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Ster-Kinekor Theatres is the largest movie exhibitor on the African continent. To most South Africans, the word ‘movies’ is synonymous with the name ‘Ster-Kinekor’. The company operates 55 commercial cinema complexes in South Africa, with seven international sites based in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The cinema chain’s sites house more than 424 large-scale screens, over 60 994 seats and the largest 3D footprint featuring more than 154 state-of-the-art 3D screens across the country (Commercial, 3D, IMAX and Cine Prestige) with 137 in South Africa. In Africa, the company operates in 5 cinema complexes with 26 screens and 3607 seats. As the industry leader, Ster-Kinekor has pioneered cinema concepts such as Cinema Nouveau, one of the world’s largest dedicated art-house multiplex circuits, and the luxurious Cine Prestige theatres, the first ‘business class’ cinema experience in South Africa. It boasts the only cinema on the continent that is fitted with the advanced Dolby Atmos sound system (at Gateway in Durban); and has headed the return of the IMAX® Experience, with the opening of seven IMAX® Theatres across the country. As one of South Africa’s most loved brands, it is Ster-Kinekor’s ongoing mission to become synonymous with the unrivalled magic of the cinema experience, by providing ‘Great Moments at Their Greatest’. During 2013, the company embarked on a massive roll-out project to convert and equip every cinema with the very latest in digital projection and sound technology. The result of this upgrade is that every cinema now boasts state-of-the-art cinema technology that encompasses 2K and 4K digital projection and 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems. The SK Club loyalty programme rewards members with redeemable points when they swipe their card when buying movie tickets or catering, as well as half price tickets on Tuesdays. Combined with industry leading loyalty programmes from Edgars Club, Discovery Vitality and Standard Bank, these give Ster-Kinekor a strong consumer value proposition and competitive advantage. As the market leader, Ster-Kinekor aims to spearhead the advancement of cinema across both South Africa and the rest of Africa, to ensure that consumers continue to experience movies as they were made to be seen – on the big screen.

European Film Festival celebrates its 6th edition in South Africa

Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town are in for a ten-day feast of award-winning films as the European Film Festival celebrates its 6th edition in South Africa. The festival will be held simultaneously at Cinema Nouveau theatres in the three cities from 29 November to 8 December. The carefully curated festival is packed with Oscar-nominated and multi-award-winning films from twelve countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The Films

Opening the festival is the French film Les Misérables, which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and then picked up Best International Feature Film at the Durban International Film Festival in July. Inspired by the Paris riots of 2005, witnessed first-hand by director Ladj Ly, the film revolves around three members of an anti-crime brigade who are overrun while trying to make an arrest.  It has been selected as the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020. 

Representing Austria, Styx depicts the transformation of a woman sailor when she becomes the only person to come to the aid of a group of refugees shipwrecked on the high seas. Olly Richards (Time Out) says of the film: “A vital, highly intelligent movie that is both a first-class thriller and a biting commentary on our current world.”

The highly awarded Girl, from Flanders Belgium, tells the story of 15-year-old Lara who dreams of becoming a ballerina. Lara however was born into the body of a boy, she is undergoing treatment in preparation for gender reassignment surgery and the film illustrates some of the tough challenges she must face, both physically and psychologically, as a dancer, and as a person in transition.

System Crasher is Germany’s choice for next year’s Oscars. This intense journey witnesses the untamed high-energy antics of nine-year old Benni as she swings from sweetness to aggressive wild-child, causing danger and despair to all around her, including the social welfare services trying to help her.

Set against a housing crisis in Dublin, the Irish film Rosie is a riveting account of a remarkable woman trying to protect her loved ones and maintain their dignity when they lose their home. It examines how even in times of crises, the love and strength of a family can endure.

Women are the heroes, villains and victims in The Vice of Hope, a social drama about poverty, African immigration, human trafficking and the surrogacy business in towns around Naples (Italy). But change is coming, at least for the protagonist, Maria, who finds a link to her past, and her future.

My Extraordinary Summer With Tess is a sensitive Dutch coming-of-age drama for all age groups.  It follows a young boy and a girl on their paths of self-discovery as they cross the threshold from childhood to adolescence, and into the realisation of the importance of family.

Cold War is a passionate love story between a music director and a singer whose meeting in the ruins of post-war Poland continues across Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris. A tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate, Pawel Pawlikowski’s sumptuous black and white masterpiece of auteur cinema won Best Director prize at Cannes before earning three Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards in 2019, with five European Film Awards before that.

The outrageously wacky Diamantino is perhaps best expressed by Cath Clark in her review in The Guardian (UK):  “If Cristiano Ronaldo fell asleep after gorging on year-old camembert, his dreams could not match the bizarre bonkersness of this enjoyably throwaway romantic sci-fi satire from Portugal about a megastar footballer who falls victim of a government cloning plot.”

Praised as his best work in years, Oscar-winner Pedro Almodóvar’s 21st film Pain and Glory won two awards at Cannes 2019. Starring Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, this semi-autobiographical narrative tells of a series of re-encounters experienced by a film director in physical decline, and his need to recover meaning and hope. Pain and Glory is Spain’s entry for next year’s Academy Awards.

Swedish documentary Push is an important film for the activists. It follows Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as she travels the globe, trying to understand who’s being pushed out of the city and why. Commenting on how global finance is fuelling the housing crisis and making cities unaffordable to live in she notes: “There’s a huge difference between housing as a commodity and gold as a commodity. Gold is not a human right, housing is.”

The United Kingdom participant in this year’s festival is Official Secrets, directed by South Africa’s most celebrated director Gavin Hood, who won an Oscar with Tsotsi  in 2005. Based on true events, Official Secrets tells the gripping story of Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist who leaks a memo in which the United States enlists Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on United Nations Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting in favour of an invasion of Iraq. Following its presentation during the festival the film will go on public release from 13 December.

Festival director and curator Peter Rorvik points out that “a central thread within all the films is the search for a sense of self and meaning in a world where things often fall apart around us, where systems break down, where that search becomes an imperative lifeline.”

The newly arrived European Union Ambassador to South Africa, Riina Kionka, expressed her support for the festival, saying, “Film is an important cornerstone of our cultural and creative industries, and the European Film Festival is a selected showcase of recent award-winning films that provide insight into the rich diversity of cinematic approaches emanating out of Europe.  As these very topical stories show, experiences in Europe share much in common with life here in South Africa. That is the beauty of cinema, many of the issues have universal interest.”

The European Film Festival 2019 is a partnership project of the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa and 12 other European cultural agencies or embassies in South Africa: the General Representation of the Government of Flanders, the French Institute in South Africa, the Goethe-Institut, the Italian Cultural Institute, The British Council, and the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. The project is organised in cooperation with Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau and Cineuropa and coordinated by Creative WorkZone. 

The New Actor: A masterclass from Actor Spaces and Ster-Kinekor

On Sunday, 29 September 2019, Actor Spaces in association with Ster-Kinekor presented the third annual masterclass, held at Ster-Kinekor in Newtown Junction mall.

This year’s host was leading actress Mampho Brescia. The masterclasses set out to bridge the gap between established and aspirant filmmakers by offering an alternative learning space, one that engages would-be filmmakers with both the possibilities and realities that a career in the industry entails. The masterclass features leading professionals who share their insight, career journeys and notable lessons with an audience of emerging and professional industry creatives. Founder and CEO Ayanda Sithebe expressed, “It’s always amazing and encouraging to see young people seeking knowledge about the industry and for us, this emphasizes the importance of such initiatives that bring about continuous learning platforms.”

The theme of this year’s masterclass was “The New Actor”, referring to the innovative actor of the future who takes on a multitude of roles (in more ways than one): producing, directing and financing his/her own film, as a way of tackling the many challenges facing the growing South African film industry. 

Aspiring actors travelled from far afield to learn from the masters: 

·         Director Adza Uga, whose credits include everything from Zone 14, Isibaya, Jacob’s Cross, Society, Skwizas, and Room 9 to his 2010 documentary feature, The Burning Man, which won four Golden Horns at the SAFTAs; 

·         Actor Lemogang Tsipa who featured in Alien Outpost, Homeland, Traffic, The Book of Negroes, Black Sails, Roots, The Number and The Dark Tower – to name but a few – before making his film debut in Craig Friemond’s hit film Beyond The River (2017) in the lead role of Duma; 

·         Producer Layla Swart, co-owner of Yellowbone Entertainment and winner of the 2019 SAFTA Youth Achiever Award, whose recent credits include producing and editing Xhosa sci-fi movie Stillborn, SA’s 2019 Oscar selection Sew the Winter to my Skin and boxing filmKnuckle City;

·         Well-known actor Lerato Mvelase, who has starred in a multitude of local series including Home Affairs, Home Sweet Home, Backstage and Isibaya – among many others.

Launched in 2017, the masterclasses are the brainchild of Actor Spaces, led by Ayanda Sithebe who won the 2017 SAFTA Youth Award, which launched the ongoing professional relationship with award sponsor Ster-Kinekor – a relationship deepened by a shared interest in the development and support of rising young talent across the South African film and television industry.

Young filmmakers shine in prime-time broadcast slot

It was a dream come true at the star-studded event in Sandton Ster-Kinekor cinema, where graduates of M-Net’s Magic in Motion Academy (MiM) had two of their films premiered on the big screen in front of a select audience.

Established in 2014, MiM is focused on transforming the South African film and TV industry by upskilling students and empowering them with substantial knowledge and experience in just 12 months. They are suitably equipped to embark on a career in their chosen field. Some have started their own production companies and produced award-winning content.  To date, 58 students have already been trained and are making their mark in the video entertainment industry.

“Like many incredible works of art, TV shows or movies, it often starts out with a dream. We dreamt of using our experience as Africa’s most-loved storyteller to empower the next generation of Africa’s storytellers, by practically developing their skills in the film and TV industry,” says Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO of General Entertainment.

During their year at the Academy, the MiM interns attend specialist classes where top industry professionals share their experience and knowledge of the profession. However, the bulk of their academic curriculum comes from hands-on training with the best-of-the-best in the industry, through interning on current professional productions and special events.  On the various sets, the interns meet the top television and film producers as well as crew, forging relationships that will stand them in good stead in their future careers.

The success of previous MiM interns has led to several MiM graduates being given the opportunity to start their own production companies. One such company is Eccentric Circus, started by Xolani Nhlapho, Neo Sibiya and Thabo Mashaila who were part of the class of 2016 MiM. “Last year, our company Eccentric Circus was kickstarted through the MultiChoice Group’s Enterprise Development Trust. Our vision as a company is to tell stories about young black people trying to navigate post-democratic South Africa’s changing landscape,” said Neo Sibiya, the writer of Themba Lam, a movie produced by Eccentric Circus.

Local actor, Ben Kgosimore says: “Working with these graduates was incredible. They were very professional. Every one of them were truly amazing.”

Perhaps the most exciting part of the MiM internship is that they get to make four films during their year, which are broadcast on Mzansi Magic in prime-time slots. The MiM movies compete on an equal footing with all the professional productions that are created for the Saturday evening movie slot and they perform remarkably well, regularly appearing in the Top Ten programmes for the channel. To date, the Academy has produced 15 movies that have been broadcast on prime-time TV.

“It is exciting for us as a business that the very thing we are passionate about can bring about a meaningful change and allow people to achieve their dreams. I take pride in seeing how we have enabled passionate young storytellers to bring to life our stated aim at MultiChoice of ‘enriching lives’,” adds Phahle.

The Academy supports MCG’s commitment to uplifting and investing in communities across South Africa and reflects the impact that its contribution makes to upskill local actors as well as film and television makers.

During the past financial year, MCG made a substantial R2.5 billion investment in local productions across the continent.

“Beyond the entertainment value, it’s rewarding to see how our investments in infrastructure, technology and skills development is empowering the next generation by harnessing the emerging talent of the youth and enabling them to achieve their goals,” concludes Phahle.

 

Local releases at the South African box office this April

April brings a double dose of local romance – and plenty of laughs – as two new proudly South African releases come to Ster-Kinekor cinemas. Love Lives Here sees Thando Thabethe looking for the right kind of love, while the Kandasamys and the Naidoos return to the big screen for another dose of hostility and hilarity in Kandasamys – The Wedding.

Love Lives Here

Zinhle Malinga (Thando Thabethe) is a hardworking modern woman with strong traditional values who knows what she deserves, and believes she knows what kind of man she needs to be happy. She is not willing to play games and waste time – she wants to take the next step in her life and get married. But her mission to find love is frustrated by the gap between the old and the new, as modern relationships present a whole new series of challenges. A romantic comedy also starring Lungile Rady, Zola Nombona, Motlatsi Mafatshe, Andile Gumbi and Nkanyiso Bhengu, Love lives here releases 5 April 2019.

Watch the trailer here

Kandasamys – The Wedding

The Kandasamys and the Naidoos are neighbours on the verge of becoming one big, happy family. It’s been a few years since Jennifer Kandasamy and Shanthi Naidoo rekindled their once tainted friendship and the two could not be happier that their children Jodi and Prishen are to be wed. It’s one week before the wedding and the mothers unravel in a rollercoaster of hysteria, laughter and tears as the young couple’s relationship is put to the ultimate test in the build-up to their wedding day! Kandasamys – The Wedding releases on 18 April 2019.

Watch the trailer here.

BANFF Mountain Film Festival World Tour to showcase at Ster-Kinekor select cinemas

Attention all outdoor enthusiasts and adventure addicts, bookings for the annual International BANFF Mountain Film Festival, which takes place between 26 October and 04 November 2018, can now be done on the Ster-Kinekor website. For the thirteenth-year running, Ster-Kinekor in partnership with South Africa’s favourite outdoor adventure store, Cape Union Mart, will screen the festival to the South African adventure crusaders.

In partnership with leading outdoor brands K-Way, Black Diamond, Deuter, Buff and GoPro; featuring the best mountain films and exceptional filmmaking talent from around the globe, the festival offers something for everyone with a mix of topics and cinematic styles that will both inspire and entertain. Once again, audiences will get the chance to explore and experience some of the world’s most adrenaline-pumping adventure locations – from high mountain expeditions to skiing, mountain-biking, and even flying surfers! – all from the comfort (and safety) of Ster-Kinekor cinemas.

All types of outdoor adventure such as surfing and skiing, base-jumping and bouldering, rowing and trail running, are beautifully captured through film.

The International Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will be screened at Ster-Kinekor select cinemas:

  • Cape Town: Cavendish Square – Friday, 26 October to Sunday, 04 November 2018
  • Cape Town: Tygervalley Centre – Friday, 26 October to Sunday, 04 November 2018
  • Johannesburg: Sandton City – Friday, 26 October to Sunday, 04 November 2018
  • Pretoria: Brooklyn Mall – Friday, 26 October to Sunday, 04 November 2018
  • Durban: Gateway – Saturday, 03 November and Sunday, 04 November 2017 (two nights only)
  • Port Elizabeth: Baywest – Sunday, 04 November 2017 (one night only)

Book your tickets now by visiting the Ster-Kinekor website or download the SK App on your smartphone. You can also book at the box office.  For news and updates, go to Facebook: Ster-Kinekor Theatres | follow Ster-Kinekor on Twitter: @Ster-Kinekor. For all queries, call Ticketline on 0861-Movies (668 437).

The power of cinema advertising: A big screen with a captivated audience

At a time when reach appears to be seen as the be-all and end-all of advertising plans, cinema advertising offers more – a captivated target audience…

In advertising, reach is not everything. A media strategy that aims for maximum reach at all costs may sacrifice creativity, positioning and engagement – it won’t necessarily generate the optimum ad spend return on investment (ROI). Cinema provides a platform that can target specific market segments in terms of both demographics and psychographics. Cinema advertising fulfils many of the objectives that a reach-oriented strategy misses out on, such as impact, high recall and audience engagement.

In a recent Adweek article titled ‘Screenvision Launches the Hegarty Awards to Honor the Best in Cinema Advertising’, James Cooper, the editorial director, speaks about Screen Vision Media unveiling a new creative launch pad ad unit at the 2017 Cannes Lions. Brands taking part in the initiative are eligible for the Hegarty Awards, to honour the best in cinema advertising. Cooper notes how “cinema provides a highly memorable impression in media, reinforced by a 59 per cent ad-awareness statistic”.

Cinema has the benefit of a captive audience, and commercials on the big screen cannot easily be ignored. In addition, niche markets can be catered to. If you’re selling exclusive sports cars, for instance, mass reach should not factor into your media plan. Carefully crafted content delivered to the correct audience is a superior strategy for marketers and maximum reach should not be the default goal.

The same rule applies when we schedule movies at Ster-Kinekor theatres. Showing a film at every cinema in the country won’t necessarily produce best results. Reach is not everything – the relevance of your brand message to your target market being delivered through the correct channel, is what matters. Cinema provides quality audiences, rather than aiming for quantity.

Besides reach, other brand marketing goals might be awareness, brand positioning, brand affiliation, or short-term impact and hype. What’s important is to have a clear objective of what job the campaign and media should do and be able to measure it.

Industry analytical tools are evolving, following the end of AMPs and the imminent emergence of new media measurement methodologies, media currencies and segmentation models, marketers need to be clear about their campaign objectives. At the same time, we need to define and understand our audiences better. For instance, in the cinema space, there is a huge correlation between moviegoers and mall goers, simply because most movie houses in South Africa today are in shopping malls. This opens up possibilities for campaigns using cinema and out-of-home (OOH) activations around malls and in the broader cinema space. This also provides a fantastic opportunity for brand owners to keep their products top of mind within the retail environment. Besides this, there are collaboration opportunities between retail, brand and cinema.

According to Primall Media, part of Primedia Unlimited, the annual spend in South African malls is R600bn. Around 40 per cent of final purchase decisions are made at point of sale. These decisions are usually based around which brand to buy, rather than whether to buy. The consumer purchase decision can be influenced using the various advertising opportunities within malls – including cinema.

There is a need for integrated campaigns that creatively unlock these opportunities. These should be targeted campaigns that don’t aim for reach alone. Cinemas, if you think of it, are more than just the big screen, they are auditoriums, versatile spaces. They can be used for live broadcasts, conferences and music concerts to reach a wider audience than just moviegoers.

Cinema is innovating in the marketing products we offer as well as on the entertainment front. We are open and flexible to collaborating with innovators in all parts of the media space. Cinema advertising complements other media and advertisers and brand managers will find better ROI if they get that science right. The key is to use the versatility of cinema to drive and execute the campaign.

As a recent Millward Brown white paper points out, one of cinema’s unique selling points is its minimal distractions compared to other media. Multi-screening is still not socially accepted in movie theatres, and ads can also not be skipped or muted.

With wall-to-wall screens, surround sound and its dark environment, cinema is uniquely immersive, so cinema viewers process movie advertising more consciously, which yields results other advertising mediums cannot.

Millward Brown research also shows that the impact of cinema advertising is boosted substantially when people see ads on cinema plus one other screen. This cross-channel synergy contributes on average 20-35 per cent of overall brand effects. Particularly with TV.

If you want your message to have impact with high recall, cinema is the perfect platform. It also provides an opportunity to stretch your campaign creatively, because advertising content has got to be great in the cinema space. The cinema space pushes the boundaries of creativity.

The big screen alone won’t give you the reach of TV or radio, but a multi-platform strategy offers the best of both worlds. Combining cinema and TV is unparalleled in terms of ROI. The two visual media complement each other. In terms of viewing habits, one would think that viewers develop screen fatigue the more screens they are exposed to. But in our experience, screen media give viewers an appetite for even more.

In the US – always a bellwether of industry trends – there are already indications of advertisers moving from TV to cinema. The US saw a 1-2 per cent decline in national TV advertising in Q1 2017, according to Pivotal Research Group, while cinema advertising reported 5.8 per cent year-on-year growth in 2016.

As advertising budgets get tighter, we need to focus on offering marketers value, and strategists need to create innovative media plans to help achieve their goals.

There have long been a few dominant media types that every media strategist and media buyer recommends. But, some media types are oversubscribed, and now provide less attractive returns. Perhaps strategists need to look to supplementary media to stretch budgets further and move into areas with less clutter.

Some of our clients at Cinemark have unlocked opportunities for experimental, experiential activations and OOH advertising. An airline client, for instance, customised the seats in Cine Prestige cinemas so they resembled airline seats. Taking over the cinemas, this with a compelling screen ad and a call to action – no other channel offers that opportunity.

Ster-Kinekor and Cinemark have noticed growing demand for this kind of unconventional OOH advertising and activations. In response, we have expanded our advertising division to offer a broader set of solutions. An integrated cinema campaign can now embrace bathroom panels, queue panels, corridor ads, posters, popcorn boxes, lobby activations and digital media – and we keep innovating. Gone are the days when cinema advertising was just about screen time.

Media strategists can bundle this high-impact, experiential advertising with another media like TV, radio or print. TV will give you reach, and you can deliver the experiential elements at cinemas.

Cinema makes up between 1 and 2 per cent of total advertising revenue in South Africa, so it’s not a huge share of the market. But it’s the only one, other than digital, that hasn’t declined. The channel has shown remarkable resilience in these challenging economic times.  It can also be regionalised or localised – advertisers can limit their campaigns to just a few relevant sites. There’s nothing stopping a neighbourhood car dealership partnering with their local cinema. People seldom travel more than 20km to come to the movies – this offers options for remarkably focused targeting.

Cinema is all about the experience. The smell of the popcorn, the slush, the dimming of the lights, the sound… brands need to optimally embrace this environment to their advantage.

We don’t compete with other platforms, we complement them and remain a powerful, targeted, high-impact media experience with a highly responsive audience. Brand owners would do well to take a broad, integrated view incorporating cinema when bringing their brands to market.

Cinema is the unique ingredient that brings targeted, quality, creative expression to campaigns, filling in the gaps of a one-size fits-all approach. With growing interest and innovative solutions, the medium is returning to take its rightful place as a key weapon in the targeted advertising arsenal. The big screen is limitless in bringing campaigns to life.

Written by Motheo Matsau, chief of Marketing and Sales, Ster-Kinekor

New CEO for Ster-Kinekor Theatres

Ryan Williams, the current CEO of Primedia Unlimited, has been appointed CEO of Ster-Kinekor Theatres.

Williams will take over as CEO from today, said Ster-Kinekor.

“Williams started working at the Primedia Group at Ster-Kinekor Theatres in 2012 and was instrumental in turning the Cinemark advertising business around,” said the company.

“Williams has held several positions within the Primedia Group and in addition to first-hand experience within Ster-Kinekor Theatres, he has a strong track record in the media industry.”

His appointment comes after former Ster-Kinekor Theatres CEO Wanda Matandela left to head up MTN’s enterprise business unit.

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