09 March 2007

Met at the multiplex

We live for detail. An interesting article in a trade publication sheds light on the behind-the-scenes meganetwork that attends the now historic transmission of live opera from the Met stage. It includes tidbits from the box office:

"The Magic Flute" sold 91 percent of the available seats and its January encore sold 67 percent of capacity, according to Borchard-Young. "I Puritani" sold 68 percent of its seats, which totaled 16,000 seats in one day. "The First Emperor" sold 64 percent of capacity, but with 111 theaters, the total was the highest at 25,000 seats. "Our house capacity at the Met is only 4,000 seats ... so that's like selling out six productions at once."
(cf. the live Onegin, which sold 50,000 tickets) to the painful minutiae of bits:
The Met transmits HD video at 1080i/29.97, 1080i/25, and 720p/59.94 with PCM, MPEG Layer 2, and AC-3 audio coding at different data rates. Video data rates vary such as uncompressed video at 1.5 Gbps over Verizon HD circuits for the PBS stations, to 57 Mbps, 52 Mbps and 19.8 Mbps for some theaters. Live performances are satcast to the cinema network and the Franco-German Arte HD network over transponders on the AMC-5, Nimiq-2, AB-1, W-3, Sirius-2 European, and Sirius-2 Nordic satellites.

Within the Met ... the productions are shot in 1080i/29.97 with up to 14 Sony HDC-950/1000/1500 cameras. The same video goes out to all of the theaters, but the recorded video going to PBS stations has more close-ups inserted for the smaller home screen.
(I didn't know that the live simulcast and the subsequent PBS broadcast don't have identical content. Bizarre that I would care about such detail, but can all this explain what happened to me in Florida.) Which brings us to today's trivia question: Do you think the more-than-solid multiplex box office receipts (50,000 x $18 = $900,000 ... + ...) are contributing to the Met's bottom line? ... Seems the answer may be a curious "not yet."
Q: How does the money get apportioned? How much (percentage) goes to the movie houses, Fathom Events, Fandango, production and finally, to the Met itself?
A. We don't disclose finances on the initiative.
Q: Is the Met making money on these theatercasts?
A. The Met has a financial arrangement with the participating cinema partners.
Q: (next question)
(Q: Do you know how to answer a simple yes or no question? A: Yes and no.) WTF it's 4:30am, I'm going to bed. (Now back to our regularly scheduled "hiatus.")