Arts Alliance Media (AAM), one of Europe’s leading specialists in digital cinema technology, content and deployment have announced an exclusive digital distribution agreement with Montreal-based DigiScreen Corporation, The Pillar Group, Ltd. and the Royal Opera House (ROH) owned TV and DVD production company Opus Arte to bring ballets, operas and dance from the Royal Opera House and other international performing arts companies to cinema screens across Europe, including the UK and Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and the Nordic territories. Filmed in High Definition, the screenings will be both pre-recorded and live, projected in digital cinema, with 5.1 surround sound.
The inaugural screenings will include the first cinematic performances of ballet, with The Royal Ballet’s award-winning production of Frederick Ashton’s SYLVIA with Darcey Bussell in the title role, and The Royal Opera’s production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO directed by David McVicar. Other upcoming titles to be screened from the new ROH series will include SLEEPING BEAUTY, CARMEN, ROMEO AND JULIET as well as CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA & PAGLIACCI from Teatro Real in Madrid. Further ballet and opera performances from the extensive Opus Arte relationships will be announced in due course.
AAM will be responsible for cinema exhibitor booking negotiation, digital print services, security and tracking, and live event project management, as well as comprehensive marketing and public relations support, in collaboration with Opus Arte, ROH and DigiScreen.
Opera in cinemas has recently proved to be a success in Europe for both The Metropolitan Opera and the Arts Alliance Media-distributed La Scala series, with many saying that the experience is like having the best seat in the house and at a fraction of the cost. Cinema audiences are able to see the performers, the costumes and the sets up close and personal, at their convenience, in their local cinema. The Royal Opera House is embracing this new opportunity as part of its audience engagement strategy, committed to reaching wider and more diverse audiences around the world, as well as opening the minds of people to new creative experiences.
The agreement signifies how digital cinema is dramatically changing the cinemagoing experience, enabling audiences to enjoy “alternative” (non-movie) entertainment previously only accessible in live venues. Prior to digital cinema projection technology, the high cost of 35mm prints did not allow this type of content to be seen in cinemas. Now, with affordable digital prints and satellite distribution technology, content can be programmed widely into cinemas.
In the UK, ODEON and Cityscreen Picturehouse cinemas have initially signed up to exhibit. The first screening will be LE NOZZE DI FIGARO on 21st April in thirteen ODEON cinemas, with Picturehouse showing in up to twenty cinemas from 22nd June. Other cinema exhibitors across the UK and Europe will be announced in early summer.
Paul Chesney, Director of Business Development for AAM said: “Digital cinema is enabling cinemas to become vibrant cultural entertainment centres, as well as movie houses. We are delighted to be working with the Royal Opera House, Opus Arte and DigiScreen and thrilled to be bringing these stunning performances to cinema exhibitors across the UK and Europe.”
Mark Hooper, CEO of DigiScreen and Michael J. St. Clair, Chairman of The Pillar Group, Ltd added: “We are pleased to be working with Arts Alliance Media, one of Europe’s leading specialists in implementing the digital cinema deployment, to bring this great content to the Home Market. AAM’s local knowledge will be of significant value to us as we work to fulfill the wishes of the ROH and Opus Arte to bring this content to the farthest corners of the UK. With AAM as our partner, we will bring artistic content and independent film from around the world to the European cinemas. The audience is sure to benefit from this relationship.”
Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House and Executive Chairman of Opus Arte, said: “I am excited by this pioneering new direction for the Royal Opera House at the start of the 21st Century. Being at the forefront of the burgeoning digital platform allows us to bring brilliant ballets and operas from the world renowned Royal Ballet and Royal Opera to cinema screens all over the globe. As Opus Arte film more at the ROH, and at other great opera and dance companies, we will have an unbeatable line-up of cinema entertainment for exhibitors around the world. Having experienced the performances first hand, I cannot emphasize enough what an exhilarating experience these screenings live or recorded are, the High Def digital technology coupled with Surround Sound is remarkable.”
Hans Petri, Managing Director of Opus Arte commented: “In order to recreate the excellence of the stage performances in a cinematic environment, we have been highly selective about our choice of partners. DigiScreen, The Pillar Group and Arts Alliance Media are market leaders in providing top quality alternative content to cinema chains. We are confident we can provide audiences with the very best digital experience. There is so much more to look forward to.”
AAM’s experience in digital cinema includes the installation and maintenance of the 240 screen Digital Screen Network in the UK and digital cinema trials in the UK and Norway. The company is the only player in Europe to have signed digital cinema deployment agreements with five Hollywood studios for the conversion of up to 7,000 screens over the next few years, beginning with 100% of CGR Cinemas 400 screens in France. Recently, AAM has been distributing alternative content into cinemas, most notably a series of operas from La Scala, Teatro del Maggio Musicale, Florence and the Teatro La Fenice, Venice.
DigiScreen Corporation has been a pioneer in the acquisition and distributing of high quality digital content for theatrical presentations in cinemas and believes that seeing ballet and opera performances projected on large-format cinema screens to capture up-close all the extravagant costumes, stunning sets and dazzling performances is a marvellous occasion for patrons of these arts and a terrific opportunity to introduce new audiences to ballet and opera.