Why create programming around a film? Pairing
educational activities with films is an easy way to add value for
TELUS World of Science-Edmonton always tries to pull inspiration for public programming from its film openings. Highlighting existing programs that tie into the film’s content and creating new programs not only adds value for guests and gives them a reason to spend more time at the science centre—it also gets visitors excited and talking about the film. Edmonton’s launch of Back From the Brink: Saved From Extinction was no exception.
Typically, Edmonton hosts activities and creates special events during the film’s opening week to help launch the film and drive attendance and IMAX ticket sales. The programs are extended throughout the run of the film if resources and staff permit. Edmonton opened Back From the Brink on January 17, 2020, with three goals:
- Promote the film and encourage word-of-mouth about the film among guests.
- Add an interactive element for guests to participate in to raise excitement about the film opening and to deepen their connection to the film topic.
- Educate children and families about the content of the film: endangered species, conservation efforts, and what people can do to help.
eloping and launching the programming was truly a team effort. The marketing department planned and sourced the opening week events and activities, which included a launch event for stakeholders and their families, a free screening of Back from the Brink
for members and another for IMAX annual passholders, as well as opening weekend activities for the public. The Public Programming department facilitated these activities, interacted with guests throughout the week/weekend, and helped the marketing team enhance each program. They also helped make them suitable for all-ages and more interactive for the public. Public Programming also sourced suitable external partners, including Alberta Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy and Wild North, to help enhance the educational component of Opening Week events.
Edmonton hosted a variety of opening week activities pulled from the Back From the Brink Educator Guide, provided by Cosmic Picture, to help promote the film and engage children and families with the film content.
- Member Event & IMAX Passholder Screening: Children and families participated in a game of “Eco-Twister” to learn about conservation efforts, what animals need to survive, the threats to resources, how those threats can endanger a species, and what humans can do to lessen their impact.
- Launch Event, Member/Passholder Screening & Opening Weekend: Children and families were asked to make a “Nature Promise” where they pledged to do things that would limit their negative impact on the environment, such as “I promise to turn out the lights when I leave a room,” and “I promise to take short showers to save water.” All the promises were displayed in the IMAX lobby for launch week. Edmonton made the decision to modify the activity for opening weekend and instead use whiteboards for guests to write their promises on. This proved to be less wasteful (no paper!) for an activity that was all about saving resources.
- Launch Event, Member/Passholder Screening & Opening Weekend: Edmonton invited two external partners from Alberta Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy and Wild North to set up in the IMAX lobby and chat with guests about Alberta’s endangered species and local efforts to save Alberta animals from the brink of extinction.
- Crabby the Back From the Brink mascot and a photo backdrop were in place during events and during the opening weekend for selfies.
Back From the Brink had a really strong launch, boosted in part by the accompanying educational program. There was 36 percent increase in attendance compared to the film launch during the same time period in 2019, and a 9 percent increase compared to the 2018 film launch during the same time period.
Through social media utilizing the posts provided by Cosmic Picture, Edmonton is noticing people adding positive comments, especially about getting outside and exploring nature, and tagging others to the posts:
- “Saw one of the neighbourhood blue jays today on my walk, was the best part of the walk!” comment left after Edmonton posted the Blue Jays info post.
- “This was a delightful film” – comment on Instagram
- “They’re such beautiful SPECIES! It’s wonderful to see conservation efforts being put forth.” Comment on Instagram - Monkeys
Why Pair a Film and Programming?
Edmonton pulls inspiration for public programming for film openings in two ways:
- Highlight existing programs that tie into the content of the film, such as awarding bonus points at The Nature Exchange gallery if guests can trade knowledge about the content of the film or scheduling special Science on a Sphere shows that feature similar topics to the IMAX film.
- Create new programs that will get guests excited and talking about the film, such as incorporating the Eco-Twister and Nature Promise activities into the opening week programming.
Typically, Edmonton highlights and hosts these activities during opening week to help launch the film and creates special events around the opening in order to help drive attendance and IMAX ticket sales. If resources/staff permit, the programs continue throughout the run of the film.
So why create programming around a film? Pairing educational activities with films is an easy way to add value for guests. It gets them excited about coming to see a new film and spending the entire day at the science centre participating in new activities. It gives guests a reason to spend more time at the Science Centre, as opposed to just coming to see the film. Additionally, it creates more opportunity to continue talking about the film after it launches and encourages work-of-mouth. The science centre can tie its promotional messaging about the film into these activities. Ultimately, tying activities to the film helps keep it top-of-mind for guests by creating a more memorable and emotional experience.
Many thanks to Donalda Pelton and Ursula Pattloch from TELUS World of Science-Edmonton for sharing the details and photos from their Back From the Brink initiative. For more information about their programming, please send your questions to GSCA and we will make sure that they get to Donalda and Ursula.