Tom de Bont, programmer of the Heerenstraat Theater in Wageningen, the Netherlands

The section EXPERTS' CORNER is giving voice to the people who have already been working with added content for some time now, gaining first-hand experience in the field which MEDIA SALLES think is worth sharing internationally.

16 September 2019

- Which type of audience do you target with added content?
Tom De BontI think you cannot talk about one target group for added content. Like a regular movie all added content has its own target group. The key to success is to find this group and mobilize them. But again it is like a regular movie, we always keep in mind what the target group of our cinema is. If the target group of the event does not match with our cinema target group, or the quality is not high enough, we do not screen it. 

As added content is one of our main focuses, and a perfect way to distinguish ourselves on the market, we put a lot of effort in hosting, organising and promoting these events. Besides bringing a higher box-office on off-peak moments, it is a perfect way to promote our cinema. We see it as marketing by events. We want to give our visitors the feeling that there is always something worthwhile and unique to experience (and specially not just to see) in our cinema. If they visit us for a special event they might also visit us to see a 'regular' movie. So far, this strategy has worked; in 2018 the entire Dutch market increased by 3.4%, we gained 11.5%. A great achievement for a small independent cinema surrounded by locations of national chains.

- We know that you offer a variety of added content: which is the most successful type (opera, ballet, theatre, popular music, art documentaries etc)?
The operas and ballets of The Royal Opera House are still incredibly popular. On average we have 90 visitors. Our biggest screening room has 108 seats. 
This year we have put a lot of effort into the Arts in Cinema screenings. Especially the 55+ target group seems to find these very interesting. Screenings are already booked for the entire year. We know that this group of visitors like to plan their visit way ahead. No online-campaign, but a well-designed booklet with all the dates, prices and other important information. In our second season we tripled the number of visitors compared to the first. And all at off-peak moments: Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 pm, Sunday at 11:00 am or Wednesday at 6:30 pm. 

- Is the ticket price for added content higher than the ticket price for films?
This depends entirely on the quality, uniqueness and event-value. A live concert by Metallica is totally different from a pre-recorded art documentary. 
But our normal movie prices are around 10.00 euro. Events are somewhere between 12.50 and 24.50 euro.

- Which was the most successful screening in 2018/2019?
We like to work as much as possible in series. They are more interesting to market. 
This year, in collaboration with the famous Wageningen University & Research, we started with the Wisdom & Wonder Movie Talks. Prominent professors/researchers were invited to be our guest programmer for one day. Instead of in a lecture hall they held their lecture in a cinema. In this introduction, in laymen's terms, they made the connection between the movie and their field of work. 
Almost every screening was sold out. Why? It matched with one of our target groups (students), it was unique (only once) and it was of high quality (a prominent professor and great movies).

- Do you believe the Dutch market for added content/event cinema will develop in the near future?
I think the term added content is already outdated, as it cannot be 'un-added'. It is a significant part of cinema programming, and it can only increase. In my opinion, especially for smaller independent cinemas, it is indispensable to distinguish you from all the major chains. I see our big screens as windows to the world. You can see an opera, a ballet, a documentary or a movie... We turn off the lights and show you something you want to see from anywhere in the world, in your own local cinema. 

 - Can you imagine initiatives that could give more visibility to added content/event cinema in the Netherlands (professional conferences for cinema exhibitors/distributors, presentations of show-reels/trailers, informal gatherings etc.)?
Knowledge is power, so it is always good to stay informed of developments. But I think that nationwide marketing for these events can be improved. Most of the exhibitors know the value of added content, but after over 10 years of screening live-operas and concerts, people sometimes still ask: "Is Jonas Kaufmann really coming to your theatre?"

Films and Science events at the Heerenstraat Theater
in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research
26/09/2018 Louise O. Fresco - President of the University's Academic Senate
Film: Chungking Express
16/10/2018 Arthur Mol - Dean and Vice-President of the University's Academic Senate
Film: Beijing Taxi
20/11/2018 Dick de Ridder & Willem Jan Knibbe - Bioinformatics
Film: AlphaGo
15/1/2019 Marcel Dicke - Entomology
Film: Antz
20/2/2019 Saskia van Ruth - Food authenticity and integrity
Film: Sour Grapes
19/3/2019 Frits Mohren - Ecology and forest management
Film: Fitzcarraldo
16/4/2019 Ronald Osinga - Ecology of marine fauna
Film: Chasing Coral
21/5/2019 Gerlinde De Deyn - Soil Biology
with the participation of Wim van Egmond, expert on microphotography
Film: Microcosmos
18/6/2019 Maria Koelen - Health and Society
Film: Sacro GRA




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