As multiscreen cinemas march down the Italian peninsula, sweeping away historic city center cinemas, a small independent screen in Puglia has stumbled on a secret weapon to fight back.
The Odeon in Molfetta, a seaside town in Italy’s heel, projected its first wedding video on Tuesday night, a sell-out as friends and family of a local newlywed couple arrived to cheer themselves as they appeared on the silver screen.
With 50 wedding parties booked for celluloid reruns of their nuptials, the Odeon’s future is looking safer, despite the opening of a multiplex in an industrial zone outside town, complete with ample parking facilities, which appeared to have sealed its fate.
“I went to the Odeon as a kid and it’s great to be doing something now to keep alive a cinema that you can still walk to with your own children,” said Roberto Pansini, 30, who came up with the scheme while working at a local advertising agency.
Puglians take weddings seriously, inviting hundreds to celebrate, but Pansini said couples found it difficult to get all the guests back to squeeze around a television to watch the obligatory video.
“Now they hand over about 300 euros [US$440] to rent the cinema, with cocktails thrown in if they ask,” he added. “It is so popular we are even taking bookings for wedding anniversary parties. People are thrilled to see themselves on a cinema screen.”
The 360-seat Odeon is the only one of four cinemas once open in the center of Molfetta that still survives, hobbling along on a council grant and pulling in punters with music concerts and theater performances, alongside the regular fare of films and matinee cartoons.
“The competition from the multiplex has hit really hard, but if this idea works out, I plan to market it around the other small Italian cinemas in peril,” Pansini said.
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