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

Read More »

 

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During the session hosted by the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF), panelists will discuss the effect of out of date software on global cinema operations and the barriers to upgrade which keep many cinemas on legacy versions.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

Read More »

 

Zut Alors! France Discovers Secret to Reversing Cinema Decline

France 4 Euro scheme

While the US grapple with a poor summer box office (BO) most of western Europe seems to have accepted that as a mature cinema market, its countries will see stasis or gradual stagnation only interrupted by the occasional outsize local hit (Italy last year, Ireland this summer). German epitomises this trend, with the recent study of cinema attendance 2009-2013 showing an overall slow decline.

But one European country has challenged the notion that secular decline in the cinema sector is a structural inevitability of changing demographics, technological and economical trends – and it appears to have reversed that decline. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the country in question is France.

France is the only country in the world to take cinema seriously enough to consider the declining cinema attendance a national emergency. Having launched several public initiatives to counter it, the good news is that early indications are that the decline can not just be halted but reversed.

Focus on the Next Generation of Cinema Goers

We have reported earlier on preliminary findings, but these have now been confirmed by the the Centre National du Cinéma (the National Cinema Centre - CNC) in a major report.

On 1 January 2014 French exhibitors introduced a scheme whereby children under the age of 14 would only pay four euro (€4 – USD $5.25) for cinema tickets for every screening of every film for every day. This was a joint public-private effort with the French government doing its part, as noted in an article published a month before the scheme was launched.

This operation, “launching in 2014 but which is intended to continue beyond”, is in the context of the government’s decision to lower on January 1st the VAT on cinema admissions of 7.5% to 5% said Marc-Olivier Sebbag, General Manager of the FNCF (National Federation of French Cinemas).

The VAT reduction desired by the government, is being voted on by MPs. The Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti welcomed the “democratization initiative taken by members of the FNCF.”

There was some opposition from distributors at the time – I can’t imagine Disney in particular being thrilled about this – but with buy-in from all cinemas, as well as the Ministry of Culture, there was no way that Hollywood studios would be permitted to obstruct this initiative.

French films 2014 6-14 year olds

The FNCF was clear that the goal was to reverse the declining attendance, though they were prepared to re-appraise the terms and methods, based on how it played out.

For the federation, the goal is, “in a context of declining attendance,” to encourage young people to come “more easily and more frequently to the movies” and build audiences for the future. “This is a population that goes to the movies as a family, we therefore address the more general family audience,” said Marc-Olivier Sebbag.

“We will take stock at the end of the first year and we will see whether it should be adjusted, for example by changing the age or price,” said he said.

With under-14 accounting for eight to nine percent (8%-9%) of total admissions, or 16 million out of 200 million, this was a significant step as average ticket prices for this age group was €5.50, compared to the average cinema ticket price in France of €6.42.

Read More »

 

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

 

Read More »

 

Chinese Box Office Growth Driven by Women and Millennials

Tiny times 3

The China Film Association and other units launched the “2014 Chinese Film Art Report” and “2014 China Film Industry Report” earlier this week in Beijing.

The reports analyse cinema consumption patterns of domestic Chinese films and finds that they are primarily driven by females, Millennials and repeat viewing, with an astonishing per head spending of several hundred dollars per month at the multiplex. The reports also worries about the “shallow” themes of some of the most popular Chinese films.

With foreign (mainly Hollywood) films restricted in the Mainland market under the 20+14 quota, China’s cinema growth is taking place mainly on the back of domestic films. The government is keen to encourage this growth, which is why it is focusing research efforts on understanding cinema consumption patterns.

These two reports look at 2013 releases, which totalled 311 movies, of which 250 were domestic films(1) and 61 foreign films(2). Out of these 219 were categorized as genre films, such as comedy, romance, and action films, while 31 were categorized as “non-genre”.

It notes that out of 59 films that earned more than one billion yuan at the box office 32 were domestic, with domestic films accounting for 58% of overall takings, the highest number ever for Chinese cinemas.

‘A Great Leap Backward’

The report and articles about it seize upon the youth focus and themes of the most successful films.

It is noteworthy that the themes about the current urban population of the urban youth film themes of love and youth, grow up to become a dark horse, and rescue. The higher box office films “To Youth”, “Tiny Times”, “Chinese Partner,” “Break the Contract”, “That Was Stolen Five Years”, etc., all have a youthful theme. But the report notes that, while a good number of youth films, many of the movie lacks intrinsic emotional power and creative artistic qualities, and themes of these films focus on youth and substance, youth and love, youth and nostalgia, but lack a richer ambiguity.

The article goes on to lambast the “speculative mentality prevailing” in many youth films with the highest market share, saying “the youth theme of this bonanza is shallow excessive consumption.” The sentiment is perhaps understandable as even western media has latched onto what makes films such as “Tiny Times 3″ so popular.

YouTube Preview Image

Here is for example what the BBC had to say about it:

Tiny Times couldn’t be further from Mao’s ascetic communism: it is a wholesale celebration of conspicuous consumption and materialism that has been described as a cross between Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada.

The series follows four attractive, fashion-obsessed young women in Shanghai: Lily, Ruby, Lin and Nan Xiang. It chronicles their lives and romances. The actresses look perfect – nicely groomed and slim. There are constant references to sports cars and expensive brands such as Prada and Gucci. The characters are often in opulent surroundings as they enter into relationships with handsome, well-dressed men.

Read More »

 

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

Read More »

 

German Cinema Screen Trends 2009-2013: Specialist Screens See Strong Growth

German cinema screens 2009-2013

The German Federal Film Board (FFA) has just published a detailed study (pdf) of cinema screen trends over the last five years, with some surprising findings. As a mature exhibition market, multiplex numbers are static, but there is significant growth of outdoor and specialist screens.

The number of multiplex screens in 2013 was exactly the same as in 2009: 1,294, though peaking at 1,301 in 2010. There were more than twice as many non-multiplex/traditional screens, though these declined from 2,870 in 2009 to 2,737 in 2013 in a trend that is likely to continue and contributed to decline of total screens, though at just -0.2% in the most recent year (equivalent to seven screens), less pronounced than past years.

Though the report does not mention it, it is important to remember that these were the key years for digital cinema implementation in Germany. However, the full digital death toll is likely to only come in the statistics for 2014 when the termination of 35mm print distribution is likely to see a significant drop in the numbers of ‘traditional screens’.

What is most interesting to note is the growth of specialised screens, which increased from 570 in 2009 to 586 in 2012, before settling at 579 for the last year of the report. These include Community/Culture centre cinemas (162), Associations (136) and University cinemas (126), with other types of cinemas as well, most of which did not screen film on anything more than a weekly basis.

Falling Overall Attendance

German cinema attendance

Despite two small year-on-year rises in the years covered by the report, overall cinema attendance in Germany is showing a slow but steady decline. Interestingly traditional screens have held their own against multiplex screens, having nearly half of the total market – 49.2% against 46.9% for the multiplex screens. Multiplex screens only outperformed traditional screens in 2010, which was also the year of lowest overall cinema attendance.

Read More »

 

Event Cinema Announces 2nd Annual Conference

ECA conference

The Event Cinema Association has revealed details about its second annual London-based one-day conference, taking place on 16th of October at the Genesis Cinema in London’s East End. The announcement comes on the back of a strong year for the burgeoning field of what’s previously been known as ‘alternative content.’

The conference expands and builds on last years event (held at the o2 in Greenwich) and will feature two panel discussions:

Session 1 – Marketing Event Cinema
Panel: Dione Orrom, Producer, (UK)
Craig Shurn, Distributor, Altive Media (UK)
Katrin Mathe, Distributor, Akuentic, (France)
Mark Foster, Arts Alliance (UK)
Dorothy Smith, Zeffirellis, (UK)
Brad LaDouceur, Cineplex (Canada)

Moderator: Austin Shaw

And:

Session 2 – New Business Models and New Technology
Panel: Scott Glosserman, Gathr Films (USA)
Mariusz Spisz, Multikino (Poland)
Tom Shaw, Digital Theatre (UK)
Adam Cassels, Audience Entertainment (USA)

Moderator: David Hancock, IHS

The conference will also have a “unique new format”, with a total of six individual break-out sessions planned over the course of the day.

Read More »

 

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

Read More »

 

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.

Read More »