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The cinema is dead, long live the cinema

So it doesn't seem surprising that people say less and less: "Are we going to the cinema today?" and instead more and more often: "Shall we get a DVD?" Around three-quarters of American adults prefer to watch movies at home, according to a survey commissioned by AOL. It fits in with the fact that more and more cinema operators in Germany are also complaining about falling audience numbers. "The mood is depressed," says Hans-Joachim Flebbe, CEO and founder of Cinemaxx AG, one of the largest operators of multiplex cinemas in Germany. The number of visitors has been declining since 2001, and closings of cinemas cannot be excluded.

Temporary lull or the beginning of the end?

In times when more and more people are afraid of financial hardship, cinema is seen as "a leisure activity that can be replaced". On the other hand, DVDs are increasingly seen as an independent medium to be taken seriously. After it was still books a few months ago, various newspaper publishers are now bringing DVD editions of the greatest film classics onto the market at low prices - the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently even launched an entire page on which only films on DVD are to be discussed every two weeks .

Not every film makes it to the cinema

The newspaper is reacting to a trend that is making veteran cinema fans angry: "Many films no longer come to the cinema, but are instead distributed directly on DVD," explains Michael Schmid-Ospach from the North Rhine-Westphalia Film Foundation. Because it is no longer just pirated copies that potential cinema-goers watch at home. Even film producers and distributors are increasingly relying on the small, silver disc: direct marketing as DVD appears to many to be less risky than sales on the big screen.

"Even beautiful films that could be shown quite successfully in the cinema often no longer make it to the big screen," Schmid-Ospach regrets.

Distributors and cinema operators in conflict

At the same time, in the case of films, which are still available both in theaters and on DVD, the time span between the start of the film and the release on DVD is getting shorter and shorter. A development that cinema operators are watching with concern. "So far there has been an agreement that the first stage of marketing was reserved for the cinema," says Flebbe. Only after six months did the film go through the second stage of evaluation, output as DVD or video.

Some film distributors now want to soften this agreement: feature films should appear on DVD shortly after the screen starts, possibly even at the same time. The argument goes that they could bundle their advertising and bring in production costs earlier. "The lenders are now pushing the time window further down," complains Flebbe. At the same time, however, the so-called rental rents that the cinemas have to pay remained the same. "These prices have to be renegotiated. Because we cinema operators do not benefit from the film being released on DVD earlier."

What remains of the myth of the cinema?

Myth Marilyn: What remains of the magic of the cinema?

Cinema - always big business, today intensified by the competition with the versatile DVD. It is almost forgotten that cinema was always much more than that.

The myth of many stars was based on the exclusivity with which they could be admired on the big screen. Cinema is and always has been a ritual - from buying popcorn to choosing the perfect seats to waiting for the longed-for moment when the advertising is finally over and the opening credits begin.

Last but not least, cinema is also a communal experience, comparable to theater or opera. In the best case scenario, a few hundred people sit together here and enjoy what Martin Schmid-Ospach calls the "incomparable experience of great pictures". He is convinced that the cinema will survive in the long term: "It's actually very simple: Usually people don't come out of their TV room and howl with emotion, but when they come out of the cinema they howl."