Operator Spotlight: How Erlend's 20-Year Journey Elevated Bryne Kino to New Heights

February 14, 2024
The DX Team
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Cinema: Bryne Kino

Location: Norway

Cinema Operator: Erlend

Number of Weekly Screenings: Between 65 and 80

Yearly Admissions: around 70,000

Started Using DX: 2001

Favorite Part of Working With DX: Integration with the Theater Management System (TMS), coupled with the convenience of updating his colleagues about all events from his phone or laptop. 

The shared adventure of a cinematic experience, with its larger-than-life screen, enveloping surround sound, and the echoing gasp of the audience, is something that cinema operators like Erlend have devoted their lives to perfecting. 

These film lovers understand that in a world filled with choices, the essence of cinema lies in its immersive experience and shared emotions.

So in today's Operator Spotlight episode, we’re featuring one of our longest cinema clients and the person who helped grow Bryne Kino into the thriving cinema it is today: Erlend Serigstad.

Erlend and Bryne Kino's joint ascent

Erlend first stepped into Bryne Kino as a young projectionist around two decades ago. Gradually growing into roles while taking on more responsibility, he is now the cinema manager, through “a series of fortunate events” as he puts it.

When Erlend joined Bryne Kino, it was not the big 4-screen cinema operation it is today. They were a small single-screen operation sharing the venue with their co-rentees and pitching for Saturday nights.  

It was the time of dual projection systems, which required an interchange in the middle of every movie, so Erlend had to be constantly present in the projection booth, actively managing the screenings. 

The big technological shift came in 2010 when all of Norway turned to digital projection. “This really changed how we operated the cinema”, says Erlend, while reminiscing about those days and how that impacted film availability — with Bryne Kino being able to get almost all new titles.

“We went from being a fairly small cinema to being one of the biggest single-screen cinemas in Norway.” 

Bryne Kino’s biggest breakthrough came in 2016 when they began building their own, modern cinema. The new location, where they operate today, features a four-screen setup: one large screen with 252 seats, two smaller screens with around 100 seats each, and a VIP auditorium with premium seating.

After its opening in 2018, 2019 became Bryne Kino’s most successful year, attracting 90,000 visitors and marking it as their highest-grossing year to date. 

Although, things are looking good at the end of 2023 as well.

Life as a cinema manager: A personal investment

For Erlend, managing a cinema is not just a job, it's a personal investment. 

His entire life revolves around the cinema, from the joy of good days to coping with Murphy's Law on the challenging ones — where his technical background becomes an invaluable asset in resolving various glitches. 'If it can break, it will, just a matter of the perfect time,' he says, recalling when the sound processor on his large screen failed just a few days before the premiere of 'Avatar'.

Despite facing minor, routine setbacks, and of course the pandemic aftermath, Erlend keeps his eye on the big picture, enjoying the good days to cancel out the ones that don’t go according to plan. 

He thinks he would say the same things if he could advise his younger self now. Why? 

“I love watching movies, it’s always been a big part of my life and now I get paid to do it.”

Erlend and his small team invest their time in competing for the attention of around 60,000 potential moviegoers spanning several municipalities. Erlend speaks of the collaborative relationship he has with the nearby cinemas, “Though we fight for the same audience, our mutual goal is to get people to step out and come to the cinema”.

This transparency allows for shared learning and mutual growth opportunities. Erlend also notes the openness in this relationship, saying, “I can see their audience numbers and they can see mine with the click of a button.” 

Captivating audiences with unforgettable special events

To draw in audiences, Erlend doesn’t only think about curation, but also special events to offer unique and memorable experiences and foster a sense of community at his cinema. 

One such event is the “culinary cinema”, where Erlend targets a mature audience and creates a premium experience. In these seasonal events, the audience is treated to wine and meals inspired by the film they’re watching.

He believes in the value of these events, noting that they give the audience a platform to lay back, relax, and enjoy: “As soon as our moviegoers get a glass of wine and are invited to the screenings, they’re happy to see their money well spent”.

Erlend also plans his events strategically by arranging the next one ahead of time. This way, when people have just enjoyed an event, they're already excited to think, "This was fun! Let's book tickets for the next one.”, thus ensuring a loyal “membership”. 

Erlend and his team also host a “knitting cinema”, where the audience is encouraged to knit while watching the film. This is an intriguingly fun concept that shows how various audiences perceive and appreciate the cinematic experience. It speaks to how cinema caters to a wide range of interests and communities. 

Some other engagement and curation tactics that work well at Bryne Kino: the “senior screenings” held weekly during daytime hours and the “infant cinema” for new parents and their babies. The cinema also offers special birthday packages, with screenings and food, to celebrate with family and friends.

Planning these events can be challenging, but they turn the cinema into a place where different parts of the community can meet and share experiences, fostering a sense of unity and belonging.

Erlend’s approach is very hands-on with all events. He enjoys planning and executing them, not only because they break up his daily routine, but also because they provide an opportunity for personal interaction with the audience. He values seeing their reactions up close and sharing these meaningful experiences with them.

Plus, these special events are a way to foster partnerships with other service providers. He teams up with local businesses, including chefs, to enhance these events and strengthen connections between the cinema and the surrounding businesses. Win-win for everyone.

Behind the scenes: from daily workflows to social media insights

With two decades of experience now, Erlend not only mastered the operational aspects of running Bryne Kino but also played a key role in integrating advanced digital tools and strategies into its workflows:

The TikTok persona that creates engagement

When it comes to marketing and social media, Erlend relies heavily on his capable marketing ‘team of one’ to navigate social media platforms and bring in younger crowds: ”I can see that if we want to reach the youth we have to be on TikTok.”

He even participates in creating content for the cinema, with a twist: a unique persona of “the grumpy cinema manager”, as he calls it, who often appears in short videos to promote upcoming events, show behind-the-scenes moments, and share what the “cinema life” is like.

Running the show with DX and shaping cinema operations

When it comes to cinema management, Erlend uses DX in his daily operations while leveraging all integrations and automation features.

For instance, the DX solution allows him to efficiently plan and organize the screenings as it seamlessly integrates with the cinema’s Theater Management System (TMS), a critical aspect that Erlend particularly appreciates. With this integration, the scheduling of films across the four screens becomes streamlined, handling 9 to 10 shows on weekdays and up to 15 on weekends with ease.

Another feature Erlend heavily relies on is DX's reporting function. It provides him with real-time performance data, which he constantly monitors and analyzes, even on his phone, to ensure the numbers look good, or make adjustments as needed.

“I always have it open on my computer, and I even have the app on my phone to monitor things and ensure everyone is always updated.” he says.

This way he can focus his time and energy on attracting audiences, planning events, and executing them to perfection.

Of course, Erlend isn't just a user of DX, he's been an influential contributor to our solution’s development. Being one of our seasoned users, he could easily notice what works and what could be improved, so now his valuable insights are helping us model data and reporting for our dashboard functionalities to come. 

Key cinema takeaways from Erlend’s journey

Erlend's two decades of ups, downs, and unique experiences in the cinema industry highlight how the right strategy and the right tools help your cinema remain relevant and continue attracting audiences:

  • Automation and leveraging technology allows cinema managers like Erlend to focus more on event quality and audience engagement which ultimately leads to creating unforgettable experiences.
  • Curating special events such as 'culinary cinema', 'knitting cinema', and 'birthdays' contributes to creating valuable, shared memories, while bringing people together.
  • Programming screenings tailored to different demographics, like seniors and new parents, transforms your cinema into a local gathering space.
  • Authenticity and personalization in cinema marketing support engagement while shaping the story of your cinema for your audiences. Erlend’s TikTok persona is proof of that.

If you want to read more stories like Erlend's, check out our Customer Stories hub or follow us on LinkedIn.

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