The idea driving “Art and Architecture in Cinema,” a monthly, seven-part event series beginning in movie theaters on Wednesday, is that if you can’t travel to see the world’s greatest artworks, they can come to you.
Florence’s Uffizi Gallery? It’s featured in the first program. Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation and its awesome collection of Renoirs? Due up in April. As well as programs highlighting Monet, Goya, DaVinci and others.
“Everyone is interested in art, even if they don’t realize it,” says Phil Grabsky, who directed the Renoir film. “It’s just that like classical music, or sushi, there are people who feel it’s not for me. I want to make people look at a Goya or a Renoir and see that these are examples of what humankind is capable of. I’m trying to make art accessible for everybody.”
“Art and Architecture in Cinema” is the latest program from Fathom Events, which has become well-known for its live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and Britain’s National Theater. Delivered to theaters by satellite, if live, or on hard drive for filmed presentations, the shows have managed to attract sizable audiences. Last year the Met Opera productions sold more than 700,000 tickets.
I want to make people look at a Goya, or a Renoir, and see that these are examples of what humankind is capable of. I’m trying to make art accessible for everybody.
Phil Grabsky, director of Renoir film
“Our target demographic are not general moviegoers, but people who love culture,” says Mark Rupp of SpectiCast, an event cinema company which is distributing the ‘Art and Architecture’ series through Fathom. “The target demographic is 35 to 70, more affluent than not.”
Grabsky adds that the audience tends to be “cultured, middle-class, 50-50 male to female,” but audiences also “depend on what cinema is showing the films, what time, and how well they do their marketing.”
The big push for this type of entertainment came, says Grabsky, who has a history of making documentaries for the BBC, the Discovery Channel and other outlets, “when TV lost interest in art and culture, and technology enormously changed how you could show exhibitions.” So after a 2011 broadcast of a Leonardo DaVinci exhibit at Britain’s National Gallery proved to be a hit, Grabsky started to “get approaches from galleries all the time.”
Each film takes about a year to produce, from identifying the exhibition to be shot to delivering the final cut. There’s a lot of research involved, a lot of talking to experts. Most exhibitions are shot at night after visiting hours, and take about three days, using three different crews. But because the films also include biographical details about the artist and go behind the scenes to see pictures being analyzed and framed, the entire shoot takes much longer.
“Every gallery is different,” says Grabsky. “If we are basing the film on an exhibition, how are those paintings laid out, and how do we reflect that in the film? The most important thing is what does each individual room demand in the film? The technology to do this had not existed before, but the quality now in cinemas is astounding.”
Which is why companies like Fathom are now featuring everything from classic movies like “The Maltese Falcon” to concerts, ballet, even TED talks. And the future for this technology has never looked brighter.
“I believe in five years, event cinema will be a bigger percentage of the exhibition market,” says Rupp. “It will expand into premieres or finales of hit TV series, sporting events for niche sports like UFC, and even online gaming events, Xbox, stuff like that.”
Adds Grabsky: “The point will come where you will be able to download these productions and be as near as you can be, without being physically there, to the National Gallery of Art or theater or opera, a comedy performance, a sporting event. No longer is TV going to decide what you do or don’t watch.”
What: “Art and Architecture in Cinema,” a monthly series bringing great works of art and architecture to movie theaters.
When: “Florence and the Uffizi Gallery,” the first in the series, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27. Film is a tour through the most beautiful and representative works of art of the period from Michelangelo to Botticelli, with a focus on the Uffizi Gallery, home to their masterpieces. Includes the unveiling of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Adoration of the Magi,” which has been undergoing years of restoration.
Other films in the series will feature artists such as Goya, DaVinci and Renoir, and a visit to the Papal Basilicas of Rome.
Where: Regal North Hills 14, Regal Crossroads 20, Brier Creek Stadium 14
Tickets: $16.01 per program.
More info: www.fathomevents.com