The Cinema always pays: Part II
February 21, 2012
In the article published two weeks ago we spoke from the point of view of film producers, if the film is a good deal or if that only applies to the major Hollywood studios. In this article we approach to an answer from the point of view of the exhibitors, owners, developers and managers of movie theaters.
To locate the map of managers of cinemas, in Argentina we must first know the different categories in which they operate. At first glance we see four “sizes” of cinemas: the first category consists of the cinema complexes or complex chains, owned by corporations with large financial investment capacity that allows them to perform simultaneous releases in dozens of screens. They also show the ‘tanks’ of cinema, Hollywood blockbusters that come with a major advertising and promotional scaffolding. The second category contains the smaller chains and independent theaters, also called “art cinemas” which have privileged access to most artistic productions of lower budget and no marketing machine, and sometimes try to balance their accounts throwing hand late second priority and premiere Hollywood and European productions that add to its power some commercial artistic values. Third are the INCAA Spaces that are promoted by the state, which releases Argentine film and offer tickets at less value than the private sector. Finally there are an increasing number of small rooms and cycles organized in theaters, museums, cultural centers and other community spaces, some formally and informally and sometimes not even respecting the rights of producers and authors.
Of these four groups, over the years we have seen how three of them grew, while one is in decline, going through a crisis over the years and worsening day by day. This is the second group, separate rooms and small chains of “art-houses.” On both ends of the spectrum they do not have anyone to protect them, the independents have been sunk in the most painful distress. Complex chains are supported with broad shoulders of their corporations and Hollywood distributors; INCAA Spaces depend on the promotion and development of the State and institutional and small displays, formal and informal, have not much to lose.
A clear and recent example of this occurred on Monday February 6, at the awards ceremony FIPRESCI of Argentina. The award for Best Foreign Film was awarded to “Die like a man”, by João P. Rodrigues. The award was received by the company which distributed the film in Argentina: 791 Film. When going to receive the award, Claudina Morgulis on behalf of the distributor, announced elegantly the closure of the company. The reason was summed up in one sentence: “We closed because we fail”, but the arguments that supported that decision were devastating: over seven years, 791 local Entertainment launched fifty art films from all around the world, including Argentine directors of the caliber of Lars Von Trier, Richard Linklater, Asia Argento, Anahi Berneri, Marco Berger and many more. These films tried to break into the screens, but much of them jumped directly to DVD editions. The result: low illegal copies by unscrupulous pirates and even some video stores. And 791 Film is not the only company that has decided to retire from the market.
If distributors of art houses and independent films have that destiny, it won’t be very different to the one of the exhibitors who want to devote their screens in this kind of cinema. Both distributors and exhibitors have fallen into the same trap: the occurrence of one hundred thousand viewers in just 10 days to he BAFICI, independent film festival in Buenos Aires, which suggests the existence of an audience that the rest of the year also wants and chooses this type of film. And maybe they choose it but are not willing to pay for it. If it is true that the public is always right, then the independent film must dissapear, but if it ceases to exist, that same public that gives their back to it will go out and protest.
So, in conclusion, we should return to the original question: Is a good deal to have a cinema?
The answer is: if you are going to invest in a digital cinema with 3D capability, wide seats, tables to eat and drink, gourmet catering service and during the performance, popcorn baskets for sale, and you have the releases of the ‘tanks’ in Hollywood on your screen, then you should open a bank account with confidence, but if what you care about is playing every day the ceremony to see good movies of great authors, new productions, in the darkness of a traditional movie theater, then you are a true lover of cinema, but a bold man. May God and the cinema bless you.