Kinepolis to build another Dutch multiplex

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European Update

Following Kinepolis Breda with ten screens, Kinepolis Group “obtained all the necessary permits to start construction” of its second ground-up multiplex in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch can look forward to seven screens and some 1,500 seats opening in spring of 2018. Located in the center city’s Paleiskwartier and close to the central station, the cinema will be surrounded by offices, apartments, a supermarket and a restaurant. The Group is expecting to attract 350,000 filmgoers per year.

Kinepolis Den Bosch will be the fourth new-built venue since the circuit acquired Wolff Bioscopen and Utopolis in the summer of 2004 and end of 2015, respectively, for a total of then 16 sites across The Netherlands.

UNIC Reports on Big Screen Innovation

In preparation of its “Future of Cinema in Digital Europe” Conference on Feb. 8, co-hosted and presented with members of the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels, the International Union of Cinemas has prepared “Innovation and the Big Screen.”

Per Jan Runge, the trade organization’s chief executive, the new report illustrates “how European cinemas of all sizes and locations embrace innovation to the benefit of their audiences.” To facilitate the additional goal of informing about “UNIC’s wider campaign around this important issue,” copies of the report have been made available online here.

While this author encourages you to download your very own copy, he also backs up the suggestion. After all, UNIC is making an excellent point here about the need for “Placing Cinemas at the Centre of Europe’s Growth Strategy for Film.” (In my book, that would work very nicely anywhere else in the world too.) The report concludes that with good intentions likely at the core, “Europe’s approach to cinema has of late exaggerated the cultural and economic contributions that digital platforms make to the European project.” With that, unfortunately, politicians are also “underestimating the importance of promoting a fair, competitive and culturally diverse cinema eco system,” UNIC’s report cautions. “Developing a comprehensive innovation strategy for Europe’s film sector—one that puts cinemas at the centre of Europe’s cultural and creative ambitions—could help recalibrate this approach.”

After welcome words by Phil Clapp (UNIC’s president and chief executive, U.K. Cinema Association), the first panel explored “Cinema Going Experience of Tomorrow.” Moderated by Runge, participants discussing “sector strategies for growth” included Veronica Lindholm (managing director, Finnkino), Richard Patry (president, Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français), Sarah Lewthwaite (strategic partnerships director, Movio) and Patrick Von Sychowski (co-founder and co-editor, CelluloidJunkie.com). Later, the focus shifted towards discussing “European Policy Strategies to Foster Innovation in Cinema” along with UNIC VP Jaime Tarrazon (owner, Federación de Cines de España) and Charlotte Lund-Thomson (legal counsel, International Video Federation and International Federation of Film Producers). Also on the panel were Helga Trüpel (EP member) and Lucia Recalde-Langarica (unit head, Creative Europe MEDIA, Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology, European Commission).

Attendees of the UNIC/EP Conference were also able to discover an immersive virtual-reality experience showcased by creative agency Powster.

Euro Film Promotion Marks 20 Years

During the Berlin Film Festival back in 1997, EFP-European Film Promotion was launched “to highlight European films internationally in the face of domination from U.S. blockbusters.” Initially, ten countries sparked to the idea of marketing their national films in a European context. This “truly European idea,” organizers said on the occasion of the anniversary, “has been steadily growing thanks to the unwavering financial support of the Creative Europe-MEDIA Programme.”

Another 27 countries followed over the years, highlighting the success of programs such “Shooting Stars” and “New Faces of European Cinema,” as well as offering “Film Sales Support” and umbrella offices representing European companies and their films at film markets and festivals in Busan, Karlovy Vary, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, New York, Guadalajara, Istanbul and Hong Kong. New this year are Film Sales Support at the Tribeca Film Festival and a May 4-7 series highlighting “New Directions in European Documentaries” at the Metrograph in Manhattan.

After 20 successful years at the helm, EFP’s founding managing director, Renate Rose, will retire. Her successor is Sonja Heinen, the current head of the Berlinale Co-Production Market and a program manager of the World Cinema Fund.

European Films Falling in U.K. Popularity

Maybe European Film Promotion can work its magic in the United Kingdom, where, from 2007 to 2013, admissions for non-English language European films fell by nearly half (46.8% to one million). Hitting their peak of 1.8 million tickets in 2012, non-English-language European films counted half of what Skyfall, the top-selling film that year, took in its opening weekend.

The study from a University of York academic also reveals that the U.K. has the lowest market share for European films of the 28 EU member countries, accounting for just 1.8% of till takings from 2002 to 2014. All this “despite attempts to boost audiences” from the EU’s MEDIA Programme and both the U.K. Film Council and British Film Institute giving €8.6 million (US$9.23 mil.) and €6.8 million (US$7.33 mil.), respectively, to support the distribution and marketing of non-English-language European films from 2007 to 2013.

Cultural factors play a big part in why so few British people engage with European films, researchers explained. Only 14.1% of Britons profess to like foreign-language films, “with viewers saying they are put off by subtitles, the lack of familiar actors or subject matter, and the ‘art-house’ style of many European dramas.” Industry issues are also at play. Researchers mentioned smaller budgets than Hollywood films (an average of $5 million, compared with $139 million), for example, and “more limited distribution,” reaching 14 cinemas at their widest point of release, compared with 168 cinemas.

The study by Dr Huw Jones is published in the journal Studies in European Cinema.