New cinema upsets locals

  • 2001-03-22
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - A new multiplex movie theater that opened in Tallinn on March 11 has brought local movie fans as many new films per week as all the other cinemas in the city put together. But not everybody is happy.

The new cinema and entertainment center, Coca-Cola Plaza, can host up to 2,000 visitors in its 11 screening halls.

The cinema belongs to the international movie chain Forum Cinemas, which is also planning to open similar entertainment centers in the other Baltic states. The Estonian cinema distribution company MPDE Ltd. will run the cinema.

Andri Kirsima, the building's architect, said the advantage of the new complex was that it had been built to be a cinema and not been adopted from any other type of structure.

The first floor of the building boasts a range of restaurants, cafes and shops. The screening halls are located on the second and third floors of the six-story building.

In its first week of business, Coca-Cola Plaza screened five premieres and managed to attract some 10,000 moviegoers. According to Lauri Kaare, a spokesman for MPDE, which also runs Tallinn's Kosmos cinema and the Ekraan in Tartu, 1.05 million tickets were bought in Estonian cinemas last year.

"'Gladiator' was the most popular film of 2000, with a total audience of 64,400. The main guarantee of attendance to multiplex cinemas is the wide choice of films," Kaare said.

European films, such as Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark," are brought to Coca-Cola Plaza by Filmimax, the film distributor running the Kinomaja cinema in Tallinn. Kinomaja is much appreciated by many in Tallinn for its openness to more alternative types of film.

It is expected that the Black Nights film festival, held every December, will move to the new cinema, but Filmimax and MPDE have not yet reached a final decision. Until now, Black Nights has included screenings at all of the capital's cinemas, as well as Tartu's Ekraan.

The name of the new complex has caused quite a stir. The printed, broadcast and Internet media have been inundated with angry letters and calls complaining that the foreign name is hard to pronounce. All the other cinemas in the country have Estonian names.

The language inspectorate has been discussing whether or not to demand that the cinema be renamed, or at least translated into Estonian.

"But the Estonian translation of Coca-Cola Plaza also sounds awful. People are calling us, pleading with us to get rid of this strange name," said Ilmar Tomusk, the inspectorate's director.

According to Estonia's language law, trademarks need not be translated. "But as far as we know, Coca-Cola Plaza is not a trademark," said Tomusk.

Coca-Cola signed a five-year co-sponsorship deal with Forum Cinemas, but after that term, when the advertising contract expires, the name can be changed.