The new james bond film was supposed to attract millions of moviegoers to german theaters this week, but now the 4,000 or so screens remain dark.
According to hans-joachim flebbe, who runs ten premium cinemas in germany, smaller houses in particular will not survive the corona crisis. "There’s zero income for us," says the 68-year-old. Moreover, the shutdown is driving movie fans into the arms of streaming services like netflix – possibly forever, is flebbe’s fear.
Question: as a student in the early 1970s, you transformed the apollo in hanover into one of the first program cinemas in germany, and in 1990 you opened the first multiplex cinema in germany. Have they ever had such a long cinema break?
Answer. No, the cinema never stands still, not even on christmas eve. Also after the strikes from 11. September played on. Now the ban has been in place for more than five weeks. For the farewell we have on 15. Marz in hamburger hafencity with all employees saw "the gentlemen" by guy ritchie. There were many sad faces.
Question: your industry association HDF kino talks of revenue losses of 17 million euros per week in german movie theaters. Will there be a cinema death?
Answer: some cinemas will not make it, probably rather the smaller ones. There is zero revenue, unlike restaurants with delivery services or department stores with online sales. We are totally paralyzed. It also depends on the good will of the landlords whether they agree to a rent reduction. There is a rescue umbrella with k-bailouts, but the vetting of banks is lengthy. The short-time allowance is normally not paid to mini-jobbers. We have taken the part-time workers from their own pockets, even students have to pay their rent and buy their food.
Question: how do you bridge the time of the sleep?? Plan alternatives?
Answer: we have been trying for three weeks to get permits for drive-in cinemas in hamburg, hanover and brunswick. Unfortunately, it drags on, this is probably the north german official mold. I have the impression that permits work faster in north rhine-westphalia. We don’t want to build a nuclear power plant, we want to create a little distraction. We keep the distance rules, we go away again afterwards, we clean up everything!
Question: is the corona pandemic the biggest crisis in the 120-year history of cinema??
Answer: it’s not the biggest crisis. In the 50’s, 500 to 600 million cinema tickets were sold, but with television, that dropped rapidly to 120 million. However, this crisis will haunt us for a long time. At the beginning we thought in three months the spook will be over. You can buy a kitchen or a car a little later, but you can’t make up for a trip to the cinema. People will not go to the cinema two or three times a week in autumn and winter.
Question: maybe some cinema fans will do this out of solidarity after all?
Answer: some show their solidarity in e-mails, but there are also many who have nothing more urgent to do than to demand the money for the tickets they have already bought. One employee is completely occupied with refunding tickets. The movie theater craze is driving many people into the arms of netflix and amazon. These are golden times for streaming services. This will have a lasting negative effect on the number of cinema-goers.
Personal details: hans-joachim flebbe (68) is the founder of the cinemaxx chain of cinemas, from which he left in a dispute in 2008. Since then, he has concentrated on elegant movie theaters with comfortable seats and on-site service. Locations are berlin, koln, munich, frankfurt am main, hamburg, hannover and braunschweig. Flebbe is from hanover, but has lived with his family in hamburg for 25 years.