June 19, 2013
Article taken from The Guardian.
The Audience, starring Helen Mirren as the Queen, has broken the box office record for a National Theatre (NT) Live broadcast, drawing an audience of more than 110,000 worldwide.
Peter Morgan’s play was watched by nearly 80,000 people in cinemas across the UK last Thursday night, with a further 30,000 attending a screening in America.
Mirren starred in the first ever NT Live broadcast in 2009, leading Nicholas Hytner’s production of Phedre, which drew a global audience of 50,000 – 15,000 of them in this country. Early NT Live broadcasts screened to 280 cinemas worldwide, but that figure has risen to almost 700 across 25 countries.
David Sabel, executive producer of NT Live, said The Audience’s attendance figures had “turned out even greater than expected,” surpassing those achieved by Alan Bennett’s People in March.
The Audience, which was the first commercial, West End production to receive an NT Live broadcast, will receive further so-called Encore Screenings throughout the summer, with almost 800 repeat showings in the UK and 700 in the US.
The play’s producer, Matthew Byam Shaw of Playful Productions, told The Guardian, “NT Live has a genuine sense of event and a frisson of liveness. We would definitely do it again and, because of the positive word-of-mouth regarding the live broadcast, the repeat showings are selling fantastically well.”
There are further collaborations in store. In July this year, NT Live will broadcast from the Manchester International Festival, Macbeth starring Kenneth Branagh, with the Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddlestone due to follow in 2014. Hytner’s production of Othello, led by Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear, is scheduled for September, with War Horse due to follow next year.
Despite long-running productions on both sides of the Atlantic and a major screen adaptation, War Horse has the potential to draw a huge NT Live audience. Sabel said, “There’s going to be a lot of people who haven’t had a chance to see it still or might want to see it again in a different guise.”