Case Study: Cinema Day 16

A one day initiative which celebrated 120 years of film exhibition in Northern Ireland.
Focusing on the rich heritage across the region, and showcasing the work of current exhibitors, this event encouraged over 1000 audience members to share in the joy of film on Bank Holiday Monday 29th August 2016.

  • #cinemaday16

Project aims

  • To acknowledge the 120th anniversary of the first ever moving image shown in Belfast (and what was to become Northern Ireland in 1921) in 1896.

  • To celebrate the fantastic work of Film Hub NI members across the region – including independent cinemas, commercial cinemas, film societies and arts organisations.

  • To engage with new audiences through a targeting marketing campaign.

  • To raise the profile of Film Hub NI and the Film Audience Network.


  • 18 events hosted by 12 organisations in venues located in 5 out of the 6 counties in Northern Ireland.

  • Over 1000 audience members attended events, on a beautiful sunny Bank Holiday.

  • 15 film events were shown, along with two heritage talks and a production stills photography lecture.

  • Cinema Day was Highly Commended at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ireland Excellence Awards (Nov 2016)


Bambi, The Quiet Man, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Cinema Paradiso, The Last Picture Show, A Trip to the Moon, The Extraordinary Voyage, The Survivalist, Innerspace, Animal Farm, 1984, From the Sea to the Land Beyond, along with experimental shorts and documentaries from Northern Ireland.

Key partnerships

Film Hub NI worked with the following members to produce the day:

Second Chance Cinema,
Movie House Cinemas,
Queen’s Film Theatre,
Strand Arts Centre,
Late Night Art Film,
Portrush Film Theatre,
Fermanagh Film Club,
Black Box,
Seedhead Arts,
Belfast Film Festival and
New Notions.

Budget in brief

Film Hub NI provided approx. £5k support to members to deliver the events. This covered film licenses, venue costs and marketing. The level of support was dependent on the type of event.

£2.5k was spent overall on marketing. This included a press launch, marketing materials, printing, filming, social media advertising and freelance support for PR and Social Media.
1000 attenders = £7.50 per head.

What worked

  • Asking for Expression of Interest to apply for support – this was not too onerous so response was very good.

  • A coordinated approach to marketing – a pack was disseminated to all the groups containing bunting, badges, programmes, audience feedback sheets and cards

What has been difficult

  • While only taking place on one day (and one event the night before) the admin and marketing took up significant time.

  • Working with a small budget to cover the whole of the region.

  • Organisations which did not take part feeling ‘left out’.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • Allow more resource for marketing support.

  • Increase the budget.

  • Seek out additional sponsorship & investment from statutory bodies

  • Start planning at least 6 months in advance and work with more organisations to ensure all 6 counties are represented.

Awareness / Attitudes

One of Cinema Day’s aims was to get audiences thinking about their relationship with their local cinema so we asked audiences to fill in these cards to give us an insight into the personal stories and reasons behind why people actually attend the cinema.

This gave us a greater understanding of people’s attitudes about going to the cinema. The number of events taking place, and all the associated press coverage, definitely raised the profile of the Film Hub NI network of exhibitors.

Social Cohesion


All organisations were encouraged to keep ticket prices low / run free events in order to attract as many people as possible to events, regardless of socio-economic background, and for those who would like to attend more than one event to do so without significant costs. Many events took place in a community space (outside Belfast), which encouraged audiences to feel a sense of ownership of their local cinema/film club etc.


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Cinema Day achieved it’s aim, which was to be a celebratory day for everyone to enjoy events, while giving a nod to the history of cinema and film in Northern Ireland. The heritage talks were particularly well attended (with a large percentage of older people making up the audience) and encouraged lots of reminiscing and discussion.

What audiences said

  • Tanya Jones ‏@decombustion: Brilliant #cinemaday16 with The Survivalist, Q&A with writer/director @sfingali & cinema history from Marion Maxwell. Thanks @mcdermottcrane

  • CJohnston ‏@CJohnstonNI: Makes you think how vital & priceless @StrandArtsCentr is! Enough is enough...our old cinemas belong to the next generations #CinemaDay16

  • Clare McCahill ‏@ClareMcCahill: @BlackBoxBelfast @HelenStills @SeedheadArts @FilmHubNI Loved it! Well worth the trip from #Donegal When I grow up... #CinemaDay16

What professionals, press and partners said

  • QFT ‏@QFTBelfast: Over 400 people came in for our #cinemaday16 events. Thats amazing! Great to see so many film lovers today. #cinema #belfast #cinemaday

  • Just to let you know how much we enjoyed being part of Cinema Day. It was a great boost for our staff too – they really got behind it at all three sites. Each site exceeded expected numbers and we had some amazing comments from the audience. We had a granda here with his grandchild and he remembered paying with jam jars. Many of the youngsters had never seen Bambi! And all said it was great to see the film on the big screen. At Yorkgate it got a round of applause at the end. - Teri Kelly, Movie House Cinemas

Press coverage

  • Irish News – 1st ever NI cinema day

  • Irish News – Monday is NI Cinema Day

  • Belfast Telegraph – Cinema Day launched

  • Culture NI – 120 years of Cinema Celebrated

  • Culture NI – A-Z of Cinemas. Brian Henry Martin interview

  • Newsletter – 120 years of Cinema celebrated

  • Belfast Live – 120 Years of Cinema celebrated

  • Daily Mirror – 120 years of Cinema celebrated

  • Impartial Reporter – Film Club takes part in NI Cinema Day

  • Coleraine Times – Portrush Film Theatre takes part in NI Cinema Day

  • The View Digital – Strand showing Last Picture Show as part of NI Cinema Day

  • BBC Arts Show – Mike Catto discusses Cinema Day

  • Downtown Radio – Hugh Odling-Smee discusses Cinema Day

  • Q Radio (Citybeat) – News Update: NI Cinema Day taking place today throughout Belfast and NI

  • NVTV – Interviews with Hugh Odling-Smee from Film Hub NI and Rosie of Second Chance Cinema

  • Irish TV – Launch of NI Cinema Day