AHEAD OF ITS TIME

Colombia 2019 | TOURISM & ENTERTAINMENT | INTERVIEW

As the world's third-largest cinema chain, Cinépolis is planning to acquire smaller cinema chains in Latin America and Europe, and develop the cinema of the future.

Carlos Eduardo González
BIOGRAPHY
Carlos Eduardo González has been Cinépolis’ commercial and marketing manager for the Andean region since 2012. Prior to that, he was the chief of marketing at Bavaria, sales manager at El Espectador, and national manager for marketing and sales at Grupo Hoy Ecuador. He has a degree in business administration from the Almirante Padilla Naval Academy and a degree in marketing and publicity from Universidad Tadeo Lozano. He also has a PhD from Harvard Business School.

Can you give us an overview of your operations in Colombia?
We are the third-biggest company globally in terms of the number of cinemas and the second in terms of the number of attendees per cinema. We have 5,600 screens around the world. We arrived in Colombia 10 years ago and are present in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Manizales, Valledupar, and soon we will expand to Barranquilla and Cartagena.

What international expansion plans does Cinépolis have?
The company is exploring opportunities in the European and Asian markets. In Latin America, we are in the most relevant countries concerning attendees: Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. We are excited to know what other Latin American markets have opportunities for growth. We depend on the architectural development and construction of shopping centers.

What is your expansion strategy in the Colombian market?
Cinépolis evaluates the types of people that visit a particular shopping mall. In commercial centers with a high or medium-high socioeconomic level, we have traditional cinemas; however, depending on the mall, we might offer different formats, such as IMAX, 4DX, as well as three or four VIP lounges. In Plaza Claro, we found an exciting market opportunity because people from upper-middle class live around the area. We therefore decided to open seven VIP theaters in Plaza Claro. On the other hand, Procinal in Salitre and Cine Colombia in Gran Estación are two cinemas with standard services. Notably, we opened the first junior theater in Colombia, an exclusive room for children with slides, games, and pool balls. In that room, only the last three rows are regular seats, while the rest are sofas and puffs. We are the only company to offer this and since it has been successful, we are planning to open a junior room in Cali as well. Our VIP rooms include a bar, restaurant, and reclining leather seats. We also provide waiter services, and the opportunity to enjoy international cuisines, cocktails, and wine. When looking at projects, we ask ourselves how we can serve a different audience differently. There is a great deal of growth for such alternative experiences.

What kind of innovations have you planned?
We are working on the development of the cinema of the future in 2022 or 2023, with fully automated services and digital lobbies. It is a way of projecting the company in the future. We differentiate ourselves from the competition and anticipate trends, reasons why we have been so successful.

What is the possibility of Cinépolis expanding into gaming centers and virtual reality?
We are not considering them in the short term. It is more long term because it requires a lot of adjustments. We already have a room where approximately 18 people can fit into teams and interact in different scenarios; however, these services are extremely niche and sacrificing a movie theater to provide a service for 18 people requires careful planning.

How has cinema attendance grown in both standard products and specialized services in Colombia?
This industry depends a great deal on foreign productions, especially Hollywood. People have become more demanding about the movies they watch. Anten had great blockbuster movies, but more specific niches have developed in recent times. For our VIP rooms, we look for films related to different markets and locations; it's extremely important to know your audience. At the same time, we try not to neglect the films that attract less attendees.

What can we expect from Cinépolis in 2019 and beyond?
In 2019, we will open a VIP cinema in Barranquilla. We are studying an opportunity in Cartagena and more strategic positions in Bogotá, our main market. We are also evaluating Cali and Medellín. The company has a global interest in buying chains such as Cine Hoyts in Chile, Village in Argentina, and Yelmo in Spain.