Research finds positive reaction to the National Theatre’s cinema initiative

The National Theatre’s pilot of live cinema broadcasts of selected productions was a success with audiences, according to research from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

The survey found that 89% of audiences that attended NT Live performances said they would do it again; while 35% said they had attended a screening out of curiosity of how a live theatrical broadcast would work.

The NT Live season launched last June with a screening of Phedre, starring Helen Mirren and Dominic Cooper. The performance pulled in an audience of 14,000 across 73 UK screens and 200 internationally. It also included a screening of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well and Alan Bennett’s The Habit Of Art.

The research suggests that the proximity of the cinema compared to the National Theatre was a key factor in deciding to attend the broadcast; while almost half said that they would watch a live stream of play online if it was available.

Jonathan Kestenbaum, chief executive of NESTA, says: “Through new digital technologies the performing arts have an exciting opportunity to reach wider audiences and generate new revenue streams. This is a prime example of how new technology can help change the dynamic of a traditional sector, bringing benefits to all.”