Category Archives: Events

Los Angeles Magazine and ArcLight Cinemas Hit The Road With March Screening Series

It has always been our goal here at Celluloid Junkie to bring our readers any of the interesting or noteworthy ideas we run across in the worldwide motion picture distribution and exhibition industries. The hope is that spreading the word about such items will help spur your own innovative efforts.

With that in mind, today I received an email promoting a special screening series taking place in Los Angeles (see below). In conjunction with the publication of their March issue which focuses on road trips, Los Angeles Magazine is teaming up with ArcLight Cinemas for a retrospective series of classic road trip movies. The screenings will be held at ArcLight’s Hollywood multiplex on Tuesdays and Sundays throughout the month of March.

Showing classic movies is not a new concept for Arclight Cinemas. The exhibitor has been holding Arclight Presents… screenings since 2002 when their flagship cinema first opened in Hollywood. If one of the most important factors in making such a series successful is marketing, then working with Los Angeles Magazine to help spread the word to a broader audience is a smart move on Arclight’s part.

Focusing on the theme of road trip movies may be a stunt, but not necessarily such a bad idea. It gives the program a hook, or at the very least a purpose, however slight it may be.

Now that digital cinema has been rolled out throughout North America, other circuits could just as easily curate and produce similar retrospective screening series to help boost attendance on days when admissions are traditionally low (e.g. Tuesdays and Sundays). Additionally, finding media outlets to work with in large urban areas should not be too difficult. Los Angeles Magazine is a part of the Emmis Publishing empire which publishes five additional regional magazines including Texas Monthly, Cincinnati Monthly, Indianapolis Monthly, and Atlanta. Modern Luxury is another regional magazine publisher with titles in Manhattan, Houston, Aspen, San Francisco among many others. Surely there must be similar outlets in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

Let us know what you think of Los Angeles Magazine and ArcLight Cinemas teaming up for the Road Trips screening series in the comments below. Good idea? Bad idea? Could such retrospectives work in other cities?

Arclight Presents... Roadtrip Movies

TCM Celebrates 20th Anniversary With Free Screenings of “Casablanca”

TCM's 20th Anniversary Casablanca Screening
It’s hard to believe the cable network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is entering its 20th year. It certainly doesn’t seem like that much time has passed since TCM began broadcasting some of the most beloved movies ever made into homes.

Apparently, time flies when you’re presenting classic films, commercial-free and without any edits. The network launched on April 14, 1994, and now reaches 85 million homes in the United States alone. To celebrate their 20 years on the air, TCM is bringing “Casablanca” to select theatres so that audiences can see the Academy Award winning film on the big screen. The 1942 film stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a story of star crossed lovers that has set the standard for the genre.

I almost left out the best part of TCM’s plan; all of the “Casablanca” screenings will be free in honor of their 20th anniversary. The movie will be shown in 20 cities throughout the United States on March 4th of this year. The first ten markets have already been selected and include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. TCM is letting viewers cast votes to determine the remaining 10 cities in which “Casablanca” will screen. Voting is taking place online through February 10th.

The remaining markets will be announced on February 18th, at which point tickets will made available to all screenings will be made available via TCM’s 20th anniversary website. Tickets will be required for entry to each “Casablanca” screening.

According to the press release TCM published announcing the free screenings of “Casablanca” this won’t be the only anniversary event the network will hold, so stay tuned.

Celluloid Has Become A Rarity At The Sundance Film Festival

Happy Christmas

Lena Dunham and Anna Kendrick in “Happy Christmas”

Few annual events have chronicled the movie industry’s transition from 35mm film to digital cinema quite like the Sundance Film Festival. There were times during this year’s festival, which concluded over the weekend, where it was hard not to be reminded of the art form’s long journey from an analog to a digital medium.

When I first started attending Sundance before the turn of the millennium, just about every official selection was shot on 16mm or 35mm film negative and projected using film prints. It was rare to see an entry shot on Beta or high-def video and even rarer to see them projected that way. When the festival did manage to screen titles produced on video they were usually documentaries.

By 2003 the tide had begun to turn as low-budget independent films, both dramatic and documentaries, arrived at the festival either having been shot on Beta SP and HD Cam and were projected using high-def projectors. In those days, there was a stark contrast between entries shot on film versus video. This disparity between the formats was only made all the more obvious upon being projected. Selections shown on film prints were crisp and clear, whereas poor compression aliasing and muted colors often betrayed video when it was being used as a source.

But if time heals all wounds, it also improves technology, at least that which is used for film production. As we neared the end of the “aughts” the quality of entries shot digitally had improved tremendously. It was around this time that Sundance stopped including the medium in which a film was captured, simply denoting whether a title was color or black and white. This was also around the time that the festival began utilizing digital cinema equipment capable of meeting DCI requirements.

In 2008, Sundance premiered “U2 3D“, a 3D concert film featuring the popular rock group, on a giant 45 foot screen. “Cane Toads“, a 3D documentary about an Australian amphibian infestation, was screened in 2010 and by 2012 Sundance was screening a majority of its selections digitally.

Of course, this year the festival is mostly, if not entirely, relying on digital projection. Sundance may have no choice, given the increasing difficulty of actually being able to strike a 35mm release print. Filmmakers have the same issue securing 16 and 35 mm negative when it comes to physical production, forcing them to shoot digitally. However, camera companies such as Red, Arri and Canon have been manufacturing equipment that rivals 35mm when it comes to image quality.

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Sundance Walks A Fine Line With New eWaitlist System

Sundance Film Festival eWaitlist

Purchasing or acquiring tickets for the Sundance Film Festival has never been an easy endeavor, whether for patrons or for the event’s staff. An estimated 50,000 attendees clamor each year for tickets to hundreds of showings of more than 200 films officially selected by festival programmers. Screenings take place in at least 18 different cinemas spread out geographically from Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

As if the programming and venue choice wasn’t complex enough, Sundance has numerous ticket packages that attendees can select; packages for the full festival, VIPs, corporations, students, film industry executives and even local residents, to name just a few. Add to all of this the strict schedule throughout every autumn when most tickets and packages must be purchased and its easy to see why Sundance is hardly for the casual moviegoer.

For those who aren’t lucky enough to nab tickets before the festival, or who aren’t accredited as members of the press corps, there is still hope for seeing some of the most buzzed about films at Sundance each year. Any unsold tickets can be purchased same-day for USD $20 at specific festival box offices, or alternatively you can take your shot through the waitlist for each screening and pay only USD $15.

In years past, “waitlisting” a screening often meant standing in line up to two (and in rare occasions three) hours ahead of time to get a waitlist number, usually in frigid temperatures. This didn’t necessarily guarantee entrance however, since pass and ticket holders might fill up the venue leaving those on the waitlist literally out in the cold. The process was less than optimal and not much fun, though at times one could form friendships or business relationships in a Sundance waitlist line.

This year the festival is trying something new for waitlists to help avoid the hassle of standing in line for hours. Sundance has created an eWaitlist system enabling festival patrons to reserve a spot in line for screenings of specific films up to two hours in advance of their start time. Festival goers who have registered for the service can use the Sundance mobile app, a special Internet site or strategically placed self-serve kiosks to obtain a waitlist number. Attendees can even reserve a waitlist number with a friend, essentially making two reservations at once. Then, all they have to do is show up at the theatre where the film is showing no less than a half hour before it starts and find their spot in the waitlist line based on the number they were issued.

Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. Not only is the whole process new to Sundance veterans and rookies alike, it requires numerous steps every time a reservation is made. The festival’s eWaitlist page is chock full of details and there is even a four minute instructional video on how to use the system:

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When the festival began on January 16th, and throughout the first weekend of the event, the eWaitlist system was continuously down or inaccessible. When one was lucky enough to pull it up on their computer or mobile device, all available waitlist numbers disappeared within seconds as each screening’s reservations were opened up. If you weren’t online trying to reserve a number exactly two hours before a showing, when the eWatlist for the screening opened for reservations, you’d be shutout.

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Klip Collective’s Projection Mapping Impresses Sundance Film Festival Audiences

Before every film screened at the Sundance Film Festival, presently taking place in Park City, Utah, a pre-roll trailer is shown. This has been going for as long as anyone can remember. The trailers, often referred to as “festival bumpers”, are crafted by noteworthy filmmakers, artists or designers and are different each year.

This year the festival turned to Klip Collective, a Philadelphia based production house that has gained a reputation for using technology and various forms of media to create immersive and unique visual experiences. In 2013, Klip Collective created a piece that appeared in the New Frontier section of the festival titled “What’s He Building In There“. Based on a Tom Waits song of the same name, the work was a story about a man inside the building that was projection-mapped onto the front of a festival venue.

The project impressed Sundance officials so much that they were commissioned Klip to create a trailer for the 2014 festival and invited them to bring another project as part of the New Frontier section.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival trailer (which can be seen above) was meant to mark the 30th anniversary of the event. Like last year’s project, it is a 3D-pixel-mapped work that is projected onto Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, one of the festival’s primary cinemas. The piece prominently features clips from some of the films that have shown at the festival over the years, including “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Clerks”, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Reservoir Dogs”.

The project would not have been possible without the use of modern technology, specifically digital cinema. Two Barco projectors were set up across the street from the Egyptian, which is located on Main Street in Park City, and aligned for pixel precision. The following is a behind the scenes video of how the piece was projected onto the cinema when Klip shot the trailer on July 17, 2013:

One thing about these festival trailers is that for those of us who see upwards of 30 or 40 movies during Sundance, they can become mildly annoying. After seeing the same trailer so many times during the 10 day span of the event, its music and images begin to permanently inhabit our heads even when not watching films. One idea to alleviate such trailer fatigue this year might be to run a contest during the festival; anyone who can name all of the dozens of movies represented or referenced in the bumper wins or is entered into some sort of raffle. Just a thought.

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Future Cinema: How to Get 100,000 People to Pay £35 ($50) to Watch an Old Film

You wouldn’t expect UK’s most successful cinema innovator to have a tag-line of ‘Tell no-one’, keep audiences in the dark about which film they will get to see and then charge them double what a ticket costs in Leicester square to show them an old film readily available on DVD.

Appropriately enough I met Future Cinema’s founder Fabian Rigell at a BSAC sponsored keynote by Twitter’s UK head, because Future Cinema is both a reaction against the on-line disintermediation of film consumption, as well enabled by the technologies of social media and digital projection (they claim to have an on-line community of 2.8m on Twitter, Facebook, etc.). We discussed how to build audiences for old and niche film, me for a small Swedish cult label and him for over 100,000 people at events across London alone last year. He is an unassuming PT Barnum of exhibition without a cinema of his own; the world is truly his screen.

Although he was already the subject of a major profile in UK’s Wired magazine last year and the events have steadily been growing in popularity in London and beyond, it seems that 2014 will be the breakthrough year for Future Cinema and its sister operation Secret Cinema.

Put simply, FC/SC do not arrange film screenings, they stage events around films in which the audience become participants. It has become a must-attend fixture for film lovers in London, but has been a long time coming from a small but telling start. It began, as noted by Wired, when:

Riggall wanted to find out how to turn [a film festival] into something more social and reach audiences beyond the film-festival circuit, but he wanted to go further than just screenings. “How can we create a film experience that’s more like a nightclub? There’s music and there’s performance and there’s art and you dress up.” He launched Future Cinema in 2005 as “live cinema”; 1,000 people attended a screening of Dreams Money Can Buy, an experimental film from 1947. Riggall put on gypsy and flamenco bands; audio-visual group The Light Surgeons created an installation.

This has since led to showings of The Shawshank Redemption in a Hackney school converted to a prison, with audience members having to dress up as inmates; a One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest event held at the Princess Louise Hospital where audience members were admitted and “treated”; and as Screen noted, “More than 25,000 audience members attended the last Secret Cinema run of Brazil, which ran from May 2 to June 9. The production saw screenings of the 1985 film staged across a 13-floor office block in West Croydon, with music provided by Imogen Heap, Atoms for Peace and The Knife, among others.”
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Cinema Advertising Shows No Sign of Ageing at Cannes Lions

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Cinema advertising celebrated its 60th year at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity by positioning itself as the “magical, mysterious and creative media platform” of choice. The well attended seminar on Monday the 17th of June at the Cannes Palaise showcased examples of some of the most innovative technical and creative uses of the cinema advertising medium from countries all across the globe. There was mobile phone interaction, there were two-at-once film shows, stereoscopic 3D, innovation in audio and even tap dancing. The creatives leaving the event professed themselves inspired by the possibilities of cinema, which is an achievement given the dazzling array of technical platforms on show at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, which rivals the Cannes Film Festival held in the same venue a month earlier in terms of the talent that it attracts.

The event began with an acknowledgement of the power of cinema by showing the last 15 minutes of the acclaimed film “The Artist” that had screened in Cannes a year earlier and went on to win a clutch of awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture. Cinema may have added colour, sound and wide-screen since those early days of silent movies, but SAWA (the Screen Advertising World Association) pulled out all stops to show that there was plenty more innovation left in the medium. After the introduction by the host (yours truly), a montage sequence put together by UK’s DCM showed clips from this summer’s blockbusters, mixed with some of the best adverts screened in cinemas, accompanied by what has become SAWA’s unofficial theme, Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go’s “Cinema (Skrillex Remix)“.

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Michael Hilliard from Australia’s Finch was up first to screen the Yellowglen commercial “Welcome to the House of Sparkling” that had run in Australian cinemas and tied-in with a big on-line campaign. Advertising a sparkling wine on television would be wasted on the beer-drinking masses, hence why cinema was the obvious medium for a more selective target group. The advert featured Fabien Ruiz, the choreographer who taught the two stars of “The Artist” how to dance, tap his way around a dark room, all the way up to the ceiling and down, with sparks flying off his feet. And as if appearing in the ad wasn’t impressive enough, there was a collective “whoosh” in-take of breath in the audience when Michael then announced that next up to stage would be Fabian Ruiz himself, who came on and performed a stunning tap dance sequence.

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Sundance Goes Digital With Assistance From Barco

Sundance Film FestivalWhen Barco emailed a press release last Thursday with the subject “Sundance Film Festival expands digital cinema footprint with Barco projectors” I initially figured it must be an error. Sundance is held in Park City, Utah and takes place in January each year. If Barco was looking to get press for this year’s festival they are a little late and if they were trying to get ahead on next year’s event they are way too early.

In fact, the release was about the 2012 festival. Turns out Barco is not only helping theatre owners convert to digital, but they are also giving a hand to film festivals who will ultimately have to adopt the technology. For this past year’s festival Barco provided four additional digital cinema projectors to go with a number of others Sundance was using previously.

You may be wondering why we’re paying any attention to a corporate announcement that comes six weeks after the event in its subject line. Yet the real importance of the release is not necessarily that Barco is supplying film festivals with digital projectors (though it’s great that they are). Rather it is the meaning found between the words and sentences of the press notice that truly matters. It’s not written in black and white, but more of an invisible gray.

For those who may not be familiar with the Sundance Film Festival (i.e. non-film buffs or intelligent life forms from other planets), it is the premiere independent film festival in North America. Along with those in Berlin, Cannes, Telluride, Toronoto and Venice, it is one of the largest such festivals held each year. It has become known as the launching pad for such filmmakers as Darren Aranofsky, the Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, David O. Russell, Bryan Singer, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino and countless others. “Precious”, “Blood Simple”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “sex, lies, and videotape”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “The Blair Witch Project”, “American Splendor” and “Super Size Me” are just a few of the indie-films which were first shown to the public at Sundance.

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IBC Highlights Developments In Digital Cinema

Digital Screen Penetration (June 2010).png

Digital Screen Penetration of Total Screen Base

There is no question that the IBC conference, held annually in Amsterdam, is primarily aimed at broadcasters and those that supply or service them. After all, the B in IBC stands for broadcasters. However, the conference has always managed to find room for the motion picture industry in some form. Over the past decade that has mostly meant dedicating a day’s worth of seminars to digital cinema or stereoscopic production.

For IBC2010, the conference turned to David Monk, the the CEO of the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF), who put together a three hour panel titled “State Of Play: Developments In Digital Cinema”. (Full disclosure: I was a member of the panel). Monk chose David Hancock to start off the proceedings in an effort to provide some context for the many speakers that were to follow. As a senior analyst for Screen Digest, there are few who know the world of digital cinema as well as Hancock and so I wanted to relay some of the key points of his presentation.

Hancock’s presentation, titled “Digital Cinema: The Tipping Point Is Coming”, was filled with valuable numbers, statistics and informative graphics. He began with the following:

  • There are 109,000 modern cinema screens worldwide. Of these, 22,000 have been converted to digital. This means the industry is 21% of the way through the digitization of the world’s cinema screens.

According to Hancock’s research, digital cinema growth began in earnest in 2005 after recommendations for standards were released. Initially it was the United States that took the lead in rolling out digital as the rest of the world only tested the waters with the new technology. Digital roll outs in Europe began in earnest during 2008. ” Over the past 18 months the number in the territory has nearly tripled.

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Cinema Expo Thoughts: David Hancock of Screen Digest

The final entry in our series of posts presenting the comments of industry participants on last month’s Cinema Expo provides us with some valuable information.

David Hancock’s name will sound familiar to anyone having worked in motion picture exhibition or digital cinema over the past decade. He is the head of film and cinema at Screen Digest where he works as a senior analyst publishing numerous research reports on the industry.

Hancock moderated a panel discussion at Cinema Expo which reviewed the progress of digital cinema rollouts in Europe. Here are his impressions on last month’s conference:

David Hancock of Screen Digest

David Hancock of Screen Digest

This was a very good Cine Expo. Thanks in great part to the efforts of Phil Clapp, the Chief Executive of UK Cinema Exhibitor Association, and Ad Weststrate, President of UNIC, who brought a strong European flavour to the seminar programming, there was much to be learned in both these formal events, as well as the more informal surroundings of the bars.

For me, there were two things that stood out at this year’s Cine Expo. The first was alternative content, which is now clearly on the map and was on most people’s lips. From almost a pariah subject a few years back, there is now strong interest from exhibitors in tracking down new content. The call for content is matched by the need for a central information point where exhibitors can view what is out there. Some exhibitors and content providers have been working in this area for many years, and it is good to finally see the rest of the market catch up with them. Their skills and experience will be in demand in the next few years. There were two panels on this, one on Monday and one on Thursday.

The second is that digital cinema is finally a mainstream movement. Left and right, people were taking deals, with integrators, projector companies, banks etc. In fact, there appears to be a projector shortage now and people are on waiting lists. It is rather strange, having spent so long talking about the future is coming, to talk about this in the present tense. It is even weirder that we are talking about projector shortages when in the past, the opposite was the case.

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