Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 21 October 2014

The Space Italy

Last week’s big news was the announcement that UK/European exhibitor Vue had acquired Italian cinema chain The Space. Having previously expanded into Germany and Poland, this was a vote of confidence in the troubled south European market – though The Space is the cinema leader in an otherwise fragmented market, plus Italy had unless most other European territories an excellent cinema year in 2014.

European exhibitor Vue Entertainment International said Thursday it has agreed to acquire The Space Entertainment, a cinema chain in Italy with 36 multiplex theaters with 362 screens.

The deal is Vue’s fourth acquisition in the past three years and is supported via a follow-on investment from the firm’s Canadian owners Omers Private Equity and AIMCo. Over the past three years, Vue has more than doubled the number of cinemas and screens under its ownership from 70 to 187 cinemas and from 678 to 1,727 screens.  LINK

Wanda Cinema

China (PRC) – Wanda has re-filed its IPO documents for a listing in Shenzen. So much for the conspiracy theories that the first failure was a face saving strategy to list in Hong Kong or abroad.

Wanda Cinema Line, China’s biggest theaters chain, has re-filed its application for an IPO.

Its earlier attempt to float on the Shenzhen stock market in July was denied by regulators who said that its documentation was insufficient.

The company plans to issue 60 million shares and raise RMB2 billion ($326 million) of fresh capital.  LINK

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CJ@ECA Conference: Event Cinema Awards 2014

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It is time to hand out the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards for event cinema, which is for 100K, 250K and 500K admittance to any event cinema event. This is to help cast a light on the success of events in cinemas. The second category of awards is excellence awards, voted on by the members of the ECA. Sponsor is Rentrak.

The first Gold award goes to BBC WorldWide for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary – Day of the Doctor, for getting more than 500,000 admissions this year. No silver, but five Bronze awards: Arts Alliance for The Nutcracker. Nobody from Arts Alliance is here to collect the award, but nobody is here from AAM to collect it. which is a shame, because they also win the next two prizes. The last two bornzes go to Omniverse for Muse and More2Screen for Pompeii, both of which got more than 100,000 admissions.

Mark Allen, Picturehouse picks up first excellence award and the second goes to Graham Spurling for Movies@. Final exhibition award goes to Mark from National Amusements. He is also not here to collect. “It is a bit like the Indian films awards” our host quips.

The first Excellence in Programming Award goes to The British Museum for Pompeii Live. Then Omniverse gets one for Keane and the final one is for Nexo for the live Cannonization. Caspar from AAM appears and runs down and collects his stack of awards, slightly out of breath.

Phil Grabsky, Exhibition on Screen delivers the Closing Address.

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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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