Opinion: Penguin and Backyard Cinema’s The Snowman Experience will change the game for experiential licensing

Wind your way along a misty path of fairy lit woodland to emerge into a theatre of wonder and spectacle, and Penguin and the Backyard Cinema have pulled off something quite magical this year.

It’s been two weeks since The Snowman Experience launched at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, and while the buzz in the months preceding suggested something big was about to rise from this collaboration, no one really knew what to expect.

Of those uncertain of what Penguin’s partnership with the Backyard Cinema would hold, not in the least was Dominic Davies, the founder and creative director of the London one-time start-up.

“When we planned to be based at Winter Wonderland, I don’t think we realised quite what an exciting position for the Backyard Cinema brand it would be, to offer our themed cinema to such a wide audience and newcomers has been really exciting,” he tells Licensing.biz.

The result has been nothing short of magnificent. Of course, understanding the painstaking diligence and attention to detail that Penguin Ventures put into even the simplest of actions – try getting answers approved for a feature piece, for example… – , or the experience that Backyard Cinema has become known for creating across London, this was never going to disappoint.

But more than just hitting expectations, Penguin’s collaboration with The Backyard Cinema has done something far greater – it’s instigated a new era of cinematic experience for which brands like Penguin’s The Snowman will be clamouring to be involved in, and in doing so, it has far surpassed any of the achievements it set its sights on.

If, at this point you think my words are superlative, I will grant you, I am a fan of the cinematic experience on the whole. I am a champion of the power film has to transport audiences to an escape, whether you are enjoying the bells and whistles of a Backyard Cinema experience or simply sitting in a room watching Fight Club with the curtains drawn.

But try walking yourself through all four rooms of this journeyed story, sit yourself in James’ living room, see his cat sleeping before the fireplace and take a place at the table to join the Snowman feast, all while watching this 1982 classic film play out before you, and try concluding that this isn’t going to change the face of experiential cinema.

I think you’d struggle as much as I. It is meticulous in its detail and triumphant in what it delivers: a cross generational excursion through nostalgia.

The final room of the experience is of course, the gift shop, and even this plays out as an extension of Penguin and the Backyard Cinema’s story together. Co-branded t-shirts line shelves, plush Snowmans (… errr…Snowmen?) survey a room that is shedded of the usual gift shop cynicism, simply because you really do feel you want to take a piece of this experience with you. 

“After over a year of planning this brand new event, it all makes it worth it when you can watch three generations enjoying it together,” continues Davies. “The excited smile on the kids’ faces when The Snowman pops alongside them, and the loving look from a grandparent who knows the story oh so well, have created real heart-warming moments for the team and everyone involved.”

Oh let them bask in a bit of saturnine glory for the moment. They bloody well deserve it, the pair of them. It’s not everyday you charter a new course for experiential licensing, and as for what this is going to do for the world of cinema – allow Davies to conclude…

“This is only the beginning of showing the world of film on a whole new way, and we can’t wait to keep creating magical worlds for customers to explore and enjoy.” 

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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