Category Archives: Daily News Roundup

Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 12 September 2014

As you may have noticed Patrick von Sychowski is in Amsterdam attending IBC which means you must suffer my attempt at putting together a Daily Cinema Digest.  Be sure to check out all of Patrick’s coverage of IBC after catching up on the day’s (or in this case, week’s) cinema news.

Big Cinemas

Hey, remember when North American exhibitors built way too many multiplexes during the 1980′s and 90′s over extending themselves to such a degree that during the early 2000′s the industry began to consolidate with cinema chains buying each other out or merging?  Well, it seems this is a trend that might be hard to avoid.  India has been going through a huge multiplex boom over the past decade and now it seems has entered the consolidation phase of the business cycle.  Rumors are afoot that Carnival Films is in negotiations to acquire the majority of Reliance MediaWorks theatre chain Big Cinemas.  This would be the third such merger or acquisition for India’s exhibition industry in as many months:

Inox Leisure, India’s second largest multiplex operator, acquired Delhi-based Satyam Cineplexes Ltd for nearly Rs.240 crore, paying Rs.182 crore in cash and taking over its debt in a deal that expanded Inox’s presence to 50 cities, with 91 multiplexes and 358 screens; and Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) sold its multiplex business Broadway Cinemas to Carnival Cinemas for an undisclosed amount.

If the deal goes through Carnival would end up with 280 screens.  That really seems to be one of the main reasons for all the mergers and acquisitions; more screens a bigger market share of the box office and thus more leverage when negotiating with film producers and distributors over film rental.

According to the omnipresent anonymous source “familiar with the situation” Reliance isn’t looking to completely exit exhibition:

“The contour of the final transaction is yet to be arrived at, but Big Cinemas will not entirely exit the business. It will form a strategic alliance with an existing cinema exhibition chain that will run the daily operations and it will receive proportionate revenues from them as part of the partnership. Reliance MediaWorks will also invest in the venture as part of its growth strategy because it believes there is growth potential in this business.”

Don’t expect the consolidation of the Indian exhibition industry to slow down anytime soon.  Jehil Thakkar, head of the media and entertainment practice at KPMG, told LiveMint:

We certainly do see the cinema multiplex industry continuing to consolidate inorganically as the real growth opportunity lies there… Most of the big players are seeking inorganic growth options and scale is a very important part of this business.”

I just love that word “inorganic”.  Do you think since organic products usually cost more at stores that inorganic ones would cost less?  If so, maybe Carnival could get a discount on Big Cinemas since it would technically be considered “inorganic growth”.  LINK

Megabox

South Korea – The sale of exhibition circuits isn’t limited to India.  Over in South Korea an investment group is looking to cash out on their seven-year investment in Megabox.  Korea Multiplex Investment Corp.

Inside, though anonymous, sources have told various media outlets that backers Korea Multiplex Investment Corp., whose shareholders include the National Pension Service, Public Officials Benefit Association and Military Mutual Aid Association, are pushing for a sale of the company and have been reaching out to potential buyers.

Megabox is one of South Korea’s largest multiplex operators controlling 21% of the screens in the country as of last year. That figure is third to CJ CGV which operates 43% of screens and the film division of Lotte Shopping Company which controls 32%. Korea Multiplex, which owns 50% of Megabox (Jcontentree Corp. holds a 46% stake in the exhibitor), is hoping the circuit will sell for as much as 13 times its current earnings.

In 2013 Megabox netted KRW 25.6 billion (USD $24,745,216) on KRW 206.1 billion (USD $199,218,321) in revenue.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 9 September 2014

AMC Wanda logo

‘AMC Is A Ticking Time Bomb’, Seeking Alpha’s article headline yells. Not quite as dire, but it does raise some pertinent questions about AMC’s long term financing. No mention of the summer slate of 2015 but just a penetrating look at the underlying profit, margin, borrowing, yield and re-financing numbers.

So why are investors willing to pay 22x Forward PE? Is the growth potential really that strong? Revenues has not indicated so. AMC’s profitability is not exactly very decent either – the company earned 2% net income margin for the H1 2014 compared to 3.8% a year ago. What about RGC? Same story.

A large portion of AMC’s earnings is actually paid to debt holders. AMC paid $57.6m in interest expenses compared to its net income of $26.9m during the first half of 2014.

And it is a hefty bill that shareholders have to foot.  LINK

Don’t forget though that AMC is 80% owned by Wanda, so whatever risks other shareholders are exposed to, Wanda carries four times that risk. So Wanda will not let AMC shares tank while it re-structures its planned IPO for Wanda’s Chinese cinema business, which may or may not take place in the US.

Get on Up

Universal has announced that it will henceforth support subtitling and audio description for all of its Hollywood releases in Germany.

Universal will provide cinemas in Germany with international films with subtitles and audio description in future. The first will be the James Brown biopic “Get On Up” on October 9. As stated in a press release co-authored with providers of the app Greta & Stark, this access will be provided for five new Universal releases, with subtitles and audio description in cinemas available in combination with this free smartphone app. In addition to “Get On Up”, these are the Stephen Hawking-biopic “The Theory of Everything”, “In The Labyrinth of Silence”, “Trash” and “Alles ist Liebe” (“All is Love”).  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 8 September 2014

Jerome Seydoux Pathe Paris

Paris is about to see the opening of a museum by the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, which will showcase the evolution of cinema through the Pathé film company’s history. The 2,200 square meter building itself looks hugely impressive (even if it makes people think of a ‘giant glass slug’), perhaps no surprise as it was designed by ‘starchitect’ Renzo Piano.

“Pathé was the first to make cinema into an international industry,” says cinema historian Anne Gourdet-Marès, who is in charge of the equipment section. “Pathé was a visionary, surrounding himself with engineers who could turn his ideas into equipment, like the Pathéscope or the Pathé Baby which dates from 1922. The initial studies for this camera were developed secretly with English engineers. ”

One of the draws of the Foundation, designed by the same architect who designed The Shard in London or the New York Times newspaper building, is its cosy 68-seater screening hall, equipped two 35mm projectors and a digital one – because of course the Foundation is involved in restoring and digitalising film.

A black piano at the foot of the screen is not just for show.  LINK

Cinema France

Reassuring then to know that cinema remains the favourite cultural activity of the French.

Over the past twelve months, the cinema topped the ranking with 72% against 42% for museums and 32% for concerts after LH2 study mareduc.com.

Cinemas attract 90% of 15-24 years, while 65 and older prefer the museum and exhibitions.

Next budget, the study says that more than six out of ten French, 65% spend less than 50 € monthly in cultural outings budget.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 5 September 2014

Selfridge cinema

London’s luxury department store Selfridges (star of the ITV drama series about its eponymous American founder) will be one of the first stores in the world to have its own in-house cinema. We like the look of it so much that we even break our usual policy of only posting on photo per story to show you both the outside (above) and inside (below) – so no artwork for China BO.

Selfridges opens the world’s first department store cinema in its iconic Oxford Street store today, which will screen classic and contemporary films.

Selfridges has teamed up with the independent chain Everyman to install the 60-seat 3,500 sq ft experience, located on the store’s lower-ground floor.

The cinema, which will be at Selfridges until spring 2015, will initially screen films selected by designers from the store’s Masters campaign, which showcases the work of 12 influential designers such as Paul Smith, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.  LINK

Selfridge cinema

China (PRC) – Chinese Mainland box office it set to pass USD $5 billion this year, according to THR.

China’s box office has just passed the key 20 billion yuan ($3.26 billion) threshold, a full three months faster than last year, and is already swiftly approaching last year’s $3.55 billion total.

With a raft of major Hollywood and domestic titles still to come this year in the world’s second-biggest film market, box office is on track for $5 billion in full-year 2014, according to M1905, which is the official website of the state broadcaster’s movie channel, CCTV6.

It took 246 days to break through the 20-billion-yuan marker, which is 96 days faster than last year.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 4 September

 

IBC

IBC is less than a week away and the IBC Big Screen Experience (free for all attendees!) will hear an urgent appeal for digital cinema manufacturers, exhibitors and others to resolve the vexing issue of software upgrades.

John Hurst, co-founder and CTO of CineCert, LLC internationally recognized developer of D-Cinema technology based in California, will be presenting at the Global D-Cinema Update Session at IBC a call to action to all digital cinema stakeholders to resolve delays in deployment of software upgrades on installed digital cinema systems globally.

During the session hosted by the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF), panelists will discuss the effect of out of date software on global cinema operations and the barriers to upgrade which keep many cinemas on legacy versions. John Hurst will explain the importance of upgrading software on legacy systems and will explore barriers to upgrades including the financial and operational issues that are preventing cinemas from deploying new versions.  LINK

Paragon Theatres

A fascinating look at one of the true pioneers in terms of VIP food cinemas. I had read that for a long time Disney held out against cinemas serving alcohol, but didn’t know that Paramount was the first studio to program films in cinemas that did.

In 1993 on Marco Island, restaurateur Nick Campo and his partners built a movie theater so different it would be 10 years before the National Association of Theatre Owners gave the theater, and its emulators, a category: first-run food theaters. Although food had been served at showings of old movies in retrofitted, abandoned theaters in college towns, Marco Movies was the first theater in the country that was purpose built specifically for serving quality food to audiences in posh auditoriums during showings of first-run films.

The concept proved so successful that Campo and his partners built the Beach Theater on Fort Myers Beach in 1999. But first, the partners had to overcome resistance from the studios. Campo said that at the time his Marco location opened, the contract that theater owners had to sign to obtain first-run movies from the studios stipulated no food or alcoholic beverages could be served. He said Paramount Pictures was the only studio that didn’t have the prohibitive clause, so he started by showing Paramount films.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 3 September 2014

Barco Escape

The Hollywood Reporter has a special issue looking at ‘The Future of Film‘, which to a large extent is also about the future of cinema. Lots of rich pickings, including Carolyn Giardina looking at Barco’s three-screen Escape and what lies beyond it.

Movie screens will continue to morph into ever-wider configurations as well, predicts The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German research firm. “There will be more panorama screens; it’s already happening in Germany,” says Siegfried Foessel, who oversees the company’s moving-picture technologies department, which is developing a 360-degree camera system that was used to shoot the final of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. That footage will be shown in a special 360-degree OmniCam theater installation planned for the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich. Meanwhile, startup Jaunt is developing a 360-degree camera for use in virtual reality.

High-tech interactivity also may play a role in the next generation of theaters. Avatron Development USA is creating special venues, comprised of high-tech attractions, that could begin arriving in cities across the country as early as 2017. They would include a theater where a 3D movie is projected onto a 360-degree dome-shaped screen and real-time facial replacement would be used to project audience members into the action.  LINK

Have Faith in Popcorn

Elsewhere in the issue four ‘experts’ are asked where moviegoing will be ten years hence. The wonderfully out-there Faith Popcorn is the one we can resist quoting.

Movie theaters are dying. As consumers hide out in their at-home binge-cocoons, devouring entire seasons of HBO and Netflix programming, theater owners will partner with hotels to create binge retreats. These will be fab private dens you can rent for a few hours or days to binge-watch whatever you like. It’ll be all about decadence: Food will be catered and gourmet. Mixologists, masseuses and manicurists will be on-call. People will be unplugging from home and work, and plugging in to entertainment, fantasy and luxury.

In the future, fantasy adventure (our craving for exotic experiences) and technology will demolish the old-school movie screen. We’ll have completely immersive experiences. In a decade, Imax and even Oculus Rift experiences will seem as outdated as a Walkman.  LINK

Switch to MasterImage

China (PRC) – As if RealD wasn’t having a bad enough week with Vue announcing that it was switching to Sony Digital Cinema 3D (see yesterday’s Daily), its Asian 3D nemesis MasterImage is now coming for them all legal patent guns blazing.

MasterImage 3D, a worldwide leader in 3D display technologies for digital cinema, took action to challenge the validity of RealD’s utility model (UM) patent in China, filing an invalidation before the State Intellectual Property Office on August 22, 2014. MasterImage 3D specifically argues that RealD’s utility model patent blatantly lacks novelty over MasterImage 3D’s earlier filed patent applications and over RealD’s older patents disclosed several years prior in the United States.

MasterImage 3D concluded that RealD’s utility model patent filed in China is not valid and lacks inventiveness. This UM application was only successfully granted because Chinese UM patents lack substantive examination.  LINK

 

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 2 September 2014

Sony Vue

Is Vue ditching RealD? The exhibitor is switching almost 400 of its screens across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Denmark to Sony Digital Cinema 3D projectors. While the press release doesn’t say it, this is a significant departure for Vue, which has exclusively been using RealD’s 3D technology and is now expanding using the non-licence and non-proprietary Sony 3D solution that Sony previously only offered in non-RealD territories. RealD won’t be happy about this.

The phased conversion process is scheduled to start in September this year. It will extend over a three to four year time period, covering a total of 394 screens across the group’s Vue and CinemaxX branded European estate.

Unlike ‘triple-flash’ systems that rapidly present different images to each eye in turn, the Sony Digital Cinema 3D dual lens solution provides smooth, immersive flicker-free 3D images without distracting flashing effects. Whether audiences are watching in 3D or 2D, Sony’s unique 4K projection technology assures an unparalleled viewing experience, with market-leading contrast levels plus exceptional colour and clarity.

Vue Entertainment International currently deploys a mix of Sony 4K projection systems across its estate, including the flagship R320 and its acclaimed sibling, the R515 that’s optimised for medium-sized and smaller screens.  LINK

 Secret Cinema goes LA Back to the future

After the success of the Back to the Future screenings in London (aside from the botched launch), Secret Cinema is going to bring Hill Valley back to its ancestral and spiritual home – Los Angeles – as part of its launch in the US next year.

Secret Cinema is planning to take its hit production of Back to the Future to Los Angeles, marketing the 30th anniversary of the film’s release.

The immersive cinema company, which builds live events around the screening of films, plans to stage the production in LA next summer. It will follow Secret Cinema’s launch in the US in early 2015 with its Tell No One strand, which keeps the audience guessing the identity of the film until they arrive on the night.

Secret Cinema revealed its plans following the end of a month-long run of Back to the Future, staged at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London from July 31 to Aug 31.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 1 September 2014

CGV logo

China (PRC) – Korea’s CGV is expanding aggressively in Mainland China. With its latest opening in Chengdu the city now has more Imax screens than any other in China.

In “5 yuan fare” era, the price war to Chengdu nationally known film market, as yesterday, the Korean CGV Star Studios high Juhui store opening, Chengdu has reached 9 IMAX screen, just three years from scratch , ranking first in the country. Chengdu film market competition has been upgraded from a price war for competing brands and specialty services. And a good cultural atmosphere and great movie box office potential but also to South Korea CJ Group CGV Studios will enter the Chinese market in Chengdu as the layout of the focus will be in Chengdu to build 10 high-end theater cast.

Chengdu is the first to enter the double cinema competition of the city, but also a multiplex cinema city first batch appears. Up to now, Chengdu has 18 theaters, ranking first in the country. Chengdu, Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Shanghai market at the box office behind, ranking fifth in the country, the number of hundreds of movie theaters, the number of screens per capita highest in the country.  LINK

 Roaring Currents

Korea – And while it’s been a bad box office summer in the US, other territories like Korea are doing very, very well – mainly on the strength of local hits.

Korean films attracted a record 25 million viewers to local theaters in August thanks to the popularity of two historical dramas, “Roaring Currents” and “The Pirates,” a market tracker said on Monday.

The number of cinema tickets sold for Korean films came to 25.06 million last month, equivalent to a ticket each for half of the country’s population of about 50 million people, the Korean Film Council said in a monthly report on box-office data.

It easily beat the previous record of 21 million set in August last year when “Snowpiercer,” “The Terror Live” and “Hide and Seek” simultaneously hit the box-office.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 29 August 2014

image

The poor US box office is the story of the summer. Weak slate or cyclical? Variety crunches the numbers, compares winners & losers and weighs the opinions. The good news is that “summer” matters much less than it used to and true to John Fithian’s wish, studios are now looking at a 12 month window of opportunity.

Despite an August thaw that saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” shatter expectations, the summer box office will likely finish at its lowest point in eight years. Ticket sales are running 15% below last summer’s.

Thanks to the magic of CGI, cities crumbled on a weekly basis, defended by a rotating band of masked superheroes. But are these scorched movie metropolises a metaphor for a business being bombarded by newer, snazzier forms of non-theatrical entertainment, or is this a momentary stumble for an industry that’s still soaring?  LINK

Seeking Alpha has its take on the summer and it leans towards the ‘secular decline’ camp.

Box office debate: Secular decline or smashing 2015 on tap? • 8:59 AM

Clark Schultz, SA News Editor

- Cowen Research analyst Doug Creutz thinks the soft summer box office season this year is evidence of a secular decline in domestic attendance as viewing habits evolve.
- The analysis runs counter to the line of thought of some media analysts who think a weak and uninspiring summer slate is the culprit.
- Creutz points out that the number of summer releases is in-line with historical averages, while box office bulls note tent-poles are spread out throughout the year more than in the past making the summer compare tougher.
- On tap in 2015: Blockbuster releases next year include Star Wars: Episode VII (Lucasfilm), Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel), Fifty Shades of Grey (Universal), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (Lionsgate), The Good Dinosaur (Walt Disney Pictures), Bond 24 (Columbia).

image

On a brighter note, Italy was up in the first quarter this year compared to same period 2013. (No idea why they are flagging Q1 but not Q2.)

Italy was the only big EU market to grow in box office gross and admissions in 2013. Policy differences between Italy and Spain, discussed in the Q1 2014 Distribution Report, account for most of the box office and production growth.

- 30.3M Italians attended the cinema in Q1 2014, compared to 26.8M in Q1 2013.  LINK

Yet The Telegraph reports that there are fears that the Italian film industry is ‘going into a steep decline’ as only three of the 31 titles in competition at this week’s Venice Film Festival are Italian.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 28 August 2014

Maze Runner

Fox’s The Maze Runner will be the first film released in Barco’s Escape triptych-screen format. The film will be released exclusively in five Cinemark locations, two in California and one each in Florida, Texas and Illinois before it is released later in Europe at Brussels Kinepolis Escape Theatre and possibly elsewhere. (BTW Great pairing: Maze + Escape – see what they did there?)

In the case of The Maze Runner, the film was shot in a traditional way, before the decision to use Escape was made. The center screen will display the live-action film, and imagery on the side screens will be extensions of the scenes — i.e., a larger maze — created using visual effects.

“Based on the speed we needed to get this to market and the creative challenges, we tried a new way of rendering and creating the material,” Ted Schilowitz, who is Barco’s “CinemaVangelist” and also works as a futurist at Fox, tells The Hollywood Reporter. This pipeline was built around a Crytek gaming engine for rendering, and computing hardware from Devil & Demon (Schilowitz is president of D&D). The artists worked inside the D&D mobile production unit dubbed Devil’s Playground. (Schilowitz says this sort of setup might also be useful to the struggling VFX industry because “we need to better the tool set so people can be more profitable with their work.”)  LINK

Germany painted posters

The art of big painted billboards in cinemas rather than posters is perhaps most associated with countries like India, but it is still practised in Germany in places such as München, the Yorck cinema in Berlin and this one in Bremen.

Every second weeks she provides a new poster to the Shauburg cinema. 400 to 500 Euro is what the cinema in the trendy Steintor-quarter pays each time for this unique film advertising. “The distributor covers part of the costs. But the main part is paid by us,” says managing director Robert Erdmann. Wulfers cannot live from her dream job alone . Hence she also earns money as a freelance graphic designer and teaching painting classes at the community college.

For her Munich colleagues René Birkner it is the other way around. For 27 years he has been reproducing film posters for three movie theaters in the Bavarian capital. Approximately 40 square meters in size alone is the huge billboard of the movie theater at Sendlinger Tor. To fill it, the 58-year-old must work night shifts regularly. “I feed my family this way.” The rest of the time he paints abstract images. “This is my passion.” LINK

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