As CineEurope takes place in Barcelona this week, five leading European exhibition specialists describe the challenges and opportunities they believe the sector is facing.
Tim Richards, CEO, Vue International
”The challenge is different in every market. From our perspective, it’s been a difficult period in Germany and Italy in particular, that’s on the back of the local films either not being there or not performing. [But] we don’t see that continuing and we believe in both markets, they are more volatile than others in Europe. In Italy there’s a reluctance from distributors to release films in the summer period, I think when that starts happening, you’ll see the potential of the Italian market grow very quickly. In the UK, we’re having a great year. I hope we’ll have either a record or close to a record year.”
On theatrical subscription services, with Vue being the only UK-based multiplex not to have such a membership offer:
“We don’t believe in a subscription service. I look at those and think why would you give your highest value customer a major discount? We have tested that and we don’t believe it’s the future of the industry. We have tried to stimulate demand in other ways.”
On third-party theatrical subscription services such as Moviepass:
”Any company that, the more successful it is the more money it loses, is doomed to failure. I see no future for it in the US or internationally.”
On Amazon and Netflix potentially entering the international theatrical space:
“The future will bring a lot more vertical integration into the industry to take out cost centres. I can easily see a scenario where you have a content producer who will capitalise on theatrical, whether it’s Amazon or Netflix.”
Matthew Jones, general manager, Europe, CinemaNext
”One of the greatest challenges is to keep evolving and diversifying the way cinema as an audio-visual experience is offered. With the high speed of technological advancement and the broadening possibilities of content on demand, it becomes increasingly important to keep challenging ourselves to stay connected to our audiences and find new ways to inspire and entertain them. To that end, we need to continue to work together within the industry and explore new combinations of innovative technologies and sustainable business plans that provide our audiences with exceptional and diverse experiences, whether it’s a small high-end boutique cinema or an immersive, presmium experience.”
“A great opportunity is the growing interconnectivity of the European population due to worldwide social media platforms, which enables lightning-fast marketing and an accelerated growth opportunity for new products and experiences. It also generates data that allows us to better understand and cater to the interests of our audiences. The data streams that we receive are larger than ever before, utilising this data properly to reach our audiences and combining that knowledge with the technological advancements and creativity for developing customer experiences in cinemas should generate better overall attendance.”
Melissa Cogavin, former head of the Event Cinema Association, now a consultant with marketing and PR specialists Strike Media
”There are many challenges. As a Brit facing a gloomy and shambolic Brexit future I’d say funding for British filmmaking will suffer and that’s bad news and a huge challenge creatively - never mind all the other skills shortages that Brexit’s backward immigration policy is presenting. Secondly, the world is changing fast but I worry exhibition isn’t keeping up as it could be, and there need to be more women in senior positions influencing and shaping the industry.
The greatest opportunity lies in the technology that other industries have been relying on quietly for decades. The tech is there, the providers are out there. The marketing opportunities for exhibitors and distributors to exploit the data to increase ticket sales hasn’t been exploited; there is a protectionism around data that exists and this needs to change if the industry is to keep up with what Tesco and Sainsburys have been doing for 20 years.”
Asger Flygare Bech-Thomsen, CEO, Nordisk Film Cinemas
”The universal challenge is the same as ever – a steady flow of relevant content with the right mix of genres. Original content is key. John Carter, for example, was a spectacular flop but at least it was not a sequel, and I challenge the studios to risk a little more.
For each individual territory there can be topics that are more challenging than content. The increasing age [of cinema audiences] in some countries is a bigger challenge, while content, regulation and de-regulation are challenges in other places.
There are a lot of opportunities right now. formats, alliances, new services and so on and the single greatest will only appear if you have the courage to try 10 with the prospect of eight failing.”
Marine Suttle, product director, Webeida Movies Pro
”The greatest challenge and greatest opportunity for the European exhibition industry lies in its ability as a whole to fully enter into the digital marketing age. We hear comments all the time about the competition from VoD, Netflix, etc… This challenge of how to convince audiences to leave their couch and choose the unique shared experience offered by movie theatre has always existed.
The question today is therefore how do we make the digital journey towards a movie experience as easy and engaging as other digital media and ecommerce offerings? We believe the key to transforming the digital journey lies in better understanding audiences, developing tools and platforms for computing the data available, and allowing exhibitors to manage ever more targeted communications. Through the increased knowledge of customers and their multi-cultural make up, exhibitors now have the full potential to adapt their programming with more flexibility and variety. This is only possible if they take the digital marketing challenge as seriously as they took the digital projection challenge a few years ago.”