The pandemic has been catastrophic for many sectors and the cinema sector has not been exactly unscathed. Faced with losses of 70% since the state of alarm was declared in our country, the New Association of Film Exhibitors of Spain (NAECE) has addressed an open letter to the director of the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) , Beatriz Navas. Signed by the vice president of NAECE, Julio Abengozar Oviedo, manager of the Las Velas de Los Alcázares cinema, the letter implores a commitment by the Government to Spanish culture. “We small cinemas trust that we are not allowed to die.”
If before the crisis caused by the coronavirus the field of cinema, especially the small one, was already damaged, now, after the forced intermittent closures and the logical rise of digital platforms, they fear their disappearance.
“Desperate and distressing.” This is how Abengozar describes the current situation of the exhibitors in village cinemas. They are at a clear disadvantage compared to the large producers in the sector. They have immobilized their activity in cinemas to focus on the online services offered by Netflix, Prime Video, HBO or Disney +, among others. “Besides, it turns out that a good part of those platforms are his. To give an example: HBO belongs to Warner and that is why Warner has already announced that absolutely all its films from 2021 will be available on HBO ».
“The Spanish box office collects 80% for Hollywood films, which has stopped its activity, with which we are unprotected”
Likewise, the vice president of NAECE clarifies that, as a consequence of the confinement, people have already become accustomed to consuming cinema from these platforms. Thus, it suggests that if the same film is broadcast in a cinema and on a platform simultaneously, many people will choose the second option. For this reason, Abengozar argues that it would be fair to lower the price of these types of films to theaters, since they will not receive the same visits when dealing with shared content.
The difficulties of the town cinemas are compounded by the brake that Hollywood has also put in place due to the pandemic. “The Spanish box office collects 80% for Hollywood films, which have stopped their activity, with which we are absolutely unprotected.” In this way, the exhibitor proposes to imitate the example of other countries, such as France, which protect their own films and balance this percentage with national product. In turn, Abengozar denounces that excess consumption of cinema by the North American industry compared to others of higher quality. “People have been educated to consume a simple cinema full of special effects, but you have to show them that there are other types of cinema.”
«Cinema is not only entertainment; cinema is culture. Let’s make it more than just a place to eat popcorn »
Thus, NAECE urges the Government to provide direct aid to the sector in light of the huge losses this past year. The vice-president of the association also proposes cooperation by the municipalities with small cinemas. Thus, it proposes a project in which the space of these cinemas is not only used for viewing films, but also for carrying out cycles and other activities. «Let’s remember that cinema is not only entertainment; cinema is culture. Let’s make it more than just a place to eat popcorn.
The letter signed by Julio Abengozar on behalf of NAECE yesterday received an apparently positive response from Beatriz Navas. In it, Abengozar says, the director of the ICAA assumes that her arguments seem compelling and timely and agrees with the manager of the Las Velas cinema to stay in contact with him and to hold a series of meetings with members representing NAECE. Abengozar takes this hopeful reply. “I trust that measures will indeed be taken because there are many things to do. If the government does not take action soon, many Spanish cinemas will never open again.