40 Under 40 EUR: Jan Runge of UNIC

By Patrick von Sychowski | June 21, 2016 12:30 pm PDT
Jan Runge, Chief Executive Officer of Union Internationale des Cinémas (UNIC)

This story first appeared in a special CineEurope 2016 issue of BoxOffice magazine. To subscribe to the magazine click here.

Name: Jan Runge
Company: UNIC
Title: Chief Executive
Country: Belgium

Jan Runge’s first cinema memory is seeing “E.T.” in his local cinema, the Burgtheater in Ravensburg, Germany. “I must have been around five years old. I was definitely too young for some of it but loved the experience.” Fast forward nearly four decades and Runge finds himself, in his own words, “Working the political corridors in Brussels explaining to policymakers how film industry works and that it depends on a thriving cinema exhibition sector.”

As head of the Union Internationale des Cinémas (UNIC), Runge has been the collective voice of the European cinema industry for the past five years. In addition to lobbying Brussels on issues such as the Digital Single Market (DSM), he has also been instrumental in shaping CineEurope since its move to Barcelona, as well as flying the flag for UNIC at events such as CinemaCon. Later this year UNIC will be publishing a booklet on cinema and innovation, an area where he feels that cinemas are not getting enough credit.

Runge believes that there is an urgent need to increase consumer awareness about the positive contributions creative industries and copyright make to the European society. “I’m pretty passionate about that cause and it concerns me that it is not talked about as much as it should be: some consumers spend EUR €500 (USD $563) on a smartphone and EUR €50 (USD $56) on a monthly broadband connection but are unwilling to pay for a music-subscription or a cinema ticket. This ‘value gap’ in content creation has to be addressed.”

Perhaps not surprisingly he lists UNIC’s President Phil Clapp as a major influence, mentor and friend. “While I of course learn from all our members and UNIC colleagues there are a few people that have provided extra guidance over the years: Jan Bernhardsson, Eddy Duquenne, Edna Epelbaum, Peter Fornstam, Jaime Tarrazon, Marc Olivier Sebbag, David Hancock, Kim Pedersen and Corinne Thibaut, to name but a few.”

Given that it is UNIC’s show Runge will be present at CineEurope 2016 throughout the event, as well as the ICTA seminars on Sunday June 19th. As to the future, he doesn’t spend too much time worrying about where he’ll be off to next, “Thankfully life is not linear – so who knows!? Lets just say professionally I hope to be doing something that is as rewarding as my current role.”

Patrick von Sychowski
Follow me