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Brosse Street Journal » Business and Economy:

Tbilisi Cinemas not Afraid of Competition

By Tina Tsiskaradze
Brosse Street Journal
Wednesday, January 26 2005
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Just five years ago, Cinema House, on Brothers Kakabadze Street in the city center, was the only functional movie theater in Tbilisi.

Cinema House was the only place where students from the Tbilisi State Institute of Theater and Film and other moviegoers could see films. But in the years since, the cultural life of Tbilisi has been recovering, and now there are eight movie theaters in the capital, four of them functioning.

Amirani and Rustaveli cinemas are the biggest and more modernized than the other two cinemas. Akhmeteli, which is in the Gldani district and is a branch of cinema Rustaveli, has approximately 150 seats. Cinema House shows films on videotape on a small screen.

In 1999, the shareholders company Georgian Cinema rented out the building of the cinema Rustaveli to a 100 percent private company. The building was reconstructed, and the new Rustaveli opened on July 11, 1999. Now the movie theater has five major owners; each of them owns 20 percent of the business.

Rustaveli was the only movie theater in the city until the opening of the cinema Amirani, on Merab Kostava Street 1 in 2002.

A private company rents the building of Amirani also form Shareholders Company Georgian Cinema.

"The market has become larger then before," said Bakur Lashkarava, executive manager of the cinema Rustaveli. "It is more beneficial now and we are not afraid of the competition."

Rustaveli Theater has 415 seats. The price for afternoon showings is 5 lari ($2.6) and for evening showings, the cost varies from 10 to 15 lari ($7.8). According to Lashkarava, visitors of Rustaveli mostly are teenagers, but also there is quite solid number of adults.

"As for choosing film lineup, we give credit to blockbusters and thrillers; this is our priority, which makes Rustaveli cinema different from our colleague Amirani," Lashkarava said.

According to the executive manager, Rustaveli draws about 1,000 customers per day. In addition to the film, the Rustaveli cinema has shops and offers refreshments at a snack bar. Lashkarava said financial information about sales is confidential, but he did say that the shops in the cinema building are not especially profitable.

"They are there for the image and beauty," he said.

Cinema Amirani can hold 449 people; with one special place for a handicapped person.
From October 5 to 10, Amirani hosted the Tbilisi International Film Festival Prometheus. The film showings lasted from noon 10 p.m., and the entrance fee was 5 lari ($2.6) at every screening.

This price was exceptional because usually prices differ according to time, whether it's an afternoon or evening screening, and movie length. A film that lasts more than three hours generally costs 9 lari ($4.7) or more.

Manana Suradze, the art manager of the cinema, commented that, for example, "The Lord of the Rings" was one of the most popular among audience. The film's length was more than three hours, and the price of a ticket was 12 lari ($6.3).

"Eighty percent of our viewers are the people who are fond of the real and sophisticated film," said Suradze.

"Even though this choice is not beneficial for our business, still we want to satisfy every segment and challenge film lovers with our art-film schedule," she added. For example, in July 2004 Amirani screened Pedro Almodovar's (Spanish film director) last work Bad Education. According to Suradze on Bad Education cinema hall was hardly occupied, "but this is our policy, to give priority to art-movies," she added.

Like Rustavli cinema Amirani also provides customers with various shops and entertainment. As Suradze commented at Amirani in one of the boutiques of hand made prices differs from 5 to 500 lari and satisfies every category of cinema visitors.

"In spite of Amirani and Rusatevli movies are not accessible for many people, I still like that they show new films of different genres," said the film critic Tamta Dzlierishvili, referring to the ticket prices charge.

"But I also wish that students of the Tbilisi State Institute of Theater and Film could enter cinemas without any charge, because viewing a film is not just pleasure for them - it is practice and their future profession," she added.

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