Feb 25 (Reuters) - Unconventional ideas such as popcorn
deliveries could help cinemas get through the coronavirus
pandemic, the head of Belgian cinema group Kinepolis
said on Thursday.
The pandemic has battered the industry, with many cinemas
forced to close, restrict screenings or ban sales of snacks,
while major studios move releases straight to home streaming
platforms, dealing another blow to the box office.
As Hollywood waits for cinemas - a core part of the movie
value chain - to reopen, many studios have delayed
hotly-anticipated blockbusters, such as James Bond's "No Time to
For Kinepolis, which operates over 100 cinemas across Europe
and North America, that brought its first annual loss in at
least 13 years, with sales down 68%.
But as he commented on 2020 results, the group's chief
executive Eddy Duquenne said it was working on a number of new
iniatives to limit the damage - including drive-ins, private
screenings and popcorn delivery via Uber Eats.
He said Kinepolis started testing popcorn deliveries in
Belgium, its home market, after a customer in Canada's Yukon
territory walked in and asked the manager if she could buy
popcorn without a cinema ticket.
"Essentially in Canada, it looks rather promising," he told
analysts, noting a $3 million boost at sites where they ran
deliveries, possibly inflated by hungry customers held in home
Duquenne said that rather seeing themselves in direct
competitions with streaming platforms such as Netflix,
cinemas should focus on improving the quality of their selection
amid massive offerings: "We need to become the sommelier of the
Duquenne anticipated a resilient business ahead, with a
strong line-up on the back of postponed blockbusters, as people
emerge from lockdowns eager to enjoy each other's company.
"It's "No Time to Die", neither for Kinepolis nor the
industy," he said.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Enrico Sciacovelli in Gdansk
Editing by Tomasz Janowski)