Category Archives: Daily News Roundup

Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 23 April 2014

China_cinema_2144703b

Is China undergoing a 3D backlash? Speakers at the recent Beijing International Film Festival seemed to go to great lengths to condemn poor 3D.

Prominent members of industry like Yang Buting, chairman of China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association and China Film Overseas Promotional Corporation, lined up to have a go at the format. Director Paul Andersson (Resident Evil and many other 3D films) said that there were too many bad 3D films and exhibitors over-charging (see next item), which could lead China to follow the US lead of audiences switching back to 2D.

Take the numbers with a pinch of salt, however, as the most recent screen count in China is 20,007, which makes the first figure quoted nonsensical.

More than 20,000 movie screens in China can play 3D films and more companies are competing to sell their 3D projection equipment, which used to cost between 80,000 yuan and 150,000 yuan. Now equipment is no more than 20,000 yuan, said Yang.

“This kind of vicious competition has lowered the quality and cost of 3D films, thus upsetting viewers,” he said.

Paul Anderson told Xinhua that it is better to give audiences a choice.

“If you don’t give them a choice and you deliver bad 3D products, eventually they will stop going to the cinema. American people are choosing to watch 2D rather than 3D films,” he said.  LINK

It is worth remembering that films like RoboCop and Transcendence were released in 3D only in China, to qualify for the 20+14 foreign film import quota, while Noah was released in 3D everywhere around the world (except in muslim countries that banned it in 2D and 3D) except in the US.

red-blue 3D glasses

Not the glasses sold in cinemas

Chinese cinemas are also coming under scrutiny by city councils for the practice of charging a premium for tickets to 3D films, as well as requiring patrons to spend extra to buy 3D glasses.

Miss Xiao told reporters the she recently went to a South City theater to watch a 3D movie. After buying the tickets, she was told she would be required to purchase 3D glasses sold by the cinema or she would not be able to watch the 3D movies. “At the time, I felt very angry, but I did not want to think about spending more money to buy more than the ticket to affect my mood, so I spent more than ten yuan to buy 3D glasses trouble.” Consumers such as Miss Lee, Mr. Jin is one of many who suffered such things. City Council said yesterday, after investigating  theatres in Dongguan, that this situation does exist.  LINK

The City Council is threatening cinemas with actions for violating Article 26 of the “Consumer Protection Law” and urges them to “consciously safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.” Seems like there is trouble brewing here on multiple fronts.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 22 April 2014 (post-Easter Bumper Issue)

ABC Brussels cinema

Belgium: Save the Brussels ABC! One of the last 35mm adult film cinemas in the world closed last year when the ABC in Brussels shut its doors.  There is now a campaign to save it and turn it into an art-house cinema with exotic flare.  You can donate by PayPal. The campaign is 47% towards its target.

For over 40 years the ABC cinema screened adult films from 35mm – one of the last such cinemas not to have converted to digital – but in 2013 it shut its doors for the final time.

Earlier this year, a group from three of Belgium’s leading film and heritage organisations – independent cinema and archive Cinema Nova, festival organiser and programmer Offscreen/vzw Marcel and movie theatre heritage specialist La re?tine de Plateau – devised an ambitious plan to rescue the ABC for a life after porn.

Drawing on their experience, they believe that the ABC is the perfect size for repertory screenings and intimate-scale live events, and so they created the CINEACT Foundation, to raise €60,000 (approximately £50,000 / $83,000) to take out a year-long lease on the ABC.  LINK

Palace Theatre Orpheum Los Angeles

USA (CA): A great example of how to bring back a cinema from the dead and make it relevant for a new age and neighbourhood is provided by the former Orpheum (what an appropriate name) in Downtown Los Angeles, first opened in 1927 but in decline for a long time.

It stopped showing films 25 years ago, and then became the base for notorious television evangelist Gene Scott, who passed away in 2005. The entire building was sold in 2011 and earlier this year opened as the newest branch of the Ace Hotel. The upstairs offices were converted into bedrooms and the elaborate cinema at the core of the building was reopened with a Valentine’s Day show from Spiritualized.

As well as music, bringing movies back to the cinema was core to the brand’s rejuvenation of the building. The Ace got in touch with Cinespia, the Los Angeles-based classic movie screening organisation, to help. Cinespia founder John Wyatt had previously hosted one-off shows in the Downtown cinemas he calls “vintage jewels”, including La Dolce Vita at the ornate Los Angeles Theatre and Blade Runner at the Million Dollar Theatre, situated across from the Bradbury Building, which is featured heavily in the film. “I got really excited, one, because nobody was going to turn the building into loft apartments and two, because they were an interesting brand who might want to take some risks,” explains Wyatt.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 17 April 2014


Regal Summer Movie Express

USA (TN): Discount tickets was a hot topic at CinemaCon. No update on that, but Regal will be showing older films for just USD $1 this summer, as it has for the past 22 years. Parent rejoice.

Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC), a leading motion picture exhibitor owning and operating the largest theatre circuit in the United States, today announces that the Summer Movie Express is back for its 23rd year. The launch of this summer’s program brings family movies for only a dollar to more than 350 Regal Entertainment Group theatres across the country.

“Many families make this a summer tradition and look forward to our announcement of the long list of fun movies coming their way. And for Regal, this helps us instill that love of moviegoing in another generation,” said Ken Thewes, chief marketing officer at Regal Entertainment Group. “The titles this year appeal to a diverse group of tastes, and we know there is a little bit of something for everyone.”  LINK

 

Cineworld Witney

UK: Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Cineworld, is what this upset letter writer from Witney seems to be saying.

Well, before the cinema opened, a spokesman for the company announced that as well as the usual 3-D screens which come with Cineworld, there was going to be a screen for arthouse/world cinema. But this has not happened.

No disrespect to people who enjoy Hollywood blockbusters, but not everyone likes those types of films, and when I used to go to the Corn Exchange for films which were not Hollywood blockbusters, there was always a good crowd there.

So what has happened?

I’ve tried getting answers from Cineworld themselves but they have never responded to my inquiries.  LINK

(Checking Cineworld Witney’s listings confirms that the most ‘art-house’ film showing is Oscar-winner 12 Years a Slave. Not even The Grand Budapest Hotel is showing. He might have a point.)

Event Cinema

Driving Miss Daisy

UK: Driving Miss Daisy will be showing in cinemas, the play that is, not the surprise Best Film-Oscar winner.

Event screening for stage adaptation to screen at over 300 screens across the UK, followed by live Q&A with star Angela Lansbury.

As a result of strong demand for tickets at the BFI Southbank, Omniverse Vision has announced a special one-off screening of Driving Miss Daisy: The Play.

Starring Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones, the stage adaptation will be broadcast via satellite to over 300 cinemas across the UK on May 25 and followed by a live Q&A with Lansbury, hosted at the BFI Southbank.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 16 April 2014

Phil Knatchbull Curzon

London’s Evening standard does an in-depth piece on British art-house major Curzon Cinema and its visionary CEO Phil Knatchbull.

The Curzon Victoria is part of a £6 million London expansion by the company behind the boutique Curzon cinema chain as it almost doubles the number of screens in the capital from 12 to 20. Curzon World is using other designers to rejuvenate the Curzon Soho and the Renoir in Bloomsbury, and is expanding beyond the M25 into Canterbury. The long-term plan is to have 50 screens at 25 sites.

Chief executive Philip Knatchbull explains he wants the cinemas to grow in importance as a showcase for the upmarket Curzon brand, even as the company diversifies by generating more income from other sources. Film production, cinema distribution and the online streaming of films, with its own Curzon Home Cinema on-demand service, are other parts of Knatchbull’s multi-pronged growth strategy.  LINK

I can attest that Curzon is not just the leading art-house cinema chain in the UK but perhaps one of the top in the whole world. They don’t just kit out their cinemas with the precision of Apple Stores (but less minimalist), but also operate their own day-and-date VOD service, have distributed more Cannes Palm d’Or winning films than any other UK distributor (they say) and even produce their own films. Much like every UK town would like a Waitrose supermarket, so to most high streets there would welcome a Curzon cinema with open arms.

Licensing

Penthouse Cinema Brooklyn Wellington

New Zealand: An art-house cinema in Sir Peter Jackson’s hometown Wellington won’t be able to serve alcohol over the busy Easter period due to planning restrictions.

The boutique Brooklyn venue applied for the licence to serve alcohol on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, after discovering it was no longer exempt as an entertainment venue since the introduction of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act in December.

Operations manager Kate Larkindale said she was stunned when a letter from the district licensing authority arrived on March 19, telling her she would have to apply for a special licence.

Under the new law, alcohol can be served on “sacrosanct days” – Anzac Day morning, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day – only with a meal, unless an exemption is granted for an “event”.  LINK

(Would it be churlish to point out that Jesus had to make do with drinking vinegar from a sponge up on the cross over Easter?)

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 15 April 2014

Berwick cinema

The Wall Street Journal examines the plight of small-town single-screen cinemas that are unable to make the costly transition to digital in the article ‘Is Film the End of the Road for Small Cinemas?‘. It highlights one particular cinema near Scranton, Pennsylvania, facing imminent death-by-digital.

Hollywood’s major studios are in the final days of distributing movies on film reels and moving to digital distribution sent via hard drives or satellite, a method that is cheaper for studios but requires significant investment by theaters in new equipment. The conversion means theaters like Mrs. DiAugustine-Bower’s Berwick Theater could fade out for good.

The theater, about 50 miles southwest of Scranton, has raised only $6,000 so far, a difficult amount to earn by selling baked goods and old movie posters in an economically depressed town.

“I got a backlash from patrons when I mentioned raising ticket prices” to $5 from $4, said Mrs. DiAugustine-Bower.

But help has come for some from an unexpected quarter: Indian digital cinema integrator Scrabble.

About 87% of the 5,762 theaters in the U.S. are now digital, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. The remaining 13% is mostly made up of one-screen independents, in rural communities with no multiplexes for miles.

More than half of the approximately 600 drive-in theater screens in the country have converted so far, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association.

Scrabble Ventures LLC has begun leasing digital projectors to small theaters that can’t afford a lump-sum payment. Chief Executive Ranjit Thakur said the company has converted 370 theaters so far with more than 400 scheduled over the next three months.

Kickstarter, the Colorado State program, Kiwanis International club, state department funding and local donations are ways that some of that other cinemas have managed to raise funds.

Business

LAemmle Santa monica 4

USA (CA): As we highlighted in our item on ArcLight coming to Santa Monica, existing cinemas there will have to shrink to compete.  Hence Laemmle’s 4 screen will ‘expand and contract’.

The Second Street cinema currently has four screens and about 1,100 seats but a proposed makeover would add two screens and drop the seat total to below 500, said Laemmle CEO Greg Laemmle.

The largest theater would hold about 150, which is about the capacity of the current smallest theater. Two mezzanine-level theaters would seat about 35, Laemmle said.

“The row spacing is better and we believe the sight lines will also be better,” Laemmle said. “The added screens provide flexibility to show more movies for longer.”  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 14 April 2014

4D_4DX_rumble_seat

The Wrap takes a look at the growth of ’4D’ offered by the likes of D-Box, CJ 4DPlex and MediaMation and whether there is a business case for it. Not if it shakes the popcorn out of the tub, it seems.

Indeed, some theater owners have experimented with the technology, only to decide that it is best served up in small doses. Rolando Rodriguez, president and CEO of Marcus Theaters, installed 30 motion seats in one of his fifty theaters. While the seats are popular features when paired with big-budget blockbusters, he has decided not to invest in the technology. The $8 surcharge the 4D seats carry limits their appeal, he said.

“We’re investing in other amenities that play better with our customers,” Rodriguez said. “We’re pleased with the performance, but from our perspective, investing in things like large screen theaters and in-theater dining is more important.”

But other exhibitors and manufacturers counter that this is more than just a novelty act.

“We’re finding that people turn into aficionados,” Michel Paquette, vice-president of marketing of the 4D manufacturer D-Box Technologies, said. “Once people try it, if they like it, they usually get hooked.”

Likewise, Heath Thomas regional manager of the Goodrich Quality Theaters, has placed 4D seats in 16 locations and reports they are a big hit with audiences between the ages of 18 to 30.  LINK

 Odeon logo

UK: UK/European cinema major Odeon-UCI saw its revenue and profit drop sharply in the past year, dragged down by the lack of a Skyfall-size hit and by its Spanish arm.

Odeon’s earnings before interest, tax and other charges dropped by 24 per cent to £69.2m while sales fell five per cent to £706.7m.

In Spain, where Odeon operates 43 cinemas, Odeon’s market volume fell 15 per cent last year.

“In 2014, there are some early signs that the economy may be turning: unemployment has started to fall slightly and retail sales have started to grow,” Odeon said, adding that it has now grown its Spanish market share to 21 per cent.  LINK

Odeon’s results do not include its property arm.

NCR logo

USA: Marcus Theatre is deploying the full range of services offered by NCR Cinema software.

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), the global leader in consumer transaction technologies, today announced that Marcus Theatres®, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE:MCS), has now deployed NCR’s full suite of cinema and restaurant solutions to improve its business operations and enhance its customers’ movie experience. Marcus Theatres has been a long-time customer, using NCR’s mobile and fixed point-of-sale (POS) systems, indoor kiosks, takeout and delivery software and NCR MovieTime mobile application.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 11 April 2014

Benjamin Zeccola Palace Cinemas

A row has broken out in Australia about the high price of cinema tickets (which we have written about before) and its relation to, or supposed-justification for, film piracy. Quoted in the Brisbane Times,

The chief executive of Palace Cinemas, Benjamin Zeccola, said cinemas were just trying to stay in business by increasing the top ticket price to $20.

“If you took away screen advertising, we wouldn’t have a cinema that survived,” he said. “If you took away the bars, we wouldn’t have a cinema that survived.”
Jamie and Cersei Lannister.

Mr Zeccola, whose chain fully or jointly operates 22 upmarket cinemas around the country, is upset at widespread claims that the cost of movie-going excuses illegal downloading.

Highlighting Australia’s high labour costs, Zeccola points out that Palace staff are paid AUS $25.60 (USD $24.10) per hour, compared to AUS $15  (USD 14.12) for London staff  (just don’t tell him London’s Ritzy staff are going on strike today over low wages).

Dumaresq Street Cinema in Campbelltown

Locations is probably the second highest expense, as this family-run cinema in a suburb of Sydney makes a virtue of its cheap tickets (all shows are AUS $6 – USD $5.65) and affordable concessions:

Forget spending hundreds on an evening at the movies – a trip to Dumaresq Street Cinema in Campbelltown would rarely cost a family of four more than $30.

A serving of popcorn will set you back just $1.50 at the family-run cinema, as will a small drink.

In fact, the three-cinema premises has only ever raised its prices twice since it was taken over by the Moore family in 1992 – once with the introduction of GST and again in recent years, when all tickets – adult, child and otherwise – were set at $6 for any session.  LINK

Business

Blitzmegaplex

Indonesia: South Korean multiplex major CJ CGV has strengthened its minority stake in Indonesia’s second largest cinema operator, confirming the country’s significant growth cinema potential.

South Korea’s largest cinema chain CJ CGV has advanced into the Indonesian market following China, Vietnam and the United States, the company said Friday.

CJ CGV said it took over a 14.75 percent stake in Indonesia’s theater chain Blitzmegaplex after it was listed on the local stock exchange on Thursday.

Blitzmegaplex opened its first location in Bandung in 2006 and has continued to expand each year, now running 11 theaters with a total of 86 screens in six cities around the country.  LINK

Meanwhile Blitzmegaplex has announced that it will use the proceeds from its recent IPO to open three more multiplexes this year.

The cinemas would be built in Yogyakarta; Bandung, West Java, and Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, costing around US$2 million for each cinema, Graha Layar Prima’s marketing director, Ferdiana Yulia Sunardi, said on Thursday.

“Since becoming a public company, we will be more aggressive in our expansion plans, starting this year,” Yulia said during a press conference.  LINK

Reuters informs us that “PT Graha Layar Prima, the operator of movie theatre chain Blitzmegaplex, plans to develop 30 new cinema complexes by 2017, with a total investment of up to $60 million, said CEO Bernard Kentz Sondakh.”

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 10 April


Kulturhuset stockholm

Three stories from my native country Sweden, to start off the Daily today. Click on the link if you are using Chrome browser (as 35.40% of you are) and you get the option of an automatic translation.

Stockholm’s Culture House is taking back the running of its small in-house cinema from SF Bio. More varied film selection and ticket prices are to be expected.

Kulturhuset tar över Klarabiografen från SF vid årsskiftet. Nu väntar en storsatsning på kvalitetsfilm och språklig mångfald sju dagar i veckan – till varierande biljettpriser.

I måndags sades avtalet med SF upp. Det går formellt ut sista december i år. På nyårsdagen 2015 inleds den nya bioverksamheten i Kulturhuset Stadsteatern på våning 2.  LINK

The decision to hand over the running of the cinematheque had previously been heavily criticised by the Swedish Film Institute and other cinema chains.

SF Bio popcorn

Concessions – SF Bio is revamping its concessions menu: by changing the name of combo deals, abolishing ‘up-sizing’ and increasing the price by SEK 5 (USD $0.77).

Mellanläsk. Stor popcorn.

I SF Bios kassasystem heter den beställningen ”Klassiker mellan+” och kostar 64 kronor för kunden.

Men från och med 14 april ska en mellanläsk och en stor popcorn kallas ”Superklassiker” och kosta 69 kronor, enligt ett internt mejl som Nöjesbladet tagit del av.  LINK

Bio Maxim

Cinema Opening/Closing – The Bio Maxim cinema in Helsingborg is NOT closing, but the the landlord will be taking over the running from the current operator who is unable to make the switch to digital.

Ryktet om Bio Maxims död är betydligt överdrivet. Ägaren Max Klintman har visserligen gett upp men nu lovar Peter Billquist, vd i bolaget som äger fastigheten: “Jag ska se till att Landskrona har en bio även i framtiden”.

I dagarna stod det klart att Bio Maxims ägare Max Klintman efter en längre tids ojämn ekonomisk kamp kastar in handduken. Gjorda investeringar och nödvändiga framtida investeringar blir alltför kostsamma. Därmed skulle ridån på Maxim gå ner för sista gången i slutet på april.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 9 April 2014

ArcLight Santa monica

Normally we bury cinema openings further down in the Daily, but this merits top billing.

Back in January we wrote about how premium cinema operator ArcLight had set its sights on Los Angeles’ Santa Monica market and whether this would create a screen glut.

Now news reaches us that ArcLight is already planning a second multiplex in downtown Santa Monica, which would include an Imax screen.

ArcLight Cinemas is in negotiations with City Hall to put a theater on the land where Parking Structure 3 currently stands — on Fourth Street at Arizona Avenue, said Andy Agle, director of Housing and Economic Development.

A preliminary agreement that would allow ArcLight to start drawing up official plans could go before City Council later this month.

At that same meeting, council will consider final approval of another ArcLight theater proposed for the third level of the Santa Monica Place mall. Those plans have been in the works since last year. The Santa Monica Place theater could include up to 13 screens and 1,500 seats.  LINK

Meanwhile other cinemas in the area, such as Laemmle, are reducing seating capacity and expanding concessions and cafe areas instead. AMC is also expected to reduce the number of seats.

Business

Russian cinema

Russia: Rather than introducing a quota on foreign films, as had been previously mooted, it looks like Russia will instead introduce a levy this summer.

The government plans to popularize Russian films on the home market by introducing extra charges for Western movies and granting tax breaks to domestic ones may do no more than mildly handicap foreign competitors while failing to meet the industry’s underlying needs.

The suggestions, published Monday on the government website, are directed at increasing the presence of Russian films in theaters, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting of the council on the development of national cinema in late March during which the measures were discussed.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 8 April 2014

Imax China

Imax is to sell 20% of its China business to two Chinese-based entities in return for USD $80 million and a firmer foot hold in the world’s soon-to-be largest cinema market.

IMAX Chief Executive Richard Gelfond said in an interview that investment fund China Media Capital and private-equity firm FountainVest Partners would pay $40 million each for 10% stakes by early 2015. He said the deal gives IMAX local partners who will open up expansion opportunities in one of its most important markets.

The investors will shepherd a public offering of shares of the China operation, IMAX China Holding Inc., in the next five years, Mr. Gelfond said. IMAX China will be paying IMAX Corp. an ongoing trademark and licensing fee for the right to use the IMAX trademark in China, a spokeswoman said. IMAX China is aiming to list in Hong Kong but will be positioning itself to list on other China exchanges, such as in Shanghai, in case that doesn’t work out or a better opportunity arises on the mainland, a spokeswoman said.  LINK

Not only will this allow for expansion in China, but Imax must also be hoping to neutralise the nascent threat from CFGS - though this is not mentioned in the above article.

NAB

Barco laser projection

USA (LV): Lasers are coming! This follow-up article from David Keene provides excellent insights from the pre-NAB Cinema Summit on what is happening on the laser front.

The first shots were fired on Saturday, in the session “Laser Illuminated Projectors: What’s New and When Will They Arrive? Bill Beck, President of BTM Consulting moderated panelists Pete Ludé, CTO of Mission Rock Digital; Goran Stojmenovik , Product Manager Laser Projection, Barco; Richard McPherson of NEC Display Solutions; and Don Shaw, Senior Director of Product Management for Entertainment Solutions at Christie.

The panel was straight forward– not your typical panel involving a lot of speculation and vague talk of coming solutions. It was three major projector manufactures explaining their new Laser projectors. And surprisingly, this was not a “me too” exercise: each company is launching a very different kind of Laser projector and/or 3D solution into the market this spring.  LINK

You Will Be Amazed To Find Out What The Differences Between The Different Laser Projector Solutions Are!

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