The Rise & Fall of Ster-Kinekor Theaters

Ster-Kinekor originated 52 years ago, when 20th Century Fox sold off its South African cinema business to Sanlam.

Old SterKinekor Theaters building

By that time, Sanlam was already operating Ster Films and Ster Theatres under the Ster Brand. Government regulation required that the two companies be operated separately. Sanlam then created the name “Kinekor” to manage the newly-acquired business.

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During most of the 1970s, Kinekor embarked on a program of opening new cinemas across the country but the introduction of television in 1976 halted this process, as cinema attendances dropped.

Ster Brand x Kinekor merger by Sanlam

Sanlam then merged its two companies; Ster Brand and Kinekor to create Ster-Kinekor as many people know it today.

The newly established company continued the program of building high-quality cinema multiplexes, by focusing mostly on integrating cinemas into large retail and leisure developments.

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Expansion Into Europe

The end of sanctions imposed on South Africa by 1994 introduced a free market, allowing the likes of Ster-Kinekor and other companies to expand into foreign markets.

Some company directors moved their base of operations to the UK and set up trading as Ster Century.

In 1998, the newly-established company entered into partnership with Assos Odeon, a cinema company based in Greece, and opened the doors to its first multiplex cinema under the name, Ster Odeon.

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By 1999, Ster Century went on with its expansion of opening multiplex cinemas in Ireland, Dublin, Brno, Czech Republic, Warsaw & Wroclaw, Poland, and also two sites in Budapest, Hungary.

This continued till 2000, with additional sites in the UK, Spain, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovakia.

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EuropeXIT

To concentrate more on its UK business, Ster Century sold off its interests in Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary in 2002. Its Polish cinemas were sold off to Israeli-based company, Cinema City International.

By 2003, Ster-Kinekor exited Europe by selling its remaining Ster Century interests to Aurora Entertainment in a management buyout deal.

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More Expansion In SA

Ster-Kinekor Theaters

Ster-Kinekor continued stamping its footprint in South Africa by opening up many movie theaters, this allowed the company to become the market leader, with NuMetro trailing behind at the corner.

The Fall

Chances are that the last time you watched a movie wasn’t at Ster-Kinekor.

The theater industry, like so many other, suffered a great deal because of the covid-19 pandemic. Ster-Kinekor was forced to close down many of its theatres for a couple of months.

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This highly unusual circumstance allowed streaming services to fill a void.

Ster-Kinekor, has been struggling for some time. It is evident, ticket sales have been falling steadily since 2010.

On the 29th January 2021, Ster-Kinekor entered voluntary business rescue, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic with its lockdown regulations.

Up until February 2020, the company was profitable, with good prospects of future and ongoing profitability from the pipeline of blockbuster film content that had been scheduled.

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However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent economic lockdown instituted by the SA government, all cinemas were required to shut down.

Although projectors have since fired up again, its no longer the same.

Many people have since turned to streaming platforms to consume entertainment, filling the long hours of isolation.

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Now that streaming has become a fact of life, it doesn’t seem like the culture of cinema-going will ever be the same again.

While the last 2 years has been great for streaming platforms, it has not done the likes of Ster-Kinekor any good.

In a time of a pandemic with its social distancing, one has to wonder: what is the cinema’s future? And what can we expect in the next coming years?

Wikipedia

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