Flashing marquees on movie theaters will read Tonight: the Grateful Dead over the Independence Day weekend as the band’s three-night concert run in Chicago will be broadcast live across the country.
Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead, the reunion of Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir at Chicago’s Soldier Field, will be broadcast live July 3, 4, and 5 in select theaters. The nightly five-hour screenings will start at 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. MDT/5 p.m. PDT.
Fathom Events, which is distributing the concert in association with Peter Shapiro and Madison House, will put tickets on sale May 4. Local theaters determine ticket prices.
“What Fathom and the cinemas offer is a feeling of community, shared interest and energy,” says John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events. “This is a trans-generational event.”
Fathom has been involved in the first four Grateful Dead Meet-up at the Movies, which this year will be held May 4 and feature a screening of a show from July 19, 1989 at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin
The distributor, owned by the three major theater chains, has a network of about 1,100 theaters across the country owned by the major chains — Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Carmilke — and they continue to expand, recently signing up Alamo Drafthouse.
The Dead concerts are being held on a weekend that theaters count among their best in terms of attendance. The July Fourth weekend, an unusual flop in 2014, was the top grossing weekend of 2013 and 2012, second best weekend of 2010 and fifth best week of 2011. This year will see the July 1 release of the new Terminator and the Magic Mike sequel.
“It shows a sense within the exhibition community that we can sell out movie theaters with once in a lifetime live events,” says Rubey.
It is the first time Fathom, which broadcasts performances from the Metropolitan Opera, art exhibits, films and concerts, has done a three-day live event. Fathom broadcast a taped One Direction concert, One Direction: Where We Are, over three days in October.
The Grateful Dead performances are taking place nearly 20 years to the day of the last Grateful Dead concert with Jerry Garcia. Trey Anastasio, Bruce Horrnsby and Weir associate Jeff Chimenti will be joining the Dead for the three shows.