In an exploratory move which will test the viability of alternative programming in cinemas, US circuit Cinemark Theatres has announced plans to screen a live concert by US rock band Sugar Ray in a handful of its US theatres.

The band's August 15 concert in Georgia will be broadcast live via satellite to 14 of Cinemark's US theatres. Tickets are for sale at $15 at theatres or online.

US company Cinema Presents is handling the digital broadcast, and is setting up special projection systems in the participating theatres.

Alternative programming has long been mooted as an opportunity for exhibitors to diminish their reliance on film product, and with circuits under intense pressure to increase revenues the feasibility of screening conferences, sports, concerts and plays in cinemas is hotly debated.

While the availability of alternative programming is a cornerstone in the business plans of the new breed of digital exhibition facilitators such as Boeing Digital Cinema, many are doubtful of screenings finding an audience because of the difference in environment between a cinema and a sports bar or music arena.

One of the largest US exhibitors, Cinemark has sites in the US and internationally, at locations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru.