Monthly Archives: June 2011

IHS Screen Digest: Russia Becomes A Billion Dollar Cinema Market

Anyone who has attended an industry trade show this year or has taken even a cursory look at international box office grosses has undoubtedly noticed the increase in revenue being generated in two countries; China and Russia. It’s no secret that the cinema market in both of these territories is on the rise as each goes through their own multiplex boom. While researching a piece on international box office for the July issue of Boxoffice Magazine I was told by Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President of International Distribution for Warner Bros., “Russia has been the single biggest growth story in the last decade, and China will be the biggest growth market looking ahead.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia continued to be a growth story for some time to come. That’s precisely the subject of a recent IHS Screen Digest report authored by David Hancock. Some of the highlights from the report include:

  • Record box office in Russia surpassing the USD $1 billion in 2010
  • The market has 2,430 screens of which 297 were added in 2010 – the strongest growth in the last five years
  • Over 30% of all the screens in Russia are in Moscow and St. Petersburg
  • Of the 941 digital screens in Russia, 95% are capable of showing 3D

Of course, the IHS Screen Digest report contains enough facts and figures to prove the point ten times over, certainly more than can be recounted here. Suffice to say, Russia is now a market that is so important that Paramount held the world premiere of “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon” in Moscow on June 23rd.

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Paramount’s Unique “Super 8″ Twitter Promotion

Super 8 Twitter Promoted TrendLate last Thursday my Twitter list of entertainment journalists lit up with posts about “Super 8“. It was the evening of the all-media screening Los Angeles and as soon as the credits rolled journalists and critics began praising the film on Twitter. That kind of buzz can’t be bought, or at least that’s what I thought at the time.

Realizing the positive word-of-mouth the film was receiving on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Paramount, the studio releasing the film on June 10th, has decided to stoke the fire. They have partnered with Twitter to offer users of the service advanced tickets to a sneak preview screening on June 9th. Paramount is also holding separate, private screenings for Twitter users with large numbers of followers, and even one for Twitter employees. Attendees of all screenings will be encouraged to post messages about the film on Twitter.

To facilitate the offering, Paramount has sponsored the hashtag #Super8Secret as a Promoted Trend on Twitter. Users who click on the trending topic are provided with a link to purchase advanced tickets to the “Super 8″ sneak previews taking place at 325 theaters throughout the United States. Paramount is also offering free popcorn as part of the promotion.

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Alamo Drafthouse Anti-Texting PSA Goes Viral

The Alamo Drafthouse has gained quite a reputation over the past couple of years as one of the countries best movie theaters. Entertainment Weekly hailed it as the best movie theatre in America and Wired.com went a step further by calling it the “Coolest Movie Theater in the World”. Besides being known for an eclectic mix of programming which is served up alongside beer and barbecue, founder Tim League has also built the Alamo Drafthouse’s reputation through Fantastic Fest, an annual film festival specializing in horror, action, fantasy and science fiction titles.

But if you ever get a chance to visit the Alamo Drafthouse, you may not want to reach for your mobile phone whether it’s to make a phone call or text a friend.

Earlier this week the Alamo Drafthouse gained even more notoriety after a creative anti-texting public service announcement turned into a YouTube viral video. According to a post on the theatre’s website, a patron had to be expelled from the Drafthouse recently after she wouldn’t stop texting in the middle of a movie. Even though the Alamo Drafthouse has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to talking or cell phone use during movies, the moviegoer continued to text after being given two warnings to give her thumbs a break. So, Drafthouse employees tossed her to the curb without a refund.

Apparently, the audience member was none too pleased at this turn of events and called the Drafthouse to leave a profanity laden voicemail. The audio from the voicemail turned out to be the perfect soundtrack for League’s PSA, which can be viewed above or on YouTube. (Warning: The patron’s choice of language makes this video a textbook definition of NSFW – Not Safe For Work).

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Katzenberg Discouraged Over Decline Of 3D

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg

There has been no greater champion of 3D than Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg. Except maybe filmmaker James Cameron, there have been few, if any, industry cheerleaders as vocal about 3D than Katzenberg. As far back as 2007, Katzenberg could be heard at trade shows and in the press hailing digital 3D as “the single most revolutionary change since color pictures”.

To paraphrase an old cliché, Katzenberg should be careful what he wishes for, he just might get it. Four years after he began touting the new motion picture format digital 3D films have flooded the market in search of incremental box office from ticket surcharges. Though as a string of movies featuring poor 3D conversions hit theaters during a global economic downturn, a majority of moviegoers are choosing the 2D version of recent releases such as Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda 2″.

Now Katzenberg is lamenting the “decline of 3D”, calling it “heartbreaking” in an interview published earlier today by The Hollywood Reporter. Katzenberg stated:

“I think 3D is right smack in the middle of its terrible twos. We have disappointed our audience multiple times now, and because of that I think there is genuine distrust — whereas a year and a half ago, there was genuine excitement, enthusiasm and reward for the first group of 3D films that actually delivered a quality experience. Now that’s been seriously undermined. It’s not in any fashion, shape or form the demise of 3D, but until there are 3D experiences that exceed people’s expectations, it’s going to stay challenged. It’s really heartbreaking to see what has been the single greatest opportunity that has happened to the film business in over a decade being harmed. The audience has spoken, and they have spoken really loudly.”

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Warner Bros. Brings Looney Tunes Back To Cinemas

Looney Tunes In 3DJust this past weekend I was shocked when my daughters, six and four-year-olds, asked who Bugs Bunny was. I’m not sure why I was so surprised, since they watch very little television and most of the movies they’ve seen feature characters from Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks Animation titles. This is probably why my attempt to trigger their memory with a “What’s up Doc?!” in my best Mel Blanc voice was such a failure.

Thanks to YouTube it only took a few minutes to introduce my daughters to not only Bugs Bunny, but Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, Tweety Bird and all the major Looney Tunes characters I remember so fondly from my own youth. Yet, as if responding to my personal predicament, Warner Bros. themselves will be lending me a hand in my daughters animation education.

Earlier today, the studio announced that three new animated Looney Tunes shorts will be shown in theaters in front of Warner Bros. releases. Not only will these new shorts be shown in 3D, but they will feature the voice of Mel Blanc based on recordings he made in the 1950s.

Per the press release, the shorts hitting theaters are as follows:

  • “Daffy’s Rhapsody”: In the first of the new shorts, a persistent Elmer Fudd chases Daffy Duck (Blanc) on stage during a musical performance. The short features Blanc performing the song “Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody.” “Daffy’s Rhapsody” is scheduled to debut in theaters on November 18, 2011, in conjunction with Warner Bros. Pictures’ release of “Happy Feet 2.”
  • “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat”: A classic game of cat and bird transpires in Granny’s apartment as Tweety Bird goes to great lengths to avoid the clutches of his arch-nemesis Sylvester the Cat. The short also features the hit song of the same name, which was performed by Blanc, and sold over three million copies worldwide.
  • Untitled Coyote & Road Runner: Wile E. Coyote’s epic quest to capture the Road Runner continues in this all-new short. Will the Coyote finally get his paws on his elusive prize?>

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