This Week on the Boxoffice Podcast: UK’s This Way Up Conference Targets Independent Exhibitors

On this week’s episode of The Boxoffice Podcast, co-hosts Daniel Loría and Jesse Rifkin analyze the sophomore frame first place repeat of Marvel Studios’ Eternals, Cineworld returning to positive cash flow in October, and Cinemark’s record-setting box office from a theatrical run of a Netflix original film with Red Notice.

In this episode’s feature interview, co-host Rebecca Pahle speaks with Hugh Odling-Smee, the manager of Film Hub Northern Ireland, talking about This Way Up, an annual conference for U.K. exhibitors. This event will be both in person and online. 

Listen to this week’s episode below and subscribe to The Boxoffice Podcast on any major podcast platform.

What is going to be one of the major topics discussed at this year’s This Way Up?

I’ll be chairing something with the producers of Bait film, which was a micro budget title that was based in Cornwall. And we’re looking at regional tours and how you can engage regional audiences with titles and the burgeoning film industry. Because so much investment goes into the film industry, sometimes maybe audiences get left behind, sometimes in regions.
The Westminster Government, the London Government has a big, what they call Levelling Up, which is a term about sort of reinvesting in certain areas. I’d say London has been a real discussion, about all the money can funneling into London. And so we’ll be looking at thinking, how could cinema play a role in that? Cinema is such an important part of people’s communities and important part of the development, the regional and economic development of towns and cities, but how can we play a part in that?

Record numbers of employees in various industries are quitting their jobs, in a development nicknamed The Great Resignation. How do you think the cinema exhibition industry should handle that issue?

I mean, that is really a really important thing that the industry needs to think of long term. This is not just about short term, five-year plans. This is about somebody coming into the industry at 18 and maybe developing, creating new work, innovating, finding new audiences, all those things that we all want. But we need to nurture those people, we need to make it a fit and proper and nurturing environment for these people to work out.

Exhibition can sometimes be seen as the Cinderella of the skills development and career development area, because cinemas sometimes can be sort of seen as further down the chain in terms of the importance within the ecosystem. But I think that that’s rapidly changing. And I think it’s discussions that we have at This Way Up and you’re having on your show, this sort of awareness that the culture that you come into is the culture that you might stay in for the rest of your life and produce great work.

How do you think about the role of accessibility in cinema exhibition?

I think that the concern is that we’ve rushed back to screening again, and that maybe those conversations have been forgotten slightly, because box office is everything. Am I getting enough money through the door to be able to survive to whenever we return to something like normal? And I think the role of conferences like This Way Up is to remind people to think of these things and to remind cinemas that open access is really, really key. Because otherwise those great titles aren’t going to be seen.

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