Anything you want


Diversity of digital content on cinema screens will be more predominant in the future as
sports, live events and music shows are increasingly exhibited by South African cinemas.

Recently Nu Metro Films forged a deal with EFC Africa (the continent’s biggest martial
arts championship) to bring EFC Africa fights exclusively to Nu Metro cinemas nationwide
throughout the year. Mark Harris, content executive at Nu Metro, says that this is a
great opportunity. “We can now provide our customers with an entertaining way of
experiencing EFC Africa programming live on the big screen.

“Digital cinema allows exhibitors to show alternative content like special events, sports
events and other digital content that may never have been released theatrically because
of the high cost of distribution.’

Cinema Nouveau, the art house division of South Africa’s other main cinema exhibitor,
Ster-Kinekor, has screened productions from New York’s Metropolitan Opera Live in HD
series and the UK’s National Theatre Live series, as well as Russian ballet productions,
for some time.

Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, says that the most important changes
in cinema exhibition in recent years have been digital technology and 3D. “Even if you do
not consider the options for diversity of content that digital cinema affords, you can
look at how local films increase their volumes because of digital projection. Last year
there were 23 local films released on screens and only a handful on 35mm. Digital
delivery is one of the factors that boost the volume and variety of content. The
landscape will be completely different in about five to 10 years from now.

“Because of the multitude of platforms for screening content that have evolved in the
past decade, diversity and variety abound and will be the order of the day as audiences
may choose from a variety of content, not just films. Increasingly there will be more
niche content on offer.’

Harris says that more digital content from Nu Metro is lined up. “From a live perspective
we are the exclusive South African cinema partner for Dragonflies and Astronauts that
features the Parlotones and Driven by Volkswagen, which will be broadcast live from The
Teatro at Montecasino in 3D to Nu Metro 3D cinemas around the country and other 3D
outlets around the globe. From a pre-recorded perspective we have Lord of the Dance
and Carmen 3D also in the line-up.’

He points out that it is important to keep ticket prices for alternative content
reasonable. “Tickets are slightly higher than normal movie prices for two reasons – the
running time of the show is often longer than films and the infrastructure and satellite
costs involved for live feeds are different to just screening a normal movie off digital or
35mm projection systems.’

Kuun says that the increase in digital content will provide a wider variety for audiences
and make the environment far more competitive. “This will result in the strongest
content with a defining market that has the ability to hold screens. Popular sports
events, for instance, will take up screens that might traditionally have been held by
average feature film content (ie. titles that do not secure high numbers of attendance,
not average in reference to the quality of the project.)’

But, as Harris stresses, content is always king. “Great content will remain at the centre
of what drives the cinema business. We will continue to investigate all types of different
content to enhance the customer experience at our cinemas.’


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