Four days of cinema at 6 euros during the We Love Cinema Days: “There is no excuse not to go” “There is no excuse not to go to the cinema,” argues Alain De Greef, general secretary of the Association of Film Distributors, who takes the opportunity to rejoice at the return of the public to theaters at the end of a summer in a beautiful moment for operators. . and distributors. “Compared to last year, we recorded a 16% increase in attendance. This is the result of the global success we are experiencing, Barbie and Oppenheimer in particular.”
No. They have a positive effect on cinema as a whole. It’s not just these two movies, there are all the movies that came out during this same period that achieved significant scores. A movie like Barbie brought people back to the theaters. The audience is there to see the films at the event, but, in the process, they go to see other films. We are seeing that those who had not yet returned to the cinema after Covid have returned, especially for these films. Barbie, because we are going to see something that brings back memories. Oppenheimer, because it is Nolan and a film about a historical event that affects us all.
You give figures regarding 2022, which was still a somewhat special year, with a limited offer of blockbusters. What are the figures compared to 2019, the last reference year before the pandemic?
For all of 2019 we are at -5%, it is true. But 2019 was an exceptional year around the world. If we take the 2016-2019 average, over three years, we have similar attendance figures. Many weekends this year even resulted in attendance above this average. I would like to point out that the statistics follow the same curve in the north and south of the country. There is no significant difference.
Belgium has one of the lowest average number of cinemas per capita in Europe. Given the increase in the number of films, isn’t this a problem that especially penalizes arthouse films, which are removed from the poster more quickly?
In fact, we noticed a lack of screen diversity. Without a doubt, we would be better served by an urban fabric with more neighborhood or local cinemas. The first criterion for going to the cinema is not the distance, but the time it takes, with everything included, to get there: public transport, accessibility, difficulty parking, price of parking, etc. Sure, in Belgium we have quite large cinema complexes, but in the city center, in some places, there is still a lack of diversity. This is a problem that is not easy to solve.
This involves public-private partnerships and significant budgets. The profitability of a cinema, if it only has a few screens, is not easy. In the Netherlands, for example, they are successful, but the urban centers are livelier. And cinemas are often linked to other activities, such as places to eat, for example. These are meeting places. Experience in Europe shows that audience renewal is possible in new, well-equipped halls, but also with a diversified range of activities. The Netherlands, in particular, is one step ahead in this area.
New film distributors emerge, such as Case Départ, which will release the film “Yannick” by Quentin Dupieux this fall. Is there room for so many distributors in a small territory like Belgium?
There are subsidiaries of five large multinationals and fifteen independent companies, some of which operate beyond our borders. Each has its own niche or niche. This is the case of Case Départ, where I saw Yannick. I think distributor diversity is really important. The advantage of having many distributors is that the range of films offered to the public is broader. It is a stimulating competition, which also prevents everyone from resting on their laurels.
The good news is that cinema is still part of the panorama. The public is there and comes to see films of the event. The four-day We Love Cinema Days support this trend.