Mostar miracle: CineStar brings moviegoing magic back to revitalized Bosnian community
The CineStar Mostar multiplex in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovia signifies more than just the arrival of a new cinema, it represents a cultural rebirth for a city traumatized by war.
“Mostar’s cinema infrastructure was completely destroyed 20 years ago during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” explains Damir Milinic, managing director of parent company Blitz-CineStar’s operations in that country. “The opening of the CineStar Mostar multiplex marks a true revival of cinematic life in Mostar.”
As Milinic notes, “Mostar did not have any significant cinematic content for a long period. Beside the ‘Dani Filma Mostar’ Film Festival [Mostar Film Days] that occurs annually and shows a minor number of films, the citizens of Mostar and the surrounding areas did not have the possibility to enjoy cinema content in their city. True movie lovers would mostly travel in great numbers to either Split or Sarajevo to be able to go to a cinema, towns that are about 145 km away from Mostar.”
Milinic continues, “When we decided to consider the development of this project, we of course did a market analysis—an analysis which showed us that the majority of the younger generation was unaware of the concept of a cinema theatre. A whole generation, or even several generations, of moviegoers were lost—they did not know what cinema really is. Even though we were initially shocked, we had a similar experience with our Sibenik [Croatia] project where today we have a successfully working cinema, so we were not deterred by this predisposition. Instead, we felt further motivated and were passionate about bringing the magic of film to Mostar and its citizens.”
And the CineStar Mostar is no ordinary cinema complex. Part of the Megas Mall shopping center, the five-screen theatre is fully digitized with Barco projectors, including three screens equipped with RealD 3D technology and a showcase “CineStar eXtreme” auditorium with a huge 100-square-meter screen.
This new, upscale movie environment is a hit with local residents. Milinic reports, “The reaction of the public to the opening of our five-star multiplex was more than satisfying and much more than we had initially expected. The underlying need and interest for theatre and film was evident for all to see, as CineStar Mostar had around 14,500 visitors in the first week alone. The number of admissions is rising each day and we continue to receive the support of citizens of Mostar and the surrounding areas.”
In appreciation, CineStar Mostar offers amenities such as “Loyalty Stars” club cards, student and senior club cards providing rebates, group rebates for organized screenings for 20 or more visitors, and facilities for public meetings and events which before now had to held in neighboring towns.
As in many corners of the world, 3D is a hit with the Mostar audience. “Mostar residents previously did not have the privilege to experience new technological wonders of the cinema,” Milinic observes, “so it comes as no surprise that there is more demand for 3D content than 2D content. Visitors also exhibit positive reactions to movies on the eXtreme screen, as they now have the opportunity to enjoy the full extent of the audiovisual experience that those theatres have to offer.”
CineStar Mostar is Blitz-CineStar’s 11th multiplex and its first project outside the Croatian borders. The circuit has four projects in development: CineStar Slavonski Brod in the Colosseum Centre (four screens and 519 seats), opening in spring 2013; CineStar Split 2 in the Mall of Split (11 screens, 1,700 seats), opening in March 2013; CineStar Vukovar in Vukovar Centre (three screens, 450 seats), opening in May 2013; and CineStar Delta in Delta Planet Autokomanda in Belgrade (18 screens, 3,300 seats), opening in fall 2014. The latter cinema will be the biggest megaplex in the region and will include the territory’s second IMAX theatre. With the completion of these projects, the CineStar chain will have more than 100 screens and expects to attract four million visitors a year, making it the largest exhibitor in the markets of the former Yugoslavia.
CineStar currently has one eXtreme theatre at each of its locations, and the circuit is also on the cutting edge of audio, installing the new Auro 3D immersive sound system in select locations.
As for the movies themselves, “CineStar prides itself in offering a wide range of quality content, from mainstream U.S. blockbusters to European films and local productions. We also have our own ‘CineFest’ brand that focuses on festival films. We constantly work on enriching our audience with new film experiences.”
The chain also believes in alternative programming. Says Milinic, “Visitors hungry for culture who come to CineStar cinemas are also privy to our brand ‘Spectacles in CineStar’—season programming of alternative content including operas, ballets and classical concerts, rock, pop and R&B concerts, and sports events. We offer both live spectacles as well as recorded ones. This season's repertoire will include spectacles from the Royal Opera and Opera de Paris such as Swan Lake Live, Les Troyens, The Nutcracker Live, Carmen Live and Don Quixote Live.
As for other kinds of nourishment, “CineStar offers visitors a rich gastronomic offer in its concessions and its CineBar,” Milinic reports. “Visitors can buy popular popcorn, nachos, chips and various snacks, all in various flavors and sizes or in a combination from our menu with a drink, dessert and toy. Sweets and candies, chewing gum, ice cream, hot dogs, various soft drinks (in bottle or poured), water and beer are also available.”
In addition, “CineStar’s Gold Class theatres offer increased luxury and personalized service, with the possibility of ordering food and drinks during the movie, with a waiter available at any time during the screening on a buzz of a waiter call button. Visitors can order food from a custom menu, as well as a wide assortment of hot beverages, soft or alcoholic drinks, wines, champagnes, cocktails, popcorn, nachos and desserts.”
As the CineStar brand continues to grow, the circuit can take special pride in its latest achievement: bringing a deluxe moviegoing experience to a community where a night at the cinema had become a distant dream.