In good financial health before the pandemic, the leading art house circuit in France is optimistic about the future, with the diversification of cinema as a leitmotif.
“The great discovery of confinements is that staying at home is not an ideal“. For Nathanaël and Elisha Karmitz, the owners of MK2, the leading art house circuit in France, cinema has a bright future ahead of it. After six months of closed curtains, all of their establishments reopen Wednesday “at a loss”, with the gauges constraints and the curfew. A complicated situation but already a “relief”, believes the siblings.
The group, which owns 26 cinemas in Paris and Spain, occupies a special place in the 7th art. Founded 47 years ago by Marin Karmitz, the father of the current managers, it supports the production of many auteur films alongside filmmakers such as the Iranian Abbas Kiarostami, the Japanese Naomi Kawase or the Canadian Xavier Dolan, and manages prestigious catalogs (François Truffaut, Charlie Chaplin, Michael Haneke…).
“A great film festival“
The stunt of films at the reopening? The young general managers (36 and 42 years old) do not complain about it. The profession “in recent months has nevertheless shown a lot of navel-gazing“And must now show”empathy towards its spectators», Tackle Nathanaël. “The question of an overflow of films, we are the only country in the world where it arises. It’s a great chance, for the spectators first of all, and the proof of a great vitality», Emphasizes Elisha Karmitz. “This is the best opportunity for the spectator to find the theaters, and for the entire cinema chain to restart quickly.», Continues his brother.
“The whole months ahead will be for spectators a great permanent film festival so much the offer will be rich, diversified, and of quality.», He promises. They only see reasons to believe in the future of cinemas, of which France and its 2000 cinemas for 67 million inhabitants is the champion. “The idea that the world has changed dramatically (during the health crisis) is a figment of the mind», Sweeps Nathanaël Karmitz. “The cinema remains, whatever one thinks about it, the leisure and the release the cheapest“. From “common places»Which they want to wring their necks, the disenchantment of young people for dark rooms. Rather a “purchasing power issue», Which should be resolved by extending the reduced tariffs.
Cinema-hotel and conferences
The difficulties of American cinemas, on the verge of bankruptcy for some, do not cause them “any” worry : “we have a different model, not just dependent on blockbusters. It is this diversity that preserves French cinema as a whole.“, Argues Nathanaël Karmitz. As for the rise of platforms, “global version of pay TV“,”It’s not because you can buy steaks at the supermarket that you no longer go to restaurantsHe adds.
On the contrary, they are convinced that the cinema must continue to diversify: they want to organize hundreds of conferences with intellectuals in their theaters, have launched in the midst of a pandemic a platform for rare films online, financed by advertising (MK2 Curiosity, 60,000 registered users) or even a very first “hotel-cinema», The Paradiso, in eastern Paris, whose rooms, which become a private screening space, are fully booked…
The group, which has a cinema project near Strasbourg and another in Nouméa, does not publish its annual accounts, but its leaders assure that 2019 was a “record year“Which made it possible to tackle the crisis”in good strategic and financial health“. The pandemic has been “extremely costly but not likely to call into question our developments in the near or more distant future», Assures Nathanaël Karmitz.