Paolo Sorrentino: “Theatres should be as attractive as stadiums”
by Camillo De Marco
- The director took part in Rome's ANICA conference on the “Urban future of film”. According to research by GfK, going to the cinema accounts for 50% of the entertainment spending of young people
“I’m tempted to think of cinemas that rival our own houses, where you can find every kind of home comfort, as well as being social centres”. Original and provocative words from Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino, speaking in a video with other directors at a conference on the future of cinemas, organised in Rome by ANICA in partnership with exhibitors from ANEC and ANEM. “One road we could go down is to follow the model of football stadiums”, suggested the director of The Great Beauty [+see also:
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile], “which used to be mere holding containers for people and are now places where you can do other things as well as the main activity which is watching a football match. I think we could re-launch theatres focusing on their identity. For too long now, people have thought that the film being shown is more important than the place itself”.
Francesco Rutelli, the President of ANICA, set out the topics for discussion of the conference: “There are huge changes underway in the film industry: a second revolution, following on from the TV revolution, accompanied by growing international challenges. But film cannot do without cinemas. In light of this, the new law could help redefine spaces inside and outside theatres, breathing new life into the experience of going to the cinema as an entertaining personal and social experience”.
ANICA analysed the best Italian and international examples that have brought cinemas back to the fore of people’s habits across the generations. “With the new law, we can make sure that life in urban centres is improved by polyfunctional centres in which cinemas play a crucial role”, added Rutelli, who, looking at research carried out by GfK, highlighted that cinemas work, and of all the cultural and creative industries, pull in the most young people, so have a future. According to GfK’s research, which Barbara Riatti presented at the conference, film accounts for over 50% of young people’s annual spending on entertainment products”. According to GfK, going to the cinema is also the most common activity engaged in by consumers outside the home during the winter months.
“Our cinemas risk ending up beautiful but impossible”, said Luigi Cuciniello, the President of ANEC, referring to the restrictions, taxes and distortions that weigh on cinemas in Italy. The independent theatres represented by ANEC amount to 2,500 screens run by 800 small and medium-sized companies. “A considerable financial and social asset for our country”. But these cinemas are today in trouble, first of all due to a series of market distortions, such as seasonality which, as the President of the exhibitor’s association recalled, “no longer concerns just the summer months, but Christmas too, when, as we saw this year, there are an excess number of films on offer, leading to the crowding of films in Italian theatres”. On the new law, Cuciniello highlighted that “for the first time there is funding for new and existing theatres. It is important that we open new cinemas, but we also have to avoid them cannibalising existing cinemas”.
Claude-Eric Poiroux, the Director General of Europa Cinemas (which manages 1024 cinemas in 32 European countries, 78 in Italy), pointed to the dwindling number of cinemas with just one screen, which have practically disappeared from big cities, and the need to put an aesthetic dimension back into modernisation projects, with the increased awareness of both architects and designers. “In France like in Italy, we’ve just concluded a period of investment in digitalisation, and now we’re investing in the construction of new cinemas and the modernisation of existing ones. Our network is focused on getting cinemas back in city centres, including multiplex theatres, with new buildings in places previously used for other purposes or that have been abandoned”.
All the speeches made at the conference can be seen here.
(Translated from Italian)
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