News / The Network


The Network - 21/12/2006


Diagonale, a new grouping of film theatres for art house cinema in Belgium



A number of Europa Cinemas theatres in Wallonia and Brussels have joined forces as a grouping of art house cinemas, with the aim of providing better support to films d'auteurs. Released on 13 December, Lights in the Dusk, by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, is the first film to be shown as part of this initiative.

In our last newsletter we threw the spotlight on several recent initiatives involving the grouping of independent cinemas, at town/city, regional or national level. In an increasingly competitive European market, where the rate at which films are released is rising all the time, these financially independent cinemas are finding a way to offer distributors an outlet that enables films d'auteurs to find an audience for a longer period, by proposing that they consider all of the screens together as a group.

Belgium has just come up with a new example of this strategy. DIAGONALE, a grouping of 9 art house cinemas in Wallonia (4 cinemas) and Brussels (5 cinemas), representing a total of 800,000 admissions a year, was officially launched on 27 November, during a press conference held in the presence of the Minister for Culture, Audiovisual Policy and Youth, Fadila Laanan. Presided over by André Ceuterik, director of the Plaza Art in Mons (a member of Europa Cinemas since 1996), DIAGONALE brings together, in particular, 7 independent member cinemas of the Europa Cinemas network and can be regarded as more than just a simple programming group, since it receives support amounting to 100,000 euros from the French Community of Belgium. The new film by Aki Kaurismäki, Lights in the Dusk, is therefore the first example of what an association such as this can achieve. Distributed by Coopérative Nouveau Cinéma, the film was released in 9 cinemas in Belgium on 13 December, of which 6 were members of DIAGONALE. In each of these theatres, the presentation of the film was accompanied by discussions, rescreenings of films by the director, photo exhibitions etc. It is also worth noting that certain Flemish cinemas have already expressed their interest in this initiative.

This project provides us with another opportunity to admire the dynamism shown by the network's Belgian cinemas. Between them, the 19 cinemas in Belgium that are currently members of Europa Cinemas comprise 49 screens. These achieved a total of 1.3 million admissions in 2005, offering non-national European films a market share of 54%.
A number of Belgian cinemas that belong to Europa Cinemas were also among the first to join the network. For example, among DIAGONALE's member cinemas, 6 have been part of the network for more than 10 years.
Finally, several of these theatres have grand ambitions: the Les Grignoux cinemas (Le Parc and Churchill in Liège) are set to open a new 4-screen complex in 2007 that will allow Jean-Marie Hermand and his team to achieve 450,000 admissions, compared to 300,000 at present, while Claude Diouri, owner of the Actor's Studio in Brussels, has launched the Actor's Boat project, a barge incorporating three cinema screens that is due to open next year.


Pictures: Le Parc and Churchill cinemas in Liège (this page),
and Lights in the Dusk (homepage)