Cinema: Lillehammer Kino
Location: Lillehammer, Norway
Cinema Operator: Clarissa Bergh
Number of Weekly Screenings: between 60-90
Yearly Admissions: around 125,000
Started Using DX: 15 years ago
Favorite Part of Working With DX: DX allows Clarissa to run all of her cinema’s operations from one platform.
Streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime have taken the world of entertainment by storm, bringing movies and shows directly to our living rooms. The gaming industry is growing at a dizzying pace. With so many entertainment options at hand, cinemas can find themselves in a bind.
But not Lillehammer Kino. This local 5-screen cinema, run by just a handful of employees and led by its creative and innovative cinema manager, consistently attracts cinemagoers through its strategy of building lasting connections with the people of Lillehammer (Norway).
For this Operator Spotlight episode, we’re featuring one of our longest cinema clients and their brilliant cinema manager: Clarissa Bergh. Clarissa stepped in as Lillehammer Kino’s cinema manager only five years ago. In this rather short period, she built a loyal audience and put Lillehammer Kino at the forefront of people’s minds.
But let’s start from the beginning.
From the Fitness to the Cinema Industry: Clarissa’s Leadership Journey
Before stepping into the cinema industry - a decision she’s thrilled to have made - Clarissa was working in a leadership role in the fitness industry. When she started feeling restricted in her leadership potential as CEO of the fitness club, Clarissa sought a change.
That’s when she came across an opportunity to manage a cinema and decided to apply for the role. The decision was also inspired by her brief experience working at Lillehammer Kino in her youth, where she sold tickets and concessions. Despite a lot of competition, Clarissa got the job and found great joy in her new role.
Fast-forward 5 years, Clarissa still loves her role as cinema manager.
“I get to work with these big, strategic thoughts”, she says, when asked about what she enjoys the most in her day-to-day role. It’s an opportunity to create big-picture strategies that make cinema an integral part of people's everyday lives, she adds.
She enjoys all aspects of the job, as she continues her answer: from engaging with cinemagoers on social media to the tiniest things, like filling popcorn buckets or filming funny reels for the cinema’s Instagram account. What really gets Clarissa excited about the job is the balance between developing marketing strategies and enjoying many down-to-earth moments with her team.
“We want to be an important cultural provider for the local community…for everyone, from children to seniors.”
While her job as the CEO of a fitness club was very different from what she does now, there’s one aspect of it that hasn’t changed: bringing people together.
That’s what being a cinema manager is to Clarissa. It’s about creating moments that add joy to people's lives and offer them an escape from the daily grind and the constant gloom in the news through movies.
Or as she puts it: “I like to bring people together and put some magic in their lives.”
Clarissa Doesn’t Give In Easily to the Challenges of Running a Cinema
As much as Clarissa enjoys her job, she knows that operating a cinema isn't all popcorn and glamour.
She points out that the industry is often dependent on things we cannot control, like weather, strikes in Hollywood, and unexpected events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Cinemas are often affected by these issues, which result in a shortage of movies and lower attendance.
But instead of feeling defeated by these challenges, Clarissa comes up with creative solutions to keep cinemagoers interested. This creative approach is one of the many things in Clarissa's strategy that make Lillehammer Kino stand out.
For instance, during the pandemic, she and her cinema team organized drive-in movies and private screenings to encourage people to go to the cinema, while in a safe environment. “I got flowers sent to my office because people were so grateful for what we did”, she recalls.
Then, when faced with limited content availability at the cinema, which resulted in low attendance numbers for several months, Clarissa had a new challenge to overcome. Being a proactive and creative cinema operator, she decided to engage with different actors in the community like schools and companies, and offer them private screenings.
This idea transformed into monthly morning screenings for schools, as part of the educational plan, with diverse movie themes. For example, a recent movie the students watched at Lillehammer Kino was Lengsel Etter Nåtid (eng. Longing for Today) - a Norwegian film about World War Two, screened on the United Nations Day. Another example is a Norwegian movie documentation integration and a Pakistani community in Norway.
Clarissa's strategy didn't just bring more people to the cinema. It also made movie screenings a fun and educational part of students' lives. Now, she plans on growing the company-focused screenings as well, as part of a series of employee perks and benefits.
Lillehammer Kino’s Social Media Strategy Brings People Together
“We try to have a wide offer of movies, events, and concepts”, Clarissa adds. It’s not just catering to different parts of the community, but to all of them, in different ways.
And that’s also how she approaches social media. Relying on three social media platforms, Clarissa not only promotes future screenings or events at the cinema but also creates a connection with people.
With Facebook, she focuses on posting trailers, clips, and event details, using it as the primary platform for getting admissions (both organically, but also through ads). Instagram, on the other hand, takes a personal turn. They skip the movie posters and opt for a more human touch, sharing pictures of employees, cinemagoers, and behind-the-scenes moments. The strategy includes funny reels of the team, such as doing a Trolls dance to promote the Trolls Band Together movie.
Then, there’s TikTok. Her vision for Lillehammer Kino’s TikTok account is to attract young audiences to the cinema with both funny and promotional content. With a twist that’s rather rare in the industry today.
“Our TikTok is run solely by our youngsters”, Clarissa explains. “They are aged 16 to 23, I think, and they manage it without any instructions from me. And they are doing really well. So I just have a look from time to time to make sure there’s nothing far-fetched there, and I love that it’s fun and not so serious. I think it’s good that we can show that side of ourselves on TikTok. Not everything has to be perfect or nicely planned. Sometimes, it’s just the spur of the moment.”
This social media strategy is paying off with more organic views, likes, and comments compared to other cinemas in Norway. People now recognize the team from their social media videos, which creates a sense of connection and makes Lillehammer Kino feel like home.
Lillehammer Kino Creates a Sense of Community With Special Events
Aside from social media marketing, another of Clarissa’s marketing tactics to promote the upcoming movie screenings is to organize big events themed around the movie.
For example, when she was faced with a challenge to promote the premiere of Ticket to Paradise - a rom-com starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney - she had her team reach out to companies catering to a female audience, securing a deal that filled branded gift bags with goodies like a ladies' magazine and skincare products for all event attendees.
Aside from that, Lillehammer Kino’s team kicked off the hype one month before screening with a Facebook post, which sold 70 tickets - a record for a non-blockbuster movie and a romantic comedy in Lillehammer Kino’s history. Then, the team used the hashtag #LillehammerGoesToParadise on all three social media platforms to encourage mentions and user-generated content that would continue creating the hype for the premiere.
With just six seats left in one auditorium, Clarissa posted a screenshot of the almost full seating chart on social media as a last-minute push. In addition, 48 hours before the event, Lillehammer Kino announced a contest where cinemagoers could win a ticket to a future Ladies Night Out event by posting a photo under the #LillehammerGoesToParadise hashtag and tagging @lillehammerkino on Instagram.
Another fun event that Clarissa organized was a Burgers & Beer event for the premiere of The Expandables 4, where every ticket came with a free burger and a free beer.
Now, in preparation for Disney’s Wish premiere, the team set up a wish tree for children with a chance to have that wish come true.
It’s creative twists and perks like the above which keep the Lillehammer community returning to the cinema — Clarissa’s mission to bring people together is working and driving even more innovation around community engagement.
Of course, organizing events around upcoming films and creating social media hype around them requires more than just creativity and great organizational skills. It also involves having the right operational setup to support the experience.
And that’s where we’re proud to be playing a part for more than a decade.
DX: Long-standing Support in Lillehammer Kino’s Audience Engagement
Lillehammer Kino started using DX over 15 years ago, before Clarissa’s time as a cinema manager here. She uses it a lot in her daily workflows. Every morning, the first thing she does is check the DX dashboard, which helps her keep track of screenings, admissions, and all the critical details of her cinema.
The other DX feature that Clarissa uses the most, besides the dashboard, is the report section (because it's easy to understand the data and export it to Excel in one click).
What Clarissa and her team appreciate the most about using DX is that it not only provides them with easy-to-use features for film programming, reporting, and event management but also a system that integrates with the POS for ticket and concession sales, making it easier to run everything from one platform.
Lillehammer Kino: The Takeaways
Running a cinema can be quite a rollercoaster with unexpected twists and many turns. Yet, Clarissa’s approach proves that being proactive and thinking outside the box is the key to overcoming these challenges.
The secret behind Lillehammer Kino’s success is not so unusual. It’s make going to the movies about bringing people together and creating connections over a shared passion for a particular film, genre, or the cinema experience per se.
If there’s one thing we can learn from Clarissa’s story, it is that prioritizing connections over anything else can lead to building a loyal audience.
By transforming the cinema experience from “just a movie night” to a community-building space, cinemas can not only attract more audiences but also foster that togetherness.