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UNIC Cinema Days 19 and 20 October 2023

UNIC was delighted to welcome nearly 180 colleagues to Brussels for its Cinema Days event on 19 and 20 October. The two-day event brought together experts from all over Europe to network and provide insights on a wide range of topics as part of a busy schedule of panel discussions, quickfire sessions and workshops.

For those involved in the UNIC Women’s Cinema leadership programme, the day kicked off in the morning with an internal meeting. The programme, now in its seventh edition, connects 12 senior female industry executives with up and coming female leaders from across the exhibition sector. The second in-person meeting of the year was very welcome by participants. 

Delegates were greeted by Laura Houlgatte, CEO of UNIC, who then moderated the opening session, which featured Laura Fumagalli (Exhibitor, Arcadia Cinemas) and Gregory Theile (CEO, Kinopolis Management Multiplex GmbH). Both shared their optimism, hoping for a steady flow of releases for 2024, and stressed the importance of innovation in enhancing the cinema-going experience.

Following the opening session, Malcolm MacMillan (EVP Exhibitor Relations/Managing Director, UK, The Boxoffice Company) set the scene and provided findings from recent studies on cinemas’ “new normal” before the ‘Cinema Exhibition - Revisiting Fundamentals' panel began. Michelle Stevens (Commercial Director, Powster) moderated an engaging panel with Casper Bonavent (Managing Director, Nordisk Film Biografer), Kadri Kaldma (Business Development Manager, Apollo Kino), Anny Schmit (Managing Director, Sony Pictures Releasing Belgium) and Petra Rockenfeller (Managing Director, Lichtburg Filmpalast). The panel offered insights on the shifting landscape of the cinema exhibition industry and identified strategies to ensure that cinemas remain an attractive and viable investment in this evolving market.

This was followed by a spotlight session from Nick Gault (Away From Home Customers Director, The Coca-Cola Company) who presented “Coca-Cola Red on the Silver Screen”. 

After a well-deserved coffee break, attendees joined the “UNIC People Programme” session  which focused on Internal Culture and Values. The scene was set by Delfine Van Boxlaer (Director of Talent & People, Cinionic), who gave a presentation on the critical aspects of internal culture and values, emphasising their profound influence on a company's success. The presentation was followed by an engaging workshop, during which attendees explored key questions such as how to define internal culture and values, why they hold significance for businesses, and shared insightful examples of best practices and potential pitfalls. 

After concluding remarks the attendees then enjoyed a cocktail reception and dinner at the Radisson hotel before the sun set on day one of our Cinema Days event.

The next day, participants got off to a great start with a quickfire session headed by Anke Van Diejen and Noortje van de Sande (Managing Directors & Founders, Picl, The Netherlands) on Picl, a TVOD platform collaborating with independent cinemas. Following this, AB Moosa Sayani (CEO, Avalon Group, South Africa) presented how his cinemas in South Africa have been enhancing customer loyalty through rewards programmes. After AB Moosa’s demonstration, a virtual presentation was given by Jakub Walczyk (Head of Public Programmes Department, Cinema without Barriers, ZAMEK Cultural Center, Poland) who gave a case study on “Cinemas Without Barriers” a project supported by Collaborate to Innovate helping hard of hearing and other people with disabilities access the Big Screen experience. From Jakub’s presentation on accessibility the topic moved to sustainability with Jaime Tarrazon (Delegate, FECE & Vice-President, UNIC) who gave a presentation on “How to Reach Sustainability Goals Across the Whole Value Chain: the Spanish Initiative.” The quickfire sessions were concluded with a panel discussion from the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme from a mentor’s and mentee’s perspectives. The panel was moderated by Laure Galtier (Events & Project Manager, UNIC) with perspectives given by Jenny Sidorova (Head of Marketing, DX) and Charline Baudry-Biancarelli (VP Global Marketing & Partnerships Strategy, ICE Theaters).

Afterwards, attendees went into two separate industry workshop groups – Cinema Marketing and Cinema Technology.

The Marketing Lab featured a number of presentations. In the morning session, Eric Marti (Comscore) presented “National cinema days across Europe – lessons learnt”, followed by “How to lead successful social media campaigns'' by Julien Drouais (Webedia/Boxoffice). Maria Sweeney and Mark de Quervain (Showtime Analytics) then dived into “Metrics that Matter - Today’s Success Metrics You Didn’t Know You Needed”. In the afternoon session, Greta D’Este Donelan (Generation Media) presented “Collective Effervescence. Content formats, trends and activations that spark the desire in young audiences to experience them with their peers'' followed by Jenny Sidorova (DX) who gave a forward looking presentation on AI titled “From AI to Fandoms: Navigating the Future of Cinema Marketing Through Trends & Insights.”

These presentations were followed by workshops on the presented topics as well as “More than just cinemas: expanding and diversifying offerings” (Maria Sweeney, Showtime Analytics), “Online marketing, revisiting the fundamentals” (Malcolm MacMillan, Webedia/Boxoffice), “Paid, Earned and Owned Media - how can exhibitors successfully connect with young audiences and convert at box office” (Alex Taylor-Smith, Generation Media), “How to lead successful social media campaigns” (Julien Drouais, Webedia/Boxoffice) and “Audience Profiling” (Lucy Jones, Comscore).

In the other room, Sonia Ragone (UNIC) introduced the Technology Lab and attendees heard updates from Jan Runge (ICTA), Cathy Huis int’ Veld-Esser (EDCF) and Mark Kendall (CTC). This was followed by a presentation of the main findings of the survey on training for technical staff by Laura Houlgatte and Sonia Ragone (UNIC). Participants also had the opportunity to test “WatchWord closed captions'' glasses developed for deaf or hard of hearing audiences. The demonstration was carried out by Built for Good Technology; Tim Middleton, Tabitha Allum and Jonathan Suffolk. This was followed by an open discussion with Mike Bradbury (Odeon) and Ian Robbins (Deluxe), on ageing equipment and potential issues. 

The tech group also workshoped on Tech staff and HR: recruiting, training & retaining (moderated by Sonia & Laura, UNIC), Security issues/cyber-security (moderated by Cathy Huis n’t Veld), Premium cinema (moderated by Patrick Von Sychowski), Event cinema delivery (moderated by Jan Runge), HDR standards (moderated by Jan Rasmussen) and Sustainability and energy efficiency (moderated by Benjamin Dauhrer and Nicolas Hamon).

Overall, the two days were a superb opportunity for all of those involved in cinema to get together and share innovative and insightful ideas. UNIC would like to once again thank all of its members and partners for their continued support, as well as the sponsors of the event – Vista Group, Comscore, GDC, Christie, Ferco, Cinionic, Coca-Cola, Showtime Analytics, Compeso and the Boxoffice Company - who all helped  make Cinema Days possible.

We hope to see you all again in Barcelona on 17-20 June 2024 at CineEurope – save the date now!

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