"I believe the need for shared experiences is bigger than ever."

For the 15th edition of Big Screen Feature - providing a behind-the-scenes look at the world of cinema exhibition through the eyes of professionals themselves - Helena Eklund (Commercial Director, Odeon Cinemas Group - Northern Europe) discusses the job itself and the value of the Big Screen.

Describe your typical day at work.

Nothing is really typical right now but some things remain, such as my first cup of coffee and a quick catch up on news and e-mails. On a ”normal” morning, the first thing I do is to check the previous day’s admissions and sales on my phone to check the temperature for my day ahead. Then I am off to the office, which is situated outside of Stockholm in the small city of Solna, known as Sweden’s ”Cinecittá”  and the place where both Garbo and Bergman started their careers, so I feel very proud to work on truly holy film ground and still have a very special feeling when I enter the classic gate entrance at Filmstaden each morning. Every day really is different but, to summarize, most days usually hold various meetings and checking-in with people in my team. I love to get customer feedback so throughout the day I check our social media channels, digital channels, customer service and surveys to be up-to-speed with them. I also try to spend as much time as possible in the cinemas and I usually go to see a movie once or twice a week.

The moment you fell in love with the Big Screen?

It was love at first sight and my first film was The Jungle Book. My mother tells me that I was completely absorbed by the experience and couldn’t speak afterwards – which even then was very uncharacteristic. A few years later I moved to a small town with only one cinema, which funnily enough, now that I work for Odeon Cinemas Group, was called Odeon. I spent a big portion of my youth there and saw literally everything that was showing.

The best thing about the cinema experience?

For me, it is the complete shutting out of the rest of the World and getting absorbed by the story. And all of the things that make that happen; the big screen, the sound and the darkness. The shared experience. As I said, I grew up in a small town and the cinema was the place I could go with my friends to broaden my world, see other places, get to meet new people on the screen and take part in an never ending flow of destinies, adventures and lives. I still love it and I am so happy that we have finally been able to open our theatres again. I believe the need for shared experiences is bigger than ever. Someone once said to me that we are the last campfire and I really think there is a truth in that.

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