The Slovenia Times

A New Wave for Cinemas



In 1907, Ljubljana's first permanent cinema, Kinematograf Edison, opened its doors to customers and was quickly followed by another cinema named Elektro - radiograf Ideal, that will later become named Kino Komuna. After the World War II, when film industry started to flourish, Ljubljana's cinema story is attached to year 1947 in which Ljubljanski Kinematografi (Ljubljana Cinematographic Company) was founded.
Newly established company has since overtaken the responsibility of regulating distribution and screening of the films in the capital. It was a humble start with just three cinema halls. None of those three initial halls does exist today. The company had a wide range of interests; from showing artistic movies to propaganda trailers and films showed on the glass screen. Slowly, a number of new theatres were included in its network such as: Union, Vič, Šiška, Mojca, Triglav, Mini Union, Kompas... Until 1976, company had in its portfolio eleven cinema halls, scattered around different parts of the city.

From the centre into the suburbs

In the nineties, the ownership structure, like in many other Slovenian's companies, changed from a state owned to privately held ownership rights. But what was even more important is that the change of the ownership model resulted in the closing of the city's centre hall and migration of the city life from the city centre into its suburbs, or more closely the newly opened shopping mall complex BTC. This is where consequently, in the spring of 2001, company opened Kolosej, the first multiplex cinema in Slovenia. After its opening, Ljubljanski Kinematografi narrowed its focus over to only one of the two basic tasks of the company - distribution of films - Kolosej became primarily an exhibition company.
There are probably more reasons why Ljubljana found itself suddenly without cinemas in the centre of the city. One of the reasons is surely the ownership nexus relating to different buildings hosting cinema halls. Cinemagoers sadly remember the day when one of the most historical movie houses, the Union, was torn down to accommodate the new Union Hotel Ballroom. But the other part of the story is maybe connected with the fact that Ljubljanski Kinematografi became the official distributer for one of the US major companies, Warner Bros, which dictates very strict commercial strategy. This surely increased its interests for opening multiplex cinema centres in the outskirts of Ljubljana.

A new wave of cinema demand

Ljubljana centre in the end was left with cinema hall Kinoteka, which focused on film collection of world cinema, Kinodvor, which specialised in art cinema, and Kino Vič, which was some kind of compromise between mainstream and art movies. At the moment, Ljubljanski Kinematografi, owning Kino Vič through Kolosej, decided to close it and reopen Kino Komuna, an institution that certainly had the longest cinematographic history in Ljubljana. According to Urška Umar, PR for Kolosej, the programming will be a "mix between mainstream Hollywood productions and underground movies in order to satisfy the demand of city's center viewers". It seems that there is a new wave of cinema demand that is appearing on horizon. So the question is how the company will deal with the new challenges in demand for cinema.
For example, Kinodvor, a place where a more demanding cinema production is presented to the viewers, where the profit is not the primary goal, we can see that the main challenge of any film distributor is to attract cinema public at the different levels. As pointed out by Aliki Kalagasidu, responsible for public relations at Kinodvor, cinema has to be a "meeting point, gallery and bookshop" - all in one. "All those complement contents assure that our customers are turning back to us constantly ".
Seeing a good movie in a nice community setting seems to be the recipe adopted by the film industry to fight growth of Internet piracy, illegal downloads and other home cinemas. To be able to sustain their box office numbers, theatres have to provide services that can't be found at the privacy of one's home - online. Kolosej is already experimenting with this approach by offering cinematic 3D viewing. But does 3D really increase the value added of a movie? The answer is probably to be found in the reopening of cinema hall Komuna, showing us that the future of film might not be with Avatar-esque blockbusters, but with more modestly budgeted genre movies that have a built-in audience and a safer return.


More from Nekategorizirano