Cinema: Innovative. Bigger. Better.
Off the back of ground-breaking innovation and major developments in local cinema over the past few years (the introduction of digital screens and luxury experiences at Ster-Kinekor Theatres, for starters), 2015 commenced with a bang for cinemas across South Africa, as the second last weekend in February saw ticket sale records shattered.
Bottom line: cinema is still the greatest way to consume content.
Scott Lawrence, National Sales Manager at Cinemark, explains that 2015 trends indicate that cinema is evolving in an abundantly innovative way. This evolution has been gaining momentum for some time, with innovation in previous years the direct result of technology. “The trend of technology in cinema is something that is going to continue for some time. This was confirmed by what I experienced at the SAWA Conference in Berlin, Germany in October last year,” he says.
The Screen Advertising World Association (SAWA) is the global trade body of screen advertising and associated companies. The organisation hosts an annual conference for companies that represent cinema advertising from across the globe, as well as related industries and suppliers.
“The conference brings together all of the screen advertising companies in order for them to network and share knowledge. Presentations range from the technical, such as theatre management software, to the type of innovations we are currently seeing in cinemas,” explains Lawrence.
It is the pre-reel that is the talk of the town at the moment, however. “What cinema owners and advertisers are doing around the pre-reel holds a lot of potential, with the level of ownership of it quite amazing,” Lawrence says.
An example of this potential is when a skit is performed live for the audience in the cinema. Lawrence explains that, at the conference, a skit was presented where an actor danced and sang in the rain live on stage, complete with a rain curtain.
“It is a combination of theatre and cinema. The cinema dedicates a resource to the skit and then, by using cutting-edge technology, in this case a rain curtain on stage, completely engages the cinema-goer. The level at which they are encouraging and enticing audiences to take their seats early is fantastic.”
“The pre-reel is as important as the main attraction. Cinema is no longer just the movie, it’s the experience. We are no longer simply selling tickets, we are asking people for a moment or two of their time,” Lawrence adds.
SAWA, for the Cinemark team, showed that South African cinema is on par internationally. Lawrence explains that South African cinema is a niche medium with a unique audience. He also believes that the route to better returns is not only through more numbers when it comes to audiences, but through offering a better overall experience. An example of this is the growth of appetite for premium offerings, such as IMAX.
“The re-launch of IMAX has been possible because of changes in technology. Before, it was not possible to screen a feature film because of the limits of technology, but digital evolution has allowed for a full-length feature film to be loaded onto a hard drive and sent around the country. IMAX is back and remains one of the most interactive ways to watch cinema. It is affordable and the appetite for this premium product is there worldwide,” Lawrence says.
The SAWA Conference also showed how App-based technology is encouraging the use of a second screen in the cinema. “This technology allows for an audio or visual tag on a poster or screen without having to embed the technology By holding your mobile to the poster or screen, the App picks up the audio or visual cue and you can interact with it,” he explains.
“This interaction through third party Apps is another way to add value into the pre-reel, be it answering a few questions or playing a game on the cinema screen. It also gives us access to that audience, allowing us to engage with them after the feature screening, and gives us feedback for our advertisers. Cinema owners are embracing this kind of communication,” Lawrence says.
Innovative avenues, such as the third party App, are there and ready to be utilised.
Lawrence says: “To date we have not fully taken advantage of third party Apps, allowing full benefit for advertisers and cinema-goers alike. This needs to change because the engagement and reach it provides plays on all of the things that make cinema so great.”
Based on the 2015 box office success so early in the year, as well as the developments occurring in the industry, the Cinemark team believe that there is a great wealth of innovation taking place in cinema at the moment, allowing for top results when it comes to brand affiliation for advertisers.
For more info, please visit www.cinemark.co.za, or follow Cinemark on Twitter, @Cinemarksk, and on Facebook, CinemarkSK.