In the meantime, the cinema has become a billion-dollar business. For passionate cineastes, however, cinema is more than just watching a film: the big screen, the surround sound, the upholstered armchairs, the smell and the rustling of popcorn, possibly a date, memories, zeitgeist – cinema means emotions. The cinema is still an integral part of the entertainment landscape in the Federal Republic. Nevertheless, the small movie theaters and arthouses are gradually disappearing, leaving the big chains. With a total of 220 cinemas, the five largest cinema operators only make up about a seventh of all 1630 cinemas in Germany, but with 338,300 seats they share a market share of more than 40%. We present the five largest cinema chains in Germany in the following list:
1st place: Cinestar
Cinestar was founded in Lübeck in 1948 by Hilma and Albert Kieft. The Lichtspiele Hoffnung cinema in Lübeck remained the parent company until 2004, but it had to be finally closed after a fire. In the meantime, the group has grown to 54 cinemas at 52 locations and shows its films on 414 screens. With more than 96,000 seats, Cinestar is the market leader in Germany. The company employs around 2700 people. According to the operator, the number of visitors in 2016 was more than 15 million people.
2nd place: Cinemaplex
The Cineplex Group was found in 1996, and the first cinema under the joint label open in Bruchsal in 1997. The special thing about Cineplex is that it is an association of independent operators who can decide on their program themselves but cooperate in the organization and appear with a joint marketing. The umbrella organization of the group has its headquarters in Wuppertal. The Cineplex Group now runs 90 cinemas in 66 German cities with 530 screens. In total, the chain offers space for more than 91,000 visitors. Even if the company claims the status of market leader in Germany, it only ranks second in terms of seating. However, Cineplex is growing faster than the other chains, with six new cinemas opening in 2015 alone. According to the company, it welcomed almost 20 million visitors to its cinemas in 2015.
3rd place: Cinemaxx
The cinema operator Cinemaxx was found in 1998 as a public limit company, making it the first cinema company to be list on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. However, the beginnings go back to 1973. At that time, Hans-Joachim Flebbe opened his first cinema in Hanover. The Cinemaxx Group operates 33 cinema centers at 29 locations in Germany and offers space for 73,000 visitors in front of 289 screens. In addition to Germany, the chain also has a strong presence in Denmark and employs more than 2000 people.
4th place: UCI
The abbreviation UCI stands for United Cinemas International. The first UNI Kinowelt theater opened in 1990 in Hürth near Cologne. This was the first German multiplex cinema when it opened. United Cinema International operates 26 multiplex cinemas in Germany and Austria. Of these, 203 cinema halls with more than 50,000 seats are in Germany alone.
5th place: Kinopolis
Kinopolis is one of the most traditional cinemas in Germany and can look back on more than 100 years of company history. The cornerstone for Kinopolis was laid in 1905 by August Daub, who open his first cinema in Baden-Baden. The first cinema palace followed ten years later, the Kammer-Lichtspiele in Stuttgart. The family company based in Darmstadt now operates 17 cinema centers from Bonn to Munich with 127 screens and around 28,300 seats.