9 Ways to Cut Movie Licencing Costs

All you need to know about legal aspects of showing films in public

Are you planning a public movie event?
You need to understand movie licensing, costs involved and ways to save on the licences.

Good news – no licence is required to show films in your backyard to your family and friends!
Any event beyond your backyard, including free events, is subject to licensing. Non-compliance may cost you up to $250,000, so read on to avoid the penalty!

Public screenings include, for example:

  • Showing films at school, in the sports centre, or in the library
  • Fundraising events
  • Movie nights at Holiday Parks and on the public ovals
  • Watching movies at film societies or on mining camps
  • Screening movies on private land (golf clubs, wineries)

Where do I obtain licences?

In Australia, Roadshow PPL represents the majority of film studios and film distributors, including Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Walt Disney.
Amalgamated Movies are non-theatrical film distributors for Sony Pictures (Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures), and others.

Contact these licensors and request permission to screen two or three movies, in case the first choice film is not yet available for public performance. Most of the movies are available for non-theatrical screening events only several weeks after DVD release.

Public performance of music requires a separate licence. Contact Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) for details.

What costs can you expect?

If you are planning to show movies to the non-paying audience throughout the year, you may be eligible for a blanket licence. Blanket licence is paid once a year and gives permission to show films all year round – no need to pay for each film! Budget several hundred dollars for a yearly licence, depending on your location and on the size of your audience.

For a one-off event, the costs for a standard movie licence vary from $300 to $1000. A country primary school will be on the lower end of the scale whilst a commercial organization will be on the higher end of the scale.

Organising a ticketed event? Prepare for the minimum flat fee or for 30-35% of your ticket sales, whichever is greater.

The licensing costs depend on:

  • Audience size and screen size
  • Distance to the nearest hardtop cinema
  • Location of the event and ticket prices

When planning an event, contact the licensing officials for the quote and mention all details of the event to get the accurate costs of movie licensing.

What are the options to minimise costs when organising events on a big screen?

  • Some film distributors are cheaper than others. Amalgamated Movies can be more budget friendly. Choose among films made by Sony Pictures (there are some excellent kids’ movies and adult classics on offer!) or look through their range of Australian movies, anime, Bollywood, Asian Cinema and independent films.
  • Screening Art House films will cost you far less than recent Hollywood blockbusters.
  • National Film and Sound Archive offers to loan the films pre-licensed for non-theatrical and educational screenings. For as little as $22 dollars, show such films as Babe. Pig in the City, Cinderella, Bran Nue Dae, Happy Feet, Mao’s Last Dancer, and others. The restrictions will be for indoor spaces only. You also need to meet the NTLC terms and conditions of loan available at: http://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/screening-loans/.
  • Consider showing documentaries – great way to educate community, and often, a very affordable one! For example, “Edible City”, a documentary on sustainable local food system, will only cost $125 for local government or $39 for the library!
  • Christian camps and schools can obtain yearly licence via their Church, at very reasonable rates, via Heritage Films or via Church Video Licence.
  • Schools should check if they are covered by the co-curricular licence, which allows showing films for entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, this licence does not allow screening films for general public and for fundraising activities.

Free alternatives

Some of the fun activities and events do not require any licensing expenses. Consider the following entertainment ideas:

  • Watching live to air TV, including free to air films, footy finals, state of Origin matches, or Olympic games, does not require licensing. All you need is a set top box connected to the projector. Replay of these events, however, may require a licence.
  • Youth can play computer games on inflatable screen – this activity normally does not require licensing as well.

Finally, to organise a public movie event, you need equipment. We provide both projection screens and complete portable cinema packages. Check our store to find the cinema equipment for your audience.

Why we love outdoor cinema

Personal experience of falling in love with movies in the open air

I like watching movies, but there are so many things I love more:

  • To be outdoors in a warm summer night
  • To spend quality time with my family
  • To move around: walk or cycle

I also have to admit that going to the cinema:

  • Can be expensive
  • Is not always a good choice for sensitive children – they can be scared or just feel uncomfortable
  • Means the smell of popcorn, which in big quantities can be revolving for sensitive people like me (I was happy to learn I’m not alone in this feeling)
  • Means I have to buy this popcorn for my ankle-biters, and it’s difficult to say “No”.

No wonder that watching movies is not the top activity for our family in the summer time, even though I would love to watch the latest Star Wars, or highly recommended by my friends Inside Out, or Australian made Oddball.

Movie night at a primary school

Movie night at a primary school

Yet, this summer I got hooked on outdoor movies – all thanks to the local enthusiasts organising movie nights in the parks of the city of Knox.

The first outdoor movie event I attended was more of an excuse to stay outdoors and to skip cooking dinner. I also wanted to introduce my 5 y/o to the concept of going to the movies.
We went there early, got our camping chairs and picnic rug out and had a snack. The Sun was going down, creating warm light around. The stems of the gumtrees were of the beautiful bright colours, and so was the evening sky. Children were playing on the green grass of the oval, running and doing cartwheels. Small local businesses were selling their goods, pet zoo was busy with little visitors, and teenagers were hanging around, with the young band granted access to the microphone to perform a couple of songs.

Familiar faces of neighbours and kids from local schools made the evening feel like a good get-together party, relaxed and comfortable.
Pre-movie activities were going on, with a big dinosaur puppet entertaining kids in front of the big movie screen. Kids had so much fun, and adults simply enjoyed watching them.
It was getting dark and fresh – I was glad there was a coffee van with aromatic hot drinks!

Outdoor movie night in the neighbourhood

Outdoor movie night in the neighbourhood

The movie started. The sound was powerful but not as uncomfortably loud as it can be in the movie theatre. The screen was big, but it was not filling all the viewing space – there were also the silhouettes of the tall gumtrees behind it, bright stars and a young crescent moon above it, and the darkness was not absolute.

I have to admit – introducing the child to the movies did not work particularly well. Moreover, it was a disaster – she got scared, started crying and demanded to go home immediately. How lucky I was it did not happen in the movie theatre! It was easy to escape the movie grounds without disturbing other viewers, and, as I had not paid $50 for the tickets, I did not feel too frustrated.
I have learned my lesson and since then I do not take my children to the movies just because the title sounds absolutely ok, like it was in the case with the Good Dinosaur, which proved to be too scary for a sensitive child.

The first experience of movies under the stars made me want to go for more, and this summer I visited several outdoor movie events. Here’s why my family loves outdoor cinema:

  • Going to outdoor movies is a bit like going on a quick camping trip. Pack camping chairs, sleeping bags, and torches. Get a picnic basket to eat outdoors. Spend the early hours of the night in the open air. Bonus for the comfort-lovers – after the movie, you do return back home to sleep in your own bed, while little kids are convinced they’ve been camping all night long.
  • If you are lucky enough and your local council offers movies in the park close to your home, you can ride or walk there, without stressing about parking. Bonus: feeling that you are doing the right thing for your family.
  • Outdoor movie events are often free or have minimal entry fee. It means affordable entertainment for the families; it also means local businesses can get an opportunity to generate revenue and get a good brand exposure, while we are spending money on them and not on tickets to Hoyts.
  • Outdoor cinema is both kids and pets friendly. It gives the feeling of freedom – to sit, stand, and walk or even to crawl around (if you are a fidgety toddler) whenever you feel like it. One does not feel guilty or uncomfortable leaving half through the movie – everybody understands.
  • Watching movies in the open air is so much more romantic than going to the cinema. While event organisers create the general atmosphere of joy and excitement before the movie, Mother Nature takes care of us, creating beautiful backdrop and unforgettable experience, no matter the weather.

Have you been to an outdoor cinema this summer? We would love to hear your story!

Melbourne open air cinema nights: so many options to choose from!

Melbourne boasts numerous open air cinema venues, both free and paid.

Every Melbournian and city visitor has so many options to choose from!

From grand events at Royal Botanic Gardens to low profile movies in the park held by local councils; from family-friendly sessions at Wilson Botanic Park to M-rated movies at QV Cinema; or from old fashioned drive-ins functioning from mid-fifties to opened in the last decade art-house and independent film oriented venues, the choice is yours.

However, Melbourne is big. It’s one of the most geographically extensive cities in the world, and your nearest open air cinema can be rather far from your place.

To bring movies under the stars closer to home, you could do one of the following:

  • Talk to your local council and ask them to do more for their community. Outdoor movies are a good reason to bring together local businesses, volunteers, young talents and local families, and promote council services, like mobile libraries or swimming pools.
  • Convince your sports club or local school to run a special fundraising event. Movie nights are getting more and more popular among fundraising organisations, because they have high potential to generate revenue both from the tickets sale and from supporting activities (face painting, petting zoo, jumping castle rides).
  • Check your local beer garden – nothing goes better with the movie than a good selection of food and drinks; nothing makes the pub stand out from the crowd more prominent than a big inflatable screen, making everyone go “wow!”
  • Host a movie night in your own backyard.

Whatever option you choose, we recommend to read the Open Air Cinema Guide, which will help answer all your questions and organise an ideal movie night.

Have you been pondering to host your very own Melbourne open air cinema night – right in your backyard? Here is the good news:

  1. Inflatable screens are quick and easy to set up. Allow 5 minutes for the screen and 10-15 minutes for all other equipment.
  2. The screens can be used in wet areas (near swimming pools) – great idea for a pool party. A dive-in, anyone?
  3. The screen surface can be washed in the washing machine.
  4. You can do much more with the backyard cinema than just watching a movie – play console games, have a go at karaoke, or show your family photos and videos.
  5. Hosting a cinema party in your backyard means you don’t have to travel back from the movies. Just walk indoors or simply stay outside (even better, leave your kids, if you have any, camping in your backyard after the movie and enjoy the quiet night).

Need help, advice or equipment to organise your Melbourne open air cinema event? Contact Smart Digital for wide range of screens and equipment to please any audience from 10 to 3000 people.

History of Open Air Cinema

Open-air cinema is over a hundred years old; it was invented in the same decade as aeroplane and automobile.

The oldest constantly operating outdoor cinema, Sun Pictures, is located in Broome, Western Australia. According to Guinness World Records, it holds the title of the Oldest Open-Air Cinema in Operation. This year, it is celebrating 100 years since its opening night on 9th of December 1916!

First drive-in cinema was invented in 1914 in Las Cruces, New Mexico (USA). The first Australian drive-in opened in 1954 in Burwood, a suburb of Melbourne. Drive-ins were great for families with small children, or for teenagers dating in their first car. Highly popular in sixties and seventies of the 20th century, drive-in cinemas eventually went out of style. There are only a handful of them still in operation in Australia, simply because the land they occupied became too valuable. Yet, drive-ins are still adored by many people around the World.

Resurgence of Outdoor Movies began early this century, with the invention of inflatable movie screens. Lightweight, windproof and portable, they made it possible for companies to bring movies to remote places and to create movie theatre in any location. The inflatable movie screen found its legs initially in Germany, followed by the USA.  It came to Australia thanks to the enthusiasm and persistence of outdoor movie specialists, such as Smart Digital Australia and others.

Technology of movie projectors also changed. The profession of projectionist is becoming obsolete. Projection booth with movie projector was replaced by the digital (or video) projector. DLP cinema technology became widely used since 1999. Among projection technologies, DLP became the most popular and is considered the most suitable for outdoor movies.

Changing values of our society also played a role in open-air cinema comeback. People want to spend more time outdoors, and to be together with friends and family. Open air cinema gives just that – breathtaking scenery, fresh air, opportunity for socializing and positive emotions.

Today, outdoor movies return to parks, holiday resorts, rooftops and even backyards, creating a new page in the history of open air cinema.

How to make an outdoor movie night a success

The movie or the live TV event is only a part of the evening’s experience.  It is important that when the people leave at the end of the evening, they say: “Wow! What a great night!”, “What a blast!”

To give the viewer a fantastic experience, whether they are attending a fundraiser, a free event or a commercial movie night, we recommend combining the movie with other experiences, creating a terrific night out.

As an example, the promoter might decide to screen The Blues Brothers – truly a successful, fantastic and entertaining movie.  But screening it on its own would be a little ho-hum!  Imagine having a live Blues Brothers Band playing, all dressed up in the gear, while the audience is watching the sun going down and waiting for the movie to start.  Add a stall called “Soul Food Café”, serve fried chickens and an Orange Whip, referencing to the movie scenes, and all of a sudden we have a wild and entertaining experience.  The viewers will not forget that night for a long time.  Everyone will also talk a lot and tell all their friends about a great time they had at the outdoor movie night!

Here are some more ideas to make the event/party a really enjoyable evening.

The first is to provide live music playing as people arrive and up to the start of the movie. This is neither difficult nor expensive.  A three piece band, playing music appropriate to the event, gets everybody into the right mood. Normally cool jazz or smooth pop music work really well.  One of the organizers might know somebody who plays in a band. Senior kids from the school are often looking for live experience and will play for that experience and for watching the movie for free! As always, it is just a matter of how you put it to them, or how you sell the idea! Think about it for a moment.

No access to live bands? Use the power of speakers supplied with the system. Play a CD or broadcast a radio station (a great way to promote your local community radio station or get a sponsorship from a famous FM!).

Another idea for a great outdoor movie night is to play console games from producers like Nintendo, PlayStation or Xbox. Games on the big screen are always a big hit.  However, if you have a lot of kids, small or big, then you may have a problem, as not enough kids will get a go. With majority of console games, you can only play up to 4 people at a time.  Fear not, as there is a solution! Use Just Dance, a rhythm game available on all gaming platforms. It can even be played with a smartphone app!  There are no controllers to worry about, and excellent music with a great beat makes everybody move.  Experience shows that almost everybody gets up and dances, from bubs to seniors. It is that captivating!  The good thing about the dance idea is that it does not require a brilliant image on the screen. People understand that the image on the screen will improve as the sun sets.

Outdoor cinema allows connecting the movie with life. Showing a movie about dogs? Allow the dog owners bring their pets and run a little dog show. Screening a film for Valentine’s Day? Add chocolate, flowers and champagne. Showing the movie for the kids? Invite a face painter and a balloon twister; let the little ones jump on the thematic jumping castle.

Whatever you do, you need to create the atmosphere, get everybody into a great mood and relieve people of the day’s pressures. They will soon relax and enjoy themselves.  They will depart saying -what a great evening it was!  The other good part is that the cost of creating a very special outdoor movie night compared to your simple sceening, is minimal, if anything at all.  Enjoy!

Bring fireworks closer to your home

I love fireworks. New Year fireworks, Australia Day fireworks, Guy Fawkes fireworks – you name it – and I will be dreaming to watch them live.

Dreaming. That is it. As for many suburban dwellers, the strong desire to awe at the fireworks collides with the cruel reality.

  • ten-minute show requires spending two hours in public transport or facing driving / parking nightmare with an alternative to spend half of the night trying to catch a taxi.
  • With our infamous public transport, no matter how hard you plan, you can miss the show. I did miss Sydney Christmas fireworks – with the train being just 15 minutes late, I came to Sydney Harbour in time to hear it, but not to see it.
  • Fireworks time is not kid friendly, even the 9 o’clock one. While the older children will simply get grumpy in late hours, the younger ones often get scared of the noise and crowds, spoiling all the show (I once had to run from the firework field, trying to comfort my two-year-old!)
  • Big gatherings are not for everyone. Many people feel the stress of being in the middle of the crowd.
  • Quite often, we celebrate New Year with friends, and we end up even further from all these firework places, than we would normally be.

Luckily, there are more options to watch fireworks than from Sydney Harbour or Melbourne’s Federation Square.

You can watch the show away from crowds on a boat cruise or from the rooftop restaurant. You can make your research and find a place a bit further away from the show, but still offering decent views. You may even be lucky enough to have friends living in the apartment featuring a balcony with a proper vantage point.

Many local councils offer fireworks in the parks or on the shore, maybe less spectacular, but more family friendly, and closer to your home.

However, if all the above options are not for you, there is a solution that will bring your beloved fireworks closer to you. It is an outdoor cinema system. Connect it to the set top box and watch major Australian fireworks live no matter where you are.

Outdoor Cinema is a far better option than your average plasma TV. Here is why:

  • Forget the comfort of your sofa. It is an outdoor event! You can bring the experience of the real fireworks to your backyard or to the camping grounds, with picnic rugs or foldable chairs, surrounded by the fresh night air. You can even share the experience with your neighbours – even the smallest screen is enough for 50 guests, while a four-metre system will be sufficient for 250 people!
  • Inflatable screens are bigger than an average plasma TV, and even bigger than many home theatre screens, as the house ceiling does not limit their size (from 2.5 to 12 metres long, they are very impressive!)
  • The good quality sound system makes your heart beat in awe, as if you were in the middle of the actual event!

Overall, outdoor home theatre can bring many fireworks to your doorstep, with no need to travel – great option for families with children, for the inhabitants of outer suburbs or small towns, and for the lovers of comfort and good night sleep.

Outdoor Movie Events for Your Community: Entertainment and beyond

How to entertain, educate, and engage communities with help of a cinema screen

With invention of inflatable movie screens 20 years ago, open-air cinema made a strong comeback to our lives. Local councils embraced the idea and started inviting the residents to the Movies in the Park events. However, there’s much more to the outdoor inflatable screens than a collective watching of the latest Disney block-baster. Below are some ideas to help you bring the entertainment to the new level, educate and engage your community – with help of an outdoor movie system.

Bring entertainment to the new level

  • Turn community movie night into the party with a theme, dress-up competition, and activities to match. Bring the market stalls and involve local businesses.
  • Organising a concert? Install a big inflatable screen to allow the crowd to see the stage closer.
  • For Christmas Carols, use the screen before and after the live concert, to create the mood with the records of the festive songs and videos.
  • Bring people together for a themed disco party – Halloween, New Year, Bollywood, retro, futuristic, Valentine Day.
  • Attract more patrons to the local swimming pools with movie by the pool events.
  • Use smaller outdoor cinema screens to bring the movies to remote places, with “Movie on the move” program.

Use cinema to educate both young and old

The words “Of all the arts, for us, the cinema is the most important” belong to the political theorist and communist revolutionary, who used cinema as a propaganda tool. Which means movies can be used efficiently for a good cause.

  • Screen classic Australian films at the libraries – educate children about our past and remind the viewers about changing society, fashion, and technology.
  • Bring film festivals from the capitals to the small cities. While Australian Capitals are enjoying the variety of film festivals – short, international, independent, kids, and so on, regional Australians are missing out.
  • Worried about high obesity levels in your area? Promote good exercising and eating habits, organise free medical check-ups and show “That sugar film” or “Supersize Me”.
  • Attract more visitors to public galleries and museums organising movie nights in these venues.
  • Invite people for cultural nights, bringing modern art, dance, and music to the streets.

Engage Community with help of a Big Screen

While watching movies sitting on a lawn in a big company creates the sense of community, nothing bonds people together better than action.

  • Engage the youth in movie making and organise the film festival showcasing local talents.
  • Promote new ideas and concepts with documentary films. Showcase inspirational grass roots solutions (“Edible City”, “That’s Christmas Lights”, “Miss Representation”, “Carbon Nation”, and many more).
  • Run a Movie Conversation Café, with a discussion following the movie on the hot topic, like disability, violence, racism, youth and community.
  • Occupy pre-teens and teenagers with educational computer games, like Smarty Pants, Big Brain Academy, My Word Coach, National Geographic Challenge, and numerous others.

With the wonderful weather spoiling us so many days and nights per year, the great Aussie outdoors concept can be pushed even further with wider use of open air cinemas. With the wise planning, outdoor movie events will help people learn more, change their opinions or teach others, communicate with each other, and simply enjoy better lives.

Corporate Christmas party ideas to make your business shine

Are you bored of going to the restaurant for yet another Christmas function? Are you expecting to see the sour faces of your colleagues at the prospect of having a BBQ at the office? Let us share with you some ideas for Corporate Christmas Party. Our ideas will lift the spirits of your team and will increase the staff loyalty to the company and their satisfaction with their working place.

Will you get the next Corporate Christmas Party right?

Will you get the next Corporate Christmas Party right?
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rule number one – Get it right for your team.

The choice of the event depends both on the demographics and on corporate culture of your company.

For a medium size business with the majority of middle-age working force, a corporate game of golf or lawn balls could be a good idea. A couple of hours nature hike with a picnic in a picturesque area will be a memorable and a healthy way of celebrating Christmas, while a corporate race night could be great fun for everyone. Table tennis competition is another hit – think about the trophy for the winner!

For a team of young and energetic people, prepare some extreme entertainment. Rock climbing, tree surfing or laser tag games will get far better feedback than the tiresome function.  Thinking of something more extravagant? Check circus skills workshop, Segway tour, clay shooting or a drumming class.

For a smaller team, arrange a treasure or scavenger hunt, a historic walking tour, or a photography class. These activities are both affordable and memorable.

Is your team too diverse to find common interests? Invite your colleagues with their families for a picnic followed by the movie under the stars. Get an inflatable movie screen with a projector. Collectively decide on the movie that will please the audience. And finally, ask everyone to bring their camping chairs and rugs. A memorable corporate Christmas party is guaranteed.

Rule number two – get it right for your budget.

While your accountant won’t be happy if too much cash is splashed on entertainment, limiting the party to drinks and snacks in the office may hurt team’s morale. It may even make people consider looking for another job. Try to find the golden middle, adequate to the business situation.

Christmas party does bring an added value for the company. Create positive emotions and unite people with some kind of activity in a non-working environment. Thought-through parties can heal the relationships among colleagues and improve the attitudes to the management.

When planning and budgeting for the party, accommodate for rewards to the workers.

Movie or lottery tickets, a good book, or a bottle of champagne are standard, but effective tokens of appreciation.

Do you want something more exciting? Invest in a big ticketed item that can be shared in turns among your team. It could be an electric bicycle, a treadmill, a sea kayak, or an outdoor movie screen which can fit in a backyard.

Rule number three – use the party as a marketing tool

They say that employees are the best brand advocates; in this case, their families can also spread positive messaging about the company. Invite spouses and even the whole families. It will not only create more relaxing atmosphere, but also result in spreading positive messaging about your company, which most likely will happen on social media.

Think about using the event as a chance for an extra brand exposure. Imagine a merry group of people in the park, with excited children on the jumping castle, with cheerful folks enjoying their picnic or outdoor catering, and a couple of banners with your logo and with Christmas wishes from your company.

Christmas is a time for giving. Your team may be interested in taking part in a fundraising activity, such as a walk or a ride for the good cause. Alternatively, finish the party with some act of generosity, and demonstrate your social responsibility. Are you supporting a charity? They would appreciate the gift they could make a good use of. As an example, fundraising organisations use outdoor movie nights to attract people and to generate revenue. Run an outdoor movie event for a corporate function and donate the movie system to the charity after the party. It’s a smart way to use your budget both for entertainment and for donations.

Don’t forget to promote your corporate event using your social media channels. Your partners and customers will have more grounds to connect with your brand emotionally, while your team will have a social proof they work in a great place.

There are many ways of running a Corporate Christmas Party. Make this event work for your team, for your budget and for your corporate identity.  Promote your company both internally and externally – it will bring the dividends you never expected to gain from the party.

Origin on the BIG screen!

Redland Bay Hotel located in Queensland has taken watching the State of Origin matches to the extreme by purchasing our 6m ParkView Gold package! Having the BIG screen makes the players almost life sized and means that you can take a closer look at the game and the replays, getting your own up close and personal view.

With the hype surrounding the final deciding game, Redland Bay Hotel will be setting the BIG screen up once more (weather permitting) and are anticip6m-PV(1)ating to attract some big numbers to watch the 3rd game on the 8th July. If you’re in the Redland Bay area, check out the BIG screen in all its glory.

Themed Dive-in

Make a Splash and Show movies like . . .

Festivals, parties and fundraisers are meant to be fun & atmospheric so why not check out one of the movies below in our list of favorites or we found The North American Diving Magazine to have some very cool (non-documentary) trailers and movies for SCUBA divers and ocean lovers…

Beach & Water Movies
  • Surf’s Up
  • Water Horse Legend of the Deep
  • Finding Nemo
  • Little Mermaid 1 & 2
  • High School Musical 2
  • Point Break
  • Free Willy 1, 2 & 3
  • Flipper
Caribbean Movies
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  1. The Curse of the Black Pearl
  2. Dead Man’s Chest
  3. At World’s End
  • The Muppet Treasure Island
  • The Treasure Island
  • Caribbean Movies Genre