The cast of “Critical Role”.
Dungeons & Dragons is coming to theaters.
On Thursday, the team behind Critical Role, a popular role-playing group turned into a media company, announced that its third D&D campaign would launch on October 21st, with its premiere episode being broadcast simultaneously in selected Cinemark theaters in 20 cities.
Tickets for Critical Role’s third campaign, which cost $ 25 in the Los Angeles area, were largely sold out within an hour of Thursday’s announcement. Additional screens have been added to Cinemark’s website to accommodate interest.
Movie chains have been looking for new ways to get people back to theaters after the coronavirus pandemic shut down filming locations in early 2020 and have since kept many viewers away. While ticket sales have improved in the last few months thanks to pure theatrical releases like Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, moviegoers still have to return at the same pace as in 2019.
Cinemas have previously shown some simulcasts of plays and concerts on the big screen, but these offerings have increased in the wake of the pandemic. In the past few weeks, AMC, the world’s largest cinema chain, has started showing National Football League games in selected locations.
“It’s yet another way of thinking outside the box for theater chains looking to create unique events,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “It’s a great way to expand your customer base and maybe expand your existing audience.”
“I would expect exhibitors to see more and more experiments with alternative content like this in the future as the industry adapts and evolves in a world where cinemas can serve multiple community functions,” he said.
Critical Role’s program has built a loyal fan base since its inception in 2015. In six years it has grown from a single show under the Geek & Sundry banner to its own media company with its own table of contents.
The company is best known for its longstanding Dungeons & Dragons campaigns spanning hundreds of episodes. In the group’s third campaign, Matthew Mercer will star as the dungeon master and voice actors Ashley Johnson, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Travis Willingham, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien will star.
“We’re excited to work with Critical Role to make Opening Night a memorable one for fans celebrating the start of a new campaign as Cinemark continues to expand its offering to all aspects of the gaming community,” said Justin McDaniel. Cinemark senior vice president of global content strategy.
Each performer creates their own character for the campaign and works in tandem to defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and complete any task set by the dungeon master. Their weekly games, all part of the same long campaign, often last between three and five hours.
The first campaign lasted 115 episodes and the second campaign, which started in 2018, was completed in June after 141 episodes.
The third campaign takes place in Marquet, a continent in Exandria, a world of Mercer. The story will take place chronologically after the events of Critical Role’s “Exandria Unlimited” franchise and after the group’s second campaign.