FNE together with Europa Distribution continues its Distributor of the Month series. In recognition of the hard work and excellence of European distributors and the common problems they face, especially in the transition to digitalization, we choose a distributor from each country covered by FNE each month.
We look at the challenges and the successes faced by those distributors who are members of Europa Distribution with a special series of interviews that offer insights that other distributors of European films can benefit from and a platform for the exchange of ideas.
This month we focus on the Austrian company Stadtkino Filmverleih Wien and we spoke with its General Manager, Claus Philipp. Launched in 1981 around the cinema Stadtkino Wien, the distribution company is specialized in national &international auteur cinema, bringing films in original version (with subtitles, if necessary)
FNE: How does the market in your country differ from other countries? What is specific about the Austrian market? How is independent distribution doing in your market today?
Claus Philipp: First of all, the Austrian market is very small, about 10 percent of the German market. Interestingly enough, more elaborate advanced art house films (which are the specialty of Stadtkino Filmverleih) very often reach a bigger audience in Austria than in Germany – a fact that tells a lot about the demolished art house market as well as about the chance to brand quality with a logo like Stadtkino, which has been working very well in our country for over 30 years. One just has to keep in mind that independent successes start in Austria with over 5,000 admissions – so art house distributors like us need two or three films per year which generate over 20,000 admissions just to stay alive.
How competitive is your market for European films (national and non-national)?
The question is: About which European films are we talking here? If we want to show films like Leos Carax’ Holy Motors, Miguel Gomes’ Tabu or Alain Guiraudie’s L’inconnu du lac, there is no competition. If there is a new film with two love couples in Tuscany, there is huge competition between many so-called art house distributors. But this kind of film is definitely not the market for Stadtkino Filmverleih.
What kind of films seem to work well with audiences in your market?
Sadly enough, films which work well are sold more around themes and stories than over the names of directors or even stars or artistic terms. One has to do a lot of education to generate public interest for cinematographic brilliance.
What are the major areas that you focus on? (theatrical/DVD/VOD/TV distribution, production, exhibition...)
Austrian TV doesn’t broadcast serious art house films anymore. And the DVD-market is also very small. So our main business is still cinemas. Sometimes I think it could be interesting to go as well into production, given the fact that films we supported from the very first beginning also worked well in distribution, but that is future-music, or maybe just a nice dream.
What is your film acquisition policy?
Distributing films that we really like and that have a chance (even if it’s a small one) to generate a broader audience outside the festival circuit.
What films have been your biggest hits?
Right now, we will reach 100,000 admissions for Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise-trilogy – which is absolutely sensational. In the last years we have been also very happy with the numbers for Anfang 80 by Gerhard Ertl and Sabine Hiebler, Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre and Jessica Hausner’s Lourdes.
What are your upcoming releases and how will you promote them?
As we are preparing the opening of a new cinema in Vienna right now, we are planning to open it with three smaller films which are nevertheless programmatic for our distribution philosophy and should as openers get good promotion as well: Fahrtwind, a beautiful documentary by Viennese film student Bernadette Weigel, La maison de la radio by Nicolas Philibert, and Harmony Lessons by Emir Baigazin. Bigger starts are Michael Koohlhaas, by Arnaud des Pallières, hopefully Ulrich Seidl’s new documentary Im Keller and Und Äktschn, the first film in many years with the legendary Bavarian comedian Gerhard Polt, who is accompanied here by a stellar ensemble of Austrian stars. It would be too long to talk here about the specific promotion strategies which each film needs. Each has its own dynamics and potential audience. But I’m sure there will be a lot of fun success and work in the upcoming months!
Stadtkino Filmverleih und Kinobetriebsgesellschaft m.b.H.
Phone: +43 1 522 48 14
Fax: +43 1 522 48 15