan went live with Nitehawk Cinema, Film Forum and other more prominent sites. And developer and film distribution company Charles S. Cohen completed the renovation of the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village around the same time that Landmark at 57 West opened its doors. (Landmark closed last year.)

Trussell said that the BAM film program was going “well” before the pandemic. And while some industry leaders said it might be too early to assess the resurgent state of art house cinemas, they said they already saw signs of pent-up demand and slow business growth to pre-pandemic levels.

Hernandez, who is also the director of the New York Film Festival, said ticket sales for the 17-day event this fall were the same or higher than in 2019. Thrussell said some of BAM’s recent guest director events have sold out at his home. Virag said ticket sales at Nitehawk have at times peaked at pre-pandemic levels over the past month.

“We’ve had heavy blows before,” Fons said. “Netflix didn’t always exist, and now it does. MoviePass was something existing; it no longer exists. Everything in our industry is constantly changing. But the same is true: we turn off the lights and make the screen bright. “

Nicole Sperling and Brooks Barnes provided reporting.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
Latest news
Related news
- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here