Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007 - Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

International Edition No. 173 - year 15 - 7 December 2020

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Dear Readers,

Elisabetta BrunellaThis issue appears on 7 December, the day on which the Scala Theatre traditionally opens its opera season with a work which, thanks to the digital revolution, is now broadcast live internationally on the big screen. The 2020 choice was "Lucia di Lammermoor", already booked by many cinemas but, in the year of Covid, the Scala, too, has had to invent a new programme, together with Rai: a huge show looking back over the history of opera in sixteen arias from masterpieces by Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Rossini, Giordano, Bizet, Massenet and Wagner. They are interpreted by twenty-four voices of international repute, directed by Riccardo Chailly, joined by Roberto Bolle for one of the three slots reserved for ballet. In the high temple of opera, with no audience and the parterre hosting the orchestra, the world-famous star dances amidst laser beams in an approach he himself defines “virtual and technological”. Under the title – a sign of hope – taken from the famous verse by Dante “A riveder le stelle” / “Seeing the Stars Again”, this unique event will reach cinema audiences over the next few months, enriching the offer of art, dancing, theatre and music, which has not been lacking even in this difficult year. The panorama published in this issue is devoted to the market trends for added content up until 2019, whilst we shall shortly be covering the first figures for 2020. We can already state that in both cases there is good news. And we all know how much we need this.

Elisabetta Brunella
Secretary General of MEDIA Salles

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)


Once again this year MEDIA Salles has organized new events regarding added content in the series The Talks.

There follows a first summary account of the contents of the Talk held during the 77th Venice International Film in the context of the training course “Art Cinema = Action + Management” organized by the Cicae.

As well as being one of the new developments that the digitization of projection has brought to audiences, the offer of added content for the big screen represents a sector in continuous growth.

A developing sector

In 2010 on the three leading European markets that had been able to provide specific figures on added content, the box office for this market segment amounted to 13.5 million euros. In 2019 the figure had risen to 88 million, with a growth of 552%

In this area the United Kingdom is the continent’s largest market. In 2019 it achieved a record GBO of 60 million euros.

The average price of added content is higher

Whoever might think that this is a fringe business, cannot fail to consider one characteristic feature of the market for added content: the average ticket price is always and everywhere – though to different extents – higher than the overall average ticket price in cinemas (considering films and added content together).

Poof comes from the figures – which have gradually become available for ten countries – showing average prices for added content in 2019 that fall between the 24 euros in Switzerland, compared to 14 euros for an average cinema ticket, and 2.86 of Turkey, compared to 2.46, passing, for example, through 15 euros in France (compared to 6.8), and 11 in Portugal (compared to 5.35).

The variety of added content

Another characteristic of added content is the variety of genres included under this label, demonstrating its ability – appreciated equally by the exhibitor and by the spectator – to satisfy the expectations of very different audience segments.

So-called “visual music” – which embraces very different kinds of performances, from classic opera to pop concerts – is an asset more or less everywhere. Nonetheless, the slightest glance at the productions that headed the charts in 2018 and 2019 in the various countries proves just how versatile added content is, as well as its ability to cater for specific local characteristics. If opera is in first place in Switzerland, in the United Kingdom audiences prefer the theatre and in Hungary so-called “art films” and pop music concerts.

The important role played by Europe

In the countries that have provided figures on the top three titles for added content per gross box office in 2018 and 2019, we can see that as many as 20 out of 39 places are occupied by productions of European origin, domestic or not. On the film scenario the situation is more than upturned: in 29 out of 39 places productions are non-European.

It is thus clear that the field of added content provides interesting chances for the whole chain of value of European audiovisuals. Not to mention the opportunity of worldwide distribution for the various different expressions of European culture.

An opportunity for cinemas

The greater diversification of offer, its specific cultural and artistic significance, the practical possibility of taking performances organized in big cities to small places or rural and outlying areas allow cinemas to play a more decisive role in the territories and communities where they operate and to position themselves as authentic hubs for culture and social aggregation.

What do the exhibitors think of it?

Thanks to co-operation by the Cicae, MEDIA Salles has collected the opinions of 19 exhibitors who took part in the 2019 course on management and programming in quality cinemas, which takes place annually at the Venice Film Festival.

Seventeen of them regularly screened added content and sixteen of them consider this a chance for broadening their offer and giving added value to the cinema-going experience. This content allows them to reach a sector of the general public that would not visit the cinema if the programming only included films in the traditional sense of the term. As well as this advantage, the exhibitors report an increase in box office thanks to the sale of tickets at a higher price than average, to the pre-sales of subscriptions and a larger turnover for concessions. The programming of content of artistic and cultural interest – which often occurs according to a “season” formula – also makes it possible to promote customer loyalty.

As Joel Fioroni, exhibitor in Massagno, Switzerland, says, “added content can represent a safety net for the economic balance of a small theatre fighting to keep cinema alive on the big screen”.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)


Focus on the United Kingdom

In England cinemas were allowed to re-open on 2 December, except in areas with serious health risks. Scottish cinemas are open but here, too, subject to more or less severe regulations – which may even arrive at total closure – according to the area.

In Northern Ireland re-opening cannot occur before 11 December, whilst in Wales cinemas were closed indeterminately on 4 December.

The big chains have adopted different approaches. While Cineworld closed its venues on October 9 because of economic difficulties, Vue and Odeon recently announced gradual re-openings in their cinemas, obviously respecting current local regulations, but also with confidence in the general atmosphere of optimism generated by the announcement of the imminent start of a vaccination programme. While Vue’s doors re-opened on 4 December, audiences must wait until the 11th for Odeon. One of the problems to be faced, in the UK too, is the lack of new productions. Not by chance Odeon will initially be offering a series of Christmas films. The first new title with popular appeal – Wonder Woman 1984 – is expected for mid-December, earlier than its U.S. release, which is scheduled for Christmas Day.

In England cinemas in zones 1 and 2 can open but with limitations on the number of spectators. In zone 3 they must remain closed.

In Scotland, cinemas in zones 1 and 2 can open, but with limitations on the number of spectators. In zones 3 and 4 they must remain closed. Closure thus affects most Scottish cinemas.


Click here to see the update of the map that offers in a glimpse the first comprehensive info about cinema-going during the pandemic, thanks to the collaboration of national and int'l bodies, institutions, companies and professionals from the various European countries.



Monica Raud
Marketing & Project Manager, Kino ARTIS Tallinn, Estonia

Cinema Artis in the heart of Tallinn is a small 2-screen cinema that has a focus on European films, but also screens a selected choice of Hollywood productions and movies from around the world. When COVID-19 hit the country, we were closed from March 13 till May 31. Artis was the first cinema in Tallinn to open its doors again on June 1st. Because of that and because the reopening of cinemas was newsworthy, Artis got quite a lot of much-needed media coverage.

Because of the lockdown many public and private events in our cinema were cancelled. The saddest part: we had bought the rights of two magnificent films that we planned to screen during March and April. One of them, “Honeyland”, was on national TV in May, so when we finally screened it in September, very few people came to see it. The other film (“The Portrait of a Lady On Fire”) with 10 screenings in October was a pretty big hit, thankfully.

When the cinema was closed, we didn’t really encourage our audience to go online and watch films via different channels. We didn’t encourage the habit of watching films without leaving home – this was something that happened anyway. So we tried to keep up the hope that we could soon open the doors again and enjoy the art of film on the big screens. Regular Facebook posts and occasional news on our webpage were the main ways to keep in touch with the audience. There were humour and cool links to share, there was news about coming films and thematic film recommendations, little polls, news about the situation and much more.

When we opened on June 1st, we had to keep 2 m between the seats, so only a maximum of 50 seats out of 181 and 21 seats out of 72 were on sale. That changed on June 24, when we could sell up to 50% of the seats. After August 22 we were allowed to sell 100% of the seats. But we were open 7 days a week and did 12 screenings a day as always.

At first the programme consisted of movies that started just before the lockdown or should have started during that period. Gradually new films arrived in the cinema. But as the situation was uncertain, there weren’t really any big hits and people were not very keen to come back into cinemas and of course they wanted to spend a lot of time outside as it was summer. So compared to 2019, we sold roughly 65% fewer tickets in June, 55% fewer in August and 25% fewer in September. But as the proportion of visitors has changed and there are fewer seniors than normal, this turnover in October was very close to October 2019.

Besides the fact that people still love cinema and over time were increasingly ready to return to cinemas, I believe there are 3 things that have helped cinema Artis.

  1. Diverse and strong programming

  2. Frequent special programmes, special screenings and festivals that began in July and culminated in October

  3. Audience loyalty

We really wanted to bring our audience back to their favorite cinema, so despite the uncertain situation we continued with our weekly and monthly special screenings as promptly as we could. Twice a week senior screenings continued as soon as the cinema reopened, Ladies Choice movie nights started again in August and children’s mornings in September.

November is the month of the Black Nights Films Festival and starting from November 28 we are allowed to sell only 50% of the seats again. There is not the slightest indication of what December will bring.




* Digital cinema/screen = a cinema/screen equipped with DLP Cinema TM or SXRD Technology


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