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Kinepolis wants to rent movie theaters to small groups

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Kinepolis, the major Belgian cinema chain, is looking for ways it can rent out its theaters to small groups once the coronavirus lockdown measures allow for reopening.

The idea comes from the US, where many theaters have remained open throughout the pandemic but offer private screenings of films to small groups of friends or family in order to better socially distance.

Kinepolis began trying out the measure in Luxembourg, according to Bruzz, where their three cinemas are already open again.

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The groups would need to be a minimum of ten, the company expects, but they still won’t turn a profit from it due to the cost of running the projectors, heating and cooling the building, and cleaning. It is intended to be a transition measure between now and when theaters are fully open to the public as they were before the start of the pandemic.

“Our attitude is to reopen immediately after the lockdowns if we can, even with a staff that is too weak, even if it is cheaper to keep them closed. We want to be there for the customers and give them the opportunity to come,” CEO Eddy Duquenne told Bruzz.

Kinepolis is also hoping to be able to show films from streaming services like Netflix, allowing groups of friends to rent a full theater to experience their favorite shows and movies.

“They have fantastic content that is made to be watched on the big screen,” Duquenne said, adding that to watching a film in a cinema “is a special experience” that “adds another dimension.”

The cinema chain had 12.1 million visitors in 2020, a 70.1% drop amid the coronavirus crisis that resulted in a 68% reduction in revenue.

However, the company claims to have €171 million in legroom for 2021. With that, Kinepolis can “hold out for quite some time and we can say with certainty that our company will come through this crisis,” Duquenne said.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times