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Closed but far from forgotten: Engaging with audiences in times of crisis

Cinemas have kept busy during the lockdown to stay in touch with the audiences – we’re bringing to you a small selection of initiatives!


In the vast majority of countries, cinemas had to shut down during the pandemic in order to contain the spread of the virus. During tough times, we usually tend to turn to the things we love, like going to the cinema, but due to people being confined to their homes they had to miss out on the Big Screen experience.

Over the past few months, cinema operators have been engaging with its audiences in many different, innovative ways. Our sector breathes culture and innovation, and provides a necessary dose of positivity during this unprecedented global situation. We therefore wanted to place the spotlight on some of the great, creative initiatives from exhibitors.

Some of the first things that caught our eye were the various engagement campaigns introduced by cinemas across Europe. Great examples are the hashtags #KINOKOMMTWIEDER and #DURCHHALTEN launched by the German cinema association HDF Kino, Cinema Nos in Portugal and the hashtag #CelebrateCinema launched by Holland Film Nieuws in the Netherlands, which all invited actresses, actors, directors, film critics and cinema-goers to share their unforgettable memories of the Big Screen. In a time when we’re stuck at home, seeing cinema operators, filmmakers and film stars actively engage with their audiences provided some much-needed relief.

Various initiatives were set up, including, for instance, all sorts of film trivia: Finnkino in Finland posted online video lessons to learn how to draw Disney animation figures and, in Germany, the Kinopolis staff were brave enough to make videos wearing film related masks and humming their favourite film music. Omniplex Cinemas posed questions to their audience about film stills and posters. Cinema City, in Romania, shared free colouring pages of different movie heroes and Cineplexx Baneasa, in Romania as well, organised a cinema challenge that encourages their audiences to recreate different film characters. Other initiatives included vouchers that could be bought to reserve a seat for the future, or for an imaginary seat to support the cinema sector during this crisis. Food delivery and take-away – popcorn and nachos to munch at home! – have also proved to be big hits among cinemas and their audiences.

After the initial shock of cinemas being shut down, associations and cinema operators started reopening campaigns to warm up the audiences. To celebrate the coming reopening of cinemas, Gartenbaukino and Stadtkino in Vienna launched a social media campaign called #curtainrace. Many cinemas, including City-Kino, Cinema Haydn, Kino Xenix, shared a video of their curtains slowly opening, with a countdown projected on the screen, to symbolise the future reopening of cinemas.

The Danish cinema association, Danske Biografer, launched a campaign saying “Kom trygt tilbage – vi har også savnet jer” (“Come back safely – we missed you too”), which can be seen in television commercials, newspapers and other advertisements. In France the #oniratousaucinéma campaign was launched by the French cinema association, La Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français (FNCF), encouraging cinema operators and other industry stakeholders to use the hashtag on social media in order to engage with audiences. A very funny and touching compilation of well-known films was made for this campaign and once again, famous actresses, actors and film directors shared their favourite cinema-going experiences with audiences via video messages. The hashtag is now widely used across all social media platforms. Staying with France, as cinemas get closer to re-opening, new guidelines for social distancing and hygiene measures have also been shared to prepare audiences for their return to the screening room. Pathé Netherlands published this video message to explain the safety guidelines. This is of course key - although we miss the Big Screen, the health of the audiences and cinema personnel should remain a top priority.

We can take even more comfort in the fact that these initiatives represent only a small selection of a wide range of positive cinema vibes in these testing times.

In a great number of countries, cinemas have begun to re-open in recent weeks, while in others the audiences have to wait a little bit longer. We hope that going back to the cinema to watch summer releases on the Big Screen, will – for all audiences – feel like coming home.

Should you be interested in finding out more about similar developments, a non-exhaustive list of initiatives from cinema associations and operators across Europe, alongside more information on the impact of the Coronavirus on the cinemas industry, can be found in our ongoing research available here.

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