Case Study: ‘Pizza is our secret weapon’ Reaching younger audiences in the New Release Programme


Tywyn is a small town on the Cardigan coast in West Wales. The Magic Lantern was originally the town assembly rooms and is now a thriving cinema and arts centre showing a mixed programme of mainstream and cultural cinema and live events.

The Magic Lantern was one of eleven small to medium size cinemas from across the FAN network taking part in the New Release Programme. The programme aimed to increase the availability of cultural film titles, and reach audiences under 30, through providing a range of marketing resources and a modest budget to support the release of four selected titles - Utøya: July 22, Shoplifters, Burning and Happy as Lazzaro.

For Utøya: July 22 the venue organised a pre screening workshop for young people on interviewing skills (with free pizza). A discussion after the screening was led by an academic from Aberystwyth University and a local broadcaster.

For Shoplifters they had Japanese food available after the screening, and for Burning The Magic Lantern offered Korean food, and had a short reading from the Murakami short story on which the film is based, before the film, in partnership with a local book club. The food at all the screenings was free to 16-30s.

Out of the four New Release titles screened at The Magic Lantern, without the additional support from the Film Audience Network (FAN), the venue would have likely only included Shoplifters in their programme.

Project aims

  • To engagent with audiences 16-30 through screenings and events around four FAN New Release titles.


  • Utøya: July 22 had a powerful impact on the young people who saw it, and it was the first time the venue have had young people take part in a Q&A. The venue hope that the interviewing workshop with the young audience will the first step in an on-going relationship with a group of young people who will become involved in programming, marketing and hosting events.

Key partnerships

The Magic Lantern have struggled in the past to engage nearby Aberystwyth University (they have their own arts centre on site), but through their community connections they approached a historian who specialises in the rise of the Third Reich in Germany. He led a brilliant discussion and Q&A following the Utøya: July 22 screening, explaining how the tactics of the far right echo those used in Germany in the 1930s. We also deepened our relationship with our local bookshop and made new contacts with Book Clubs – both of which the venue will continue with.

Budget in brief

FAN investment inc. support from National Lottery, includes freelancer fees, guest speaker costs and social media marketing budget over first three films: £1,700 (excludes venue costs)

What worked

  • Involving young people as early in the process as possible; one of our young people accompanied The Magic Lantern to the set up meeting with the University historian, and the pre screening workshop made a tangible difference in how the participants experienced Utøya: July 22 and their confidence in taking part in the discussion afterwards. The venue also managed to reach some new young people with the workshop, one first time audience member described it as “A really educational workshop at a lovely venue”.

  • For audiences generally offering an ‘experience’ not just the film, with food, talks, discussions and readings. Pizza will be our weapon for Happy as Lazzaro!

  • Informal relationships are crucial for The Magic Lantern, as a venue in a small town (population around 3000 people), and their staff - with their connections and relationships within the community - are one of the most valuable audience development assets. We have made a particular effort to employ young people in the cinema and they are our marketing ambassadors, using their relationships, networks and contacts to spread the word amongst their peers.

What has been difficult

  • The film selection was challenging - a good thing in many ways, but Burning in particular didn’t appeal to younger audiences, and the trailer wasn’t very effective.

  • Having a selection of films that are imposed rather than chosen by young people also makes it harder to get their engagement.

  • Transport is a key issue around here for everyone, and for young people especially; if they don’t have parents who can taxi them around, they can’t do anything.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • The Magic Lantern believe that The New Releases experience has confirmed to them the power of real life relationships and that community ground work is crucial to developing all kinds of audiences.

  • They also acknowledge that the more work they do in advance of the events in order to engage young people in the films the better. For Happy as Lazzaro the venue have planned to work with the local secondary school in advance on a young reporters project – focusing on film reviews – in partnership with Mike Parker and their local paper – the Cambrian.

Awareness / Attitudes

  • Utøya: July 22 had a powerful, visceral emotional impact on audiences; feedback included
  • Audiences at Shoplifters valued their glimpse of other cultures, and the film was an opportunity to present a different aspect of Japanese life, what was welcomed by audiences.

Social Cohesion

The Magic Lantern believes it is important to provide other reasons than simply the film to encourage people to make the effort to visit the cinema, and audiences seems to appreciate this. Feedback from Shoplifters audience surveys demonstrated how much their audience enjoyed the package of the food and film to make a ‘night out’.

What audiences said

  • Amazing venue, great food, fantastic film. Thank you! (Shoplifters)

  • The film changed my pre conceptions about what Japan is like. (Shoplifters)

  • Great film. Really nice to have some variety. (Shoplifters)

  • Either the best or worst film ever. NEVER felt like this before. (Utoya: July 22)

  • My heart suffered palpitations the whole way through and after the film. (Utoya: July 22)