News blog

UNIC Innovation Digest – Edition 1: Beware the Sofa Trap!

Since its inception, cinema has always been synonymous with spectacle. Yet, in today’s world of digital diversions and state-of-the-art home entertainment, exhibitors are forced to think outside the box in order to attract audiences. In a weekly series of articles, we examine exactly how exhibitors embrace innovation in order to enhance the cinema-going experience.

At UNIC’s latest event, Cinema Next: The Future of Film and the Big Screen in Digital Europe, GfK’s Tilman Rotberg alluded to the dangers of a pitfall that could prove problematic for exhibitors – the “sofa trap.” The concept refers to the lure of the sofa after a long day, which often results in potential audiences preferring to stay in the comfort of their own home rather than venturing out to the cinema. Admittedly, there are far worse places to be “trapped,” yet the sofa trap is a phenomenon that exhibitors must endeavour to combat fiercely. Tasked with out-performing home entertainment across the board – quality, comfort, value for money etc. – in a world in which the emergence of digital video has fortified the pull of watching films at home, cinemas now look to deploy a number of creative solutions to such issues as the sofa trap. These measures, GfK believe, can come in the form of promotions such as “after-school cinema,” “after-work screenings” and other group-specific exhibition that builds upon the social aspects of cinema, whilst catering for particular demands in terms of content, timing and supplementary offers.

Another guest at Cinema Next, Christof Papousek, CFO and Co-Owner of Cineplexx, addresses the issue in a recent article:

a cinema’s technological excellence must stand out against the home entertainment offer. Premium features like IMAX or Dolby Cinema – both now with a laser projection in the market – are the top segment. But even “normal” cinemas must be equipped with first-class digital projection, very good quality 3D systems, and state-of-the-art sound.”

The necessity for all cinemas to exceed the capabilities of high-end home-entertainment cannot be overstated, it would seem, which has resulted in particularly encouraging levels of investment in technology, in turn sparking a sharp increase in innovative pursuits to enhance the cinema-going experience. Cinemas across UNIC territories alone have pumped €1.5 billion into digital cinema over the past decade, serving to maintain the continuous commitment to innovation that is responsible for developments including, amongst others, immersive audio, High Dynamic Range (HDR) projection and “4D” cinema. In the coming weeks, we will delve into more detail in regards to technological progress and its impact upon cinema-going, along with the aspects of digital innovation that are not directly to do with screening equipment and production. After all, whilst a good film slate is paramount in cinema exhibition, it is the supporting cast that help bring audiences back again and again.

Find pictures from Cinema Next on our Facebook page.

Our friends at Creativity Works! have put together a lovely piece reporting on the conference as well!