When Stevie Nicks’ concert film “24 Karat Gold The Concert” opens in theaters Oct. 21, it will mark just the latest music-event film released by UK-based Trafalgar Releasing, which recently scored a hit with BTS’ “Break The Silence,” which sold $1.7 million worth of tickets as of Oct. 2, according to tracking service Comscore.
While live events are largely shut down, but cinemas slowly reopening, the concert event film is one way for fans to sate their longing to see their favorite artists performing after seven long months since COVID put a stop to most concerts. And it’s a way for artists to maintain their fan engagement at a time they can’t reach them from the live concert stage.
“The fanbase wants to celebrate the artists they love and they want to enjoy the collective experience,” Trafalgar Releasing CEO Mark Allenby tells Pollstar. “We’re able to get people out of the house instead of watching on Netflix; with music events being more scarce, we’re able to drive people to those cinemas. BTS was a great result in North American and globally, and it makes us work more close with the live music industry.”
Allenby got his start as an usher with Picturehouse Entertainment more than 20 years ago, moving into marketing and administration and then the executive ranks. In 2017, he helped facilitate the management buyout of Picturehouse Entertainment, which was reborn as Trafalgar Releasing, part of Trafalgar Entertainment Group.
With Allenby now at the helm, Trafalgar Releasing quadrupled its EBITDA position in two years and become an industry leader, establishing a team in the U.S. and releasing “Burn The Stage: The Movie,” which it says is the largest ever event cinema release.
Trafalgar had a stellar 2019, particularly with successes in the music and arts film categories. Its expansion that year included distribution to more than 120 countries (a 13% increase from 2018), and more than 8,300 theaters (a 46% increase from 2018) with 73 releases, enabling the company to expand teams in both the United States and the U.K.
In addition to films by BTS, Trafalgar has also released films by artists including Gorillaz, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Roger Waters, Metallica, Shakira and Slayer. And after Nicks’ “24 Karat Gold” release, Trafalgar follows with a solo show by Nick Cave, filmed at Alexanderplatz in Rome.
The event film particularly provides an avenue for artists that are invested in audio and visual elements of their shows to present a state of the art show.
“The performance is the heart of that,” Allenby says. “Cinema is a great way to show the breadth of that experience and lends itself well. The timing is very unique, and without doubt I think it applies to a wide range of artists as well. There’s some great performers who can bring audio / visual equipment and show that in a COVID world, there’s a way.”
Trafalgar has established good relationships with artist managers and labels and developed a reputation for delivering global events.
“We contact management around various initiatives and have good label relations,” Allenby explains. “Sometimes they come up with concepts or ideas. Or they’ve filmed and they want assistance in bringing it to audiences. We’re able to offer a true valuation and assess how many people would come.
“There’s global nuances. Some markets have very high attendances and low ticket prices. We have the cinema marketplace that can attract higher ticket prices, even when the market might be quite small, but we can work well because there is a vibrant, mature cinema market. There are similarities with the live touring business that we hope to formalize.”
Before COVID, Trafalgar scored hit releases in 2019 with BTS’ “Bring The Soul: The Movie,” which sold a whopping $24.3 million in tickets, followed by Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony’s “S&M2” with $6 million in sales. Depeche Mode’s “SPIRITS in the Forest” sold $4.6 million; Roger Waters’ “Us + Them” sold $3.4 million and more highbrow fare like the Royal Opera House did well with “La Forza del Destino,” grossing $$1.5 million and “La Traviata” at $1.2 million.
“The tickets can be less than for the live show and can be in the neighborhood and not restricted by age, in a more affordable way that kind of democratizes the live component,” Allenby says of the viability of concert event films after COVID. “You can have the sense of touring in Australia or Southeast Asia and yet the experience is in addition to it. The hardcore fan wants to engage at any opportunity.”