2019 was a mixed year for the two cinemas in the district of Gießen. In Grünberg, the number of visitors fell short of expectations, the Licher Traumstern feels threatened by Disney’s lending policy.
Edith Weber sits in the box office of the Grünberger Kino. She unwraps two tickets from a roll, stamps them and pushes them over the counter. The elderly couple continue to the kiosk to stock up on drinks and popcorn for the performance.
The elderly and families are the target audience of the cinemas “Tower” and “Apollo”, explains Weber. “They come when the film that suits them is running. The 17- to 23-year-olds are gone. I rarely see them here.” The streaming services that offer films over the Internet are a fierce competition, especially among young people. But also during the carnival season or during the Gallusmarkt, many places remained empty. And then there is the summer with the European Football Championship…
The past year was at least slightly better than in the previous year in terms of visitor numbers. Films such as “The Lion King” or “The Perfect Secret” attracted visitors to the two Grünberg cinema halls, says Weber.
While there were only 21,818 visitors in 2018, the number rose slightly to 23,162 visitors in 2019 – still not a really good year. Ten years ago there were more than 30 000. “28 000 would be nice. But will we achieve that again in the age of Netflix?”
Cinema ms. Weber remains optimistic. “I’m lucky enough to be able to play big movies.” She relies on films such as the new James Bond, but also on events such as the senior cinema. “This is an established highlight for many.” In addition, there are always groups and associations that know how to take advantage of the small cinema: recently, for example, a group from Mücke wanted “The Secret Life of Trees”. Weber fulfilled this film wish – and was able to look forward to more than 200 visitors on a Sunday morning.
About 20 kilometres away in Lich, Edgar Langer stands behind the thresen of the Kino Traumstern. In addition to program cinema, the Licher Kinomacher focus on special events: The reading with Marlene Bierwirth, the concerts of the “Swingin Buddies” or the summer music worlds attracted visitors to the dream star, says Langer. “Such events – that’s what it’s going to do.”
Langer says he does not yet know the number of visitors for 2019. However, these are also incidental matters. The main goal of the dream star is to be able to present as wide a variety as possible. “We show 200 films in a one-screen cinema in the year.”
He is not worried that fewer visitors could come to the dream star because of the European Football Championship. In 2020, another problem is more serious: Disney’s takeover of “20th Century Fox.” This would have exacerbated the rental conditions: “Disney does not want to supply the country cinemas unless you play four performances of the same film a day. But then I can’t do a cinema program anymore,” the Licher outlines the problem. “That’s the destruction of the program cinemas.” He hopes that a nationwide solution will be found here. Otherwise, there is a risk of severe cuts in the programme diversity of cinema in the long term.