Europa Cinemas 2019 Conference: Six Talking Points

By Cabeza, Elisabet | Screen International, November 29, 2019 | Go to article overview

Europa Cinemas 2019 Conference: Six Talking Points


Cabeza, Elisabet, Screen International


Content overload, the challenge of luring young audiences into cinema theatres and an unexpected mood of optimism were at the heart of the discussion.

Pan-European independent exhibitor body Europa Cinemas - representing 1,152 cinemas and 2,775 screens in 43 territories - held its biannual conference in Lisbon from November 21 to 24.

Content overload, the challenge of luring young audiences into cinema theatres and an unexpected mood of optimism were at the heart of the discussions at the event attended by some 500 industry professionals from across the production, distribution and exhibition chain.

Unexpected optimism

Participants who had also attended the previous biannual meeting in the Hungarian capital of Bucharest in 2017 commented that the atmosphere was more positive at the Lisbon conference.

“The dynamism, the optimism almost, has been a surprise this year,” Europa Cinemas general manager Claude-Eric Poiroux told Screen.

Poiroux, who is the founding owner of the seven-screen Les 400 Coups cinema in the north-western French city of Angers, acknowledged the conference was unfolding during complex times for independent exhibitors but said that there were silver-linings for Cinema Europa members.

“In Europe, there’s a bit of a decrease in ticket sales, some countries like Germany have gone down more than others: 15% less last year, but for the cinemas that are part of our network in Germany the fall was lower: 6 to 7%,” he said.

“In the last two years, there’s been a proven resilience of our cinemas, theatres that in theory should be the ones more at risk since we are not showing Marvel films. Hollywood sagas are not a never-ending prescription for success either at the multiplexes. Audiences can get tired of that too.”

This air of cautious optimism was reflected in many of the panels and workshops which tackled topics such as ‘Reimagining the cinema experience’; ‘Next generation of cinema-goers’ and ‘Making Cinemas more open, inclusive and sustainable’.

Curatorial role

One key message to emerge was that the recent explosion in content linked to the rise and imminent arrival of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, HBO Max, Disney+ should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Poiroux suggested the content overload could boost the curatorial role of independent cinema theatres.

“Independent cinemas that are part of our network are dynamic, well anchored in their communities, with a clear idea of the films they want to programme,” he said. “When TV came out a lot of people thought cinema was dead. Now it’s true that a lot of people are hooked on series but at the same time will appreciate that a good film can manage to tell a good story in two hours.”

Young Audiences

A number of case studies looking at initiatives aimed at attracting younger audiences into theatres were presented at the conference.

These included the Kinotrip programme pioneered by the Kinodvor cinema in Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. Targeted at the 15+ audience, it aims to encourage youngsters to create “buzz among their friends.”

In another presentation, Stefana Dragan from arthouse streaming platform Mubi, suggested its fledgling Mubi Go programme, offering theatrical tickets on select films to subscribers, could also play a role in rejuvenating audiences due to the relatively young demographic of its subscribers.

She revealed that 80% of its users were under 44 years old and 55% under 34 years old. “With Mubi Go we focus on championing one film a week,” she explained. …

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