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

International Edition No. 165 - year 15 - 15 June 2020

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This issue of DGT Online Informer is dated 15 June 2020, the day Italian cinemas can re-open to the public after over three months of closure as a measure in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.  The reopening of the theatres that has just begun or is about to begin in several other countries is certainly not without its problems  - suffice it to think of the serious effects of the pandemic on the economy of the whole world of entertainment - but it is certainly an important sign of a return to the habits that make our lives fuller and more interesting.  This is why we should like to share with you - our readers - the words of a great writer we had chosen as the exergue to the White Book of the European Exhibition Industry, the first international report - this was in 1994 - which MEDIA Salles commissioned in order to shed light on the role played by movie theatres in society and in the European economy.   

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

"Je vais pouvoir m'occuper de choses sérieuses,
comme dirait Piotr, maintenant que la guerre est finie.
Je me demande quel genre de choses sérieuses je vais faire. Piotr avait dit: 'Reconstruire mon usine,
aller au cinéma, faire des enfants'".

Jorge Semprun, "Le grand voyage"


Digital screens and their penetration rate

Digital and 3D screens in Europe: the new statistics as at 1st January 2020

© copyright MEDIA Salles



This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.

The Berlinale and its Cinemas
by Elisabetta Galeffi

The impression of arriving in a gentler Germany, capable of défaillances, is a past memory.
Berlin has recovered its self confidence and the presumption of the great Unter den Linden (Under the Lime Trees) Avenue, even though the trees are no longer present.  No-one thought of replanting them in the years following the intense western reappropriation of the city after the fall of the Wall.  We can only imagine how lime trees along this terribly austere avenue, so beloved of nazis and communists alike, would have attenuated the memory of the military parades by the dictatorships that singled out Berlin as the hub for their evil and despotism.  The six rows of trees chosen by the Great Elector, Frederick I of Brandenburg, in the mid-1600s - partly removed by the nazis' architect, Albert Speer - would have offered some protection from the icy wind against which you cannot defend yourself  if you find yourself out on the Avenue on a winter's day in Berlin.  An icy wind that suddenly seems like the emblem of the new capital: a city rebuilt, restored - definitively - to the world of power and business. 
The Germans use an adjective - lebendig (lively/alive) - to express a concept similar to the Italian "dolce vita". Well, Berlin gives the impression of not being quite as "lebendig" as it used to be and it is difficult to see whether it still retains a specific identity of its own.

The enormous skyscraper banks, the big hotel chains, which now fill the city do not even spare the places symbolic of the city or its destruction during the war. 

This is the case, in the West, of the church known as "The Lipstick and the Powder Box", designating the slapdash, economic rebuilding of what remained at the end of the Second World War: the old bell tower and the new Lipstick alongside a church of coloured glass and cement entirely rebuilt with a flat roof - the Powder Box.
The Berlinale has adapted to the new atmosphere with the futuristic festival building in Potsdamer Platz and the enormous, though still insufficient, Martin Gropius Bau, which are part of the impressive mechanism driving this cinema event, though some non-specialists may not find it easy to negotiate the program and its categories and some may think that the Berlinale has lost a little of the happy-go-lucky atmosphere that distinguished it only a few years ago, when it seemed to be prevalently a festival for spectators - slightly more intellectual audiences - screening less commercial or politically correct films. Less red carpets for actors, almost no swish events but cinema, cinema and great enthusiasm from the public.  
I remember watching Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" at the Festival's former venue, the Zoo Palast, in 1998, sitting on the steps in the auditorium: there were no seats left but I had a ticket.  Now the demand is such that spectators have to queue outside for their tickets sometimes unsuccessfully (and this is not spring in Cannes).  Non-accredited spectators can buy tickets online, though, but at high prices.  Otherwise, it may be possible to find one on the day of screening, when the box-office has some on offer, for example at the Cubix.
Auditoriums 5, 9, 8: three (out of nine) screens are kept for Berlinale screenings at the CineStar in Alexanderplatz, the Cubix itself, whose name reveals its architectural form.  But at times the three "Cubixes" are not sufficient and no tickets are to be found. If you're unlucky you can explore the various floors in the cube with their fast food and - fortunately - Pretzels (the typically German, woven bread rolls). 
Luckily, some of the great historical theatres still exist, such as the Delphi, the Zoo Palast and the Friedrichstrasse Theater to quote just a few. Here there is a better chance of procuring a ticket, even at the last minute. But the movie theatre that is easiest to get into to is the Kino International, thanks both to its wide auditorium, and because it is in an area that has not been completely absorbed into today's Berlin.  And this is where we sing the praises of the GDR's most famous film theatre.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

Kino International
by Elisabetta Galeffi

No. of screens
No. of digital screens
Kino International

You arrive by underground, getting off at Schillerstrasse, a brand new stop but the train that takes you there is historical.  That's how Berlin is: the cohabitation, and not always an easy one, of past and present. And the Kino International is no exception.

Located in Karl-Marx Allee, previously Stalin Allee, its origins couldn't be clearer. The most prestigious cinema in the GDR, where the pre-screenings of the DEFA productions used to take place, was inaugurated on 15 November 1963.  Considered an icon of modernist architecture, designed by Heinz Aust and Josef Kaiser, it is a parallelepiped launched into space with its first floor cantilevering over the base and characterized by huge windows allowing light into the foyer.

In this part of the avenue, the leaders of the GDR wished to distance themselves from the residential buildings with their almost mass-produced appearance and create an area with more contained and fluid volumes, including buildings for leisure purposes, another cinema, the Kosmos, and the Cafè Moskau.

The Kino International's program is on show in glass cases in front of the main entrance to the theatre where the film posters are displayed.  Inside the cinema, hand-drawn and -coloured posters can still be admired in their original cases!
Wide, double staircases lead from the foyer on the first floor to the impressive movie theatre, which slopes steeply downwards.  Any view of the screen - fourteen metres by six - which appears when the original, silver-sequinned curtains open, is fantastic, whatever the angle.  The auditorium accommodates five hundred and fifty-five spectators in large, comfortable velvet armchair seats. The walls are decorated with thin strips of beautiful wood, and the ceiling undulates: these are choices made to optimize the acoustics, designed to equal those of a recording studio.

Today Kino International belongs to the Yorck Group, the leading operator in the German capital, with 13 venues - including the famous Delphi Filmpalast,  Delphi Lux and Cinema Paris - which are joined by an open-air cinema. The Group's motto is "the best films in the City's most beautiful cinemas". Some belong to the City's heritage monuments, like the Kino International itself.  During the Berlinale the films from the "Panorama" category are screened here, and, after their premières, the films in competition can be seen by the paying public.  The rest of the year, thanks also to the digital technology that all the Yorck cinemas were equipped with in 2012, the Kino International offers an interesting daily program, which includes original-language versions of films subtitled in German.
According to the social media, this cinema, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and the fifteenth MonGay festival in 2013, is Berlin's favourite movie theatre, even though it doesn't serve popcorn.  Or could this be the very reason why?

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

kino international

ADDED CONTENT: Experts' Corner

We have started this new column giving voice to the people who have already been working with added content for some time now, gaining first-hand experience in the field which we think is worth sharing internationally.

Massimo Salasnich, Vice President and Programmer, Piccolo Teatro, Padova

- What type of audience do you target with added content?

Massimo SalasnichThe carnation in our buttonhole is opera: at the moment we rest at a particularly high average of around 200 spectators per screening, which was even greater a few years ago.  The audience consists mainly of older people, pensioners or people over 60.  For ballet, they are joined by young people, too, especially dancers and pupils from dance academies.  For art documentaries, there is a more heterogeneous audience and the average age is lower.  

We know that you offer a variety of added content: what is the most successful type?

Our cinema is highly versatile and is also a real theatre where live drama is acted, staged by both local and national companies.
It is partly for this reason that theatrical productions are not screened, even though there are some extremely prestigious and high quality offers distributed in Italy (London’s Royal National Theatre, for example).  Our most successful genre is opera, which saw us making news thanks to the – originally un-hoped for - number of followers.  

- Is the ticket price for added content higher than the ticket price for films?

The price for opera and ballet (and film-events) is the same as for a première (12-11-10 euros), so higher than for normal films, which our movie theatre screens as second showings (at 6-5-4 euros). For second showings of art documentaries the price is again higher (9-8 euros) than for films.
As for opera, there is the possibility of taking out a subscription, calculated on the basis of the lowest ticket price and multiplied by the number of operas, with the guarantee of keeping the same seat. 

- Which was the most successful screening in 2018/2019? It would be interesting for our readers to know what you programmed in 2017-2018 and what you will programme in 2020.

In 2018/2019, as in previous years, it was the live performance of the “First Night” at the Scala that won, as the screening that attracted most spectators. In 2017 for Andrea Chénier there were 335 spectators, in 2018 for Attila there were 295, a figure also equalled by the ballet Romeo and Juliet with Roberto Bolle. 
In 2019 we again programmed the "First Night" at the Scala: Tosca was another great success and sold out with a record 363 spectators.  The season continued successfully as well, with La Bohème from the ROH in January 2020 counting 249 admissions.
In 2017/2018, 16 operas were on the programme (MET, ROH, Opéra de Paris, Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper) and 2 ballets (Scala and ROH); in 2018/2019 13 operas (ROH, Opéra de Paris, Scala, Teatro Real of Madrid) and 2 ballets (Scala and ROH). Similarly, 13 operas and 2 ballets will be on the programme for 2019/2020.
As for art documentaries, there were 7 in 2017/2018 and 9 in 2018/2019, since another distributor came onto the market offering titles to draw on. 
In 2017/2018 the highest audiences for added content were obtained by Loving Vincent (594), although over three different days of screening. 
The Queen’s Live concert from Wembley did well (201), even though rock music is a quite different genre to that generally preferred by our most loyal audiences.

- Do you believe the Italian market for added content/event cinema will develop in the near future?

Yes, and in particular it still has potential for development in smaller places.  Most of all, according to the figures I’ve been able to see, in the centre-south of the Country. 

- Can you imagine initiatives that could give more visibility to added content/event cinema in Italy, such as professional conferences for cinema exhibitors/distributors, presentations of show-reels/trailers, informal gatherings etc.?

We would certainly like to see meetings or trade conferences for exhibitors and distributors that focus on added content, as well as more information vehicled by institutional bodies, in view of the fact that a new distributor is sometimes not “discovered”, unless an online search is carried out on foreign sites, without being announced beforehand.

To know more

piccolo teatro

This interview took place before the closure of this cinema on 23 February, as part of measures for fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)


Boglarka Nagy (CICAE) and Elisabetta Brunella (MEDIA Salles) during the
AG Kino - CICAE - Film New Europe joint reception at the Berlinale 2020


Venice, Italy - 31/08 - 06/09/2020

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