Kazan cinemas lose 30% of revenue after the introduction of QR codes

Amid stricter anti-COVID-19 restrictions, Kazan cinemas a 9,7% full. Film distributors ask to lift the ban on 50% capacity by the New Year holidays

The introduction of QR codes pushed federal cinema chains in Kazan to the verge of extinction, since Tatarstan is in the top 10 regions with the most stringent restrictions, claimed Managing Director of Cinema 5 cinema chain Alexey Voronkov. Since 15 November, it has been possible to go to the cinema in Kazan with a QR code, which, according to him, restricted access for the most stable part of the audience — children and teenagers under 18. Additional losses are estimated at 30% due to this. Tatarstan cinemas joined the letter addressed to Russia’s Vice Premier Tatiana Golikova asking her to cancel the restriction on the 50% capacity, hoping to play it back on the New Year holidays.

Sometimes it is more fun at funerals than in the cinema

Tatarstan cinemas have lost 30% of ticket office takings due to the introduction of QR codes, which remain amid the lasting anti-COVID-19 limitations on the 50% capacity.

“If one-two spectators came to use for a matinee, now we think it is tolerable,” Managing Director of Cinema 5 cinema chain Alexey Voronkov told Realnoe Vremya. He ironically joked that it was sometimes more fun at funerals than in the cinema.

Big and equipped halls with a big repertoire of film premieres have stayed empty in many big shopping malls of Kazan for two weeks. Their average occupancy rate is 9,7%.

After the introduction of QR codes, the access for such regular spectators as schoolchildren and teenagers closed. Earlier, they were the only citizens who could go to the cinema without personal restrictions.

“Now youngsters under 18 cannot go to the cinema on their own, since they don’t have a QR code and due to their age they aren’t subject to vaccination. According to the new rules, they can go to the cinema only in school groups accompanied by a teacher or parents. But teachers don’t assume the responsibility of taking 30 children to the cinema during the pandemic, while parents seem not to have the time for fun,” Alexey Voronkov said.

Mir state cinema confirmed for Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent the information that children couldn’t go to the cinema without adults who had been vaccinated.

“According to the decree of the Tatarstan office of Russia’s consumer rights protection watchdog, we aren’t selling tickets to teenagers and children un 18 who come without parents,” cinema administrator Tatiana Melnikova said and added that the new restrictive measures were taken on 15 November and were still in effect.”

She says that their film sessions have the smallest number of spectators, 5-6 people for a 200-seat hall.

“Yes, since this day, school classes have come to us, but seldom,” said head of family cinema in the Lenin Culture Centre Alexander Ishimov.

Among other restrictions, there is a ban on nightly film sessions.

“We worked throughout autumn without them,” said Manager of Cinema 5 Alexander Voronkov.

During these conditions, during the pandemic, Kazan cinemas began to develop online cinema, but this doesn’t provide dividends. Distributors unanimously claim that the stricter restrictions interrupted the recovery of the sector, which was looming in early autumn.

Film sessions in Mir cinema have the smallest number of spectators, 5-6 people for a 200-seat hall. Photo: inde.io

1-2 people per session

Ticket office sales in Kazan cinemas hit the bottom during the first days after the introduction of QR codes, falling below 500,000 rubles a day. If 5,200 citizens went to the cinema in Kazan at weekends, after the introduction of codes, the traffic decreased to 1,900-2,000 people.

“The shock lasted for a week after the introduction of QR codes,” recalls Tatiana Melnikova. “One or two people came for a session, which is seven people a day. The sales have collapsed.”

According to representatives of public cinemas, they hoped to continue operating without the system of QR codes, since they are in separate buildings with a separate entrance.

“For chain players operating in shopping malls, the access based on QR codes was introduced before 15 November,” said Alexander Ishimov. “But the restrictions were applied to everybody regardless of their location.”

As the vaccination rate started to go up, Kazan citizens began to gradually return to the cinema. So on working days, about 20-30 people come to Mir cinema, 60-70 people do at weekends. Chain players’ state of affairs is a bit better. The peak was at the first weekend, then halls gathered over 13,000 spectators. The second week after the introduction of QR codes was easier, revenue surpassed 500,000 rubles a day, while the number of spectators reached 3,000 people on working days.

“Who is earning this money if we are half-closed”

According to the Unified Automated Information System, from 15 November to 3 December, ticket office sales in Kazan amounted to 19,4 million rubles. To be fair, they rose a bit compared to the same period in 2020. Then, the sales reached 16,5 million rubles (Editor’s note: from 16 November to 4 December 2020). However, players are sceptical about these numbers.

“We are surprised ourselves who is earning this money if we are half-closed,” the players wonder.

At the same time, the number of spectators didn’t change, about 74,000 in two weeks. This means that the growth in money was provided by a higher ticket price. According to the system, the average cinema ticket price in Tatarstan is 252,3 rubles, which is lower than the country’s average, 307,4 rubles.

In general, since the beginning of the year, the cinema industry has earned in Kazan over 600 million rules, while 2,4 million people have been in the cinema. Managing Director of Cinema 5 cinema chain Alexey Voronkov evaluates these results as modest. According to him, the fall in ticket office sales in his chain in November compared to 2019 before the pandemic in from 75 to 85%, while ticket sales in October fell by 50% compared to 2019.

According to Voronkov, the fall in ticket office sales in his chain in November compared to 2019 before the pandemic in from 75 to 85%. Photo: chelny-biz.ru

Kazan in top 10 regions with the strictest restrictions

“The introduction of QR codes pushed federal chain cinemas in Kazan to the verge of extinction, because Tatarstan is in the top 10 regions with the strictest restrictions,” Voronkov claimed. “There is hardly money to pay salaries, nobody has cancelled utility bills. Shopping malls make concessions in rent with difficulty because this is no fun for them either.”

According to him, it became possible to get preferential loans at 3% a year according to a federal programme FOT 3.0.

They take at least something to continue working on the New Year holidays,” he said. And now they hope to return the spectator by New Year.

Not to miss the last chance for recovery, Tatarstan cinemas joined a letter addressed to Vice Premier Tatiana Golikova asking her to cancel the restrictions on the 50% occupancy rate.

“If we switched to the QR code system, put masks on, free us from the restrictions on the 50% capacity,” Voronkov claimed.

At the moment, the initiative is discussed at federal level, but some regions make concessions. Head of family cinema in the Lenin Culture Centre Alexander Ishimov told Realnoe Vremya about receiving a new instruction from the Tatarstan office of Russia’s consumer rights protection watchdog that if their company had 100% vaccination rate, they are allowed to sell 70% of capacity instead of 50%.

“Now we are waiting for detailed explanations,” he explained. However, neither Cinema 5 nor Mir cinema have heard of softer restrictions. It is expected the management of the local office of the watchdog will provide comments next week.

In the last two or three days, spectators rushed to the cinema to see the film House of Gucci. Photo: vokrug.tv

House of Gucci

Meanwhile, cinemas wait for a recovery with the beginning of the release of New Year film premieres.

“In the last two or three days, spectators rushed to the cinema to see the film House of Gucci,” one of the distributors told Realnoe Vremya. As the description to the film reads, it is a “sensational story of murder, betrayal, fall and revenge that led to the cruel murder of one of the most famous fashion empires of the world.”

He says that the compelling film will help to save box office sales of regional cinemas. Almost all players are showing it in Kazan. According to the unified system, during the first days, it brought city cinemas 875,200 rubles becoming a leader with a small margin. However, true films — sales record-holders — will appear in late December, and here cinemas want to skim the New Year cream.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan