FNE Visegrad YR2021: Q&A with Czech and Slovak Distributor Ivan Hronec


    BRATISLAVA: Ivan Hronec is a founder and CEO of Film Europe, which distributes award-winning films selected from European productions and international festivals. He is also an exhibitor with two famous art house cinemas as well as the operator of the Film Europe TV Channel and VOD platform Edsonline, giving him a unique overview of both the exhibition and distribution sectors.

    Ivan HronecWhat is the current state of cinema distribution in Slovakia? Are you able to catch up with the losses caused by closed cinemas?

    Ivan Hronec: We have no way to catch up. In the Czech Republic, we are at 60 percent of the previous level and in Slovakia cinemas are closed at the moment, so we are at zero. If we did not have revenue from the VOD platform Edisonline and from the sale of our TV channels, Film Europe Channel, we would not have a budget for the operation of the company. Even as cinemas reopen, we must maintain a hybrid distribution model that equally encompasses physical projections in theatres as well as online projections in virtual space.

    How did the situation develop this year after the reopening of cinemas in May?

    Ivan Hronec: The slow and gradual increase was cut again by the new closure at the end of this year. So we're in a depressing downward spiral.

    You also distribute your titles online on your own TV channels and the Edisonline VOD platform. What is the interest of viewers in online platforms? Have you noticed a higher demand when cinemas were closed?

    Ivan Hronec: We launched Edisonline in May 2020 and during the first months we had up to 300 subscribers, today we have monthly, depending on events, from 6000 to 10000. Viewers appreciate the clear festival line, quality and quantity. When we started, we had 150 films on offer, today we have over 1000. Half of them are the best festival films, mostly from the main competitions in Venice, Berlin and Cannes, and the other half are popular and rare films from the Czechoslovak Film Archive.

    We also keep to this programme model on our pay-TV. And the answer is yes, we have a higher demand, but it is not just caused by the closure of cinemas. The film Europe Channel and Edisonline fills the gap in demand for quality festival cinema, where we bring new offers every month and at the same time offer a critical mass of films at a super affordable price. The month of Edisonline, with more than 1000 SVOD films and two linear film televisions, we offer for the price of a cinema ticket, for six euros.

    What have you learned from the pandemic? Is there anything you will take away from this experience for the future?

    Ivan Hronec: Hybrid distribution is a new standard. We had felt this before, but we know it surely after our experience during the pandemic. And we will continue with this comprehensively, even after the pandemic's end, or during it, no matter how long.