"I cherish the moments when complete strangers become one like-minded audience"

For the ninth edition of Big Screen Feature - providing a behind-the-scenes look at the world of cinema exhibition through the eyes of professionals themselves - Tomasz Jagiełło (CEO of Helios) discusses the job itself and the value of the Big Screen.

Describe your typical day at work
Helios is part of the Agora Group – one of the biggest media and entertainment companies in Poland. I have been the CEO of Helios since 1993 and a Board member of Agora since 2013. For me, on a daily basis, this means that I need to combine those two functions. With Helios’ headquarters in Lodz, central Poland, I need to travel to Warsaw usually twice a week, as well as visit our cinemas located all over the country (Helios is now present in 40 cities). Since my days are often filled with commuting, my car serves me not only as a means of transport, but also as a wardrobe, and sometimes even a dining room. 

Developing the Helios cinema network and diversifying our activities through investments in the foodservice market (we are currently building fast-casual restaurants in two, entirely new concepts), requires dreadful amounts of meetings, negotiations and calls. That is why, at the end of the day, I especially like going through our cinemas’ statistics or forecasts of the market and read about predictions for upcoming movies – it keeps me focused on what is most important: providing the best possible entertainment to everyone visiting our multiplexes.

The moment you fell in love with the Big Screen?
Back when I was a teenager, all of the romance allowed was happening in the cinema – first dates and shy kisses, all of that. So it was more about falling in love “in” the cinema, rather than “with” it. It was only years later that I discovered and appreciated other qualities of the Big Screen.

I was a lawyer first and I got into the cinema industry to help my friends with their business. At first it was all new and fascinating – so much different than the work I was used to. I had enjoyed watching movies on the Big Screen before and for me it always was, and still is, one of the best possible forms of entertainment – but my practical mind fell in love particularly with the numbers and the incredible business that cinema is. Is there anything more rewarding than bringing people joy and making money at the same time?

The best thing about the cinema experience?
Some people love big screens and astonishing visual effects that you can enjoy only in the cinema, some are in it for the sound experience that can’t be achieved at home, while others are all about the comfortable leather recliners and VIP seating. While I appreciate all of the above, I love cinema for the emotions that bring people together. I cherish the moments when complete strangers become one like-minded audience – even if it is only to collectively “shuuush!” that one annoying person answering the phone ;).

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