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Big Screen Feature - Interview with Mariam El Bacha


For the fifth edition of Big Screen Feature - providing a behind-the-scenes look at the world of cinema exhibition through the eyes of professionals themselves - Mariam El Bacha (CEO, Cinepax Cinemas) discusses the job itself and the value of the Big Screen.

Describe your typical day at work.
In the morning, I usually engage with my team in progress meetings and then individually to identify issues, share experiences and better understand the market. I also do a sales report and send it to the sites, which is a tick I got from my other jobs and helps me identify changes in shows and concession pushes in cinemas. I like doing this because it keeps me grounded, and the team likes getting a report with my very sarcastic comments… (well, that’s what I think…most probably it’s not true..).

In the afternoon, I either visit locations - as we have a few under construction - or work with different partners (landlords, suppliers, business strategist) to develop the business. 

My favourite part of the week is Friday as we meet in the afternoon and discuss the next 4 to 6 weeks ahead, forecasting the business by week and by movie. It is a meeting to which everyone is invited and usually ends up with me raising bets on which movie will be on top or how many admissions we will achieve at the end of the week. This keeps everyone entertained and makes them better forecasters.

The moment you fell in love with the Big Screen?
My father used to take us to a cinema in Buenos Aires on Av. Callao and Av. Santa Fe, which always showed all the Disney Classics. I will never forget the day we watched Rocky 3 with my brothers and cousins, where everyone actually jumped up in the cinema and cheered when Rocky won. It was a full house of almost 1,000 seats, everyone cheering for Rocky as if we were in a football stadium.

When I was around 8 years old I started watching the Oscars with my mom. I was allowed to stay up late and watch until the end, which was usually 3 am in Argentina. 

And then to top it off, my uncle, Envar El Kadri, was (among the many amazing things he did in his life) the Producer of Tangos, El Exilio de Gardel, Sur and El viaje. When I started working in cinemas, he was actually very happy for me. I think he would have liked for us to have a movie together - and so would I.

The best thing about the cinema experience?
The luxury of being in a big black box, with little distractions, as the screen lights up, focusing on the image and the sound that is coming out of the hall. Witnessing art expressed right in front of you on a massive screen - you cannot beat that!

And that concept of social yet individual interaction between you and the other moviegoers, where everyone can laugh, get scared or jump at the same time. And when the movie is really good there is that sense of having experienced something that has impacted you, that will make you think, sing, or look at what a particular actor/actress is doing next. It’s that sense of you wanting to be part of it because you were so immersed in the experience inside the hall that you feel you belong to that world too.


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