How the Cinema Industry Reacts to Closures

Berlin (dpa) – The Corona crisis is also hitting the cinema industry hard. In many countries film theatres have already had to close, often for several weeks or even months. This threatens the existence of many cinemas worldwide.

After the initial shock, however, the first initiatives are now being taken to ensure that new films can still find their audience despite cancelled cinema releases.

SOLIDARITY WITH LOCAL CINEMAS: Watching a movie online and thus supporting independent cinemas in Germany at the same time – this is something that some providers in particular make possible. Normally, streaming offers are seen as competition to the cinemas, but now some movie theatres are to be helped at least a little bit. In Switzerland, for example, many go to the Online Poker Schweiz and spend – by far – your entertainment.

One variant is “Grandfilm On Demand”, where current works such as “Félicité” or the 14-hour “La Flor” from Argentina can be accessed via the platform for a fee. Half of this revenue is to go to the cinemas that would normally show the films. The distributor Grandfilm organized this campaign and is already pleased about the positive response.

Eksystent Filmverleih also brought forward the theatrical release of “Isadoras Kinder” planned for April and now offers it via the platform Kino on Demand. “In times like these, it is even more important that only cohesion can get us through this crisis,” according to a press release, according to which part of the revenue will also be distributed to participating cinemas. The drama “Isadoras Kinder”, inspired by the fate of the US dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan, was awarded for best director at the Locarno Film Festival.


There is a comparable offer in the USA: there, too, smaller art house cinemas have been hit particularly hard by the closure of movie theatres. The “Theatrical at Home” marketing idea is intended to remedy the situation: Viewers buy a ticket for $6.50 on the cinema website of their choice, in return they receive a link to watch the film at home on their computer or other devices. Half of the admission fee goes to the box office of the art house cinema. The opening was the independent comedy “Phoenix, Oregon”, which was scheduled to start on Friday (20.3.) in smaller US cinemas.

PODCASTS: Shortly before the cinema closures, the documentary film “Der Krieg in mir” (The War in Me) about the psychological and emotional consequences of the Second World War in Germany was launched on 5 March. Numerous discussion events were planned for this, which have now also been cancelled – but will soon take place in a different form. The intention is to continue the discussion on other channels until the cinemas reopen, explained director Sebastian Heinzel. “We are planning podcasts on the topics of film – traumas and dealing with times of crisis – which will also relate to the current social situation.”

STUDIO EMERGENCY BRAKE: Actually, the spectacle “Trolls World Tour” in April was supposed to attract a good number of visitors to the cinemas. But now the animated film is the first guinea pig: Universal Pictures wants to make it available via streaming simultaneously with the planned US cinema release on April 10th. Before the Corona crisis, it would have been unthinkable for a traditional Hollywood studio to immediately offer a home distribution service when a film makes its cinema debut. With this emergency brake, the studio wants to make up at least part of the costs as long as cinemas worldwide are closed.

However, at 20 dollars for a 48-hour rental period, the price of the virtual cinema ticket is quite high. Other current films that have been slowed down by the virus pandemic are now also to switch quickly from the cinema to the streaming market, including “Onward: No Half Measures”, “Birds of Prey: The Emancipation of Harley Quinn” and “Bloodshot”. It is still unclear whether Universal will pursue a similar strategy in Germany.

NOSTALGIAN BOOM IN AUTOMOTIVE CINEMA: The 50s were the heyday of the drive-in cinemas, but with the Corona crisis the 300 or so drive-in theatres in the USA are experiencing a boom again. According to a survey by the “Los Angeles Times” of cinema operators in several US states, ticket sales have increased since the closure of the major cinema chains. In California, however, several drive-in theatres have closed down due to a state-imposed curfew. “Drive-ins in regions not yet severely affected by the virus outbreak are doing good business,” John Vincent of the Los Angeles Times Drive-in Owners Association told The Los Angeles Times.

In Germany, however, this is currently a rather small market: most drive-in cinemas are still in the winter break or are affected by the curfews. Only in drive-in cinemas in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia can films be seen on the big screen. At least according to the information provided, there is no customer contact there, tickets are only available online, at the drive-in cinema they are then scanned through the window. The snack bar will remain closed – and according to the new regulations, only a maximum of two people and their own children are allowed per car.