Laura Houlgatte, CEO of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the European cinema trade grouping, used her keynote address at CineEurope 2019 to reflect on the diverse and resilient nature of the sector and the bright future she saw for European cinema-going.
Raising the curtain on yet another dynamic CineEurope programme, Houlgatte offered thanks to colleagues from across the industry for their ongoing efforts, pointing in particular to record-breaking performances in a number of markets in 2018.
More broadly, in reporting on cinema-going across UNIC territories in 2018, she championed the continuing success experienced by the sector overall, with figures for 2018 totalling over 1.25 billion admissions and € 8.1 billion at the box office for the fourth year in row.
The significance of the cinema
Explaining this ongoing prosperity, she placed particular emphasis on the key role of cinemas as spaces where cultural diversity can truly flourish, arguing that:
“The significance of the cinema experience in terms of ensuring access to diverse and inclusive film content, via the highest-quality means possible, cannot be overstated.”
Drawing reference to the strong performance of recent titles, she underlined the Big Screen’s “unshakeable ability to resonate with audiences” – both in Europe and across the World.
Attention was also drawn to the sector’s “relentless appetite for innovation” and the consequent investment made by stakeholders across Europe, along with the industry’s determination to “strive towards its goals despite the challenges we face from potential disruptions to the long-standing and beneficial models on which our sector is built.”
Houlgatte also touched upon the impact that recent European elections – and the imminent institutional changes that would accompany them – would have on the way the European cinema sector operates and the “frontline role” to be played by UNIC in ensuring that the interests of the European cinema industry would continue to be “not only protected but celebrated”.
On a global scale, she also mentioned the continued efforts of the Global Cinema Federation in giving voice to the concerns of cinema operators the World over. She confirmed that the Federation – established in 2017 by UNIC and its sister organisation based in the US, NATO, alongside eleven of the largest cinema companies in the World – was currently thriving, now including members from 79 countries.
“Here to stay”
Special focus was also placed on industry efforts towards gender balance, as she revealed that the third edition of UNIC’s flagship initiative, the Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme, would be launched later in the week at CineEurope 2019.
In closing, Houlgatte re-iterated that the future remained bright for cinema-going and firmly stated that:
“…cinemas are not only here to stay – we’re here to grow and to continue to bring audiences together all over the world to share in the unmatched Big Screen experience. The clearer we can shout that message the better.”