A seven-day concert event kicks off across the nation today, and while it requires tickets, the venue is different than one might expect.
From December 11-17, hundreds of movie theaters across the nation will feature “Larger Than Life in 3D,” a concert spectacle with performances from Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper & Relentless7, and Gogol Bordello. But the scope of this production extends well beyond this week: The current limited-release title is just the first installment of a planned series of In Concert 3D productions.
The 3D series was put into motion this past summer when AEG’s digital entertainment division Network Live and the digital production company Action 3D worked together to capture more than 75 hours of live footage from the nation’s most popular music festival events. Featured in the first movie are sets from DMB at Austin City Limits in Austin, TX; Ben Harper at Mile High in Denver, CO; and Gogol Bordello at All Points West in Jersey City, NJ.
In a recent interview with TicketNews, AEG Network Live president John Rubey and Action 3D CEO Jeff Lewis discussed the challenges and rewards of bringing a live concert experience to the silver screen.
While live event ticketing has recently seen the implementation of paperless ticketing and questions of dynamic pricing on the primary market, Rubey noted that the possibilities for ticketing movie events marketed toward a live entertainment demographic haven’t yet been explored. However, as the movie-going experience is revolutionized, he believes that their ticketing eventually could be, as well.
Rubey said, “There is a huge opportunity for the company that figures out how to ticket theater auditoriums the same way Ticketmaster and Live Nation ticket live event venue.” He also went on to explain that some level of central inventory control would help ensure that ticket supplies match local demand.
While the real test of demand will come in the form of the weekend’s box office report, Rubey has high expectations as “Larger Than Life” begins its limited-time run as a theatrical release.
The name-brand demand of the festivals themselves and dedicated followings of the featured bands are undeniable. But Rubey noted that the economy could also be a factor in audiences’ decisions to see the film, which will be open in about 500 theaters around the country.
“If you’re a young couple and you have young kids, 2009 was a rough year. By the time you do dinner and with a babysitter, [festival tickets] can be a few hundred dollars,” Rubey estimated.
By comparison, the cost of attending the movie is drastically less expensive. While ticketing varies from theater to theater, prices will be typical of any other 3D movie being offered. In many markets, that price is closer to $15 for a single admission ticket, which includes a pair of special glasses for viewing the movie.
In addition to the entertainment factor and economical value, Lewis said that fans can expect the full concert experience.
“The audience can expect to have a visual experience that is really nothing they’ve seen before in terms of a concert and the access they have to the band,” Lewis explained. “They’re getting a better seat than they would at a concert, and they’re paying far less.”
Rubey agreed, adding that audiences will also experience breathtaking views that they wouldn’t have had at the concert and couldn’t have fully enjoyed in regular 2D. He explained in great detail a scene where the camera is positioned on stage behind Gogol Bordello, capturing the band’s wild performance while also overlooking the crowd and the New York City skyline in the background.
“Most of these shots would get lost in 2D,” Rubey said. “Your eye is much more curious in 3D because it’s rewarded for wandering.”
Documenting live performances has long been of interest to AEG, according to Rubey. But it wasn’t until the company partnered with Action 3D that the idea became feasible for even a single film, much less a full series of theatrical releases.
“We worked in 2007 and 2008 with Bon Jovi filming ‘When We Were Beautiful’ at Madison Square Garden and Central Park. We were looking at filming in 3D for that, but couldn’t find a cost effective way to do it,” Rubey said.
For Network Live, the hi-def digital 3D capabilities offered by Action 3D fulfilled a need. But the arrangement turned out to be one of mutual benefit at the network of festivals and concerts in AEG’s roster proved to be just what Action 3D had been searching for.
“We needed content. We developed this process to use the latest, state of the art 3D capture,” Lewis described. “But we needed access to a popular artist that was not, in effect, a special event created to film a movie.”
Once the partnership was worked out, the two teams quickly came together to start filming for the summer 2009 festival season.
Going forward, Network Live and Action 3D hope to have one to three movies released per month. Some of the upcoming offerings will include “Best of” compilations from 2009’s sold-out Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits festivals, which are expected to arrive on-screen in the first quarter of 2010.
And as far as the 2010 U.S. festival season is concerned, Rubey and Lewis expect to be present at many of the same events as they continue documenting the live concert action.
As Rubey explained it, “This isn’t just a movie about a concert. This is us taking you to the concert.”
Above: Dave Matthews Band performs at the 2009 Austin City Limits festival in Austin, TX, in a still from “Larger Than Life.” (Image courtesy AEG Network Live / Action 3D)