No bond in sight – Astor cinemas are in the red

For the cinema industry in Lower Saxony, there have been two good news, but also one pretty devastating news in the past few days.

The state government has complied with the operator’s request to reduce the safety distance in the halls from 1.50 to one meter. “That helps us a lot. Instead of a quarter, we can now occupy around 50 percent of the seats, ”says Volker Kufahl, managing director of the Braunschweiger Universum-Kino. For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, the state has launched a direct cinema aid program for small and medium-sized companies through its film funding company Nordmedia, which enables support of up to 5000 euros.

However, the large multiplex theaters do not have access to it. For them, this amount would be of little importance anyway. But it is she who hits Universal Pictures’ last-minute decision to postpone the new Bond drama “No Time to Die” from early November to April 2020 particularly hard.

Sign of hope: Constantin Film prefers the start of Sönke Wortmann’s “Contra”

Many hopes rested on the magnetic effect of the only international blockbuster this fall. This aggravates the situation of the large cinema operators even more, even if, for example, the German Constantin Film reacted and brought the Sönke Wortmann film “Contra” with Christoph Maria Herbst forward to December 23rd. Astor boss Hans-Joachim Flebbe hopes that the cinemas are now allowed to let in more visitors again, could also cause other distributors to no longer hold back their films.

He is currently making losses of up to 600,000 euros per month, Flebbe told the TV broadcaster RTL Nord. Unlike many other industries, the cinema chains have been let down by politics since the beginning of the lockdown. “So far there has been zero euros in funding. It’s a scandal and makes us bitter and angry, ”said Flebbe. The cinema threatens to die.

250,000 euros loss per month in the Astor Hannover

The situation of the Astor film theater in Braunschweig is not quite as explosive as that of the Hanoverian fine cinema, with which Flebbe alone currently makes up to 250,000 euros a month according to his own statements. Because in Braunschweig there is no rent; Flebbe is the owner of the property. Cinema director Frank Oppermann is still worried. He and his employees are still on short-time work (55 percent). “Around a third of them have now looked for new jobs,” says the 57-year-old.

After all: Christopher Nolan’s action drama “Tenet”, the only major Hollywood production to have opened since the cinemas reopened, worked comparatively well in Braunschweig. “We have had around 10,000 visitors so far. If we had been able to work with a one-meter safety distance in September, it would have been a few more. ”However: Before Corona, movie hits like“ Bond ”or“ Star Wars ”drew up to 50,000 viewers in Braunschweig alone. Sales are currently around a quarter of previous years. Another problem is that some US studios are experimenting with starting films no longer in cinemas, but instead on streaming platforms straight away.

Disney experiences flop with “Mulan” streaming

In the case of the Disney adventure “Mulan”, however, it did not pay off. The film costs around 22 euros on the “Disney +” streaming service – in addition to the monthly cost of 6.99 euros. So if you only book a month of Disney + including the film for “Mulan”, you have to pay a total of almost 30 euros. Such experiments do not seem to pay off in family films.

Volker Kufahl from the Braunschweig “Universum” thinks it is important that the cinemas get out of the gloomy headlines despite all the problems. Going to the cinema would have to be positive again. After all, the hygiene concepts have proven themselves, no movie theater has yet become a corona hotspot.

After poor visitor numbers in late summer, October is now going much better. There is particular demand for documentary films with subsequent audience discussions. “You can feel that people want to exchange ideas.” But the new film with Isabelle Huppert “A woman with special talents” also got off to a good start in “Universum”.

“Jim Knopf” helps in Helmstedt

The Helmstedt cinema operator Harald Pape is happy about the relatively good attendance figures for family films such as “Jim Knopf und die wilde 13”. The blockbuster postponements no longer surprise him. “That is very much based on what is happening in the US,” he says. And if a film doesn’t start there because many cinemas are still closed, there is actually no hope for the rest of the world. However, Pape observes that the German film industry reacts differently to the Corona crisis. “The smaller German distributors listened to us cinema operators,” he says. In contrast to the Hollywood blockbusters, some of the start dates for German films have even been moved forward.

Nonetheless, the postponement of international hits is making cinema owners worry lines. Chyar Hesko from the Wolfenbütteler Filmpalast observes: “People want to go to the cinema.” But: There is a lack of cash-rich films.

Wolfenbüttel cinema boss Hesko: We have bet everything on 2020

The renewed postponement of Bond initially has no drastic consequences for the cinemas in the region, unlike in Great Britain, where the Cineworld chain is closing all cinemas until further notice. However, Hesko emphasizes: “We did not bet everything on James Bond, we put everything on 2020.” So far, that has been anything but easy for the local cinemas – and the number of infections is rising again.

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