U.K. Exhibitor Vue Reports Big Increase in Audience for Alternative Content

Tim Richards

The British theater chain giant says it expects to sell twice as many tickets for "event cinema" in 2014.

LONDON – U.K. movie theater giant Vue Entertainment, which was acquired by a group of Canadian investment firms for $1.5 billion in June, predicts a major uptick in the appetite for alternative content this year.

The movie chain, run by Tim Richards, said "record numbers" of people attended its "event cinema" screenings, with a 50 percent increase in 2013.

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The multiplex cinema chain operator expects the demand for opera, ballet, theater, music and sporting event screenings to continue. The number of admissions for such fare is projected to double this year.

The prediction comes as the National Theatre’s highly-acclaimed production of War Horse prepares to hit the big screen live on Feb. 27 nationwide.

Richards said: "Vue Entertainment has invested heavily in providing the best possible state-of-the-art, fully-digital screens and audio-visual technology in all of our 83 cinemas nationwide" as part of its aim to give cinemagoers access to event cinema screenings in addition to movies.

"We are committed to providing something for everyone. From live music concerts, opera and ballet to live sporting events and art exhibitions, we are really proud to be able to offer greater access to the arts and entertainment to people up and down the country," he said.

The most successful event cinema screening to date in the U.K. was the one-off 75-minute special of the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, "The Day of the Doctor," in November of 2013, which was simultaneously screened with the broadcast on BBC One.

The episode screened in 3D and starred Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and former Time Lord David Tennant, as well as Billie Piper and John Hurt.

Other event cinema screenings include National Theater Live’s broadcast of The Audience, starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, exhibitions of Manet and Vermeer, Muse recorded live from Rome, and Robbie Williams live from Tallinn.

Event cinema screenings in 2014 are set to include the live broadcast of the National Theatre’s War Horse and King Lear, directed by Sam Mendes, English National Opera performances, including Peter Grimes, Terry Gilliam’s re-imagining of Cellini, Elton John live from Caesar’s Place Las Vegas, and Vikings Live from the British Museum.