Monthly Archives: October 2011

CineEurope Makes The Move To Barcelona In 2012

CineEurope LogoHaving changed its name from Cinema Expo to CineEurope this year upon teaming up with the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), now another change is in store for Europe’s largest motion picture exhibitor trade show; its location.

After being held at the Rai in Amsterdam for the past 15 years, the conference is being packed up and moved to Barcelona for the 2012 event. This was a move that had been rumored as far back as 2009, when UNIC decided to hold their own trade show in Brussels a week before Cinema Expo. Rather than compete head-to-head with a larger trade show, UNIC decided to fold the European Cinema Summit into Cinema Expo in 2011 and rebrand it as CineEurope. A change-of-venue could help in reposition the show in attendees’ minds.

In a press release statement announcing the move, Robert Sunshine, the Managing Director of CineEurope (not to mention ShowEast and CineAsia), said:

“The move to Barcelona represents CineEurope’s dedication to better serving the European cinema exhibition and distribution communities. CineEurope management and UNIC consulted with constituents and the overwhelming feedback received was that a move to Spain would be a beneficial change”.

Underscoring the new venture as a combined effort, Ad Westrate, the President of UNIC, also provided a press release quote

‘’I am sure I speak for all UNIC colleagues in welcoming CineEurope’s move to Barcelona and our continuing partnership with Bob Sunshine and his team. Our members will now have even more reasons to support the convention in its new host city.”

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Mexico’s Cinepolis Heads North Of The Border

Cinepolis LogoNot sure how I missed this. None of the gazillion Google alerts I’ve set up to track all things exhibition and distribution informed me that National Public Radio broadcast a story on Cinépolis back on August 12th. Nor did I hear the piece on Morning Edition, the NPR program my alarm clock blares on most days. (No doubt it aired during one of my many “snooze bar” fits.) There was even a story in the Hollywood Reporter that slipped under my radar.

If you live in the United States or Europe and have never heard of Cinépolis that may change very soon. The Mexican based theatre chain has a history dating back to 1947 and has grown to encompass more than 2,500 screens in over 270 theaters spanning several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and, of course, Mexico.

Over the past 10 years Cinépolis has gone through explosive growth to become the fourth largest theatre chain in the world. They company serves nearly 117 million moviegoers each year and its theaters in Mexico account for more than 61% of the country’s box office. A few years back the company began opening multiplexes in India. Now they’ve moved north into the United States and opened their first Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas in Del Mar, California, a wealthy suburb of San Diego.

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Universal Cancels “Tower Heist” Premium-VOD Test

Tower Heist Cast

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy Star In "Tower Heist"

Well that didn’t take long. Facing stiff opposition from exhibitors Universal Pictures has decided to scrap its plan of releasing “Tower Heist” on premium-video-on-demand three weeks after its November 4th release. The move comes a week after the studio originally announced its intentions to run a PVOD test in Atlanta and Portland which would make the film available to about 500,000 cable subscribers for USD$59.99.

No doubt the number of exhibitors willing to boycott the film outright had a great deal to do with the decision. Previously Cinemark, Emagine Theatres, Galaxy Theatres, Regency Theatres and an additional 50 screens owned by independent operators all publicly stated they would not be booking the film if Universal went ahead with the premium-VOD test. Then today National Amusements joined the list of exhibitors opting not to show “Tower Heist”. With 950 screens worldwide, National Amusements is one of the largest chains in the United. States. Bloomberg reported that of the 39,000 screens in the U.S., 12% were participating in the boycott.

If that figure directly corresponds to the drop in box office Universal could expect for “Tower Heist” then that’s significant. Given that it is predicted the film will make upwards of a USD $100 million or more, that could mean foregoing USD $12 million in receipts. It’s unlikely that Universal’s PVOD test would have brought in as much, even if the studio decided to roll it out nationwide. Try explaining that to talent whose contracts are tied to theatrical box office gross.

So earlier today Universal released a prepared statement reversing their decision to test PVOD with “Tower Heist”:

“Universal Pictures today announced that in response to a request from theater owners, it has decided to delay its planned premium home video on demand (PVOD) experiment. Universal continues to believe that the theater experience and a PVOD window are business models that can coincide and thrive and we look forward to working with our partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in the future.”

Before Universal’s original plan was made public, they reached out to key theater owners to inform them of their desire to release “Tower Heist” on PVOD. I’m not sure what came of these conversations or whether they were more of a warning to exhibitors rather than a request or negotiation. Jon Fithian, head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, who had been mum on Universal’s plans until today, referenced this ongoing dialogue in his response to the studios about-face:

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Woman Sues “Drive” Distributor Over Misleading Trailer

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Living up to the stereotype that you can file a lawsuit for just about anything in the United States, the Hollywood Reporter published a story over the weekend about a woman in Michigan who is suing the distributor of “Drive” over what she claims is a misleading trailer.

Sarah Deming’s lawsuit states that FilmDistrict’s trailer for “Drive”:

“…promoted the film ‘Drive’ as very similar to the ‘Fast and Furious’, or similar, series of movies…’Drive’ bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film… having very little driving in the motion picture.”

The critically acclaimed film is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who takes side jobs as a getaway driver for various robberies. “Drive” does feature at least one car chase which is likely to go down in the annals of cinema history as one of the medium’s best, but the movie is hardly a shot ‘em action film similar to the “Fast and Furious” franchise. In fact, the story centers more on Gosling’s character and his flirtations with a character played by Carey Mulligan. It’s more of a thinking-man’s suspense film.

Even so, the trailer wasn’t Deming’s only complaint. She was also turned off by moments of overblown cartoonish violence depicted in “Drive” which left very little to the imagination. Her lawsuit went on to claim:

“Drive was a motion picture that substantially contained extreme gratuitous defamatory dehumanizing racism directed against members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoted criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith.”

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Universal Hopes “Tower Heist” Will Pass The Premium-VOD Test

Tower Heist

In what the Los Angeles Times called “an audacious move” earlier this week, Universal Pictures announced earlier this week that it would allow the Eddie Murphy action comedy “Tower Heist” to be shown via premium-video-on-demand three weeks after its November 4th release date. Naturally, if Universal finds premium-VOD to be profitable without gutting their theatrical box office receipts, you can bet every other studio will follow their lead.

Of course, exhibitors aren’t big fans of premium-VOD or shortening the theatrical window from its current 90-day average in any form. Their big fear is that patrons will be accustomed to simply wait for a movie to be available at home rather than head to the theater not only lowering attendance but also permanently damaging concession sales.

The biggest downside of Universal’s plan, besides ticking off exhibitors, is the whopping USD $59.99 cost of screening “Tower Heist” in the comfort of your own home. During a time when news reports have the world headed toward another recession that kind of price might cripple sales. After all, USD $60 is roughly the price of six tickets on average at a movie theater.

However, it is tough economic times in the first place that is causing the movie industry to experiment with premium-VOD as they try to replace sagging DVD sales. But you probably already know that. In fact, you probably also know that theater owners will be just a angry about Universal’s current plans as they were this spring when the studio, along with three others, struck a deal with satellite television provider DirecTV to make a handful of titles available for premium-VOD 60 days after theatrical release for USD $29.99.

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