The leading Serbianexhibitor, state-owned Beograd Film has decided to close eight cinemas in thedowntown area of the key city which accounts for 50% of
"At first weasked for state subsidy so that potential investors could come in and prevent thecinemas from collapse, but the government opted for privatization. We hadsubmitted an order for privatization to the National Agency for Privatizationin 2003, and a year later the process was brought to a halt," saysMiroslav Cenic, the CEO of Beograd Film. "Because of this, Beograd Filmcannot lease its 17,000 square meters of useful office space in strict centerof the city in order to improve it financial situation. The market is in anawful position, but our employees who have not been paid for 20 months sufferthe most."
"WhenBeograd Film submitted the order for privatization, we were absolutely infavour of a quick process which would enable the theaters to keep theirfunction and improve the facilities' equipment," says Serbian Minister ofCulture Dragan Kojadinovic. "But in our jurisdiction is only to recommend aproposition, the Agency for Privatization has the final word."
"Theverification of Beograd Film is in process," says Agency forPrivatization's Rade Sevic. "The financial support would have been offeredearlier if the Board was ready."
"BeogradFilm has been left on its own which shows a total lack of care of the state forthe exhibition sector that leads to the collapse of theatrical market,"says Zvonimir Djordjevic, CEO of Tuck, the leading Serbian distributor and ownerof the only Belgrade miniplex, five-screen Tuckwood. "In the past twoyears, we and other distributors offered to take under lease or buy some ofBeograd Film's theaters but got no response. The only solution is to privatizethree or four main theaters as quick as possible and turn them into modernminiplexes which would be able to bring audiences back. The rest should be soldfor other purposes so that impoverished employees can get back on their feet."
There are 21 cinemasin
July saw thelowest attendance in history with an average of only 6,366 admissions. Most ofthe cinemas in smaller towns have not been working on regular basis since thestart of the millennium, opening only for weekends or for domestic hits, suchas Zamfir's Zona (2002-2003, thehighest grossing film in the territory ever with 1.5m admissions). Thisweekend, similarly targeted local DistantTrumpet (Guca!) was released on 22 prints to a disastrous 2,413 admissions.
There are plansfor three multiplexes to open in