“Our goals have not changed at all,” says Europa Cinemas
by Birgit Heidsiek
- The new bonus in the Europa Cinemas guidelines, a controversial move in the industry, has been the subject of much discussion recently
The Europa Cinemas movie-theatre network is the most important European funding institution for cinemas. Founded in 1992, the initiative has been growing steadily and today incorporates 977 cinemas with 2,350 screens in 42 countries. But due to a new measure in the guidelines, the programme is being widely discussed as controversial within the industry. The offending aspect is a new bonus system with special support for those exhibitors that promote VoD platforms by day-and-date releases. For such exhibitors, screenings will count twice in the support system if the film is shown within a window of two weeks after the release on a cooperating VoD platform. “It is just an additional bonus that we added upon the requirements of the European Commission,” comments Fatima Djoumer, head of international relations at Europa Cinemas. “Our goals have not changed at all.”
With this change, independent exhibitor associations such as CICAE, AFCAE, FICE and AG Kino can see that Europa Cinemas is yielding to the strong demands of Creative Europe in Brussels to abandon the chronology of film exploitation. “If we give up the windows while we are releasing films theatrically and on VoD at the same time, the existence of many small cinemas with European film programmes will be at stake,” emphasise the independent exhibitors. The cinemas in Europe cannot be blamed for the fact that many European films remain unseen. “The problem is the over-production,” states Detlef Rossmann, president of CICAE.
According to the European Commission’s recent report on cinema in the digital age, many films are only made for their national market. “Neither a large funding budget from Brussels nor a bonus system from Europa Cinemas for a simultaneous release theatrically as well as on VoD will increase the visibility of small European films,” underline the arthouse exhibitor associations. “One of the main reasons for the weakness of European films is the concentration on production support all over Europe while there is a lack of funding for distribution, marketing and theatrical exploitation.”