Balkan Star: Blitz-CineStar CEO Jadranka Islamovic Keeps Things Running

For a cinema chain to succeed, it takes a team. For a cinema chain to be named International Exhibitor of the Year at CineEurope, it takes a really, really good team—one, in the case of Blitz-CineStar, that includes Jadranka Islamovic. CEO of Blitz-CineStar since 2015, Islamovic is one of the women honored by Boxoffice and Celluloid Junkie in their 2019 list of Top Women in Global Cinema. 

Islamovic initially joined Blitz-CineStar in 2007, only four years after the founding of the company and the opening of its first multiplex. Initially the chain’s head of accounting, she eventually became its director of finance before being promoted to CEO. Her time working on Blitz-CineStar’s money matters gave her “a thorough knowledge of the company’s finances—and that is the foundation of what I do today.”

“Figures are the basis of everything in this industry,” she argues. “My experience in finance and understanding of the financial indicators of success—or failure—is very helpful in managing the company’s day-to-day operations.”

It’s making sure those day-to-day operations run smoothly that is Islamovic’s main role at Blitz-CineStar—and it’s by no means a small one, particularly given the chain’s substantial growth. After becoming CEO, Islamovic was able to “streamline the internal processes of the company so as to shorten and expedite the communication flow between the management and cinema operations and get quicker feedback from cinema visitors. I had support from my core team, which I expanded with some new experts, allowing us to stay on top of new technologies and help our employees be more effective in their work.” Long-time employees trained the newcomers and oversaw operational procedures, and hand-selected sales staff helped to set “higher standards and targets” for the chain as a whole. “I believe we have great people. We make an excellent team. This is our biggest strength.”

The importance of building a good team is one of the lessons Islamovic learned early on in her career. On her own team she counts mentors Hrvoje Krstulovic and Heiner Kieft, who “taught me a great deal, but also allowed me to grow and develop as the business has grown. … [Hrvoje’s] experience as a distributor also allowed me to learn from him parts of the other side of the business and to better understand distributors as valuable business partners. The learning process continues today, because we are a dynamic industry.”

Blitz-CineStar Kaptol Boutique Cinema

The goal of everything Islamovic does at Blitz-CineStar is, of course, providing the best possible experience for moviegoers. To that end, Islamovic names as a priority pursuing “technologies that will allow us to upgrade our services, including better use of our CRM and big data analysis.” 

Key, here, is streamlining things not just for the theater employees, but for everyone who buys a ticket. “It is essential that there are no obstacles for the visitor from the moment he or she decides to obtain information on the films to when they make a decision to buy a ticket,” she says. “They must be able to go through the whole process quickly and smoothly. There are a lot of moments in the flow of information where we can either win the buyer or lose them. These are business processes that we learn every day, and every day we get better. We never forget that free time is sparse, and we appreciate that people wish to spend their free time at our cinemas.”

As for the cinemas where Islamovic likes to spend her free time—those would be Blitz-CineStar’s Gold Class Theater or their Kaptol Boutique Cinema, “where everything is adjusted to the needs of the visitor.” 

In the end, “cinema exhibition is an industry that you either fall in love with, or you don’t,” Islamovic argues. “To succeed, you need to have the feel for this business, the determination to put your ideas into practice, to be able to create a good team, and, first and foremost, to work a lot and build good relationships with the visitors to your cinemas.”

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