Latvian Distributors Respond to Pandemic With Alternative Business Models

    KinoBize KinoBize

    RIGA: Distribution companies in Latvia are seeking alternative ways to get films to audiences during the current closure of cinemas, including new and enhanced online platforms.

    Latvian Theatrical Distribution Ltd, the distributor of 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Pictures, and selected Latvian and Russian titles, is one of the main distribution companies in Latvia. It has pushed a faster roll-out of films from their theatrical release to online release.

    Konstantīns Maslovs, the representative of Latvian Theatrical Distribution, told FNE, “We are not a big company, therefore we didn’t have to let any staff members go. We have halted all operations, and will wait until cinemas reopen, and then try to restart the business. The problem we might face regards the availability of films for distribution, as major companies have announced that they will postpone some titles previously planned for release in spring or summer. From the most anticipated titles we screened at the beginning of this year, the domestic production Class Reunion 2 / Klases salidojums 2 directed by Andrejs Ekis had already had its main theatrical run for a few weeks before the crisis started. For this film, the transition to online was natural. When the restrictions were implemented, the film Onward had only been in cinemas for a week, and even then the spectators were not very active in going to cinemas.”

    The arthouse cinema Kino Bize operates a parallel business as a distributor. The company has been obtaining distribution screening rights since 2013 for a selection of awarded films. Their online archive has now been transformed into “Kino Bize” Home Cinema, allowing audiences to purchase tickets and view films online.

    The director of the cinema Māris Prombergs told FNE, “Home Cinema allows us to continue offering audiences arthouse repertoire, to discuss films, and remain present as a cinema. We have less spectators online than we had in the regular screenings, but their activity discussing films in the social networks is more intense. The most watched titles at the moment are Jan Komasa’s Corpus Christi, which was our last release in the cinema before its closure, Los decentes, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.