BY CHRISTOF PAPOUSEK
Buzzing successes will characterize the upcoming movie year, such as Fifty Shades of Grey – Fifty Shades Darker, Fast and Furious 8, Despicable Me 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Salazar’s Revenge, Transformers 5 – The Last Knight, Star Wars Episode 8, and many more superheroes from the Marvel portfolio.
It is assumed that these blockbusters will work great and lead to intense flows of visitors on the year’s important release dates. The challenge for cinema operators, but also for shopping malls’ adjoining dining and entertainment establishments, is to deal with sudden large numbers of visitors professionally while maintaining quality standards. They will only come back if everything goes well.
The industry must unfortunately also recognize, however, that small and medium-sized films are having considerable difficulty finding cinema-goers and are essentially being overwhelmed by the major film events. More and more films are coming to market, but many of them struggle to find an audience for a single viewing.
The big movies are therefore getting bigger, while the small and medium-sized productions are increasingly in distress. This is leading to large fluctuations in capacity utilization in cinemas that we must adapt to. The absolute number of visitors in a given period, along with cinema revenues, are certainly rising, but the distribution across various film productions is increasingly unequal.
Cinema operators must keep visitor numbers up in the periods between blockbusters with well-designed target group events, special promotions, and well-functioning and attractive loyalty programs. This also presents an opportunity to advertise for upcoming blockbusters and create enthusiasm for new products. Communicating with customers via social media and addressing them in large shopping malls via notification services and the like is becoming increasingly important, while classical marketing tools such as newspaper ads and billboards are becoming less important.
Not least is the question of the length of the so-called exclusive window for screening films in cinemas. We will have to wait and see how these discussions turn out. Premium on-demand systems require attractive content and do not want to wait so long after the theatrical release. On the other hand, to be successful after they leave cinemas, films need all the pomp and circumstance provided by established movie theaters while they’re in their exclusive screening periods. We will see where this goes.
Cinemas will certainly continue to play an important role, because other forms of entertainment cannot provide the same community experience in front of the big screen.
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