Franco Di Sarro (Nexo): "with Great Art in Cinema, we continue to bet on theaters."

Interview with Franco Di Sarro, ad of Nexo Digital, on the occasion of the start of a new season of Great Art at the Movies: "we continue to bet on theaters and physical audience participation."

With the film Venice Infinite Avant-Garde, a new season of Great Art at the Movies opens for Nexo Digital, which thus continues to bet on theaters and the physical participation of fans, while working a lot on digital with the Nexo+ platform. What is the mix that the house proposes to cinema- and art-loving audiences? We talked about it with Franco Di Sarro, managing director of Nexo Digital, during the film presentation evening. The interview is edited by Michela Bassanello.

Franco Di Sarro
Franco Di Sarro

MB. Nexo’s mission is to spread high-level cultural entertainment through cinema. Do you think this has been influential in bringing the general public closer to art and culture outside theaters as well?

FDS. Undoubtedly we started now ten years ago with this project, and in all these years we have tried to bring different types of audiences to the cinema, even audiences who perhaps were not real theatergoers. We brought them inside the theaters through “innovative” content, in the sense that they were not programmed before, also going to create original, ad hoc products for fans, which in some cases turned out to be real niches. The fact of giving a constant cadence over the years to these events related to the world of art, opera, ballet or music, made it possible to make it so that there was almost a ritual of going to the cinema, returning to the cinema and perhaps catching up with people who had met in previous events. So I think that in our own small way we have helped to spread a new desire to engage with these types of content, obviously also outside of movie theaters.

How do audiences respond to Nexo’s cinematic offerings, which are becoming increasingly diverse thanks to the introduction of new products such as Nexo+, Nexo Live and Nexo Legends?

Let’s start with the fact that there are different types of audiences, which sometimes intersect: for example, opera and ballet audiences intersect a lot with Great Art audiences at the Cinema. Often, those who experience Nexo Digital at the cinema then install it on their television sets to directly follow Nexo+ programming at home. This happens because we also reach out to audiences to deepen a discourse that begins with a relationship within the movie theaters, and then mutates into a direct B2C relationship that continues within the home dimension. Our types of users respond differently, because clearly depending on the content there is different movie attendance, whether it is art or opera, pop music, and so on. Undoubtedly there is a hard core that does not give up any date, but then there can be surges of other types of audiences, composed of certain individuals, more or less broad, belonging to other niches of users or perhaps to a more generalist segment.

How has the market changed during and following the pandemic?

I would have to answer that in a few months, it is still too early to say. Certainly today it is necessary to start again with new case histories, as we are starting from scratch. Even at this moment, as we present the next film in the Great Art at the Movies season, Venice Infinite Avant-garde, we are all very anxious to know whether we will be able to bring back all those who appreciated this kind of content in the past, whether to expect instead a 10 or 20 percent reduction in the audience, or whether we will rather see a major turnout attributable to the fact that people are eager to return to the cinema. No one can say for sure; it is something we are still experimenting with. Certainly, from now on, cinema has to readjust its statistics: I hope for the better of course.

What will be the next films to be released on the Nexo platform?

As far as Great Art at the Movies is concerned, the one with Venezia Infinita Avanguardia is the first appointment, then in November we will have Napoleon Nel Nome Dell’Arte with the extraordinary participation of Jeremy Irons, and also in early November will come a film by Pappi Corsicato about Pompei with Isabella Rossellini. We have not yet announced the releases for the 2022 season, but there will be many other appointments, always on a monthly basis, with the Great Art audience.

Nexo+ was also born as a result of a pandemic period that has crippled the world and the entertainment industry, and this has generated an impressive increase in on-demand entertainment platforms. How does Nexo Digital manage to maintain a strong physical presence in theaters despite this phenomenon?

We at Nexo Digital believe strongly in the sociality of the movie theater, which can only aspire to win over audiences with certain types of content and production value of a certain kind, designed especially to be shown and enjoyed on the big screen. Considering that cinema represents one of the few activities that is permissible to indulge in during leisure time, like a dinner at a restaurant, a game at the stadium or a concert, it is now part of our daily life and will remain a constant form of entertainment. In this sense, the type of product is absolutely crucial: it is a very nice product to watch in the theater, with visual and aural results that are far more appealing than on the small or average television set at home. In all of this, the social component makes a difference, so we are betting heavily on this kind of physical participation. Nexo+ includes other content, which is complementary: for example, it has many in-depth features on art, it has docufilm series with different formats of 15, 30 or 45 minutes, so designed specifically to be seen on a television medium and not suitable for cinema, in terms of quality and production value. They are predominantly in-depth looks at topics that are perhaps less broad, but just as interesting to discover and thought-provoking. With this in mind, Nexo+ really becomes a detonator of all-around stimulators on culture. Nexo+ will also produce original content: the time is not yet ripe but we are developing collaborations with important partners such as Teatro Parenti, which is coming to the platform with a “Constellation,” that is, an ad hoc channel already experimented with cultural brands such as Feltrinelli and La Nave di Teseo.