Reopening cinemas: Kinodvor in Ljubljana
In this article, we have the feedback of Kinodvor cinema’s team in Slovenia on how was their reopening experience.
Cinemas across the world have slowly started reopening. Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain are some of the countries which allowed cinemas to reopen already starting in May.
Curious to know what it feels like to go back to the cinema after months of closure, we have asked some of our members to give us their feedback on the reopening experience.
We have collected the first impressions of: Splendid Cinema in Riga, Latvia; Cinema Zlatna Vrata in Split, Kino Samobor in Samobor and Kino Valli in Pula, in Croatia; Kinodvor in Ljubljana, in Slovenia; Kino Tapiola in Espoo, in Finland; LantarenVenster in Rotterdam and Chassé Cinema in Breda, in the Netherlands; Cinema Rosebud in Reggio Emilia and Beltrade Cinema in Milano, in Italy.
Kinodvor, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
We talked with Aliki Kalagasidu, responsible of public relations
Kinodvor opened its door on 1 June after 81 days of lockdown. We had estimated already during the lockdown that we would need two weeks to properly prepare for the reopening. Our focus in communication with the audience was that it was safe and comfortable to return to the cinema, shifting our usual focus from the programme and film titles to the cinema-going experience. We have, in our opinion, achieved this with our promotional campaign called I/You/We go to the cinema. All the feedback so far was enthusiastic, people were missing the cinema.
We prepared a short guideline for the safe visit to the cinema and FAQ consisting of answers to what we expect people might be wondering and asking. Both were posted on our website and communicated through our weekly newsletter and social media posts. We are also collecting thoughts on what the people missed most about not being able to come to the cinema on our website and social media. When we announced the reopening, we immediately received many mostly short enthusiastic responses but also a few more »elaborate« ones. After the opening not many people are still sharing their thoughts with us.
The two weeks before the reopening were quite turbulent because our government’s communication on the rules of reopening were confusing and contradictory so we had to wait until the day of the opening to be clear on what rules actually apply regarding the protective masks once inside the theatre. This for us was the key factor in anticipating whether people would come back. On the Friday before the reopening it was still unclear whether one should wear a mask during the screening or not. Finally the rules that were set are the following: masks are only obligatory when distancing can not be guaranteed. We are seating people at least 1,5 m apart, so the masks in the screening theatre are not obligatory. The posters with pictograms showing the guidelines are placed at the entrance, at the box office, before the entrance to the theatre, in the toilets.
Since Kinodvor does not have on-line ticket sales yet but we do offer reservations, we were expecting that there would be issues with this since for the time being the reservations are not possible. Because of the safety regulations, we are controlling the distance between visitors by issuing tickets for individual, couple or family admission at the box office. This means that – depending on how many come individually, as couples or in a group – we can accommodate only between 40 and 60 people (our hall capacity is 188). We closed our »small hall« with only 20 seats, but also cancelled all events and have no breakfast shows, talks, etc. However, so far our audience has been very understanding – they understand that these are special circumstances.
On Monday, 1 June, before the first screening took place, our director greeted and thanked the audience for coming. People were expressing joy and happiness that we are back throughout the week upon coming to the box office. The first week of running the cinema showed that, as before, the attendance was connected to the film title: the best-attended film was Maiden, the second best a screening at our Sunday regular time slot of the « rain-check » series (https://www.kinodvor.org/en/rain-check-screenings/).
In our first week we had – with only two screenings per day – 333 admissions (so an average of 23 per screening, which is quite promising and actually more than we expected). The first week of June we were at 28% of 2019’s first week of June. Last Friday we had our first »sold out« screening of the film Maiden (with 56 admissions). We actually »sold out« half an hour before the beginning of the screening and 17 people couldn’t get a ticket.
We expect that at least until our big open-air project on the courtyard of the Ljubljana castle (starting mid-July) it will remain extremely difficult to attract larger audiences.
We have followed and implemented all the security and health guidelines by the government and health authorities, such as the following:
- Hand sanitizers are placed before entering the cinema and the hall.
- A special transparent screen was mounted to the box office so the staff and the visitors are safe when buying tickets.
- At the entrance to the hall the tickets are only checked visually not torn.
- We sell a limited number of tickets, always leaving empty at least two seats between customers and sitting them in a zigzag fashion so that nobody sits behind anybody. Families, couples etc. can of course seat together.
- There are fewer screenings per day and the amount of time between the screenings is at least an hour so that the theatre can be cleaned, ventilated, the seat’s arms’ rests and door knobs disinfected.
- Between the last show of the present day and the first show of the next day the hall is being disinfected and « sealed » so nobody can enter.
- The entrance to the theatre is at one door and the exit through the other.
- Until further notice there are no events planned, just regular screenings
- Our café and bookstore have also reopened. The tables are at least 1,5 m apart. In the bookstore the browsing of the books/DVDs isn’t allowed.
Photos credit: Katja Goljat