2023 started with exciting plans for us as we’re onboarding our first cinemas in Sweden.
And when you put Sweden and cinema together, you know you’re entering a rich history.
Our eastern neighbors on the Scandinavian Peninsula have a love for their cinemas.
In 2019 alone, there were nearly 16 million admissions or about 1.6 admissions per person in the country according to Sveriges biografägareförbund, the national Swedish cinema association.
Even more impressively, there are over 930 cinema screens in the country, which ranks it in the European top three when it comes to cinema screens per million inhabitants.
So with our first two Swedish customers , Mariannelunds Bio and Söderköping Bio, already set up, our team knew that we were planting roots in a nation with a long and proud cinema tradition.
However, what we learned is that even though Norway and Sweden share a border, their cinema solutions and technology differ, sometimes quite a lot.
But let’s dive deeper into the numbers and data challenges that the Swedish market entails.
The Swedish cinema market at a glance
Unlike Norway, our home country, where there are only a few cinema chains, there are several major chains in Sweden, including Svenska Bio, Folkets Bio, Eurostar Biografer, and Filmstaden (owned by the Nordic Cinema Group, which was acquired by AMC Theaters in 2017 and merged into Odeon Cinemas Group).
Sweden is also home to about 300 independent cinemas, making up a third of the screens. Many of these independent cinemas are in smaller cities and towns, which opens up the opportunity to use our cloud-based solution for more efficient cinema operations.
Also, a good part of them are multipurpose venues – in addition to screening films, they also host concerts and theatrical performances, serving as one-stop-shop entertainment centers for their communities and important cultural centers in their regions. That is similar to many theaters in Norway that also follow the “culture house” venue model.
If the cinema landscape might feel familiar, technologies in the market are more of a challenge.
New cinema operations solutions in Sweden
When assessing the cinema operations technologies and cross-collaboration landscape, we realised there are multiple opportunities for a better way of doing things.
For instance, we knew that, in some cases, Swedish cinemas were working with outdated operating models.
Take our first customer, Mariannelunds Bio, for example.
Before we onboarded the cinema, it did not offer online ticket sales at all. While we all love the idea of buying our tickets at the box office, it simply isn’t how moviegoers prefer to buy tickets in the 21st century. That made Mariannelunds Bio the perfect candidate for our Early Access program, where we are signing on smaller cinemas in Sweden in order to learn more about the market with their input.
Our second Swedish cinema, Söderköping Bio, had online ticket sales but was looking for enhanced operational support. We were more than happy to demonstrate how our hardware-software solution could vastly improve their operations and customer service.
So far, our first two Swedish cinemas have been selling about 30 percent of their tickets online – and that is a major differentiator when it comes to operating a cinema.
As we’ve learned more about Sweden’s cinemas through these first partnerships, we’ve been making outreach to the country’s other independent cinemas to demonstrate how DX can transform their operations.
With each new Early Access partner added, we’ll be discovering even more insights to continue building out features and a product that elevates a cinema’s business.
And that leads us to a second important distinction in the Swedish market: the cinema market data treatment.
In Norway, we are lucky to have total transparency when it comes to the number of tickets sold for individual cinemas. This means that the entire cinema industry can see how many tickets have been sold per site and per title.
In many ways, we’re a bit spoiled by having access to that data — in Sweden, like many other countries, exact box office figures are nearly treated like a trade secret.
But access to data and a highly-collaborative and communicative cinema industry, as in Norway, can enable growth for all industry partners.
We aim to contribute to that vision across our new markets, as our solution develops.
From Bergman to Östlund: Let’s not forget the Swedish film history
One of the many reasons we’re proud to be working with Swedish cinemas is the oversize influence Swedish films have had on world cinema.
Sweden has a long and prolific cinema history, including groundbreaking directors like Ingmar Bergman and his Academy Award-winning films The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukällan), Through a Glass Darkly (Såsom i en spegel), and Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander).
It is the birthplace of beloved stars like Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Ann-Margret, Stellan Skarsgård, Peter Stormare, Dolph Lundgren, and Noomi Rapace, as well as modern masters like director Ruben Östlund, who won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival twice for his films The Square (2017) and Triangle of Sadness (2022).
While Sweden embraces its own film culture, there is also overwhelming local interest in the latest Hollywood and international blockbusters as well. 2016 marked the last time a Swedish film, A Man Called Ove, topped the yearly box office in Sweden (recently remade in the United States as A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks). Though it’s probably no surprise that the British-American film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, featuring music by Swedish superstars ABBA, topped the Swedish box office in 2018.
Swedish cinema has brought us unforgettable images like Bengt Ekerot’s Death in The Seventh Seal (1957) and the vampire girl in Let the Right One In (2008).
Plus, it’s home to “Trollywood,” the center of Sweden’s film industry, where about 10 films are made per year, many of which are produced with the financial support of the Swedish Film Institute (Svenska Filminstitutet).
It makes us very proud to now be working in a country that is home to these brilliant films and filmmakers.
We look forward to helping many more Swedish cinemas power great experiences for their audiences!
Want to find out more and bring your input to our Early Access program? You can always contact us.