Oban Phoenix Argyll premiere for Brave feels undermined by VistScotland competition

The team behind the saving and revival of the cinema in Oban, renamed – with good reason, Oban Phoenix and very much a local cause celebre, had an inspired notion.

After the two year closure of the cinema for fundraising and refurbishment, they are reopening it on 3rd August with the Argyll premiere of the Disney/Pixar Scottish themed animation, Brave. Robbie Coltrane  will be there – an energetic supporter of the campaign to save the cinema for this lovely waterside west coast town.

This event signals the success of what has been a tireless community-wide campaign to keep and develop a big screen facility in Oban.

Members of the team have been upset to find that the regional director of VisitScotland, David Adams McGilp, has sent out invitations to a screening in Lochgilphead on 8th August. This will be in the touring (and always magical) Screen Machine.

It is a business-focused event designed to direct local businesses on how to capitalise on the promotional impact for Scotland of this film. VisitScotland have invested £7 million of public money in the marketing of this film, intended to link Scotland’s visitor offer directly to the screenings of the film.

The event in Lochgilphead is also to show its invited guests the TV and cinema ad which it is hoped will reach 80 million people around the world this summer, promoting travel to Scotland on the back of the film. (Argyll’s claim to fame in the film is compelling helicopter-shot footage across Kilchurn Castle in Loch Awe and scenes imagined in Kilmartin Glen..)

Brave is being released in 72 countries to Disney/Pixar’s huge worldwide audience and VisitScotland believes it gives Scotland an access to the international family market it has not previously experienced.

The members of the Phownix team upset by the timing of this initiative feel that it will draw to the slightly later event n Lochgilphead members of the audience it had expected to attend the Oban Pheonix premiere on 3rd August.

This will be trie to some degree since no one wants to see the same film twice within a short time and businessfolk must put those interests first.

VisitScotland have reasonably pointed out that it is hard to find a location for a business event in Argyll, given its dispersed population and its decentralised topography.

However, the choice of Lochgilphead is the one most likely to draw an important element of the Phoenix’s potential audience away. This is the town closest to Oban.

The local business community has been very important to the campaign to save and revive the cinema – and its presence in numbers at the premiere, with the fun of Robbie Coltrane’s presence, was intended to underline the continuing reward and need of business support.

It would have been sensitive had VisitScotland – who admit they were aware of the Oban event – liaised with the Oban Phoenix team before deciding to locate its own screening in Lochgilphead – and so close in time to an occasion that matters to Oban.

The Screen Machine is, by its nature, mobile. It and the local VisitScotland event could have gone to Campbeltown – which would have been a boost for the newly formed Kintyre and Gigha Marketing Group.

However, what’s done is done.

Tonight the Oban Phoenix is hosting a volunteer open evening, asking anyone interested in volunteering with the cinema to come along at 6.00pm for a sneak preview of the new cinema and for a brief presentation and training session.

The type of volunteering any individual does with us is really up to them – an indication of the spectrum is that they  need ushers, cleaners, front of house (box office/concessions stand) and lots more jobs done.

This is a community commitment in every possible way and we wish it well for its rising.

Note: Brave is showing at Oban Phoenix from 3rd-16th August

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9 Responses to Oban Phoenix Argyll premiere for Brave feels undermined by VistScotland competition

  1. I had thought the Phoenix opening night was already fully booked. Is this wrong?

    However, I agree that the Lochgilphead event is poor timing.

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    • It almost certainly is – but this competing invitation will mean a number if critical no-shows for an initiative that needs to cement local business support

      It also means there may be cancellations that members of the public may be ab;e to buy?

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  2. If Visit Scotland is spending as much as £7 million marketing this film, i.e. promoting it, I wonder if they’ve struck a deal to get a share of the profits? Or, as well as marketing Scottish tourism, is the public purse financing free publicity for a Disney/Pixar venture?

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  3. “The Screen Machine is, by its nature, mobile. It and the local VisitScotland event could have gone to Campbeltown – which would have been a boost for the newly formed Kintyre and Gigha Marketing Group.”

    And that suggestion is even more ridiculous! Don’t you know we have our own cinema down here? What really would have been ideal is the release and screening of the film across Argyll at the same time. Can’t see any significant impact of showing the film in Lochgilphead 5 days later in Mid Argyll. Oban has a large enough population itself, along with the outlying areas and tourism to support this initiative without worrying about a screening in the back of a van in Lochgilphead. If the people in Mid Argyll are desperate to see the film then I would imagine, like most other weeks, they will take the easy route to Clydebank, Braehead or Glasgow to watch the film.

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  4. Quite right Hughie “Don’t you know we have our own cinema down here?”. But you have to appreciate that when Newsie is pontificating at length, to everyone, on every topic under the sun – sometimes she just forgets things… (or maybe she didn’t know in the first place that the Wee Toon has had its own community owned cinema for years)

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  5. Disney-Pixar’s Brave represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the whole of Scottish tourism, including Argyll. The response to the movie has been overwhelmingly positive. It will be seen by millions of people in more than 70 countries and we estimate that the added interest the film generates in visiting Scotland will boost the economy by £140 million.

    We were disappointed to see it suggested in the above posting that, by sending out invitations to stakeholders to a Screen Machine Brave event in Lochgilpead on August 8, we have in some way “lured” people away from the screening of the film at the Oban Phoenix, which takes place five days earlier.

    We don’t believe that this is the case and we are delighted to see that the Oban Phoenix is re-opening with such a fantastic event.

    Choosing a location for a tourism industry event in Argyll is always a challenge, as any choice will have travel implications for a large proportion of those businesses and stakeholders we would like to attend.

    Any choice will come as great news to those within the vicinity, and may simultaneously attract some criticism from those more distant. Our general policy for making these choices – both for VisitScotland events and for Argyll & the Isles Strategic Tourism Partnership events – is to do our best to move them around the area.

    We have held many events in Oban over the years, and we will continue to do so in future. However, this is one occasion where an appraisal of the circumstances has led us to a different part of the area.

    Our main reason for deciding on Lochgilphead in this case was the opportunity presented by the Screen Machine to have an exclusive screening there for businesses and partners. This will give us the freedom to watch Brave together in a business context, and discuss the campaign around the film without detracting from the cinema experience of the general public.

    Lochgilphead was also a natural choice because of the connection to the film of Kilmartin Glen. This was one of the real Scottish locations that inspired a setting in the film, and so provides an appropriate context for a discussion on the film’s tourism potential.

    In making the decision for Lochgilphead, we did consider the reopening of the Phoenix. We were satisfied that Lochgilphead was distant enough not to provide unhelpful competition to the Phoenix and close enough to still attract guests who were keen to see Brave in the business context we intended with our invitation.

    We hope this clears up any confusion.

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    • Did you consider holding this event in Oban during the run of Brave at the Oban Phoenix – and with Kilchurn and Stalker Castles, also featured in the film, not far from Oban?

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