This Week on the Boxoffice Podcast: Thomas Van de Weerd of the Netherlands’ 14-Seat The (Any)Thing Cinema

Courtesy (Any)Thing Cinema

On this week’s episode of the Boxoffice Podcast, co-hosts Daniel Loria, Rebecca Pahle, and Russ Fischer break down the opening weekend of Dune, which matched expectations with a $41.1 million opening cume to become Warner Bros.’ . highest-opening movie of the pandemic. Another record was broken by limited release The French Dispatch, which broke Venom: Let There Be Carnage‘s record for the highest per theater average of the pandemic era.

In the episode’s feature interview, Pahle speaks with Thomas Van de Weerd, co-founder of the Netherlands’ (Any)Thing Cinema. The recipient of this year’s ICTA Special Innovation Award, The (Any)Thing Cinema boasts a grand total of 14 seats across three auditoriums, making it a prime example of the private cinema rental/micro-cinema trend that’s been gathering so much attention as post-shutdown cinemas seek to diversify their offerings.

Listen to This Week’s Episode Below and Subscribe to The Boxoffice Podcast on Any Major Podcast Platform.

You have three auditoriums with seven, five, and two seats each. The customers get to decide what movie they watch when they book, so it’s not like you have a set schedule. Can you give me a sense of how the (Any)Thing works from an operational perspective?

So from a technology standpoint, in terms of video and security and audio, we are just like any other digital cinema. We use DCPs, we use KDMs. From a back office perspective, we are a cinema. With the only big difference that we don’t have a programming department to decide what movies we play at what time. We have customers that decide what movie at what time. We are currently offering a little over 500 movies, including first-run movies, from Disney, Warner, and local independents.

The customer goes to the app, decides the movie, which auditorium, and what time. First, we look at the length of the movie…. Our software calculates, okay, this is a two hour movie. We need 15 minutes before the show and after the show. We’ll give you all the options that are available, and then you pick. And that’s how it works. Which is maybe scary from from an efficiency perspective, because you don’t get to efficiently program all the shows back to back. But what we see now is in our most popular room, we have on average in the past six weeks, three showings a day. And on a good day, we do five shows. On a Saturday. Without us having to interfere. It’s just the customer deciding, and it ends up pretty well.

Image Courtesy (Any)Thing Cinema

How do you handle concessions?

In this location, we are part of a restaurant and hotel. It’s a very small hotel, with eight rooms. And there’s a restaurant with about 40 seats. We make it possible for them to order within the the app. There’s a small button that you can click, and then you go to the menu—just like, these days, you have a lot of QR menus in restaurants. We offer that, and it’s connected to the food and beverage offering of the restaurant. As soon as you order, it will be delivered to the screening room. There’s a wide variety of options, so it’s not just popcorn and cola but it’s also food from the kitchen.

What sort of films are most popular at the (Any)Thing? Is it first-run stuff?

We’ve done a little over 500 shows… When people get a choice, of course everybody’s interested in movies, no doubt about it. But if you give customers the option to watch older movies, we thought there’s a market there too. What we see right now is that 50%, so half of all the shows we do, are movies that are in in their fifth week or later. If you take a look at the Dutch market, roughly 80% of the movies that are shown are in their first, second, third, or fourth week. So we’re already seeing a long-tail development there. What’s interesting for both consumers and rights-holders is that you get to show your movies longer in this concept, because we keep them available as long as we can get the rights.

That’s interesting. If you’re a super fan of something, you might go see it on the biggest screen in the opening weekend. But, with the (Any)Thing, if you want to catch up with something a bit later, you still can.

Exactly. We have to see how the theatrical market is going to develop after the pandemic. Before the pandemic, on average in the Dutch market we had somewhere between 400 and 500 movies released in a year. And I think on average they would run for seven weeks in a cinema. One of the reasons that I got excited about the project is that I wanted to see movies, but I was too late to see them in cinema. I’m not really a “first week” kind of guy. Now you’re able to decide to watch it two months after release. It really gives you some options.

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