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Screen sharing: a well established practice for some,
The Italians call it "multi-programming", more or less the same as the French, but whilst this is a decidedly new practice in Italy, it is a long-standing phenomenon in France.
This formula is the bread and butter of the art-house sector, partly because over 60% of cinemas belonging to the category's association have only one screen and have more or less always been characterized by the fact that their programming may even be monthly. It is no coincidence that they are known as "Programmkinos" and may screen 4 titles a day on a single screen. An illustrious example of this type of cinema is offered by the Kant in the Charlottenburg neighbourhood of Berlin. Opened in 1912 and with five screens, in this first week of December 2013 it has offered 9 titles ranging from Young and Beautiful to the cartoon movie Das kleine Gespenst", and including The Lunchbox and Two Mothers.
As emerged at Ciné, the yearly gathering of the Italian cinema community held at Riccione, screen sharing, which is also starting to appear in Italy, must be understood by exhibitors and distributors as an opportunity to be more precise in attracting the spectators interested in seeing a given film. Knowing the various audience typologies also means knowing their habits. "Who better than the exhibitor can know when to offer a certain film?" said Elise Brandt, a Finnish exhibitor, in her much appreciated video conference with her Italian colleagues' meeting at Ciné.
She went on, "Fortunately distributors here in Finland have confidence in our knowledge of the market and the demands of our audiences. Frankly I can't imagine a distributor signing a contract that imposes a single title on a screen for a whole week."
The experiences of those who have been practising screen sharing for years - even decades - thus show that trust between exhibitor and distributor is an essential requisite, as is good planning ability - in order to create varied and attractive weekly "programmes" for different audiences - together with a good audience communications strategy.
|Screen sharing has been widespread for years in most European countries, independently of their size. Amongst its pioneers there are large territories, such as Germany and France, but also smaller markets like the Netherlands and Romania or Denmark and Finland, in Scandinavia. Digital projection technology not only facilitates the practice of screen sharing where it is already used, but also encourages its adoption in countries like Portugal or Italy. For those who are just starting out along this path, it may be useful to become acquainted with the clauses that regulate agreements between exhibitors and distributors on a pioneer market of screen sharing like the U.K.
Here the contracts that regard screen sharing quite rarely foresee the clause "all shows" and generally only for films with wide audience appeal and in their first and second week of release.
Frequently films suitable for children - like "Despicable Me" - are screened in cinemas with one or two screens, with a clause that stipulates "not the last show".
A title such as "Stitch" may be screened with the clause "evening shows from day 1", i.e. from its very first day of release this film, suitable for adult audiences, is only screened in the evenings.
The conditions are negotiated on hiring the film: the choice of the programming slots is thus not entirely at the exhibitor's discretion.
Nonetheless, in general from the third or fourth week of release onwards, exhibitors are free to present the distributor with proposals that may vary greatly from the original one and are based on different time slots: "just matinées" (morning or early afternoon shows), "just evening" or even at a specific time on a specific day (3 p.m. on Monday, 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday etc.).
Particular conditions may also regard children's films: for example, "matinées on Saturdays and Sundays" or "post-school show on weekdays", i.e. screening around 4 p.m. during the week, which is very common for cartoons, offered at the time children come out of school.
The KDM keys are provided by the distributor for each screen in the complex. The exhibitor chooses which screen to place the film on for his audiences at the times agreed with the distributor.
In the case of the live screening of alternative content, the projection of the film is guaranteed in any case on another screen, in general taking off a title that is already in its fourth week of release or more.