Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 27 March 2015

Empire SuperTicket

The ‘SuperTicket’ concept is already common in North America and in Europe, but this is the first time that it will have been tried in the UK.

On April 3rd, thriller Kidnapping Freddy Heineken, starring everyone’s favourite on-screen serial killer Anthony Hopkins, will debut in UK cinemas. And, provided you go see it at an Empire Cinemas venue (for no more than the cost of a regular screening ticket), you’ll walk out with a digital copy of the film, redeemable through Wuaki.tv. You won’t be able to download it immediately, of course, but you can preorder it ahead of the retail release date, which online rental and sales channels are typically bound by.  LINK

CGV cinema Malaysia

A good overview of the cinema scene in Malaysia, including expansions by existing operator like MBO, TGV and GSC, as well as new ones like CGV (they sure do like their acronyms).

One of Malaysia’s oldest cinema operators – Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) – ended 2014 on a high note by opening a multiplex at Quill City Mall, Kuala Lumpur – which boasts 10 new screens, featuring the trademark THX-certified hall and Dolby Atmos 3D sound technology – and recently introduced Dolby Atmost and DBox to its multiplex in Gurney Plaza, Penang.

This brings GSC’s figure to 284 screens at 31 locations around Malaysia. (GSC also has 25 screens in five locations in Vietnam.)

TGV Cinemas is also looking at opening up 20 more locations in the next three to five years. LINK

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China Cinema Digest – Thursday 26 March 2015

Harbin China cinema statistics

The above infographic summarises almost everything you need to know about cinema developments in China’s Tier 2 cities, in this case Harbin in north-eastern China, perhaps best known for its annual ice sculpture festival.

The chart on the left shows the opening of new multiplexes: four in 2012, five in both 2013 and 2014 and one already this year (four more expected) for a total of 22 sites and 110 screens. The middle chart shows the average price of cinema ticket, which rose to a peak of CNY Y100 (USD $16) in 2010 but declined to just CNY Y19 (USD $3.05) last year and predicted to fall to just CNY Y10 (USD $1.60) this year. The chart on the right shows year-on-year box-office growth, 31% up in the last year, placing Harbin 24th in the ranking of China’s cinema markets.

So screens are multiplying even as ticket prices plummet, with micro-channels like Cat’s Eye and Gewara subsidise the difference to keep the box office up.

As well as publishing data looking at statistical trends over the last decade, Hailongjiang (DBW) Government Network also looks at how social norms for cinema going in terms of who goes and what their motivation have changed:

Wang Lei, general manager of Harbin’s Taylor Cinemas has worked in a number of Harbin cinemas. 10 years ago he and his team did a survey  of Harbin moviegoing crowd, to discover what type of people come to the theater to watch movies. They found it was mostly concentrated in the 22 to 30 year old age bracket, roughly equally divided between recently married and co-workers. Surveying the reasons they went to see the movie, the answer was relatively simple. Respondents were surprisingly consistent in their answer: “love”. Cinema was almost purely a dating site, with only a few parents bringing their children for holiday viewings, or units of some organization going to see some educational films.

Now you will find that the crowd that goes to cinemas has changed. There are two girls together going to see films, there are groups of boys; there are couples, husband and wife, and also children, and so on. Wang Lei said that the survey results show that in 2014, the cinema crowd is now 90% concentrated in the 18-35 age bracket, mainly student groups and working people. Compared to a decade ago the demographic has thus expanded. The purpose of watching movies has shifted from being a simple appointment, the the development of it as a recreational habit, to come specifically to the cinema for a film.  LINK

China cinema ticket machine box office

Yang Network looks at how the sale of cinema tickets through mobile commerce third party vendors has exploded in the last couple of years – predicted to account for over 60% of ticket sales in 2015. The reporter also interviews a manager from Yonghua Kunming International Cinemas about its implications. The manager seems relaxed, saying that cinema and mobile ticketing platforms “will find their own balance” over time.

Since last year, buying movie tickets online sprung up and quickly occupied the online shopping market. Original fifty or sixty yuanfor a movie ticket on Time Network, Cat’s Eye, Net Ticket, Micro-channel, Public Comment, Taobao, Baidu and other electronic business platform, the lowest price is now just 9.9 yuan. If you do not watch movies through online booking, I am afraid your friends will say that you are OUT. Why are online tickets so cheap? Is such fare normal? Recently, the Evening News reporter interviewed insiders at the Kunming Theater.  LINK

Now banks are also getting in on the action, with the likes of  China Everbright Bank, ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China and CITIC Bank all offering credit card deals for cinema tickets at “cabbage price” (which is the Chinese equivalent of “cheap as chips” in UK or “dirt cheap” in US). Yet insiders are warning about the consequences, with operators like Cat’s Eye now said to be dictating the price at which they will block buy seats from cinemas, with “no room to negotiate.”

“A cinema professional named Wang told reporters that theaters understand online ticketing is a double-edged sword. E-commerce platforms offer generous “subsidies”, but theaters are slowly starting to lose the initiative and are “handing over” their ticketing business.”  LINK

With mobile platform ticket sales already accounting for over 50% of tickets sold in some markets, some of these operators are now also negotiating with cinemas to sell popcorn and soda on their platforms.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 25 March 2015

YouTube Preview Image

France – It is ‘Cinema Spring’ in France for the 16th year when tickets are sold for just 3.50 euro for every show for three days (Sunday-Tuesday) this past week. France is one of the few European markets where cinema going is up, partly thanks to government and industry initiatives like this.

It’s time to refuel dreams and emotions! If gorging cinema is not necessarily accessible to all budgets, the “Spring of cinema” will clearly make things easier. From today until Tuesday night included in cinemas department, all sessions are single price of 3.50 € (Supplement 3 D). The offer is particularly attractive and events are offered in addition to the weekly schedule.  LINK

20 Minutes takes the opportunity to publish “Spring Cinema: Five misconceptions about cinema attendance in France.”

Rentrak

Rentrak has partnered Cinepolis in India to offer daily cinema attendance figures. It’s been a slog for Rentrak to break into the Indian market. The fact that it already has an agreement with Cinepolis in markets such as Mexico and US probably helped this.

The movie measuring consumer viewership information provider Rentrak has joined hands with Indian multiplex operator Cinepolis. With this tie-up, Rentrak will launch its box office service to report daily theater-level information for Cinepolis, the third largest multiplex operator in India, in terms of box office revenues.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 23 March 2015

 Meerkat Movies

The online e-commerce website Comparethemarket.com either has fortuitous timing, or will fall victim to the deafening buzz behind the sudden popularity of a new social media iPhone app.  You see, last December EE (formerly Orange) announced that it would end the highly successful cinema promotion known as Orange Wednesdays which the telecom company had been running for the past 12 years.  The program provided moviegoers with a 2-f0r-1 discount on Wednesdays at cinemas throughout the United Kingdom and in 2013 helped make Wednesday the highest grossing midweek day.

With EE shuttering the program last month, some had predicted cinema attendance may decrease even further than it did 2014.  Thankfully along came Comparethemarket to save the day, and in a major way.  The online price comparison website has taken up the mantle where EE left off and going a step further by including Tuesdays as well.

The new promotion has been dubbed Meerkat Movies after the fuzzy little meerkats that have been appearing in Comparethemarket’s advertisements since 2009.  The company has a whole universe of meerkat characters for which they have given away over five million toys.  This, in and of itself doesn’t necessarily cause any issues or problems, in fact they little fur balls are kind of cute.  The hiccup cups in the fact that over the last three weeks, and thanks in large part to the SxSW Interactive even which recently wrapped up in Austin, Texas, a new live video streaming app named Meerkat has been the talk of the tech world.  The iPhone app allows users to stream video directly from their phones to anyone else using the app.

Time will tell whether this will upset Comparethemarket’s plans for Meerkat Movies or the marketing campaign they’ve live with for nearly six years.  Maybe there won’t be any confusion at all if Meerkat Movies gets UK consumers to stop watching the small screens on their smart phones and head to cinemas on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

ScreenDaily had some of the details on the announcement:

Sources close to the deal confirmed to ScreenDaily that comparethemarket has committed ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ to marketing the promotion across a three-year contract, and has pledged an annual marketing budget ten times that of EE.

The vast majority of UK exhibitors and distributors have signed up to the scheme with all commercial cinema chains on board. LINK

USA – Meanwhile, though Paramount Pictures didn’t scrounge up anything exotic as meerkats, they ran their own one-day version of a two-for-one campaign to promote the Oscar nominated “Selma” in North American theatres:

Paramount announced Wednesday that the drama, starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., will play in 702 theaters on Friday in honor of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, the subject of the film. The anniversary of the march was March 7.  LINK

Business

Ticketsoft

New Zealand – Last month we told you that Vista Group, a leading software solutions provider for the motion picture industry, had agreed to acquire Texas based Ticketsoft.  Now a press release issued by Vista has made it official and the work of integrating the companies begins:

The integration of the two companies will progressively allow for the provision of VES software to the Ticketsoft customer base, delivering a number of immediate benefits to customers, including support for recently mandated EMV credit card processing. Longer term benefits include access to the ongoing development of VES software and the support that VES provides to customers in the USA and in more than 60 other countries around the world. Philip Wood, the founder and President of Ticketsoft, will continue working with VES to ensure a seamless customer experience throughout the integration process. LINK

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China Cinema Digest – Thursday 19 March 2015

China cinema ticket theft

An audacious hacking into a Shanghai cinema online ticketing system allowed thieves to allegedly siphon off almost CNY ¥1.5 million (USD $240,000).  While SARFT says that this sort of attack has never been reported before, Beijing-based security consultant Chong Yu is quoted as saying that “this kind of thing happens every day.”

According to Shanghai media reports, recently, some criminals used a Shanghai theater network ticketing system’s vulnerabilities, paying only a penny of the price, for which the face value was 140 yuan, to buy a theater ticket in the sale of the network platform, and ten sell it on other network platforms for 36 yuan, resulting in cinema ticket revenue loss of about 1.47 million yuan. Surprisingly, not only did the third-party payment platform not detect the problem, but even the theatre they stole from found strange.

Shanghai Film Distribution and Exhibition Association, who said that due to the fare billing cycle being longer, the latency network ticketing platform issues will take longer time to resolve, have referred the case to the Public Security Bureau in conjunction with site-related criminal activities lottery incidentally discovered, and got in touch with the theaters by association. The cinema ticket vendor only belatedly realized that their network was compromised, but at this stage already faced the loss of more than one million yuan.  LINK

China cinema fastfood

March 15th was World Consumer Rights Day. Several newspapers used this date to take cinema to task for not allowing customers to bring in their own food.

In early March, the reporter has twice come Juhui CGV Star Studios Hohhot Zhongshan Road and found the staff here have still not allowed to carry the audience to bring in their own takeaway food. Some viewers are not satisfied, but in order to smooth admission, had to accept to put takeaway food in storage.

The Studios executives into Lijun told reporters Studios the ban on takeaway food is “industry practice”, she has worked at Wanda and Juhui CGV theater star, and this has not broken any regulation. No matter where, loyal supporters and firm performer she affirmed this provision, for which arguing against is a waste of breath for the audience.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 18 March 2015

Following the announcement of a dedicated eSports screen in London’s Fulham Broadway (Vue), plus one more site, this now looks set to be the biggest global eSporting event since the Coca Cola-sponsored League of Legends tournament finale. More details on the eSports Cinema website.

The Electronic Sports League and live event broadcaster BY Experience announced plans Tuesday to bring a series of live esports events to 1,500 to 2,000 movie theaters around the world.

The “Esports in Cinema” series will launch in July with the debut of an esports documentary from filmmakers Christine O’Malley and Patrick Creadon, followed by live competitive gaming and a Q&A session in front of a live studio audience.

The event will be broadcast from the ESL studio in Burbank, California, on July 23 for North American and Latin American audiences and from the ESL studio in Cologne, Germany, on July 28 for European and Asian audiences.  LINK

Look Cinema Dallas Texas

USA (TX) – Dallas-based independent cinema The Look is upping the ante in the fight against larger chains like AMC that get preferential and exclusive bookings of films.

In a recent letter to the heads of the six major studios, Stephenson blasted AMC Chief Executive Gerry Lopez over a long-standing practice in the exhibition industry in which theaters seek to “clear” certain markets, ensuring rivals in proximity cannot play releases at the same time.

“AMC is using clearances as a competitive weapon to prevent market entrants from building near AMC theaters,” Stephenson wrote in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times. “The basis of competition between film exhibitors should be the customer experience and not the artificial construct where one theater cannot get a picture because of a clearance.”  LINK

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Why Is Carmike Cinemas Suddenly For Sale?

Carmike Cinemas For Sale

Cinema operators seem to be putting themselves up for sale at such a rapid pace these days that anyone following the cinema exhibition space might believe the industry is in dire straits.

It’s been nearly three years since Wanda purchased AMC Cinemas. Regal Entertainment put themselves on the market in October of last year, but changed their mind three months later when a suitable buyer didn’t show up. Then last month the United Kingdom based Odeon put themselves on the market for a third time.

Add to this list Carmike Cinemas. Last Friday shares of the fourth largest North American cinema chain rose 12% after Reuters reported the company had hired investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. to explore a sale. Carmike, which is headquartered in Columbus, GA, was of no help in confirming whether the news was accurate, issuing the standard and expected statement, “The Company has stated that its policy is not to comment on unusual market activity or rumors.”

Unfortunately, the news media and stock analysts do not adhere to such policies which meant they were free to produce a endless number of derivative stories providing details easily found on Carmike’s website. Our initial reaction to the news was to suspect the exhibitor might be trying to draw attention away from a less positive development. This standard business practice has proven rather effective throughout the ages.

However, the report surfaced almost two weeks after Carmike posted its fourth quarter earnings for 2014 which were down. During the quarter the chain had an earnings per share of USD ($0.04), well under analysts expectations of USD $0.20. Still an increase of 7.9% in revenue to USD $185 million caused the company’s stock price to rise 2.2% after its announcement to $32.01. As well, though it may not be ideal to have negative earnings in one’s quarterly financial reports, the reason for the shortfall was attributed by stock-watchers to the cost of the companies recent acquisitions binge.

Carmike President and Chief Executive Officer David Passman was certain to point this out during an earning’s call on March 2nd, reminding attendees, “The fourth quarter was our first full reporting period including the Digiplex acquisition, which was completed in mid-August. Our organization has acquired over 750 screens in just over three years, and we believe there is further runway ahead for consolidation.”

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NCM-Screenvision Call Off Merger – Winners and Losers

NCM-DoJ-Screenvision

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War, I-26

The proposed merger between US cinema advertising majors National CineMedia (NCM) and Screenvision has been called off. NCM announced in a press release that it has agreed with Screenvision’s owner SV Holdco to terminate the merger agreement signed on 5 May 2014. The announcement comes four months after the US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a suit with the aim of blocking the proposed USD $375 million merger.

The announcement must come as a major defeat for NCM, its management and its shareholders. The company seems to bury the lede by sub-heading the press release “National CineMedia Reaffirms 2015 Financial Outlook”, going on to trumpet the excellence of its advertising platforms along with a positive forecast for the box office in 2015.

While the trial initiated by the DoJ was scheduled for mid-April, NCM’s merger financing commitment was only set up to last until 1 April. NCM was said to be working with their banking group to extend those commitments in order to accommodate the litigation process. So while NCM may have been intent on taking the fight to trial, it may be that their bankers and financiers got cold feet, thus forcing today’s about face.

Despite calling off the merger, the North American cinema advertising market will not return to the status quo.  Certainly no new merger attempt will take place between NCM and Screenvision in their current configurations. Let’s take a quick look at some of the winners and losers coming out of this thwarted merger.

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Austrian Exhibitor Cineplexx Launched VoD Service

Cineplexx2go

The boundaries between cinema and video-on-demand (VoD) in Europe are blurring further, with the parent company of Austria’s Cineplexx exhibitor announcing its Cineplexx2Go VoD service.

While VoD services are already offered by exhibitors such as UK’s Curzon Cinemas (Curzon on Demand) and Landmark’s Magnolia in the US, Cinemaxx is not an exclusively art-house but a major mainstream exhibitor in Central and Eastern Europe – similar to Pathe in Holland and SF in Sweden, who have similar VoD services – though like Curzon/Landmark its parent company also has a film distribution arm. It demonstrates that exhibitors see benefits in multi-platform distribution when it can increase customer loyalty, particularly when tied to ‘super tickets’ and loyalty schemes.

Owned by distributor Constantin Film, Cineplexx (not to be confused with Germany’s independently owned Cineplex) is the largest exhibitor in Austria, as well as having cinema in Italy (in German-speaking Südtirol), Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania with a total of 280 auditoriums across 36 multiplexes and six traditional cinemas.

The Cineplexx2Go service is powered by Italy’s Chili.SpA, with over 1,300 titles available to rent or buy on launch.

Titles available include “Gone Girl”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “The Judge”, “Boxtrolls”, “Boyhood” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, with prices set at 3.99 euro (for SD version) and 5.99 euro (for HD) to rent, while download-to-own costs 15.99 euro (SD) and 18.99 euro (HD). Older titles are cheaper, with “Ghostbusters” available for 2.99/4.99 euro to rent for a 48 hour period.

The service is available on smart TVs, gaming consoles, PCs, tablets, smartphones and even Kindles. The aim is for the Cinplexx2Go library to eventually hold over 6,000 titles.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 16 March 2015

Sanjay Gaikwad

India – E-cinema operator UFO Moviez’s management accused of “cheating and forgery.” Oh dear, of dear.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the city police is likely to question UFO Moviez promoters Narendra Hete and Sanjay Gaikwad by this week in connection with the FIR lodged against them for alleged cheating and forgery. The firm is the world’s largest digital cinema distributor.

Additional CP (EOW) Rajvardhan said, “We have served them summons to appear before us for questioning by this week. Further course of action will be decided after their statements are recorded.”  LINK

Odeon Logo

UK – A pretty sweet sweetener to Odeon. I wonder in how many other locations they (and other exhibitors) enjoy these type of subsidies.

The developers of the Odeon cinema have been paid more than £1.2 million since the Brayford picturehouse opened in 2001, new data shows.

The money, which comes from Lucy Tower Street evening parking fees, is tied to a long-term agreement sealed to clinch the Odeon’s move to the Brayford.

The City of Lincoln Council has defended the pay-outs, saying that otherwise the Brayford Waterfront would not have seen the regeneration it has enjoyed since 2001.  LINK

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