Baku. 30 December. REPORT.AZ/ Report News Agency presents an interview with the Director General of "CinemaPlus" Movie Theatre Zaur Darabzade:
- The former "28 Cinema", today's "CinemaPlus" turns 5 years old. For a young and fast growing company it is a great success. It turns out that you are moving in the right direction. Tell us more about the activities of the cinema, please.
- You absolutely correctly noted that if today, during the period of free competition and a market economy, the company is actively working and developing for 5 years, then it is on the right way. The opening of the former "28 Cinema" 5 years ago was already considered a very correct decision, since at that time there was the rapid development of the country, the society was integrating into the world society, and the number of youth representatives was increasing. This caused a great need for the opening of new cultural centers, theaters and cinemas. In the same period,"28 Cinema" Movie Theatre opened and quickly became the market leader. Then we decided to change its name and came up with the name "CinemaPlus". The reason was very simple. We wanted to develop and expand. However, the name "28 Cinema" prevented this. Since the brand "28 Cinema" was created, it was planned to attach this name only to the location of "28 Mall". So, after a complete rebranding, they called the company "CinemaPlus". Thereby, we changed not only the name, but also raised the quality of services, as well as the attitude to everything.
- Before I ask you a question, I want to congratulate you on your successful rebranding and wish you more success. As to changing of the name and quality of services, everything is clear. I am interested in the aspect of changing attitudes to everything. What do you mean?
- I would say that it's not just about the attitude. We set several very important goals that we had to achieve within a year. And we achieved them.
As an example, let's take the improvement in the quality of services. You are probably aware that nowadays the cinema market is not that big, and there are not so many participants in this market. The films that we show, even the food and drinks that we sell, are almost the same in comparison with our competitors. Taking it all into account, we decided to improve the quality of our services and thereby to distinguish us from our competitors, which was intended to increase interest in our cinema. Especially after re-branding, since many people could not forget the name "28 Cinema" and remember the new name "CinemaPlus". Therefore, we made every effort to achieve the highest level of the service. I can not say that we have reached 100% of the result, but 70% of the work is done. And this is a very big work.
- Could you tell about the work done and about what projects are expected in the future?
I will gladly tell you about the work done, but I would not like to disclose future projects, but I will tell about some of them. So, as the the work done we can note:
1. Full update of the website www.cinemaplus.az. Adding new important functionals, simplifying and speeding up the process of purchase of tickets.
2. Full update of the mobile application "CinemaPlus". Adding features such as purchase of tickets without leaving the application, and adding the movie to the list of expected ones. It means that the user will be notified a day before the movie is released.
3. Full update of the loyal program "CineClub".
4. Installation of special seats for people with disabilities. In addition, a special elevator operates for disabled people in the cinema of "CinemaPlus Azərbaycan". And it means that the doors of "CinemaPlus" are open to everyone.
5. Azerbaijani dubbing of Hollywood films together with the studio "Cinemazadeh".
6. Great support of the national film industry.
7. Issue of new gift cards. It means that from now on you can give the gift cards for watching movies for the birthday of your loved ones in the "CinemaPlus" Movie Theatre. This is the most important indicator that today cinema plays an important role in the life of every person.
8. Creation of a new system of invitations.
9. Release of a new product "Dietary popcorn" for those who are on a diet.
And so I can enumerate endlessly... In the future, I can surely say that we will try for the further improvement the process of buying tickets, we will work on importing new technologies, reducing queues and, certainly, showing films that meet the tastes of our viewers. I can also give such a clue that in the near future the number of paper tickets in circulation will decrease, and then they will completely withdraw from circulation. "CinemaPlus" will go to the system of electronic tickets soon. This, in turn, will greatly simplify the process of the purchase of tickets and passing into the hall, without delaying at the ticket office.
- How many cinemas function in the "CinemaPlus" Movie Theatre? Is the opening of new cinemas expected?
- Nowadays our movie theatre includes 6 cinemas (33 rooms). These are: CP 28 Mall, CP Ganjlik Mall, CP Azərbaycan, CP Amburan Mall, CP Aygun Mall, CP Xəmsə (Ganja city). Probably you know that in 2016 "CinemaPlus" for the first time in the history of the cinemas in Azerbaijan of the post-Soviet period, began a program for the development of cinema culture in other cities of Azerbaijan. As a result, a modern 5-room cinema was opened in the city of Ganja, at the Xemse Mall. The cinema "CinemaPlus Xemse Mall" on technical equipment is not different from the cinemas that are located in the city of Baku, and also along with all world cinemas shows the film premieres. In the future, we plan to open 2 more cinemas. In Ganja, another state-of-the-art movie theater will open in "Genca Mall", and the opening of another cinema is planned at the end of the year and will be located in the entertainment shopping center "Caspian Waterfront", which is being built on the Caspian Sea coast. This cinema will be the largest and most modern in the history of cinemas in Azerbaijan
- Mr. Zaur, do you think that nowadays "CinemaPlus" can stand in line with brands that have been on the market for a long time and won the trust of a million audience?
- And why do you think that "CinemaPlus" has not earned their love and respect yet? (laughing). I can say with certainty that in 2016 the number of viewers visiting the CinemaPlus movie theatre exceeded one million. Is this not an indication that today "CinemaPlus" is the largest and most visited entertainment venue and can be in the same line with the big companies? I can even say that those large companies want to work with us and this is our success. Most of the companies operating in Azerbaijan, from the field of television and radio, telecommunications to the ministries are satisfied with our partnership. Today, heads of departments for human resources on the birthdays of their colleagues are turning to us for the purchase of invitation cards, gift cards, as well as marketing departments for corporates are not turning to restaurants, but to us. Because we inform and we create an opportunity for a rest, different from the standard.Today "CinemaPlus" is the biggest entertainment center in Azerbaijan!
- What kind of large and memorable projects could you share with us?
- There are a lot of projects. But since we have little time, I will try to highlight the most memorable ones. First of all, I would like to note the project that was implemented with the participation of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation under the leadership of Leila Aliyeva. We showed many cartoons for children deprived of parental care. In addition to movie, they were treated to popcorn and soft drinks. Besides, together with the public organization "İDEA" in front of cinemas of "CinemaPlus Azərbaycan" and "CinemaPlus Amburan Mall" we set special stops for bike lovers. Also, the record was broken on the attendance of the highest-budget film in the history of Azerbaijani cinema - Ali and Nino. The film was shown only in the "CinemaPlus" Movie theatre and collected more than 100,000 spectators. For the first time, together with the company "Cinemazadeh", we started implementing projects for dubbing Hollywood films, with the support of domestic stars. From now on people can watch the world premieres in their native language. We have been and remain the main information partner of the country's major projects, such as "Maşın Şou", "Jara", organization of some large-scale marketing forums in our track record, concerts and other events. The last successful project was filming of "Kəklikotu", as well as a gala evening held in its honor, organized jointly with the companies "Cinemazadeh" and "Cinema Distribution". Over 1,000 guests attended the event, including show business stars, outstanding athletes, journalists, bloggers. The film "Kəklikotu" broke all the records of the domestic film industry and it gathered a record number of box-office fees in the first 4 days.
- What could you say about the prices for tickets? Are there or will there some changes?
- Despite the global economic crisis, after two devaluations we did not change prices. Most likely you are aware that a walk to the movies, both in the whole world, and in Azerbaijan is the cheapest type of recreation. In just 10-11 manats within 2 hours you can get distracted from all problems and relax, as well as enjoy delicious popcorn and soft drinks. However, there are very complicated processes behind this low-budget vacation. I mean that any product sold on the territory of the cinema, from the cinema and ending with the ordinary popcorn, is imported from foreign countries. I would also like to note that popcorn, sold in "CinemaPlus", is imported from the United States and is made according to a recipe from a special grade of corn. And, accordingly, imported products are purchased in foreign currency. Now let's think, the price of the ticket at the rate of 0.78 for manat was 7 manats, and the small popcorn was 2 manat, and at the rate of 1.70 for manat the prices did not change. And this is an indicator that the company's profit decreased by 3 times. Now we are negotiating with some foreign film companies. If there are no changes in the price policy, then there is a big risk of stopping the showing of Hollywood movies. Therefore, after the New Year, with a high probability, there will be minor changes in the price policy for foreign content. But there is no need to worry because of the rise in prices, because the cinema is going to be considered the most affordable type of recreation anyway.
- What steps are being taken for the development of the domestic film industry, and what is planned to do?
- In these latter days we can see a strong leap in the development of the national film industry. We started renting new films, tv series. The state, in turn, also supports the production of local films very much, investing in new technologies. By the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan from 2016, a document numbered 745 was signed, which indicated the inclusion of the development of the film industry, film production and film production in investment agreement number 745.
We are also actively fighting against pirate activities that have a very negative impact on the work of the cinema. We attentively monitor that all premieres, both domestic and foreign, do not get into Internet resources.
- In the end I would like to conclude our interesting dialogue and ask you the last question. If "CinemaPlus" achieved such successes in two years, what are your plans for the future? What is the priority?
- When we created the brand of "CinemaPlus" we set many goals for ourselves , but only one of them was the most important one: "CinemaPlus" should occupy at least some small place in the life of everyone. Regardless of sex, age, social status, "CinemaPlus" should play a role in the life of everyone . And not only by showing movies, absolutely not, but by each service. And we did it. Over the past two years, "CinemaPlus" has started showing the most important football matches, organized many large events and provided a large number of large companies with complimentary and gift cards. And this is an indication that "CinemaPlus" is not just an area for showing a movie, but a place where everyone can find a piece of their rest and joy. Our goals remain unchanged: to constantly develop in accordance with the preferences and tastes of the viewers, to create better conditions for affordable, but at the same time quality rest, and also to occupy more and more places in the hearts of people. Our small role in the development of the cultural life of Azerbaijan is a source of pride for us. And we will confidently continue this way! In turn, I want to thank you for such a pleasant conversation and for such interesting questions. Wish you good luck!