New UNIC report demonstrates how European cinema operators are embracing innovation
by Birgit Heidsiek
- The “Innovation and the Big Screen” report focuses on the cinema of tomorrow
In a new report entitled “Innovation and the Big Screen”, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) highlights how the cinema sector is embracing new technological and consumer trends by exploring the key areas of creative audience engagement, the big-screen experience and social innovation. “Audience growth and box-office results over recent years across UNIC territories clearly show that cinemagoing in Europe is thriving, becoming an ever more engaging, diverse and immersive experience,” says Phil Clapp, president of UNIC and CEO of the UK Cinema Association.
In 2015, the 36 European territories represented by UNIC saw admissions increase by 6% and box-office revenue by 12.5%. As cinemagoing becomes an increasingly eventful and digitally connected experience, the sector can confidently compete with the myriad of online entertainment options available to consumers today. Changing consumption habits and audience demographics present cinemas with a huge opportunity to engage in more innovative and personal ways with those who love the big screen. Rather than starting in the cinema lobby, the cinema journey begins days or even weeks before, most likely on a smartphone or a tablet. Research confirms that around 80% of Europeans watch film trailers online. With teen screenings and ladies’ nights, for instance, cinemagoing is becoming more eventful and experience-driven.
To gain better customer insight, cinemas across Europe are currently rolling out a variety of data-analytics programmes. The cloud-based Showtime Analytics platform helps users to understand customer trends by aggregating data from loyalty programmes, ticket and retail transactions, mobile apps and social media. The results are used to optimise scheduling and marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, Berlin-based company Smart Pricer applies pricing strategies from the airline industry to the entertainment sector, and is currently piloting its dynamic pricing software with a number of internationally established as well as independent cinema operators. Its web-based software allows cinemas to increase revenue by using data to dynamically adapt prices to demand.
Furthermore, virtual reality (VR) can further enhance the cinemagoing journey. Pan-European operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas is set to open a VR centre in Manchester that makes it possible to accompany major international film releases with VR content. For the release of The Legend of Tarzan, London-based Powster teamed up with Warner Bros to allow users to find cinemas and show times in an immersive 3D jungle, and to experience 360° videos in VR. Currently, US director Michael Bay is working on a VR experience to promote the release of his new film Transformers: The Last Knight, which will open in June 2017.
According to research, audiences agree that nothing beats experiencing great films on the big screen together with friends and family. Since exhibitors continue to experiment with a vast array of innovations and creative solutions such as immersive sound, high dynamic range, event cinema, laser illumination and video game competitions, the “cinema of tomorrow” may have many faces.
“As governments and industry leaders across Europe come together to examine how best to equip the European film sector for future business and audience growth, they must likewise place cinemas at the centre of those efforts,” sums up Clapp. “This particularly applies to the European Commission and the European Parliament, which are currently reviewing a range of policies that will significantly shape the future of our industry.”
An online version of the Innovation and the Big Screen report can be accessed here.