Black day of cinema: box office in Kazan collapses to a minimum

On the first day of the ban of events by the ministry of culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, cinemas have lost 50% of customers, and revenue has fallen by 4-5 times

Black day of cinema: box office in Kazan collapses to a minimum

As Realnoe Vremya found out, during the first day of the ban of cultural events by the ministry of culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, box office receipts in Tatarstan cinemas fell significantly — to 562,000 rubles. This is evidenced by the data of the EAIS electronic system for ticket sales of the cinema fund. Yesterday reset their fees: just in a day, the traffic of visitors in Kazan cinemas fell by half — to 2,300 people (data for 19:38 Moscow time). The blow came from Internet competitors: online cinemas are vying to open free access to movie views — in order, according to operators, to attract more audience.

Following the Kazan cinema Mir, Rodina quarantined

Kazan followed Moscow's example in fighting the spread of coronavirus infection by introducing a “cultural moratorium” for almost 30 days. Since yesterday, a ban on holding any cultural and leisure events that involve the simultaneous presence of more than 50 people in one place has been in effect.

“In order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection, from March 19 to April 15, the functioning of theaters, philharmonic halls, circuses, other performing arts organizations, as well as organizations that perform public displays of films, was suspended," said the order signed by the head of the ministry of culture, Irada Ayupova.

Restrictions are mandatory for state and municipal institutions, and for private commercial companies, they are advisory. It is possible that the quarantine regime will last longer and may stretch for an indefinite time, according to the leadership of the ministry of culture of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Many Tatarstan cinemas, regardless of whether they are private or public, could not resist the onslaught of the epidemic threat. The latter closed almost instantly.

The Mir cinema, which belongs to the Kazan KZIO, has cancelled the full programme of screenings right on the day of signing the order of the ministry of culture of the Republic of Tatarstan. Photo: kzn.ru

Following it, the once famous and popular Rodina cinema, located in the historical centre of Kazan, is quarantined. Cinema Manager Marcel Sagdullin told Realnoe Vremya that since Saturday, March 21, they are suspending work, as the traffic of visitors is falling.

Before the panic with the purchase of products in stores began, it was quiet: people went to sessions," he said. “But now the attendance has dropped 10 times! We don't even cover utilities, we can't even pay for electricity. There is no point in maintaining movie theaters.

The downtime will last until April 15. At this time, the administration sends its employees to forced downtime with the preservation of 2/3 of the salary, he said. What will happen next is unknown.

The manager of the Rodina cinema refused to talk about the future prospects of resuming film distribution, noting the complete uncertainty. “No one has any concrete solutions yet, it all depends on how long the moratorium will last," he said.

Following it, the once famous and popular Rodina cinema, located in the historical centre of Kazan, is quarantined. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Kinomaks and KARO film, continue to rent

How аederal network players will behave remains unknown. So far, ticket sales for movie sessions have not been suspended either in Kinomax network or in KARO film. However, the central offices of both companies located in Moscow have switched to remote operation. Their press services could not be reached for comment.

Another cinema distributor, Almaz Cinema network, sent a special notice to movie fans via its website stating that cinemas are operating normally, observing all necessary sanitary and epidemiological measures. However, the session schedule is “active” only until Sunday.

As a result, box office receipts in Tatarstan cinemas have almost tripled over the past day — up to 562 thousand rubles, according to the EAIS electronic system for ticket sales of the cinema fund. If in previous weeks, the audience cinemas collected on a weekday from 1,5 to 2,5 million rubles, and on weekends — up to 4,5 million rubles, yesterday lowered the revenue bar to a historical low — just over half a million. According to the EAIS, 3,300 people visited the cinema yesterday, which is 2-3 times less than in normal times. Especially noticeable was the “subsidence” in Kazan. Instead of the usual 4-5 thousand people, 2,2 thousand came to the cinema sessions. In general, I must say that Kazan people love movies. From March 9 to March 19, they paid distributors, according to the EAIS, more than 17 million rubles. For comparison, in the republic as a whole, cinemas collected 27 million rubles 10 days before the start of the coronavirus, with an average ticket price of 250 to 400 rubles.

The manager of the cinema Korston Kazan, Vasilina Vago told Realnoe Vremya that their owner did not give orders to close on the screenings. Photo: afisha.ru

Korston circumvented the ban by introducing a 49-seat sale

It seems that the only one who is determined to continue showing movies remains the cinema in the hotel complex Korston. The manager of the cinema Korston Kazan, Vasilina Vago told Realnoe Vremya that their owner did not give orders to close on the screenings.

“The capacity of our halls is up to 50 seats. By order of the ministry of culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, the ban applies to premises with more than 50 seats. I exclude one seat from the sales and get exactly 49 seats. It's not significant to me," she explained how they are going to continue working.

“In Moscow cinemas, everything is the same — the halls work, only they limit the sale to one place. It's not all that bad. They're just panicking. We have long introduced ticket sales of up to 50 people, but this did not help," said the manager of the Rodina cinema, Marcel Sagdullin.

The schedule of movie shows on Korston website has not changed. But the attendance has dropped. “It can't be that everything is bad for everyone, but everything is good for us. School applications have been cancelled. But we hope to earn money on Troll (the premiere of the children's adventure film Trolls World Tour — editor's note)," says Vasilina Vago.

Her main concern is not the threat of the epidemic, but the absence of world premieres in Russia. Western film studios have cancelled screenings of the announced films planned for the spring. “Of course, we lost these commercial releases, just like everyone else. I'm not worried about the coronavirus anymore, but about the lack of releases. The attendance has fallen," the manager of the cinema in Korston regrets.

Killing a competitor

While movie theaters are looking for ways to save screenings, competitors — online movie theaters — have begun vying to open free access to movie views. Thus, the satellite operator Tricolor “is offering all residents of Russia who are not its clients free access to the main packages of channels and movies”. “From March 19 to April 12 — during the additional quarantine holidays introduced in Russian schools — Tricolor offers new customers the opportunity to watch more than 230 TV channels via satellite for free," the website says. Earlier this initiative was made by Rostelekom.

“This can not be considered a blow to the gut because they provide screenings for free and do not profit from it," said Albina Nafigova, the director of Vremya Kino directorate. “This is presented as a social event, as a pleasant surprise. But in fact, the blockade of cinemas has become a profitable moment for the redistribution of the market to attract more and more viewers to their platforms," she is sure. “And the quarantine will be a powerful catalyst in this process.” According to her, online operators could make a minimum subscription to at least not offend regular subscribers who receive high-quality content for money. “I think this is a short-sighted policy," she said.

“Live theater, in any case, will conquer its market. Yes, of course, they will develop a base more than there is. But believe me, not everyone is willing to pay for online movie viewing," says one of the Moscow operators.

Vasilina Vago agrees with him, claiming that the home user will have to pay for the premiere 2 times more than for going to the cinema. “Free access is not a blow. They give access for a week or two, and then you pay," believes the Moscow speaker. “In general, a movie is not just a movie to watch. It's also a meeting place. Cinemas will remain, but they will be more like restaurants.”

By Luiza Ignatyeva
Analytics Tatarstan