The four-day conference touched upon a wide range of topics of relevance to the sector, from the impact of the pandemic on cinema-going and the recovery process, to the challenges and opportunities of event cinema and sustainable development goals. With over thirty presentations and panels, this was a packed and entertaining programme, shedding a bright light on the future of the Big Screen in Europe and globally.
We were delighted to be part of the event, with UNIC President and UK Cinema Association CEO Phil Clapp giving a presentation on the recovery of the European cinema industry, highlighting the recent successes of international and local titles – contributing to the $3.1b grossed at the global box office in October 2021, the best monthly performance since January 2020. In Norway for instance, No Time To Die attracted over 630,000 visitors for a population of 5.4 million, making it one of the most successful international territory for the blockbuster. At the same time, three local titles are currently leading at the Norwegian box office, including a Christmas title, a disaster movie and a dark rom-com, further proving the role of cinema in promoting cultural diversity in the region. There is no discussion that the road to recovery will be arduous after long periods of closure in 2020 and 2021. But cinemas have shown their resilience and capacity to adapt in difficult times and are now setting their sight on a promising few years.
The programme also featured a presentation from Birgit Heidsiek, Green Cinema Consultant of the German Federal Film Board, focusing on the topic of sustainability and the range of initiatives and strategies rolled out by German cinema operators to ensure they become and remain more energy efficient and sustainable. We also heard from interesting sustainability case studies in Norway, such as the “environmentally certified” Vega Scene and Trondheim Kino.
Event cinema was a big topic on the agenda, with Event Cinema Association Managing Director Grainne Peat, providing interesting facts and figures on the relevance of alternative content for cinemas. Among other insights, it was particularly interesting to learn that almost a quarter of event cinemas attendees in 2020 were newly identified audiences to cinemas, pointing to a huge cross-over potential for exhibitors. A following panel went deeper into the complexity of finding and engaging with audiences for the wide range of content available, from classic operas to video game competitions, live concerts and even TV series premieres.
Helen Budge from Celluloid Junkie contributed to the conference with a non-exhaustive list of innovative and creative initiatives from cinema operators during the pandemic to ensure that their sites remained open, including by hosting university classes or even jury trials. UNIC member and Peter Fornstam, MD and founder of Svenska Bio – the only cinema chain in Europe that managed to remain open throughout the pandemic, even with a 8-person per screening capacity limit – shared some of his own campaigns, including the successful Bio on Demand cinema rental scheme. It was also heartwarming to hear about the relevance of opening cinemas in smaller towns and in low screen density areas, as proven by growing admission figures in recent years. Another fabulous case study was brought by Andrew Woodyatt from the Rio Cinema in London, who gave us a too-short presentation which served to illustrate all the reasons why his cinema was crowned the UK’s best at the Screen Awards 2019.
The Film&Kino conference also included several presentations focusing on cinema technology, with our very own Guillaume Branders giving a presentation on related industry trends and developments. The technology session gave an opportunity to discuss at length some of the challenging issues that cinema operators and their partners are currently facing, such as spare parts delivery delays, equipment lifetime or energy efficiency – among many other worthwhile topics. Guillaume also participated to the now popular “In the Pub with Mike” session, moderated by Mike Bradbury, UNIC Technology Group members and Head of Cinema Technology at Odeon, during which were discussed laser projector warranties, optical safety distance standards, aspect ratios and screen gain concerns. A live recording of the session is available on the CTC website.
And these are just a selection of the many great presentations that were part of the strong programme prepared by our colleagues at Film&Kino, which also featured friends and partners from Celluloid Junkie, Movio, the Coca-Cola Company, NEC, Christie, Cinionic, Dolby, Harkness Screen as well as Christie. It was a delight to hear from all of you and we are looking forward to seeing you all again soon in person during the UNIC Cinema Days, scheduled to take place in early February. Stay tuned!