Czech cinema company wins European films promotion award

Aero Cinema, photo: ŠJů, CC BY-SA 3.0

While the number of moviegoers has been dropping in recent years, some cinemas have enjoyed an increasing number of visitors. One of them is Prague’s Aero, which has just received the Europa Cinemas award for promoting European films. Aero, along with Světozor and Oko, are run by the Aerofilms distribution company and have the highest turnout among the country’s smaller cinemas. I spoke to Aerofilms’ Ivo Andrle and first asked him what the Europa Cinemas award meant to him:

Ivo Andrle,  photo: YouTube
“It’s a nice thing to happen to you when you have been doing something for a long time with your team and then an organisation like Europa Cinemas decides to note that you have been doing a good job in their opinion. So that’s always nice.

“And I guess it will encourage us to follow up and try to do it better and enjoy ourselves doing it and hopefully attract a lot of people coming to our places.”

At a time when the numbers of cinemagoers are dropping, your numbers are gradually increasing? Why do you think is that?

Aero Cinema | Photo: ŠJů,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC0 1.0 DEED
“I think what is happening is that our core audience is not as much dependant on the big hits. We are not awaiting another Avatar or huge titles from Hollywood in order to make our numbers.

“We are rather relying on films that appear every year that are smart that are maybe not as much promoted but people want to experience them in the cinemas. And luckily there have been enough of these films in previous years.

“And I guess people like what they find in our places and they like to return. So the numbers are growing, by little, but they are growing every year, which is nice to experience.”

What were your biggest hits recently?

“We had a nice surprise with Ida, a Polish film that was awarded on many occasions, which we didn’t expect to hit so big. It was a small title for us and it really surprised us that the numbers were much better than we expected.

“Also of course at the beginning of 2014 the Lars von Trier Nymphomaniac hit the screens and that was a major hit for us.”

Your cinemas are popular not only for the programming but also for the atmosphere. How important do you think it is in attracting visitors?

You are definitely right that 50 percent of what you experience is not only the atmosphere inside, but also the way the venue is communicating with the audience, the way it is advertising, the way its website looks, the way every box office person is treating you as a customer.

Aero Cinema,  photo: ŠJů,  CC BY-SA 3.0
“All that comes together and needs to be treated carefully, at least with the same respect as the programming of the cinema.”

Over the years, you have introduced a number of projects, such as Live screenings from the Metropolitan opera or Czech Philharmonic Live or the so-called Film-Juke Box, where the audience chooses which film will be screened. Is there any upcoming project that you could mention?

“Recently we have been developing an international project that has been simultaneously launched in five countries, including the Czech Republic, and the project is called Scope 50.

Aero Cinema,  photo: Žižkov TV
“We have already selected 50 volunteers who are going to watch ten films and give us their feedback and based on the feedback of those 50 people we will select one of the films to be released in Czech cinemas.

“So that’s a very exciting new way of getting closer to the audience to have immediate feedback and opinion and to encourage the release of maybe not so commercially looking films.”