Country Focus: Italy
Medusa and Warner merged for The Space Cinema
by Gabriele Barcaro
29/10/2009 - Medusa Multicinema and Warner Village Cinemas have been merged to create the largest multiplex circuit in Italy, The Space Cinema, the result of a partnership (of 51% and 49% shares, respectively) between 21 Partners, the private equity company headed by Alessandro Benetton, and Gruppo Mediaset.
The new circuit, which just today unveiled its name and brand, has 24 multiplexes and a total 242 screens, for a potential 16 million admissions. “We aim to cover the entire country, with at least one structure in each regional capital”, said president and CEO of The Space Cinema, Giuseppe Corrado, who knows that “in recent years, film exhibition has not made great improvements in quality. We want to do that”.
How they will go about it? “The Space Cinema wants to offer added value to simple film viewing,” continued Corrado, “pampering the spectator with babysitting services, spaces dedicated to trailers and conceived as entertaining places to get a drink with friends and morning screenings of family films.” He adds that they will also be “an ally of distributors, to whom we guarantee impartiality and transparency”.
This alliance would also extend to negotiating print rentals. “We want to have a special deal, which reflects the contribution we will be able to make to a film’s success. A kind of prize per title that takes into account how much each film earns in our cinemas,” added Corrado.
The majors would to be the natural partners of the new circuit, but Corrado says he isn’t shutting their doors to “small” companies. However, his use of that word is rather discretionary, given that he used it with respect to Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [trailer], launched with a large advertising campaign on 200 screens, by no means a small release in Italy.
Another timely issue discussed was technological innovation. As of today, only 18 of their 242 screens are able to project digital, but by the end of the year, each multiplex will have a theatre equipped for 2k, as well as for 3D, which soon should “take over” at least two out of three screens of each commercial unit (what they call each individual multiplex).