Aleksey Voronkov, Cinema 5: ‘After two years of Covid-19, cinemas will not last long without financial support’
Attendance of cinemas in Tatarstan has fallen to 50%
“The film distribution fund is being transformed, as it becomes clear that Hollywood films may not return to Russian screens," said Aleksey Voronkov, the managing director of Cinema 5 federal network in the regions. According to him, many cinemas are closing in Russia today because they failed to agree to reduce rental rates during the crisis with the shopping centre. The fact that many viewers stopped going to the cinema without Hollywood blockbusters also played a role. “In fact, there are interesting new releases that have the potential to increase the audience rating. I think that the bottom of the rental has not yet been reached," he believes. In the interview with Realnoe Vremya, Voronkov said how the attendance of cinemas in Tatarstan has decreased in the new conditions, how the authorities of St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod are supporting the distribution of domestic films, and why developers are not ready to make concessions to distributors.
“Viewers think there are no Hollywood blockbusters left in cinemas”
Aleksey, several new films have been released this May weekend, including Paolo Genovese's comedy melodrama “Superheroes” and Ari Folman's animated film “Where is Anne Frank”. Could they keep the film distribution from further box-office receipts falling?
Against this background, even great films are sagging at the box office. But in fact, there are interesting new releases that have the potential to increase the audience rating. I think that the bottom of the rental has not yet been reached.
What was the attendance rate of cinemas on the May weekends in major cities?
The average attendance of cinemas in Tatarstan was at the level of 50% of last year's holidays.
The Council of the Association of Cinema Owners reported that the events of February and March “have dramatically changed the situation of the Russian film distribution”. The Association of Cinema Owners warns that the lack of repertoire in the next 2 months will lead to a drop in revenue by more than 80%, as well as to the closure of half of the country's cinemas. Have you been heard in the regions?
I don't even know what to answer. It's not a question of being heard. The main thing is to get an answer what to expect in the future and whether support measures will be discussed. So far, even at the federal level, there is no clarity. So what to expect from the rest?
Average attendance of cinemas in Tatarstan was at the level of 50% of last year's holidays
Negative result in negotiations to reduce rental rates
Which regions provide strong support to the film industry?
With the support of the Committee for Culture of St. Petersburg, the large film campaign “The Great History of St. Petersburg in Big Cinema” is being prepared for the start, subsidised by the city. In anticipation of City Day, the committee presented more than 100 thousand tickets to schoolchildren under 14 and their parents.
Nizhny Novgorod is preparing direct financial support in the form of compensation for part of the expenses of its cinemas. Moscow has announced that it is ready to financially help its major cinemas. Based on the information that the Association of Cinema Owners has, today these are all successful cases, about which we can say: “agreed, we are launching”.
“In March, it became known that a cinema of one of the largest federal cinema chains closed in Krasnodar, and equipment was being dismantled. It was reported that the landlord refused to provide the company with preferential terms. How are negotiations going with developers about easing the conditions for renting cinemas?
Believe me, no one will disclose the content of these negotiations at least until the lease agreements are terminated. I can say one thing. Similar negotiations are now underway all over the country. And the main closures of cinemas today are a negative result precisely in negotiations to reduce rental rates for cinemas during the crisis.
If a shopping centre does not change the conditions, it means that it is either unprofitable for them, or they believe that the withdrawal of the cinema theatre will not do much harm
“A shopping centre thinks a cinema is bluffing and won't leave”
For how long are you asking to change the terms of the rent?
I can't say the exact terms, since in each case the conditions are discussed individually. I would like to note that until now, the effectiveness of film distribution has directly depended on the repertoire of films: the higher the rating of the premiere, the greater the attendance. Now the film distribution fund is being transformed, as it becomes clear that Hollywood films may not return to Russian screens.
What do you think prevents developers from changing the conditions, because it will be difficult to fill such large areas with a new tenant?
Shopping centres have enough problems besides us now, it's not easy for them either. No matter what is happening around, any business will count money and profit. If a shopping centre does not change the conditions, it means that it is either unprofitable for them, or they believe that the withdrawal of the cinema theatre will not particularly harm them. Well, or they think that the cinema is bluffing and will not leave, as it happened in Krasnodar.
What measures of support from the state are necessary to preserve cinemas in the country?
It is necessary to help hold out until the autumn, while film producers are trying to saturate the repertoire with Russian content. After two years of COVID-19, cinemas will no longer last long without financial support from the state.