CJ@ECA Conference: Practicalities of Live Cinema Delivery

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The afternoon break out session No. 1 looked at technical issues, such as delivery of live events to cinemas. Fabrice Testa of DSat gave a presentatio earlier over lunch (which they sponsored) of the company and its network 1,300 cinemas, showing 50 events and 400 hours of content last year. Isabelle Fauchet is the moderator.

The session structure will include a tour of the OB truck parked outside the Genesis cinema, with a live video link into the theatre. “We want to show you the sharp end of digital cinema,” were the opening words from Arqiva’s Nigel Crow and the OB truck that could be used for small and medium sized events.

A Tour of the OB Truck

We got a walk-through of the equipment in the self-contained truck. Nigel talks the audience through the routing that the signal takes in reaching the cinema, having a choice of four different satlites (Thor 10-02, EUT 5WA, IS-905 and Galaxy 16), which can then pass on the signal via the Arqiva Winchester Teleport all the way via fibre to Hong Kong or Atlanta. It will be used for Manon from the Royal Opera House this evening. With that he signs off and prepared to come in and join Fabrice and Isabelle on the sofa.

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CJ@ECA Conference: New Business Models and New Technology

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Micheal Gubbins of Sampo Media chairs the afternoon panel looking at new business models and new technology for event cinema. He begins with an anecdote about pensioners in his neighbourhood that book up entire opera seasons, go to every performance and all of them dressing up in their best operatic gear. Even the 90-year old gent.

Starting on the far end of the Salim Mukaddam, BBC Worldwide, who works on the music side on thing like the Westlife concert, in addition to Doctor Who and other content. Tom Shaw of Digital Theatre who captured some of the content we saw before the panel started (including flashing Philips lights0. The Matthew Aspray from LANsat/MPS. Thgen award winner Mariusz Spisz of Multikino in Poland (who I  just saw at the SAWA event in Berlin last weeks). And finally the Philips rep – Ronald Maandonks.

Micheal starts off with question to BBC WW about what it is with technology that now makes event cinema possible. Salim begins by stressing BBV WW’s television strength, being the biggest non-Hollywood studio television exporter. “Back in 2009 event cinema was possible and we were looking at things like Met Opera about how we can replicate things for things like the Proms. We split the world with By Experience in US and another company for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.” Aparently the experience with By Experience was good [but what about the other one?] and they continued doing Last Night of the Proms with them.

They then continued the trials with Robbie Williams’ comback concert and Westlife, both of which were record breaking event cinema events. “It’s really about cost of taking it to the market. Prior to 2009 we would never have done it for the cost of taking such a film to cinema,” Salim states. “It is the move to digital that did it for us.”  The point is made about technology becoming’ invisible’ and now it is about the business model and the experience. Salim confrms that “the key for us is live, so if we can go briefly live over satelite makes it a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience,” as well as “cost effective ways of going live across the globe or near-live” rather than going out on DCPs.

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CJ@ECA Conference: Farsight Blueprint of the Future – Discussion Session

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Christine Costello from More2screen introduces the session looking ahead by quoting Bill Gates about over/under estimating change in the short/long term, as well as getting it wrong (as Bill Gates and Microsfto did with the Internet).

There is no panel, but an opportunity for discussion between Christine (a true veteran and event cinema expert) and the audience. She starts off by giving a background to her companyand the industry, ticking off several firsts and partnerships with the likes of Glyndbourne and the Royal Opera House into UK and international markets.

More2screen has gone out on 5,000 screens, 60 territories for 150+ productions (as you can see from the slide at the bottom). What’s new in 2014 is the British Museum for the first archeological exhibition (earlier ones had been art-focused), representing new genres. “Where there is new technology, we want to be using it,” Costello affirms. Which ties in neatly with how they also did the 4K concert for Peter Gabriel this year.

Key themes are using new technology, building new genres, collaboration, innovating wherever possible and partnering. “That’s us. Now we come to the big question: how will event cinema change ib the next ten years.” Admitting that none of us have crystal balls, she sent out the question ‘How will Event Cinema landscape develop in the next decade?’ to leading members of the industry all over the world.

The question/statement was: Event cinema is on a steady growth curve and by 20202 will represent the following % of my territory’s box office: 5%, 10%, 15%, or other. In the US it is just 2% today. The majority seem to be voting 10%, with 3-4 people voting 15% (including myself and Hancock, so that’s the analyst’s guess) with Rickard and Isabelle voting for ‘other’.

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CJ@ECA Conference: Utilising the Intermission to Generate Ravenue

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The second breakout session looked at revenue generating opportunities in the intermission, presented by Atena Simovic, head of event cinema department in a multiplex in Bucharest with 13 screens for past three years, during which they have had over 500 events, which inlcludes renting out the venue.

Their cinema organises live on-stage event, including stand-up comedy and concerts with full staging capabilities. “The first time when we had intermissions is when the distributors told us about the line-up of their shows,” she explains. There was a conscious effort to extract more revenue, but in the beginning effort such as opening new bars didn’t work. So they said, “let’s announce it and it started very slowly to grow. But then they had the first event without intermission. So we had an idea to have the intermission BEFORE the event.”

Initially this didn’t work because people didn’t shw up on time. “OK, we said, let’s create and Event Before the Event, which is a complegte experience.” So people gathered before for socialising, sharing and getting together as friends. During the week theyhave kids’ theatre, so they come up with After-the-show-Intermission with breakfast, games or face painting for their children, because the mall didn’t open early enough to do these events before the show.

They then tried product presentation and for an event that had not been selling well, once the commercial partner offered a beer and a sandwich for each attendees, the event sold out. “This is a little bit of what we have done and learned a ot in thr process, but we had questions; questions we want t share today.”

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CJ@ECA Conference: Marketing Event Cinema panel

Marketing Event Cinema

The first panel of the conference is a ‘big sofas’ discussion on the major and challenging topic of marketing event cinema, with a panel of truly leading industry expert. Each sofa sitter introduces him/herself  and provides a background to their company. There seems to b a friedly competition as to who has the longest experience in the field, with Cineplex’s Brad LaDouceur probably winning with the PPV wrestling events from WWF in the lat 90s in Canada.

The discussion kicks if with moderator Austin Shaw (Omniverse) highlighting the value chain, pointing to films having a long value chain of exploitation rights, but this is simply not the case with event cinema. “We’ve talked about some great success, but there have also been turkeys along the was,” so the question is how to make every event a success at every level, thus maximising returns for everyone involved. Given the limited marketing budgets, there is thus an imperative to grow the market together.

Producer Dione Orrom gets the word first, and she points to personal experience of living outside London and the frustration of meeting people who had not heard of NT Live (“Friends say, ‘I didn’t know that was happening’”) and school classes seem ignorant of things such as Matisse Live. “There is less time for awareness to percolate” for event cinema.

Next Austin points to the trio on the ‘distribution couch’. Craig from Altive Media says that they try to emulate film distribution, saying they have an average of GBP 60 to spend per cinema venue for posters, post cards, tralers, etc.. This is little, “but when Bon Jovi was done there was NOTHING spent per cinema. If they were lucky they got a PDF to print.”

BBC Worldwide’s Julia Nocciolino talks about building brands and communities around those brands, with ‘activations’ in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who event. “Innovating, creating unique experiences, which gets you attention in the press and that gets it out to a wider audience.”

Arts Alliance’s Mark Foster contridicts Craig and states that “we are NOT trying to replicate the movie distribution model.” He talks about engaging with schools, “since Shakepeare is always on the curriculum.”  (AAM has the rights to The Globe theatre).

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CJ@ECA Conference: Keynote by Melissa Cogavin & Niels Swinkles

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The second-ever Event Cinema Association annual conference attracted over 200 delegates, almost double last year’s figures, neatly illustarting the gorwth of the burgeoning sector. Located this year in the charming Genesis Cinema in London’s East End, the day was opened by ECA President Melissa Cogavin (nee Keeping) giving an introduction and a brief overview on the topic of event cinema (nee ‘alternative content’) – but first a promo from the sponsors Philips LightVibes, which has installed its system in the cinema for extra effect as the walls flash and pulse in time with the action on the screen (see above). 

“We feel strongly there should be something for everyone”, Melissa says, “which is why there are no less then six breakout sessions” throughout the day [Note to self: remember to clone myself ahead of the next conference ]. Melissa states that the purpose of today is “to provide a sense of where are as an industry in 2014 and how ECA can help you find your place in it.” Also some good news in that ECA has just this week received funding from Creative Skillset, a UK arts funding body.

Melissa gives a brief overview of what ECA does for its 72 members in 19 countries. She then provides a snapshot of some of the biggest blockbuster hits of event cinema in recent times, including Doctor Who, Billy Elliot and  the 1D (One Direction), the latter of which proves that there is significant potential for music acts in cinemas.

Melissa talks about the activities at trade shows and the launch of the Technical Handbook. She then hand over to Niels Swinkles MD for UPI, whois this year’s keynote speaker.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 3 October 2014

RealD Founders Michael Lewis and Josh Greer

RealD founders Michael Lewis, left, and Josh Greer wear 3-D glasses inside their theater at their Beverly Hills headquarters. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

RealD shares debuted at USD $16 when the company first went public but are now languishing at less than ten dollars, so this unsolicited take-over bid should not come as a surprise.

RealD Inc. (RLD), the supplier of 3-D technology to cinemas, received a $12-a-share takeover bid from Starboard Value LP, the activist investor that’s pressing Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) for changes. RealD shares soared.

Starboard holds a 9.9 percent stake in RealD, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. The offer represents a 29 percent premium over RealD’s $9.27 closing price yesterday in New York and values the company at about $600 million. The stock jumped 27 percent to $11.78 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day gain since the July 2010 IPO. LINK

ACGE Conference

Director Sylvain Guy Francois Macerola, Patrick Roy, president of Seville Pictures and Raffaele Papalia, president Cinemas Cine Entreprise

Canada (Quebeq) – French-speaking Canada has a new cinema association: l’Association pour le cinéma sur grand écran (ACGE).

Speakers from all areas of the film industry on the big screen on Wednesday announced the creation of the Association for movies on the big screen (ACGE), whose objective is to promote the cinematic experience.

As President, members ACGE elected unanimously Raffaele Papalia, president of Cinemas Cine Entreprise. The former president and CEO of SODEC François Macerola will act as a strategic advisor to the association.

According to Papalia, now is now conducive to union resources of members of the CGEA, “to analyze the challenges the film industry faces on the big screen.” The objectives of the new association will be to develop new approaches that will favor the revival of audiences, convey a positive and inclusive message to moviegoers and promote the cinema experience on the big screen. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 1 October 2014

Billy Elliot

Event cinema has a new hero and his name is Billy Elliot, having grossed more on the day it beamed than The Equalizer, the highest grossing film.

Universal’s live stream from London’s Victoria Palace Theatre last night [Sept 28] danced its way to an extraordinary $3.1m (£1.904m), setting a new record for Event Cinema releases.

Based on figures from Rentrak, in terms of theatre releases, Billy Elliot surpassed the previous best opening set by NT Live: War Horse at $2.5m (£1.6m). War Horse is also currently the highest grossing theatre release at $4.6m (£2.7m).  LINK

Good timing for Variety to cast a spotlight on event cinema, which accounts for almost a fifth of revenue of some art house screens and has saved many a rural cinemas.

Picturehouse director of distribution Marc Allenby says a like percentage of his company’s box office comes from such programming. “What’s remarkable,” he adds, “is that that 18% comes from such a small proportion of screenings.”

In Sweden, not only has the sector been a boon to rural cinemas, which struggle to book new film releases day-and-date with big cities, it also has enabled exhibs to take advantage of new revenue streams.

“A court decision said that when a cinema is screening opera or theater, it automatically becomes an opera house or theater, so legally, we can serve alcohol,” says Rickard Gramfors of Folkets Hus och Parker, which operates 170 cinemas in the nation.  LINK

Both of them will be attending the ECA event in London on 16 October – see our banner and side bar for details.

AMC premium seats

AMC is pushing ahead faster than planned with its re-seating plan of upgrading more of its cinemas to premium quality (and pricing). It will spend USD $39 million more than initially planned in the current year. Smart or desperate strategy? The answer is: ‘necessary’.

The approximately $39 million represents a nearly 20 percent increase from the estimated $200 million in planned net cash outlays in 2014. Actual total capital spending for 2014 will be approximately $265-$285 million, before expected landlord contributions of $35-$55 million.

The additional 2014 capital investment will primarily support the acceleration of recliner re-seat initiatives, additional MacGuffins bars and IMAX screens in AMC theatres. As of June 30, 2014, AMC had recliner re-seats in 44 locations with 505 screens, 74 MacGuffins and 148 IMAX screens, which makes AMC North America’s leading and largest IMAX distributor.

In December of 2013, AMC announced a $600 million, five-year recliner re-seat investment. During the second quarter of 2014, admissions revenues per screen increased by 33 percent and Adjusted EBITDA more than doubled at AMC’s 44 recliner re-seat locations.   LINK

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China Special Cinema Digest – Thursday 25 September 2014

Today we catch up Chinese cinema news from the last couple of weeks, which I was unable to report while travelling. As always, the Google translation is not perfect, but as we do not have a journalist on staff who can translate perfectly from Mandarin (yet!), it will have to do. We are also saving the biggest piece of cinema news to come out of China recently for a separate post.

Chen Xing technology laser

Our favourite Chinese (digital) cinema equipment manufacturer Chen Xing has issues a list of “Seven Rules for Cinema Brand Building” that heavily promotes its own technologies and solutions, while also providing an insight into the company’s thinking and strategy.

Don’t forget what we’ve written about them before: “China’s ‘Last Mile’ Plan for Digital Cinema: Ditch Western Technology.” This is as much true for smartphones and airplanes as it is for cinema equipment – China does not want to keep importing ‘Western’ technologies but build their own (then export it). Such competition and innovation should not be seen as a threat but a good thing.

The Seven Rules are: acoustical design, sound system, laser light source projection, TMS centralized management and control systems, cinema ticketing management system and service quality guarantee system.

Chen Xing talks about the alternatives it will offer up when it comes to laser (illuminated) projection, as well as immersive audio, where its Cinelab has developed 5.1, 15.1 and 17.1 audio which “get rid of the shackles of sources,” and offer “the perfect interpretation of the Dolby (ATMOS) panoramic sound studio truest sound.”

Chen Xing fires a shot across the bows of the other manufacturers by pointing out that while not being part of the original DCI elite, it is one of the largest server/media block deployers in the world today.

Digital Film for film and television industry has brought tremendous changes. Especially in distribution and exhibition side, digital cinema technology has maintained rapid growth in recent years. Of course, these are inseparable from the updated device technology. Regardless nowadays 3D, IMAX, 4K and other high-tech marketing, have become an end shadow vane hall, the market demand for high-tech also “hubbub straight on.” Christie, Barco, NEC, SONY have launched projectors with laser light source, which means Hollywood recommended type of light source laser source trend.

Among them, in the digital cinema systems, as film screenings server core products while always being SONY, GDC, Dolby, Doremi and other foreign manufacturers, “occupation”, but with the development of technology, more and more Chinese national brand manufacturers Chen Xing Technology began as “emerging” by the market influence is also rising. It is understood that the field of the world’s digital projectors DCI-compliant digital cinema server products, market share and influence were sorted by: GDC, Dolby, Doremi, Chen Xing AQ series.  LINK

Imax Tianjin

Imax screens only account for one per cent (1%) of the total Mainland screen count but an astonishing ten per cent (10%) of the box office, according to an interview with Imax’s director in China Yuan Hong. He also reiterates that China’s total box office will overtake the United States, some time between 2018 and 2020. “When will we surpass the United States? Five years ago we did not expect to ask this question, now it is just around the corner,” he observes.

Also at the box office, too, “as the movie, the theater itself is dependent on bringing new grossing film screenings, but also for the huge traffic.” Especially as the Lunar New Year stalls, summer gears up. “It also shows that, for shopping centre developers, the introduction of a cinema format still has a very good future.” At the box office, although high, it brings high turnover, but the scene, Yuan Hong also points out is “broke.” “For the cinema itself the profit margins are very limited, even if the movie is good, it is quicker to make money from popcorn, drinks, toys and other Transformers. ”  LINK

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