Cinema broadcasts of live theatre generated £7.2 million in 2013

Helen Mirren in The Audience, which was screened in cinemas in 2013. Photo: Johan Persson
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Live screenings of theatre productions in cinemas across the UK pioneered by the National Theatre generated £7.2 million at the box office last year, from just 14 shows, a new report has found.

The data, which is included in the British Film Institute’s Statistical Yearbook, shows that the takings from live theatre screenings represented the largest share of the £18.3 million of total box office takings from 111 events that were screened during the year. These include opera performances, comedy and concerts.

NT Live screenings in 2013 included The Audience, starring Helen Mirren.

The BFI report noted that opera has proved consistently popular, with 44 screened last year, generating £4.8 million from a select number of participating cinemas.

Ballet took £2.1 million, classical music £900,000, popular music £500,000 and comedy £100,000. The other two non-theatrical categories were film documentaries, which generated £2.2 million, and museum exhibitions, which took £900,000.

The analysis notes that event cinema is becoming a regular feature as more cinemas have been equipped with digital screens, and offer the prospect of generating more revenue because the novelty value of only one or two screenings can generate higher occupancy than a film, and also command higher ticket prices.