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DUTCH DOCUZONE

Facts and figures 2002:
Expectation Realised
Total visitors: 20.000 35.000
Average visitor/performance: 16,5 19,5
Released titles: 30-40 34
Gross Box Office: 128.621

DocuZone started at the 28th of February 2001. From that day on ten Dutch film theatres show every week a new documentary. Approximately 40 documentaries a year, mainly of Dutch origin, will see the light within the DocuZone Project. The documentaries will be shown on DVD with an advanced, digital projection system.

Due to the fact that every week and nation-wide new documentaries will be released more and more documentaries eventually will reach the screen. The increase of releases gives lager audiences, also outside the traditional screening circuit, the possibility to see the newly released documentaries. A minimum of 6% of al the screenings in the participating theatres will be documentaries. This means an increase from 700 in 2001 up to 1700 in the coming years.

DocuZone documentaries will be show at least twice a week. One of the two screenings is fixed on Thursday, the documentary-day or D-day.

In 2002 32.000 visitors came to DocuZone performances, 12.000 more than we expected in our first year. The average audience figure increased from 16,5 visitor per performance to 22. As comparison: feature films in the same theatres make an average of 24,5 visitor.

Some docs played for 6 to 7 weeks in the theatres; sometimes two titles during the same week. We released 34 titles, 25 Dutch and 9 foreign. In the main the Dutch titles have better audience results than the foreign titles. The reasons are simple: with domestic titles we achieve more newspaper reviews, more people come to the Q & A's, easier word-of-mouth.

After 2002 we have changed a few parts of the system. Since January we release one title every two weeks instead of once a week. This means that every title will have a minimum of two weeks in the cinemas. It is becoming very clear that DocuZone is becoming more like a 'cine-club'. The bigger, audience friendly films are still released mainstream on 35mm [two or three per year] and all the others in DocuZone. That way each film will receive the release it deserves and will have a platform to reach its own interest groups.

During the year we commissioned a small market research. The results were very encouraging: half our visitors were new to documentaries in the cinema; all were satisfied with the projection quality with some even thinking it was better than before and 90% indicated they were very satisfied with the programming. A most encouraging aspect was that whenever a director went to Q & A's, the audience figures doubled.

Because of the concentrated publicity we have seen a revival in newspaper reviews and an increase in general interest. The general attitude of makers, distributors and theatres toward digital distribution of films is changing rapidly. It seems that one of DocuZone's goals, namely to affect a mentality change toward the new technology, has been achieved much quicker than we anticipated. Four other theatres have now invested themselves in projectors and are showing DocuZone programming on their own beamers. Equally other distributors have started to see the light and are now working out deals to use the equipment, not only for their documentaries but also even for their small features. In other words, the experiment has proved in its first year too be more successful than we had imagined in our wildest dreams.

With the new Hollywood approved black chip technology becoming affordable and available for smaller theatres we are now hoping to digitalise 20 other theatres in order to not only show docs but also shorts, animation and the smaller, artistic feature films. It will be a system open to all distributors with every partner paying their share of the investment. Next year we hope to expand the system abroad. By working closely together with Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Scotland we hope to set up a pan-European DocuZone. And other countries are now looking for a formal collaboration, like Austria, Switzerland and Ireland. Enough to make us very optimistic about the digital future.

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2005


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