Interview with Alejandro Ramirez Magana
Ranvir Nayar May-June 2016
Offering Distinctive Cinematic Experience
With 1650 screens operational in 13 countries, the Mexican chain of movie theatres, Cinépolis, is focussed on strengthening the business and markets in which it is already present, says Alejandro Ramirez.
Tell us about the business of cinema around the world and the countries where you are present?
Currently we operate 1,650 screens in 13 countries including 10 Latin American countries from Mexico down to Brazil and Chile. In the US, we operate mainly in the southern parts but we are also expanding to the northeast of America. We are also present in India and Spain. We are doing very well and 2015 was a record year for us as we sold 268 million tickets and we hope that this year is also going to be good.
Which are the other markets you are looking to expand into?
We are looking into several markets in the world. But currently we are trying to strengthen our business in the markets in which we are already present like India, Brazil and Spain – where we entered just last year. We bought the second largest chain in Spain. Mexico and the US are strong markets as well. We are also looking for other possibilities in regions like Asia and Europe. In the Middle East there are a couple of markets that could be interesting as well but we are completely absent in Africa.
What are the trends that you see in cinema watching?
People still like going out and watching movies. It is an experience people enjoy. And if you want to see a film in a legal way, you have to see it in the cinema otherwise you have to wait for atleast three months. The cinematic experience is also very different because of the large screens, loud sound, nice seats, sometimes 3D or 4D and the food – all these make it distinctive.
How does technology apply to your business?
We have 100 pc digital projection and that gives us much more versatility for content, so we cannot only show films and feature films, but also sports events, cultural events, opera, ballet, music concerts and more. The 3D and 4D technologies are also very important that gives special effects to films. Special format screens like Imax is also very interesting because people like advanced technology. Also, most of our customers now buy their tickets online, through their mobile applications and this reduces the stress because they can choose the seat even before they arrive at the cinema, which makes it a much more enjoyable experience.
Are you able to leverage your seats in order to get a better offer from distributors?
Not really. What you can leverage is the size that you have in every market. Because the negotiations are local and they are not done at the global scale. So it is very important in every market to have significance scale so that you can actually get more reasonable terms.
What is your presence in India currently and how do you plan to expand it?
We have over 200 screens in India and we have a very robust pipeline of several hundred screens and we hope they will materialise in the next 4-5 years.
How do you find the differences between the cultures, for example from a Brazilian filmgoer to an Australian, Indian or a North American?
We have film programmers in each market and they understand the local taste because there is wide diversity in the taste for films. Latin America consumes about mainly 85 pc of Hollywood films and 15 pc of local Latin American and European films. In India it is different, it is close to 90 pc Bollywood and regional language films and only about 10 pc English films. So you have to learn what people like in each market. Even within India, there are different tastes in different regions and some movies play well nationwide and some play well only in a specific region.
Is the cinematic experience different, for example, in Brazil and in India?
There is not much of a difference. The thing that is different are the products and the food and beverages they consume. For example, in Mexico we have chili popcorn and in India we have masala popcorn. In Brazil we just have butter popcorn. While in northern countries they love caramel popcorn. Other than that, the experience is pretty much the same, people just gather to disconnect and enjoy their free time with their families or friends.