Category Archives: Daily News Roundup

Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 22 July 2014

Imax China

Imax – According to Wall Street Journal China, Imax is planning to open a further 19 screens in partnership with local companies ahead of listing its local operation. Interestingly Richard Gelfond’s Chinese name is Gail Fang.

IMAX theater will open new cooperation with Chinese state-owned Shanghai Film Group (Shanghai Film Corp.), these new theater will open in the second half of 2015. IMAX chief executive Gail Fang (Richard Gelfond) in an interview that the new screen is in agreement IMAX April this year after the signing of a new partnership agreement, IMAX at the time that 20 percent of China operations will the shares sold to the Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund (China Media Capital) and private equity firm party sources of capital (FountainVest Partners), Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund and each party sources of capital will be paid before the beginning of 2015 to $ 40 million to purchase these services 10 % stake. Gail Fang said that this is one of the local partners to introduce IMAX many reasons. He explained that the next few weeks IMAX will sign an agreement with the Shanghai Film Group, a related company in China to open six new screens. He would not disclose more details. Gail Fang said they feel American investors do not fully understand the potential of the Chinese film market. IMAX China is a key growth market, also destined to become the company’s largest market.  LINK

Chinese ticket machine cinema third party

China – Internet purchases of cinema tickets via PCs and smartphones now accounts for as much as 40% of some screenings in China, many through third-party operators. But there are problems getting refunds when a screening or booking is cancelled.

So why buy from a third-party platform movie tickets will not refund it to industry sources, it involves a lot of problems:? First permissions issues, some theater tickets willing to open permissions to the site at any time to cancel or reservation, some if not, for unwilling audience request returned tickets, you need a web site to communicate with the theater; Second, the number of back problems, the user tickets through the website, the website will charge a service fee, which is not linked to the occurrence and the theater, And every ticket website service charges are not the same, how much money to retire to cinema audiences has become a major problem; most critical is that each theater has its own ticketing provision that “once sold, will not refund” also it as a “norm”, because in the theater seems, movie tickets have a time limit, the audience returned tickets may affect sales, so in the case of theater tickets out of their own can not retire, the net purchase tickets.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 21 July 2014

dcinex logo

EVS is getting out of the digital cinema business (almost). Having launched a digital cinema server business and set up integrator XDC (later renamed dcinex) almost 15 years ago, the manufacturer is returning its focus to its core broadcast equipment business.

No need for lengthy analysis, other than to note that EVS probably held off longer than it wanted too, isn’t seeing very much return on its overall investment and will not quite be rid of the digital cinema connection until it disposes its newly gained Ymagis shares and bonds. The press release tells us that:

Under the agreement, EVS will receive at the closing:

  • EUR 2.1 million in cash
  • 288,851 new Ymagis shares
  • EUR 6.4 million in Ymagis bonds, which have a maximum maturity of 5 years. These bonds are associated with warrants.
  • In total, the approximate aggregate value of the different components (at last closing Ymagis share price of EUR 7.90) represents around EUR 10.8 million for EVS. On March 31, 2014 dcinex was valued at EUR 7.9 million on the EVS balance sheet.

In addition, dcinex will reimburse the currently existing shareholders’ loans. Today, the loan granted by EVS (including interests) amounts to EUR 1.5 million.  LINK

With digital cinema deployment coming to and end in western Europe (still some mopping up in southerns and eastern Europe), Ymagis can now focus on being a pure service company. Given that digital cinema is a small market with tight margins we should expect yet more consolidation.

Cineworld Ashford Kent

Cineworld has introduced allocated seating in UK, which has lead to confusion and criticism from some customers. A poll of 2,000 readers of a local paper in Kent saw 67% vote ‘NO’ to the allocated seating policy and some customers are threatening to cancel their Cineworld Unlimited. The multiplex chain is alone amongst the major operators in the UK in offering a monthly card allowing unlimited* movie viewing.

Critics said problems with the new system include confusion over row and seat numbers, people ignoring rules, arguments and problems with booking tickets online and the website crashing. Yesterday, KentOnline revealed an argument had broken out during a screening of Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie in Ashford when a group of five sat in the seats booked by other customers. Little Burton resident Kirsty Poynton said the beginning of the film was interrupted due to the disagreement. She said: “There was an argument between a large group of people at the screening.  LINK

But Cineworld is standing its ground with the new policy and a spokesperson quoted as saying, “The decision to introduce allocated seating was made following extensive consultation with cinema users. Whilst we recognise this has not been a popular decision with some customers, the overall and majority of feedback from customers visiting our cinemas has been positive.” (*Terms and Conditions apply – of course). Read More »

Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 18 July 2014

Vista Murray Holdway

New Zealand – Ticketing specialist Vista has been valued at $188 million. Not clear if US or NZ dollars, but as it is on the NZX bourse most likely the latter, meaning it is would be worth USD $163.4 million.

Investors in cinema software company Vista’s sharemarket float will pay $2.35 for its shares, valuing the company at $188 million.

The price was set following a book build open to institutional investors and retail brokers who had been told to expect the price to fall between $2.10 to $2.70.

Vista, one of a stream of technology companies listing on the NZX, is raising $40m of new capital through its initial public offer. Its existing shareholders are seeking to cash up $52m by selling down their stake in the company to 47 per cent.  LINK

Laxmi Talkies

India – Yet another article noting the loss of single screen cinemas in India as multiplexes march on, with Ranchi (the city in question) having four multiplexes but only three stand-alone cinemas left.

Licensing authority for theatres, Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey, says: “We have just issued a licence for a new multiplex in Lalpur. We expect more such theatres to come up in the next few years. The biggest advantage that they have vis-a-vis single-screen theatres is that with multiple screens showing one movie at the same time, the money spent on making the film is recovered in the first weekend itself.”  LINK

Yet it is not smooth sailing for all multiplexes, including this one in Sambalpur that has not opened, despite construction work being finished back in January.

Though its operator Eyelax Films had scheduled to open the multiplex on January 26, it failed to do so as the district administration did not issue the licence.

The town used to have three cinema halls – Ashoka Talkies, Laxmi Talkies and Gaiety Talkies- till pirated CD market spelled doom for their owners. While encroachment by locals forced the Kerala-based owner of the Gaiety Talkies to sell the land to a real estate owner, others are running with old infrastructure. In absence of any option, cine lovers flock the Ashoka and Laxmi Talkies.  LINK

Meanwhile more reports that Reliance ADAG is looking to dump Big Cinemas.

The company is said to be in talks with other multiplex majors like Inox, @PVR_Limited1 Limited and also other PE firms.

As per reports if the strategic sale does not consummate the company would rope in the PE partner to invest in the multiplex chain after being spun off as a separate entity to be listed. LINK

Perhaps Reliance should sell them to Carnival, which is looking to acquire 3,000 screens over the next three years – a figure to be taken not so much with a pinch as a barrel of salt.

Shrikant Bhasi, chairman of the Carnival Group, said that his company is in talks to acquire 175 screens from three separate multiplex operators in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Bhasi did not share details of the plans, but confirmed that consulting firm KPMG is advising the company on the transactions, which he said will be concluded in the next two to three months. “The immediate goal is to have 300 screens,” said Bhasi, who is also a movie producer and has played minor roles in Malayalam films. “My team is already working for a 3,000-screen project.”  LINK

Not sure if they will want screens in southern India where state governments keep setting price controls on tickets and now also concessions.

The Congress government had promised to introduce uniform fares to contain the multiplex lobby in January.

But, in an interview to NDTV, state Information Minister Roshan Baig said, “I used to feel the pinch as a movie-goer. But then we are not paying for the ticket alone. Chennai has uniform rates of Rs. 120 and we wanted to bring the same to control the prices imposed by multiplex owners, but I realized it cannot work. Malls are now turning away from Chennai. But I have ordered multiplex owners in Bangalore to reduce prices of food items because they are very expensive”.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 11 July 2014

Big Cinemas

India – After the surprise merger of its RMW film services division with Prime Focus, Reliance ADAG looks set to sell off its Big Cinemas operation. Good analysis as always from Variety’s Patrick Frater.

The company is in advanced negotiations to sell its Big Cinemas circuit to an unidentified private equity firm, according to Indian business media. RMW is also reported to be holding similar talks with PVR and Inox Leisure, the country’s two largest cinema operators. Big Cinemas operates some 280 screens across India, making it the third-largest circuit. Born from the Adlabs group that Reliance ADA acquired in 2006, Big Cinemas was previously the largest exhibitor in India. But it lost ground to its smaller rivals because it opened too many single-screen cinemas and missed some key acquisitions. LINK

India – And like most other multiplexes, Big Cinemas has completed the transition to DCI-grade digital cinema while most single-screen cinemas in India now have lower grade e-cinema systems from the like of UFO Movies, meaning that the country is close to complete digitisation.

With nearly 95 per cent of Indian cinema screens now digitised, the industry is expected to see buoyant growth in the long run. The Government has approved an anti-piracy plan for combating piracy which impacts movies’ box office collections. The Government has also signed co-production agreements with nine countries including Italy, Brazil, Germany, France, New Zealand, Poland and Canada. India is also a sought after shooting location, as the Government gave permission to 31 foreign production houses in 2013-14. Also, the first phase construction of the National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai has been completed and will open for the general public shortly. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 8 July 2014

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Today’s big news is AMC spending USD $600 million on upgrading its cinemas, primarily introducing bigger and more comfortable seats. The strategy has been flagged before but now everyone is following. It is effectively an admission of defeat in terms of ever hoping that attendance figures will improve. Now it is about extracting as much revenue from the few people that still go to the cinemas (NB: though attendance is up in the renovated screens, but unlikely to boost overall national figures). WSJ has a good analysis:

The nation’s second-largest movie theater chain is spending hundreds of millions of dollars outfitting a number of theaters with La-Z-Boy-type seats that fully recline—a conversion that removes up to two-thirds of a given auditorium’s seating capacity. It’s a less-is-more approach to a business that has long thought bigger was better.

But AMC’s counterintuitive success with the program has converted skeptical competitors and become integral to the company’s pitch to new investors.

The conversions are AMC’s highest-profile campaign since it was purchased for $2.6 billion by China-based Dalian Wanda Group Corp. in 2012 and went public last December. The company plans to spend about $600 million over the next five years to “reseat” 1,800 of its nearly 5,000 screens. The renovations typically cost $350,000 to $500,000 per auditorium, with landlords often shouldering some of the cost. LINK

The WSJ blog also has a good point that you wio’t be finding this in the biggest cities (NYC and LA) as rent is too high already.

The conversions highlight a liability facing the country’s biggest film exhibitors: a supply of outdated theaters that rarely sell out, yet would be costly to tear down and rebuild.

Attendance in renovated AMC auditoriums has leapt 80%, on average, despite the drastic reduction in capacity to sometimes fewer than 70 seats. The company declined to say what the average before-and-after attendance numbers were, though Mr. Lopez acknowledged that the biggest attendance boosts would come in theaters that were weak performers, some of which were losing money. LINK

Event Cinema

Argentina: As the World Cup approaches its conclusion, one country is going all out to show the key game on the big screen. No, not the UK, but rather its old foe Argentina in their game against Germany tonight.

Over 100,000 people across Argentina have watched their national team compete in the 2014 World Cup at movie halls, which broadcast the games.

The National Cinema and Visual Arts Institute (INCAA) said in a statement that it has made 38 movie halls available for screenings of national team matches, featuring star footballer Lionel Messi, Xinhua reported.
Argentina Saturday defeated Belgium 1-0 to advance to the semifinals against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo Wednesday. The two nations haven’t disputed a World Cup semifinal since the 1990 edition in Italy. LINK.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 7 July 2014

Lotte Super Plex G Is The World's Largest Cinema Screen

What is the largest cinema screen in the world? According to Guinness World Records it is now in the tallest building in South Korea. So that’s officially official.

The screen of the multiplex cinema which will open at the Lotte Cinema World Tower, boasts its unparalleled size in the industry: With 622 seats — the largest available number of seats for a screen, the Super Plex G is an ultra large theater which looks like a two-storey opera theater in appearance. In its 34 meters wide and 13.8 meter long screen, 34 adults can lie on it together.

On July 3, a special ceremony was held to commemorate the recognition of the largest screen “Super Plex G” at Lotte Cinema World Tower by the Guinness World Records that confirmed the huge screen has been qualified as the world’s officially biggest screen. LINK

USA: THR asks what is behind the underperforming summer box office in North America, which is down nearly 20% up to the 4th of July holiday. Underperforming titles seem the culprit and no blame apportioned to World Cup (unlike Europe and Latin America).

What’s behind the summer drought? Hollywood studio executives and box office observers blame a lack of mega-grossing tentpoles, a dearth of doubles and triples and no huge animated family film. In other words, a number of films have underwhelmed (or bombed), including Fourth of July R-rated comedy Tammy, which posted a five-day debut of $32.9 million, Melissa McCarthy’s lowest recent opening (as a way of comparison, fellow R-rated comedy Neighbors launched to nearly $50 million in May).

Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year’s $229.8 million haul. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year, a disadvantage, but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 3 July 2014

Wanda Cinema Line

There can only be one story to top the Daily: Wanda Cinema Line being denied an IPO at the Shenzhen stock exchange by Chinese regulators. The reason given was insufficient documentation. It is far from alone to have suffered this ignominy as China Securities Regulatory Commission have rejected 597 out of 637 applications as of the half-year mark, with only 40 approved. THR’s Cliff coonan has done a terrific job of summarising the details, so I won’t rehash them. Read his article instead first.

Two points to be considered instead. The first is where does Wanda Cinema Line go now? The listing will go ahead, they have been quite clear about it. Wang Jianlin previously told Xinhua news agency:

“As long as we make profits, we can go public anywhere and on any platform. If mainland China doesn’t allow us to go public, then we can pack up our capital and go public in HK. We have all sorts of platforms,”

But Hong Kong is not as attractive a proxy stock exchange for China as it once was. Expect there to be furious courting by Singapore’s stock exchange going on right now. And if not Asia? New York is most likely out because AMC is already listed there and it would look strange and create problems to have two related yet separate cinema companies on the same exchange. My bet is London if Wanda decided to look outside of its own territory.

It is important to remember that Wanda has to be understood as a real estate company above all. Through a combination of luck (good timing) and clever strategy, the company did unexpectedly well with its AMC listing, doubling in value in just over a year. There is thus immense pressure for Wanda Cinema Line to follow the same path.

But the second point is that the Chinese cinema market continues to grow, but the fundamentals remain murky and the outlook troubling. Wanda’s cinema business will pull through any crash or slowdown in the Chinese exhibition market (for reasons we have written about earlier), but the fact that it was not able to get approval for an IPO in its home market is still troubling.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 2 July 2014

Cinema Popcorn Buckets

Here is some interesting and much needed research into the study of nutrition and eating habits of cinema goers. Dr. Rachel Crockett, Senior Research Fellow at London’s University of Greenwich Faculty of Education & Health, led the research that resulted in the “The impact of nutritional labels and socioeconomic status on energy intake: An experimental field study,” has been published in the international journal Appetite

People munching popcorn in a cinema don’t change their eating habits whether the snacks are labelled high fat, low fat or not labelled at all, even if they are concerned about their weight, according to a new study led by the University of Greenwich.

But add in a third factor – the socioeconomic background of eaters – and some quirky results emerge. When concerned eaters of higher status saw the low fat label, it made them eat more than their unconcerned counterparts.

Labels had the opposite effect on concerned popcorn lovers of lower status: they ate less of the low fat snack – and less of the high fat snack. But they did tuck in as normal to the unlabelled tub. LINK

Business

Germany: The German cinema trade body AG Kino-Gilde weighs in on the day-and-date release debate in an article with the headline “AG Cinema Guild makes front against distorted picture of Day & Date experiments”. But as so often the article/interview with Christian Bräuer is behind a pay-wall, so we only get teased with the intro paragraph. Obviously AG Kino-Gilde do not want this discussion to be widely read.

The pros and cons of the ultimately unsuccessful experiment of “Love Steaks” is discussed passionately in the industry (and beyond). It was repeatedly in this context recently that Thomas Paris wrote about the first wave of the EU-funded evaluation experiments that led the field, but it was limited in general to that excerpt that… LINK

Germany: Also behind the same paywall is the six-month figures for German cinemas. Not encouraging reading, based on the headline, with an eight per cent fall year-on-year according to data from Rentrak.

Rund acht Prozent Minus im deutschen Kinomarkt. Zum Ende des ersten Halbjahres steht laut Rentrak beim deutschen Boxoffice ein Minus von rund acht procent. LINK

Annette Mischke, Reinhard Abitz and Lars Baumgart

(From left): Annette Mischke, Reinhard Abitz and Lars Baumgart

An award has been handed out to the most outstanding small German cinema in the state of Schleswig-Holstein and the prize goes to the Savoy Cinema in Borderholm. It is good to see local government valuing their small cinemas and recognizing them as important centres for the wider community. Something for others to copy. AG Kino has a full list of all the honourable mentions.

In noble ambience and adorned with lots of socializing in a happy gathering yesterday evening 100 cineastes celebrated the awarding of the cinema prize to Schleswig-Holstein in Bordesholmer Savoy. In addition to 18 other winners from the entire country the team led by Lars Baumgart Schulstraße won one of the coveted awards. Nineteen cinemas won 18 prizes with a total of 27,500 euros.

The Savoy Cinema hosted the event because in the past year it had won 3500 euros in prizes. The Prize 2013 went to Bordesholm, because there is much more on offer than you can expect for a small place actually.

What makes a good cinema? The selection of films plays not only a role, even width effect, public relations and the atmosphere in the rows in front of the big screen also play a role. As well the Savoy is multi-function venue which scored a few points, especially after its rebirth in 1998 when the house was nearing the end and was revived by the initiative of many citizens. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 1 July 2014

Google Glass

In what should be a non-story (or at least a Finally) we are forced to lead with the ‘news’ that UK cinemas have followed the lead of Alamo Drafthouse and requested its patrons not to wear Google Glass to film screenings. The Independent made a big deal out of it, with other media outlets and trades following:

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, said:

“Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not.”

The Vue cinema chain said it would ask guests to remove the eyewear “as soon as the lights dim”.

Although Google Glass lights up when it is capturing images, one early adopter has already been asked to remove his headset at a Leicester Square cinema as staff could not monitor whether it was recording. LINK

The move is perfectly sensible and it ought not be such a big deal. Just wait until Facebook starts measuring your mood while you wear Oculus Rift! It is important to remember that neither the CEA, Vue nor Alamo Drafthouse are technology luddites, but that this is an issue of film protection AND courtesy to fellow patrons. This last point gets overlooked too often and CEA are right to highlight this in their press statement.

As a courtesy to your fellow audience members, and to prevent film theft, we ask that customers do not enter any cinema auditorium using any ‘wearable technology’ capable of recording images. Any customer found wearing such technology will be asked to remove it and may be asked to leave the cinema.

It is worth noting that while wearable technology is a comparatively new phenomenon in the UK, in the US – where its use is already more widespread – not only cinemas but also casinos and many bars and restaurants have looked to limit or ban its use.

Business

USA: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” may have been making waves with its big opening weekend in both North America and China, but it is not enough to pull up the summer 2014 box office as it stands at the halfway mark. More worryingly, there are no more outsize hits expected that could reverse the trend significantly. Time for more Chinese co-productions!

But the summer box office is now at roughly $2 billion, nearly 13 percent behind the $2.3 billion of last year at this point. It’s a safe bet that it isn’t going to match last year, and that’s going to make it difficult for 2014 to match last year’s record-breaking $10.9 billion domestic haul. The overall box office, which was up 9 percent at the end of April, has now fallen just behind 2013.

It’s not that there haven’t been hits this summer. “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Maleficent” have all topped $200 million, and “Godzilla” will get there. But there’s been nothing to compare with “Iron Man 3,” which had taken in more than double that by this time last year. It hurt when Universal pushed “Fast & Furious 7” to next year in the wake of Paul Walker’s death, and there hasn’t been a breakout animated movie this year, either. LINK

And now some rival studios are even briefing against “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, saying that Paramount is being less than completely truthful about the USD $100 million opening weekend. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wed/Thur 18-19 June 2014

With Patrick von Sychowski still in Barcelona attending CineEurope, I have been tasked with curating the daily digest posts in his absence. Celluloid Junkie readers (i.e. you) have been telling us lately how much you like the daily digest and I’ll do my best to keep it up as best I can.

Needless to say, the past few days have been filled with news coming out of CineEurope. Not only do we have Patrick’s live blog of the conferences panel sessions, but there is no shortage of press releases being published by industry vendors. Here’s a summary of some of the releases which contained new, updated or relevant information:

Technology

JT Bioscopen Hilversum

Artists rendering of JT Bioscopen cinema being built in Hilversum Media Park

Barco: As is their custom during trade shows, the projector manufacturer has had their public relations department working over time during CineEurope. On Tuesday came news that JT Bioscopen will install a Barco laser projector at one of its multiplexes. More precisely, d-cinema integrator dcinex will install the Barco 6 primary Laser3D (6P) laser-illuminated projector at JT Bioscopen’s new seven-screen complex at Hilversum Media Park.

JT Bioscopen is the second largest cinema chain in the Netherlands (behind Pathé) with 21 multiplexes in 19 different cities. The circuit converted entirely to digital in 2011.

Here’s a nice little factoid front the release:

Known as ‘Holland’s Hollywood’, the Hilversum Media Park houses all major Dutch TV and radio stations, production houses, studios and other companies in the audiovisual and entertainment business.

You learn something new everyday. Granted, Barco was probably hoping that their announcement would help educate people about their 60,000-lumen laser projector which, thanks to the company’s Alchemy technology, can show 4K content at 60 frames per second or in 3D, all while minimizing speckle and thus the need for a mechanical vibrating-screen. But that bit about Holland’s Hollywood seemed like a good piece of trivia worth passing along. LINK

Now, while we’re on the subject of Barco, the company also announced that the relatively new Barco Alchemy Integrated Cinema Media Processor (say that ten times fast) is now fully integrated with Arts Alliance Media’s Screenwriter Theater Management System (TMS). Actually, Screenwriter is the first TMS to be support Barco’s new ICMP (which is how all the cool kids refer to the Integrated Cinema Media Processor). The good news is that any AAM customer already using Screenwriter will also get an upgrade featuring the Alchemy integration, not just customers that deploy the software in the future.

Naturally, Screenwriter already supports a multitude of cinema equipment from various industry vendors. It is, after all, a TMS. This is just the latest integration AAM has completed. Rich Phillips, CTO of AAM, explained this much better in the release, stating:

“We support all the key servers and media blocks, enabling exhibitors to use equipment from different vendors in the same facility seamlessly. We are delighted to be able to now offer the same support for the innovative Barco Alchemy product, giving exhibitors the freedom to make technology decisions that are not limited by compatibility with their existing systems.”

Yeah, Mr. Phillips did a much better job of what I was trying to explain.

Speaking of which, since it’s fairly new we should probably tell you that the Barco ICMP is what is known as an integrated cinema processor, or if you want to sound hip, an ICP. The DCI-approved module goes a step beyond decoding encrypted content as a media block and adds the functionally of a media server onto a single board. This is meant to reduce the amount of digital cinema equipment in the booth. Barco is putting the Alchemy ICMP into all of its new d-cinema projectors, though any of the company’s Series 2 projectors can support the technology. Hard to believe all that fits into the device shown below. LINK

Barco Alchemy ICMP

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