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German exhibs' social conscience.

BERLIN For years the cinema was just a place to see a movie. Exhibs in Germany, however, have been finding a variety of uses for their multiplexes. Cinemaxx, one of the country's leading chains, has been sponsoring educational events at its theaters and even has a marketing department devoted to "social sponsoring."

"We recognized our social responsibility early on," says Cinemaxx rep Arne Schmidt. The chain has had an environmental education program, "Nature in Concert," touring theaters with a live band providing jazzy music to film footage of rain forests. The event, co-sponsored by science magazine Geo, includes an exhibition and a discussion by experts in the field.

Cinemaxx has been in talks with record labels including BMG for promotional events. In Hamburg, the cinema recently hosted an autograph session with German popsters Tic Tac Two.

CineStar has also seen the benefits of promotional events in its cinemas. In Berlin, the newest CineStar recently hosted a concert by German band Echt. Such events are intended to raise the company profile rather than profits. As a marketing event, CineStar's show benefited all the parties involved, including Echt's label Laughing Horse and regional public radio Fritz, which gave away most of the 1,500 tickets to its listeners. The concert even got extensive coverage on cable music channel Viva.

CineStar's other Berlin theater has held a John Lennon film tribute on the anniversary of his death. Live daytime jazz sessions and drinks on weekends have become regular events in Berlin and at CineStars in Greifswald and Rostock.

In Rostock, the theater even hosts gay parties, while in Chemnitz, dance theater and various readings, most notably by German veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, have become regular happenings.

Industry insiders say such marketing events can't be described as a trend. While multiplexes have been popping up all over the country, Henriette Beckmann-Hindemith, a CineStar spokeswoman, says increased competition is not behind the company's support for non-cinematic entertainment at its theaters.

She says, "CineStar is simply demonstrating that its theaters are more than just movie houses, they are entertainment centers."

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Author:Meza, Ed
Publication:Variety
Date:Jun 21, 1999
Words:344
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