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The Takeaway

  • New Experiences. With traditional movie experiences currently unavailable, UCCA’s initiative draws off the strengths of online platforms such as real-time comments, beaming in international guests, and unlimited audience size to create something new.
  • Cross-Industry Marketing. By working with organizations in different sectors, events reach new audiences and expand the potential revenue pool. Such collaboration is inviting to international organizations, German Films in this case, as it shares the challenges of entering a new and unfamiliar market.

A movie premier typically entails red carpets and slick evening attire, but for The Last Berliner, a German produced hostage drama, its Chinese debut came via streaming app accompanied by a virtual appearance from director Gregor Erler.  

The screening formed part of a series hosted by Beijing’s UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, platform Moviezone (现在电影), and promoter German Films. With theatres shuttered since January, UCCA’s latest initiative strives to replicate the experience of cinema-going as part of an ongoing exhibition Meditations in an Emergency. Each night, audiences can enter Moviezone’s specially created viewing room (there’s even a ticket check-in), discuss the screening with other viewers in real-time through bullet comments, and attend an after show discussion with producers, directors, and guest speakers. 

Audiences can check in and enter Moviezone’s "viewing room" by scanning UCCA's WeChat QR codes and receiving further instructions from its official WeChat account.

Audiences can register their seats by scanning the UCCA’s WeChat QR code on the poster. Virtual tickets will then be generated and forwarded to the users from its official WeChat account. Image: UCCA

As Beijing braced itself for a second COVID-19 wave on June 12, the need for arts institutions to maintain digital initiatives and forge new engagements remains stronger than ever. In an unpredictable external environment, UCCA’s initiative succeeds because it’s controllable, welcomes in a broad audience, and works smartly with the technology at hand.          

The 798 Arts District institution has repeatedly responded adventurously to the imposition of coronavirus from live streaming a relay of performances by international musicians to inviting Beijingers into its empty galleries upon its April reopening. Its latest program follows on from Online Cinema in March which worked with major streaming platforms Youku and Tencent to explore science fiction movies and succeeded in attracting more than 260,000 viewers.   

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