Metrograph is on its way to becoming more than a cool indie movie theater.
There’s a print magazine due this year and more formal printed book versions of its bimonthly programs, WWD has learned, along with a relaunch of all online editorial content and social media, more content and agency-type work with a litany of brands — and it’s even started to produce, acquire and distribute its own video content. That all sounds closer to the work of a publisher or even a mini-studio than an indie theater.
For Horacio Silva, a veteran of magazines and branded content and now Metrograph’s director of special projects, this new onslaught of production is “all part of the same progression” for the theater as a larger business.
Silva said the possibilities for Metrograph as more of a content creator/agency has been building up in the last year of its three in existence. The celebrity and fashionable set in New York has been quick to adopt Metrograph as the spot of choice for screenings and parties — the high-profile host committee for its upcoming third anniversary party includes Wes Anderson, Joel Coen, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny and Patti Smith, among many others — and that tipped off founder Alexander Olch to the idea that the theater could do more than just host.
“For the most part we’ve focused on physical event experiences with brands where we show a lovely three-minute brand video that someone spent $500,000 on, so eventually we were like, wait a minute why aren’t we making this?” Silva said. “Alexander and I, we’ve been talking a lot, and as the media landscape transforms, brands want to connect in highly creative and targeted ways.”
This is something that used to be mostly covered by magazines, either through editorial or ads, but as Silva put it, “Publishing is in quite the funk.”
Among the brands Metrograph has lately worked with for “activations,” events and screenings are Netflix, HBO, Vanity Fair, WSJ., ESPN, J. Crew, Gucci, Levi’s, Rag & Bone and Refinery29. Brands such as Miu Miu, Kenzo and WME-owned fashion platform M2M are also among those who came to Metrograph for sponsored programming and content marketing.
But it’s not only Silva leading Metrograph’s expansion. The company over the last year or so has brought on Christian Grass as chief executive officer, formerly an executive at Universal and 20th Century Fox and George Schmalz as head of distribution, who previously worked as a curator for AMC Networks’ Sundance Now. And the expansion isn’t only with content and partnerships — Metrograph is said to be on the hunt for a Los Angeles location as well.
Silva is focused on rebooting and growing all of Metrograph’s content. The upcoming magazine is for a client and will, naturally, be focused on film, but there could be more special print editions to come and there will probably be more books. An overhaul of Metrograph’s web site will go live at the end of April featuring many more essays and industry interviews and more editorial content.
“Obviously, if we’re being brand custodians our content has to be through the roof,” Silva said. “Part of the challenge is bringing to life what we offer here.”
Silva admitted that the theater is known somewhat for its relationships with actors and directors and other Hollywood types, and while they will be a part of Metrograph’s content slate, “Another challenge is how do we collaborate in ways that are meaningful and not annoying.”
Again, this sounds like a problem no other theater is facing. But maybe Metrograph won’t be known as just a theater for much longer.
“I’m looking at us now like a media platform,” Silva said, “with this incredible space as just a part of a mix.”
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