Cinema screens not just for movies anymore

At least not at Cineplex. It's expanding both its alternative programming - with the National Ballet of Canada's The Nutcracker and The Beatles' Help! - and partnership opps for marketers.

How successful was Cineplex Entertainment’s first foray into screening live operas last year, when it partnered with NYC’s Metropolitan Opera? So successful that nearly 50,000 tickets for this year’s series were snapped up in the first two weeks after going on sale on Nov. 9, communications and investor relations VP Pat Marshall tells MiC. In fact, she adds, the Met performances are so popular that the number of operas is being expanded this time around, and they’ll be screened in 70 theatres across Canada, compared with 24 last year.

But even before the first opera, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, screens in mid-December, another Cineplex experiment will have taken place. It’s the Nov. 26 presentation of a digitally enhanced version of The Beatles’ 1965 musical classic Help! (pictured). Might this event lead to the resurrection of more vintage films? ‘It depends on how successful Help! turns out to be,’ says Marshall. ‘But we would love to be able to bring more classic movies back to the big screen.’

The other alternative programming Cineplex has brought to thousands of screens across Canada, says Marshall, ‘all began with wrestling some years back. Then we expanded by going into hockey, working directly with each of the NHL teams in Canada, and that has also been very successful.’ This year’s live hockey screenings began last evening with the Edmonton Oilers vs. the Colorado Avalanche. As well, Cineplex began showing Leafs TV’s exclusive Toronto Maple Leafs game broadcasts in select theatres in Ontario last year.

Cineplex has also presented concerts and speakers. And yesterday the chain announced another addition: a live screening of the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker on Dec. 22. ‘We’re very excited about that, and it’s another natural extension of what we’re doing in alternative programming,’ says Marshall, who adds that Cineplex is also looking into the feasibility of screening Broadway plays and Canadian drama and concerts.

Can marketers find roles in all this? ‘Definitely,’ she says. ‘There are all kinds of opportunities for other partners who’d be interested in seeing their products on the giant screen,’ or in the cinema lobbies. On board so far this year are CTVglobemedia and TD Waterhouse. And, says Marshall, ‘We’re open to any kind of partnership we think makes sense for our guests.’