People-owned cinemas make watching movies affordable – and fun – ...

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People-owned cinemas make watching movies affordable – and fun – again

iStarring Cinemas has launched South Africa’s first crowd-funded pop-up cinema in Joburg

Journalist

The concept of dinner and a movie has put on a new frock.
On Thursday evening iStarring Cinemas launched South Africa’s first crowd-funded, pop-up cinema in Johannesburg.
The sold-out event took place in an inflatable tent and viewers got to see the screening of locally produced film Five Fingers for Marseilles, while lounging on bean bags and with noise-cancelling headphones to block out any popcorn sounds.
But the fun started even before the film was shown, with patrons enjoying the choice of craft beer, cocktails and amakota sold outside.The concept for the people-owned cinema was developed by entrepreneur Luyanda Jafta, 29, from Brakpan on the East Rand, who showed from a very young age that he had a knack for business – as an 11-year-old he loaned money he saved to his mother’s friends who would then pay him back with interest at the end of the month.  
Through his crowdfunding platform, Paybook, Jafta has managed to raise R230,000 in just two months from investors around the country, who contributed at least R150 each for their share in the cinema.
“We think if the crowd owns the cinemas and has a vested interest in their success, we can move the culture,” Jafta said.
“Collectively the crowd makes 15% of the ticket sales and we pay out royalties every quarter.”
Each screening seated 100 people at a price of R50 per ticket.
“We want to make it as accessible and affordable as possible for everyone in the country.”
The total cost to host one pop-up cinema was R360,000 but actually costs the crowd only R180,000 because iStarring’s business partner and investment holders, Tsoga Africa, covered the other half.Tsoga director Pallo Marumo said the company’s involvement was “just to help to kickstart the venture”.
“If this can roll out outside the borders of South Africa, which is the plan, then it should still been owned collectively by people and show movies that people want in languages they understand. Both literally and figuratively,” Marumo said.
Jafta hoped to raise enough money for 200 pop-up cinemas before the end of the year and had a countrywide roadshow planned to market it.“We’re finalising venues for the three-month-long roadshow across the country. We will have pop-up cinemas in four locations in Gauteng, two in Cape Town, one in Durban and one in Mpumalanga,” he said.
“The basic idea is that we’re following the trail of where people are investing from.”
Jafta said that mostly South African movies, including some older ones, would be shown at iStarring cinemas but there would also be some international films.

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