“2022 was already a year in which we somewhat recovered, 2023 is going to be a year with great recovery, we hope it reaches the end with levels close to 2019”, that is, pre-pandemic, Fernando Ventura, from APEC told Lusa.

APEC which represents the companies that own the most cinemas in Portugal will organise, the Festa do Cinema from today, an initiative that consists of four days of commercial screenings in several cities at reduced prices.

It is the second time this year that APEC has carried out this promotional initiative, after having promoted a similar event in May, which attracted around 123,000 spectators.

“We are trying to find more opportunities to bring more people to the cinema, to promote cinema and encourage this unique experience. […] We consider [the 123,000 spectators] a good number given the circumstances the sector is still in. It is still recovering from the negative effects of the pandemic”, said Fernando Ventura.

According to statistical data from the Cinema and Audiovisual Institute (ICA), until September, Portuguese cinemas registered 9.5 million spectators and 57.2 million euros in box office revenue.

While the last quarter still needs to be counted, these ICA data indicate that 2023 will surpass the panorama of the 2022 exhibition (which registered 55.3 million euros and 9.6 million spectators).

For Fernando Ventura, “people are having the confidence to return to the cinemas, the works that are appearing this year also help”, such as the films “Barbie”, “Fast and Furious X”, “Oppenheimer”, “Avatar: The Way of water” and “Super Mário Bros: The Movie”, are in the top places among the most watched.

In 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, commercial cinema exhibitions recorded 15.5 million admissions and 83.1 million euros in gross box office revenue.

In recent years there has also been a change in cinema consumption habits, with the growth of streaming platforms in Portugal and APEC admits that “there is always some impact, but it is not something that is, for now, highly worrying”.

“When new options appear on the market to see the same products, it is clear that the market is not elastic, although naturally the people who go to see cinema and who choose to watch it in 'streaming' are the same. There is always an impact on the traditional way of watching cinema, but the experience of watching cinema in a theater is something completely different”, defended Fernando Ventura.

The Cinema Festival took place for the first time in Portugal along these lines in 2015. This year's second edition offers cinema tickets for 3.5 euros for more than 50 films showing on the commercial circuit.

According to the organisation, the initiative covers cinema sessions in theaters operated by exhibitors Cinema City, Castello Lopes, Cineplace, NOS, UCI, which are present in several cities, and also Cinebox Cinemas (Castelo Branco), Cinemax (Penafiel), Forum Vizela (Braga), Cinema Fernando Lopes (Lisbon) and Teatro Miguel Franco (Leiria).

This means that the Cinema Festival will take place in around 400 cinemas, in an exhibition panorama that according to the ICA has 548 cinemas across the country.