At the Giornate Professionali [Professional Days] there will be many reasons to celebrate 2019 as it comes to an end: a year which has seen two big innovations. First and fore- most, the reunification of exhibitors which, at the end of July, resulted in the members of ANEM [National Association of Multiplex Exhibitors] joining ANEC [National Association of Cinema Exhibitors] to create – after twenty years of separation – a single association of more than 1,000 businesses and over 3,000 screens.
This passage was preceded by the appointment of Simone Gialdini as managing director, an operational figure who was necessary for connecting the various exhibiting entities (he comes from a family of historic Tuscan exhibitors and has worked for multiplex circuits like Vis Pathé and UCI Cinemas) as well as the top management and structures.
Moreover, 2019 was characterized by the campaign realized by the whole sector – with the support of MIBACT [Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism] – for a strong summer that led to the creation of the Moviement brand and a winning offering with excellent numbers.
A summer that also gave a boost to the fall season which confirmed the upward turn (+15% attendance compared to 2018), marking a trend reversal that has given members of the trade renewed confidence even though there are still some problems.
«The Moviement project has only just started” emphasizes Mario Lorini, president of ANEC, “but we can already assess the benefits of an action that is shared by the whole sector (exhibitors, distribution, production, institutions); thanks to a better positioning of the product – starting with the summer but continuing all year long – and of some films that have exceeded expectations. The result: we are the biggest growing market in Europe and will exceed 100 million tickets once again.
There is no triumphalism but the numbers show that there is a lot of audience interest in movie theaters and that some pictures manage to obtain even bigger results; the Italian film industry has suffered, however, despite attempts to follow new paths.
Some important titles will be arriving over the next few months, but we will certainly have to work towards a shrewder positioning of national products: that is one of the points to work on in the future. In fact, US products have dominated summer 2019, and not just that period, «which is a driving force but we still have to make sure everyone plays their part. The proof can, in any case, be seen in the numbers not just of the few important Italian titles released in the summer months: “The Traitor”, as well as “Il signor diavolo” and even “My brother chases dinosaurs”».
The margins for improvement include quality movies that will allow the product makers to continue working all year round.
Another front will be improved communication: this will be discussed in Sorrento «where», explains managing director Simone Gialdini, «a well-articulated project will be presented in addition to the figures obtained from the audience research commissioned from GFK. We will be launching the 2020 campaign at the Giornate even though our activities have never stopped and include communication ini- tiatives, participation in events and the search for sponsors».
However, there are also other topics that are very close to the heart of ANEC. Like additional content which is exploding: «Before this was shared and accepted by the market as weekday multipliers», explains Lorini, «now there is an alternation of big successes and failures; we have to ask ourselves how much the market is able to absorb them and try to safeguard their original specificity or propose content other than movies (documentaries, concerts, opera, art, plus previews of TV series) in order to “capture” new audiences on weaker days of the week; now small movies have been added that take advantage of the new rules. And the platform titles that are looking for a showcase. For us the main aspect is to avoid this content flooding the market even though the race to the movie theater is also a sign of its vitality».
While the market is constantly changing (remember the crisis of some of the independents and the acquisition of Fox by Disney), for Lorini a the success of the first phase of multiprogramming is a good sign «which only involved single screen theaters – it will now be extended in terms of the number of screens – which will result in a significant outcome: the strongest percentage growth came from single screen theaters that can now offer a greater number of titles».
Finally Gialdini points out that the new rules in favor of exhibitors contained in the cinema law will be discussed again in Sorrento: «Stability in applying all the articles that envisage support for theaters is necessary: a lot has been done in 12 months, the tax credit has generated important figures, but there’s still a lot to be done in order to have a machine that is running at capacity without any hitches to scupper the planning. We also need constancy to pro- vide support for restructuring the theaters, for following the trend of investing in exhibition. There are € 60 million still to be unlocked from the 2018/2019 extraordinary plan for which the request windows have not yet been opened; and we are waiting to know the balances for 2017 even though the process of liquidating the ad- vance payments has started (€ 9 out of the € 30 million envisaged). All topics that we will be taking stock of at the Giornate in a seminar with Ministry officials, as well as during a discussion with members on the operational difficulties to overcome».