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Denmark

Kim Foss • Distributor, Camera Film

“The 50+ segment is getting bigger every year because people stay in the job market, live longer and continue to go to the cinema”

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- The Danish exhibitor and distributor spoke about his company’s strategies and the current climate of the arthouse business, among other topics

Kim Foss  • Distributor, Camera Film
(© Lone Rasmussen)

Cineuropa spoke to Kim Foss, managing director of Denmark’s Camera Film. During our chat, we zoomed in on a number of topics, including post-pandemic struggles and the challenge of bringing younger audiences back to the dark rooms.

Cineuropa: Could you please introduce Camera Film’s main activities?
Kim Foss:
Camera Film is basically made up of two companies. First, we run a cinema, the Grand Teatret, which is celebrating its first 110 years this Christmas. It’s a very old, historical place hosting six screens and could be considered Denmark’s main arthouse theatre. On top of that, we oversee the distribution company, which was established in 1966 to handle “heavy arthouse” directors from Kurosawa to Truffaut. Those two companies are under one roof, along with a third, smaller project, a TVoD platform [operating] in connection with the cinema. We have the only platform for arthouse films in Denmark, and our catalogue includes about 1,000 titles. It’s not a subscription-based platform, only transactional.

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What about some of the most recent titles you have distributed?
We’ve now got The Blue Caftan [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
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in cinemas, and it is performing quite well. Earlier, in the summer, we had Saint Omer [+see also:
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interview: Alice Diop
interview: Kayije Kagame
film profile
]
and Close [+see also:
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interview: Eden Dambrine
interview: Lukas Dhont
interview: Lukas Dhont
film profile
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. We also had The Quiet Girl [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Colm Bairéad
film profile
]
, The Eight Mountains [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Felix van Groeningen & Char…
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]
, Decision to Leave, Holy Spider [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Ali Abbasi
interview: Ali Abbasi
interview: Zar Amir Ebrahimi
film profile
]
, Alcarràs [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carla Simón
interview: Carla Simón
interview: Giovanni Pompili
film profile
]
, The Perfect Boss and The Worst Person in the World [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Joachim Trier
film profile
]
. Some upcoming titles from Cannes are Fallen Leaves [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, Perfect Days [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
, Four Daughters [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Kaouther Ben Hania
film profile
]
and Club Zero [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jessica Hausner
film profile
]
, as well as Tótem [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Lila Avilés
film profile
]
from the Berlinale.

How is the company staffed?
It’s difficult to say because we have the cinema and the distribution [business], so my closest partner and I are handling both, all the time. Together, we attend festivals, do acquisitions, set up the marketing campaigns and so forth… And we have three more people who handle the reach-outs, the social-media campaigns and all the booking [tasks]. So you could say there are five of us, but two of us are working part-time.

We’re finally out of the pandemic. How did the health emergency change your business, and what challenges are you facing now?
For all kinds of films, we’ve been challenged for a while. Maybe 10-15 years ago, a typical arthouse film from Europe – not from a big name, but just a quality film – would have sold about 10,000 tickets in Denmark. Before the pandemic, we got used to telling the sales agents, “5,000 [tickets] are the new 10,000.” After the pandemic, it’s got even worse, in some cases. But then, in other cases, films are actually working. In short, I’d say the audience has become much more selective and spoilt for choice owing to the quality [content] they can watch on their screens at home. So they’re not as adventurous as they used to be; they play it safe. Then, the films that are working are really working, because everybody is running in the same direction. But the smaller films not chosen by the audience, which don’t benefit from word of mouth, are suffering. We have many movies in Denmark – and in our cinema, too – selling only 1,000-2,000 tickets. On a positive note, others are doing really well. […] I hear from colleagues from all around Europe that they’re facing the same struggles, dealing with a certain [level of] saturation in the arthouse market. […] That said, we didn’t have a single distribution company going out of business during COVID [in Denmark]. And that’s strange, since we didn’t receive the support that distributors got elsewhere. […] Everybody is back in business, anyway.

What about the audience segments you struggle to attract the most?
Everybody’s saying the same thing: “We need younger audiences.” I have to say that I’m not too worried about that. If I’m spending money on a campaign and I’m aiming at 16- to 18-year-old guys, then I need to spend €10, instead of the €1 I’d need to intercept a 50+ woman. So, of course, we keep on working with a younger audience, but it’s not really a problem, because the older generation is already coming back to the cinemas. Figures show that older spectators are coming back to the dark rooms faster than younger ones here in Demark. The 50+ segment is getting bigger every year because people stay in the job market, live longer and continue to go to the cinema. People may be pessimistic and say that our audience is dying out, but I wouldn’t agree, because every time somebody dies, we’ve got a new person turning 50. That’s how it generally works, and the older audience here is Facebook-savvy, so we are focusing more and more on the web, and less and less on printed media.

Has your income split between theatrical and other sources of revenue changed over the last few years?
It has changed very little. Theatrical is still what we live off, and the rest contributes very little; it’s more like the icing on the cake. It’s nice for us to have a platform, but we’re not making tons of money out of it.

What are you trying out in order to bring people back to the cinemas?
What we haven’t tried out yet is some kind of “flexible pricing”. In Denmark, people used to say that the DVD died owing to streaming, but actually, that happened because everybody was competing on pricing. Every time you lower the price and find out it’s a mistake, it’s too late, and you can’t go low and then higher again. It’s really difficult, so we’re cautious about it. What we’re doing is also what others are doing: we’re trying to set up special events; we work with magazines intercepting a younger readership, and we’re trying to have directors come [here]. And, of course, we’re trying to “secure” that segment through our programming [choices].

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