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Bringing the crowd to cinema

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Bringing the crowd to cinema

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A few years ago now I was doing some work with an events company and I suggested utilizing the crowd more in the construction of their events program.  It borrowed heavily from the business model of companies such as Threadless, who get users to create designs, create an audience for those designs, and then produce those with a sufficient audience to make it commercially viable.

In an events world, this could involve the crowd putting together a program of speakers (or whatever), and then gaining support for that program, at which time the event is put on (or not).  Suffice to say, the events world was not ready to break free from the mould they’ve been using for decades, but it’s pleasing to see the cinematic world is not as reticent.

Ourscreen is a cinema company that has adopted just this approach to the screenings shown at their local cinema.  The process is a simple one.

  1. Users select the film they’d like to see
  2. They select one of the participating cinemas to screen it
  3. They then drum up support for that screening amongst their social network (and the wider public)

If enough support is garnered, the movie is shown.  The allure is a clear one, in that you’re putting the market in charge of what you’re showing, it ensures that you only screen movies that will obtain a sizeable audience.

“We are great supporters of the cinema industry and local exhibitors so we wanted to design something that would be a quick and easy way for everyone to make the cinema truly theirs,” said Ian Cartwright, director of ourscreen.

The service is currently available in 13 British cities, including London, Bath, Brighton, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Henley, Liverpool, Norwich, Oxford, Southampton, Stratford-upon-Avon and York.

There are something like 200 films available to choose from, including some old classics to more recent hits.  This list is updated all the time so there should be a constant flow of new choices available.  This doesn’t mean that choices are limited to those 200 films however, as the company has access to over 20,000 more through relationships with distributors.  These can be filmed upon request (providing enough support is garnered of course).

Ticket prices tend to vary depending on when they’re being screened, where it takes place, plus of course the price set by the distributor, but the aim is to bring back the community element to cinema.  It’s a nice way to bring the crowd into proceedings (and of course a nice vindication of my approach from three years ago!)

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