The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the European trade body representing cinema operators and their national associations in Europe, has held a conference entitled “Investing in the Future of the European Cinema Industry” at the European Parliament. At the event, which was co-sponsored by MEPs Bogdan Wenta, Emma McClarkin, Pervenche Berès and Helga Trüpel, key industry professionals and policy makers were invited to share their views on cinemagoing and the importance of the MEDIA programme for the European cinema industry.
Phil Clapp, president of UNIC and CEO of the UK Cinema Association, highlighted the strength of the European cinema industry in 2017, which “continues to thrive”. The total admissions for all UNIC territories increased by 2.1%, totalling more than 1.3 billion visits to the dark rooms. “Whilst such a positive outcome partly results from a number of mainstream releases from our US studio partners, we should not underestimate the significant contribution made by a broad slate of European films in 2017,” Clapp pointed out. The cultural, social and economic importance of cinema in Europe was underlined by MEP Bodgan Wenta, MEP Helga Trüpel and director for Media Policy at DG-Connect Giuseppe Abbamonte, who introduced the conference.
During the panel “The Digital Journey of a Cinemagoer – Sector Strategies and Opportunities for Growth”, Caroline Ménager, marketing director, Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé; Thomas Limmer, digital director, Cineplex Germany; Owen Geddes, VP Market Development, Devicescape; Arturo Guillen, VP EMEA and India, comScore; and Richie Power, CEO, Showtime Analytics, discussed how cinema operators can improve their means of engaging with their audience and enhance their marketing strategies. “A consumer is more than a cinemagoer,” emphasised Geddes. Besides the opportunities offered by innovative data analytics, further issues discussed included the effects of ticketing strategies on the customer experience and audience habits in relation to the multitude of ways in which content can be consumed today.
“The Future of the MEDIA Programme” was the subject of the second discussion, which was moderated by Dennis Abbott, managing director of Communications at Burson-Marsteller. Jaime Tarrazón, UNIC treasurer and cinema owner; Lucía Recalde, head of the MEDIA Unit at the European Commission; Michal Hradický, EFADs and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund; and Kim Foss, managing director, Camera Film, agreed that MEDIA has provided crucial support for European film and cinemas. However, due to the constantly changing industry, the programme also needs to improve through new concepts. Recalde sees a need to think about an audience-based approach. Particular emphasis was placed on the MEDIA programme as a powerful European symbol that represents EU values and the need for an ambitious budget to support European cultural diversity, in particular for smaller member states.
In addition, MEPs Pervenche Berès and Emma McClarkin provided short video interviews, in which they expressed their love for the big-screen experience, its economic and social value, and the crucial role of EU policy in ensuring the growth and sustainable success of the industry, particularly the “major role” to be played by the European Parliament.