Play-goers in France will soon have to sit through cinema-style trailers and advertisements before the curtain rises as cash-strapped theatres seek new ways to boost revenue.

Twelve Paris theatres and five in the provinces are to start projecting advertising and previews of forthcoming plays on screens in front of the stage in November. Another 30 theatres across France are expected to follow suit.

Alexandre Vernier, the head of the ODW Régie advertising agency, acknowledged that audiences who pay high prices for theatre tickets may not applaud the initiative.

“The idea is not to irritate theatre-goers but to give them something to watch while they wait for the play to start,” he said. “Theatres are caught in a double bind: how to promote their own plays and how to make up for falling receipts and subsidies. Theatres are prestigious places so the advertising will be high-end, for cars, jewellery and perfume.”

Audiences will not be bombarded with advertising, he promised. ODW is to show only two minutes of advertising followed by two minutes of publicity previewing future productions.

Karine Marchi, who manages four Paris theatres, said theatres had been wrong to shun advertising in the past and should seize the chance to boost revenues.

The idea is not to irritate theatre-goers but to give them something to watch while they wait for the play to start

“When I go to the cinema, the trailers really make you want to go and see those films and I hope the same will be the case for our audiences.”

She aded: “The fact that we can promote our own plays is really something for us. We do not have the crazy sums you need to drum up publicity.”

But some theatre owners and many Paris play-goers are sceptical.

Françoise Dumont, 53, a teacher, said: “I think it’s a dreadful idea, but I love the theatre so I suppose if there’s really no alternative to keep small theatres alive, you can’t object too much. On the other hand, if you’ve paid a lot of money to see a play at a big theatre, I think advertising would be unacceptable.”

Bernard Murat, the owner of the Edouard VII theatre in Paris, said it would be demeaning for theatres to chase advertising revenue.

“I think we should be looking at other ways of getting the resources we should have, notably from the state, because of our service to the public.”

Mr Murat argued that allowing advertising could diminish performance standards.

“I hope we won’t end up with adverts between scenes or actors forced to stop for an ad before delivering a quip or a punchline.”


Sourced from The Telegraph