Exhib filling up before auds arrive

Pre-book numbers increase by 20%

AMSTERDAM — Swedish cinema builder SF Bio is packing in audiences before they reach the theater.

The exhib reports some 60% of its admissions in Sweden in the first half of the year are being pre-booked, a 20% increase over 2000 and 50% above 1999 figures.

“While the results are also due to the quality of the films, the numbers are telling us that there has been a major change in moviegoing behavior of the Swedes,” says Jan Bernhardsson, CEO of SF Bio, the exhib arm of the Bonnier Group.

The numbers are believed to be the highest in the world when it comes to electronic pre-booking. Some 6% of SF’s tickets in Sweden are being bought electronically; that percentage also is on the rise, Bernhardsson tells Variety.

Bernhardsson estimates pre-booking and electronic sales helped jack up admissions by as much as 10% for SF Bio in Sweden last year. SF Bio increased its admissions by 1 million in 2000 from the previous year. The total market increased by 1.5 million to 17 million admissions, with SF Bio taking a 50% slice of that in market share.

SF Bio’s system for pre-booking and buying of tickets has becoming increasingly sophisticated since it launched in 1997, and now allows multiplatform booking across the Internet and computerized, automated land and mobile telephony, as well as simply calling in for reservations. The exhib reports nearly 50% of all pre-bookings were made on the Internet; last year more than 5 million people pre-booked 1.7 million tickets.

Hip demos

Bernhardsson puts the increase down to a broadening of the base of those who use new technology, particularly among younger auds. “Sweden is already cutting-edge as far as people accepting new technology, but electronic pre-booking and ticket sales is allowing us to reach a new group of young, hip and sophisticated digital friendly users who are not afraid to use new media to make their lives easier.”

Bernhardsson estimates that by year’s end, as many as 70% of all SF tickets may be pre-booked, with the number of people buying tickets electronically increasing proportionally.

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