Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 17 November 2014

Cinemaxx

Germany – Cinema majors Cinemaxx and CineStar have formed a joint venture to promote cinema for business use. Not sure how far beyond regular cinema advertising this goes, but there is talk of “360 degree cinema communication.”

The company CinemaxX and CineStar planning a joint company for the holistic cinema marketing. This was confirmed by a CinemaxX spokeswoman to Hamburg Media Magazine ‘New Business’ (www-new-business.de). The two German cinema providers want so combine their reach, “to business customers providing an easier entry into the world of 360 degree cinema communication”.

The company would be open for the market to other cinema enterprises in Germany, says CinemaxX. Offices in Berlin, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt are planned to headquarters in Hamburg. Currently, a fusion legal review of the project by the Federal Cartel is taking place.  LINK

reald-3d-glasses

USA (CA) – A long interview between Forbes’ Mark Hughes and former head of 2D-to-3D conversion company Legend3D Dr Barry Sandrews. The fact that both are bullish about the prospects of 3D is no surprise, given the title ‘Why 3D Will Dominate Cinema In The Future,’ but the article makes several good points.

It’s particularly notable that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was able to pull down $709 million worldwide due to a large amount of help from 3D that was best of any superhero film that’s been made, allowing it to rank as one of the year’s top-grossing films despite mixed reviews and the press focusing on a lot of negativity in reporting on the film (my own reaction to the film was decidedly more positive, as my review makes clear).

The next several years will see an expansion of 3D’s power at the global box office, with a series of brand new Star Wars films, Avatar sequels, and a huge growing slate of franchises and sequels in the popular superhero genre now that DC and Marvel characters will parade across the big screen at a rate double that of previous years (a total of more than 25 different superhero franchises will actively exist by 2020, as incredible as that seems). More than 70 3D films hit theaters in 2015 and 2016. And despite a modest leveling off of domestic audience attendance at 3D cinema since its modern reintroduction, it has held steady at home while foreign audiences continue having enormous appetites for the format. China in particular seems to love 3D.  LINK

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New MPAA and NATO Wearables Policy Is As Much About Social Norms As It Is About Piracy

Sergey Brin Wearing Google Glass

Google’s Sergey Brin shows off Google Glass

In his classic 1835 treatise on American society, Democracy In America, french historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “Laws are always unstable unless they are founded on the manners of a nation; and manners are the only durable and resisting power in a people.”

This passage sprang to mind as I read the anti-theft policy update issued jointly on October 29th by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). The new policy focuses on wearable devices like smart watches and Google Glass, the latter being an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that attaches to prescription or custom eyewear. Many of these devices are equipped with a camera and thus the reason the MPAA and NATO felt obliged to revise the policy. Their statement read as follows:

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have a long history of welcoming technological advances and recognize the strong consumer interest in smart phones and wearable “intelligent” devices. As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown. As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave. If theater managers have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place, they will alert law enforcement authorities when appropriate, who will determine what further action should be taken.

The two organizations already had a standing policy against the use of mobile phones in theatres. It is simply being extended now to encompass wearable devices. You might even say the decision was a “no-brainer” accept for the confusion that might occur in reference to the cinema patron who decides to use “no brain” by wearing such a device into an auditorium in the first place.

Unfortunately people do indeed wear electronic devices into cinemas as was demonstrated in January when a moviegoer in Columbus, Ohio was detained by federal authorities for wearing Google Glass during a showing of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”. The incident occurred when alert theatre personnel at the AMC Easton 30 noticed a patron wearing the “recording device” during the screening and contacted the MPAA, who in turn notified the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees movie theft.

Much in the way there were recently fuzzy policies and procedures on how to treat Ebola patients in the United States, there were no guidelines back in January for cinema operators on how to handle patrons with wearable devices such as Google Glass. It took the trade organizations a notably long time to update their anti-theft policy afterwards, however this may have more to do with the MPAA’s working relationship with Google and their desire to maintain it.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 14 November 2014

Cinema Park

Cinema Park, Russia’s biggest cinema chain, has just been bought by a 19-year old college student for USD $385 million. Proof that Russia is a land of bold young Internet entrepreneurs buying into traditional media or a crony capitalist nepotistic kleptocracy? You be the judge.

 

Said Kerimov, a student at top Moscow State Institute of International Relations, is the son of Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

Kerimov, is a student MGIMO, at the university is known in its Russian acronym, an institution with a reputation for training future businessmen and diplomats.

Kerimov junior’s offer of $385 million (19 billion roubles) for Cinema Park, has been accepted by Interros, the industrial group controlled by Vladimir Potantin that owns the chain along with other media interests.  LINK

RealD

The patent war between RealD and MAsterImage rumbles on.

On November 7, 2014, RealD Inc. of Beverly Hills, California (“RealD”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that MasterImage 3D, Inc. of Sherman Oaks, California and MasterImage 3D Asia, LLC of South Korea (collectively, “MasterImage”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain three-dimensional cinema systems and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,905,602 (the ’602 patent), 8,220,934 (the ’934 patent), 7,857,455 (the ’455 patent), and 7,959,296 (the ’296 patent) (collectively, the “asserted patents”)….

In the complaint, RealD states that MasterImage imports and sells products that infringe the asserted patents. The complaint specifically refers to the MasterImage-Horizon3D digital cinema system and MasterImage-Horizon3D dual digital cinema system as infringing products.  LINK

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China Cinema Digest – Thursday 13 november 2014

China Film Group La Paking

Hollywood is looking to make more money out of China than the import-restricted and revenue split-skewed arrangements currently allow. So why not expand merchandising? Just check the Fast & Furious Experience in last week’s China Cinema Digest to appreciate the opportunities.

The head of China’s powerful state-run movie enterprise that supervises film imports wants to strengthen ties with Hollywood by selling merchandise in that country’s theaters.

La Peikang, chairman of China Film Group, has launched a new initiative aimed at spurring consumer product sales at theaters in China’s fast-growing exhibition sector.

To test the project, the group has already selected 1,500 top-ranked theaters in China that will have their own shops selling movie-themed merchandise, such as toys, clothing, games and DVDs, La said in an interview with The [LA] Times.  LINK

China youth

An editorial in The Workers Daily asks whether blockbusters pandering to “small town youth” is detrimental to Chinese cinema. In doing so it also highlights that “domestic movie box office increase is largely thanks to the gift of theater expansion, rather than to improvement in their quality.” The piece asks some very pertinent questions about demographic and geographical realities will undermine continuous cinema expansion as it goes beyond Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in more rural markets. Worth reading in full.

In fact, it seems gratifying box office figures have confirmed the doubts. Foreign films in China last year, 41% of the box office take football, though not more than half, but to enter the mainland theaters are only 60 foreign films of last year, and the year of production of 638 feature films into theaters have 245. There are 60 foreign films at the box office over 27 million, and 245 domestic movie box office over billion were only 33.

Faced with such a market, a lot of film industry practitioners to second and third tier cities moviegoers that “small town youth” as the future of the film industry’s main viewing groups, because in the second and third tier cities cinema showing growth spurt. When in 2012, the national new screen 3832, 60% of the distribution in the second and third tier cities and county-level cities, four cinemas in 2013 reached a new three-digit number of theater tier cities, many in a two-tier cities years, it has gone through several screens from the single digits to double-digit upheaval.

Small city into the “theater of the times”, making the share of the domestic film industry has changed, northward four first-tier cities of Guangzhou-Shenzhen country’s total box office share has dropped from 32.8 percent in 2008 to 25.8 percent in 2012. Economic development so that “idle rich” and “small town youth” willing to purchase movies, videos and many second and third tier cities will also be used as pre-marketing focus.  LINK

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AMC Scores Promotional Hat Trick With “Big Hero 6″ Giveaway

AMC Big Hero 6 Pin GiveawayI awoke on Monday morning to a notification on my iPhone related to “Big Hero 6“. The latest animated release from Walt Disney Pictures had just topped the box office in North America during its debut weekend, fending off Warner Bros. “Interstellar” by taking in over USD $56 million.

The iPhone notification however didn’t have anything to do with the past weekend’s box office. Rather it was sent by the AMC Theatres mobile app I have installed on my iPhone. I have the app set to enable notifications and even allow for it to use my location. That’s why every time I drive past an AMC multiplex my mobile buzzes with a notification. I still haven’t determined if that’s annoying or not.

The notification concerning “Big Hero 6″, pictured here, was alerting me to a special promotion the cinema chain was running that gave away limited edition pins for the movie with the purchase of tickets. The message read, “Which Baymax pin will you get?” with pictures of both the pins featuring the huggable robot at the center of the film. One ploy in the promotion is that only one in ten pins will be of Baymax in his hero armor, presumably making those versions more valuable.

The ultimate catch in all this is that the giveaway is exclusive to members of Stubs, AMC’s loyalty program. I continue to pay for Stubs each year, always swearing it’s the last year I’ll do so. Even though I could personally care less about them, exclusive benefits such as these giveaways make more inclined to not question the annual Stubs membership charge. After all, my kids would probably love the pins… even though each would probably get different versions leading to arguments over who gets which one on the way to our seats.

I only point all of this out to highlight how AMC used the giveaway to score a promotional hat-trick. They promoted the film, “Big Hero 6″ and their loyalty program, Stubs, while at the same time reminding me about their mobile app (which I rarely use).

They may have even convinced me to head on over to the nearest AMC Theatres so I can see the film while supplies last. Maybe I can pay for my Stubs membership by selling the pin on eBay. At the time of this writing they are already fetching over USD $11.40 and counting.

 

Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 12 November 2014

RealD Light doubler

RealD has won an important patent recognition in Europe for its “light doubler” technology.

Global visual technology company RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) announced today the issuance to it by the European Patent Office of a patent that covers the fundamental optical architecture of the company’s XL Cinema System, which is the world’s brightest and most widely used cinema 3D projection technology.

“The issuance of this European patent builds on the significant patent position we have globally around our XL Cinema System and validates our inventive approach,” said Robert Mayson, Managing Director of RealD Europe. “We place great value on our intellectual property and its ability to ensure the industry’s brightest, premium visual experience for our partners and moviegoers around the world.”  LINK

Big Cinemas

It seems that a deal for Indian multiplex major BIG Cinema could be imminent.

BIG Cinemas, a 100-per cent subsidiary of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Capital, has lined up three suitors for a Rs 800-crore [USD $130 million] deal on the lines of the merger agreement that Reliance MediaWorks (RMW) had inked with global media and entertainment giant Prime Focus Limited in July.

According to sources, Carnival Films Private Limited, a South India-centric company, has emerged as the front runner for the deal while PVR Limited and Inox Leisure Limited are also in the race.  LINK

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Marvel Plays It Smart After “Avengers” Trailer Leak

YouTube Preview Image

When Marvel Entertainment learned the teaser trailer for their highly anticipated super hero movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron” had leaked online they had a number of options in how to respond and ultimately did so in an exemplary manner. With the resources of Disney, their deep-pocketed owner, Marvel could have sent take down notices to every single website posting the leaked trailer. They could have even gone so far as to file suit against specific sites hosting or disseminating the trailer. Instead, Marvel handled the incident efficiently and in a way that painted them in a positive light.

The trailer in question is the first for the studio’s 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers” and was leaked via Google Drive. Within hours Disney sent Google a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requesting the file be removed. Initially there was some concern that an entire cut of the movie had been pirated however that seems unlikely since it is still being completed.

When the leak was first noticed on October 22nd, rather than run around with a SWAT team of lawyers trying to squelch the trailer’s distribution, Marvel decided to promote the incident with a single two word tweet that read, “Dammit, Hydra”. The post has been retweeted and favorited over 60,000 times and set the tone for the rest of Marvel’s actions related to the leak. By referencing Hydra, a global terrorist network in the Marvel universe, the company was showing a sense of humor in a relevant fashion. They seized control of the situation from that moment forward.

With the footage in the wild Marvel understood there was no way to stuff the genie back into the bottle, if you will, and one-upped the leakers by quickly releasing an HD version of the trailer along with a poster for the movie. This delighted hardcore fans who quickly kept the chatter about the trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” going strong on social media.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 10 November 2014

Hoyts logo

Variety reports that Australian exhibitor Hoyts’ IPO has been called off.

The flotation had been expected to value the company at up to A$900 million ($773 million) in a pre-Christmas sale handled by investment bank UBS.

The sale process was triggered by majority shareholder Pacific Equity Partners, a private equity firm that bought in to the company in 2007. However after recent roadshow presentations to potential investors PEP is understood to have become concerned about the valuation and the ability to maintain income growth at a time that the sector is facing growing competition from Internet sources.  LINK

Wadjda

Saudi Arabia – It seems that cinemas will finally come to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – the last country on earth without formal cinemas – following an agreement between four government agencies.

A source said relevant authorities assigned to take this decision include the Ministry of Interior, the Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia).
He said the SCTA and the audiovisual commission have a direct interest in the matter, while the other two are concerned with consultations and coordination.

The first people who introduced cinema to Saudi Arabia were foreigners working in Aramco (now Saudi Aramco), during the 1930s; in the 1990s they became available to Saudis at their sports clubs.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 7 November 2014

Steve Cinema robot

Terminator is not the only robot you are likely to encounter in multiplexes in the future, with Belgian cinema advertiser Brightish being the first in the world to launch a cinema robot. Apparently it is much friendlier than the Terminator robot too.

Belgian cinema’s advertising sales house, Brightfish, has unveiled at the Creativity World Forum the very first interactive cinema robot in the world. The robot has been baptized Steve – a nod to the actor Steve McQueen – and will promote cinema to the general public in an original way. Already via social media, he has shared his impressions of the cinema world with videos, tweets and photos, and it’s about to get even more exciting as you’ll be able to meet him in person in the cinema, his natural habitat.

Sylvia Van Cauteren, Marketing Director Brightfish says: “Steve made his first appearance at the Creativity World Forum. As a passionate cinema enthusiast he’ll mingle with visitors and business people and collect ideas about how he can make a cinema outing even more fun. Through his Twitter account, @CineSteve, he’ll keep everyone up to date and well informed. We plan to use Steve to further enhance the cinema experience for both adults and children. We’ll do this in an interactive way with this curious cinema robot that we consider as our colleague.”?  LINK

Children cinema 3D

France – Could the screening of 3D films for children be curtailed, restricted or even banned in France? It is a country that does not hesitate to regulate when it comes to cinema.

A French health watchdog recommended Thursday that children under six be denied access to 3D films, computers and video games, and that those up to 13 have “moderate” access.

The advice is based on a “pioneering” analysis of scientific research into the possible impacts of 3D imaging on the developing eye, the agency ANSES [French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety] said.

It pointed to an explosion of 3D technology in gadgets, now also in mobile phones.  LINK

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Questions Raised About Wanda Cinema’s IPO

Wang Jianglin, chairman and founder of Dalian Wanda Group

Sina Finance carries a long and excellent analysis of Wanda Cinema’s re-submitted IPO document, written by Enterprise Observer newspaper reporter Zhu Lin. The article raises several pertinent question about the IPO of the world’ largest cinema chain, which also controls AMC in the US.

The article is in Chinese, but is worth reading in full in the Google translation (or read the original here) to better understand this important listing and company.

There is too much covered in the article to regurgitate everything in this piece, but a few interesting nuggets are worth highlighting, not least the family connections underpinning the ownership and control of the company, as well as future challenges that it is likely to face.

The initial application for listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in July this year was refused on account of “insufficient information” in the IPO prospectus document. Wanda has thus had to submit additional information, some of which makes for very interesting reading.

According to the document the Wang family, headed by Wang Jianlin, controls 71.4% of Wanda Cinema’s total equity, meaning that they exercise complete control over the company, and will continue to do so even after the IPO of no more than 60 million shares.

The article provides a breakdown of the family stake(s):

Prospectus shows Wanda Wanda Cinema controlling shareholder investment, holding 68% stake in Wanda Cinema. Wang Jianlin, Hop Hing Investment Limited by Dalian Wanda Group and the Cultural Industry Group Holdings Wanda indirect investment, the actual controller Wanda cinema. And Wang Jianlin, Wanda Cinema son Wang Sicong currently holds 500 million shares, accounting for 1% of the total share capital, Wang Jianzhong Wang Jianlin brother, Wang can, WANG Jian-chun and ??? each hold 0.6% stake in Wanda Cinema.

Wang’s son Wang Sicong four brothers plus five people, accounting for 3.4% of total share capital before the issue Wanda Cinema, plus the 68% stake controlled by Wang Jianlin, Wang’s family holding up to 71.4%, the realization of Wanda Cinema’s absolute control.

It is clear that the listing will thus make Wang Jianlin even more of a billionaire while also making his close family very wealthy.

At an IPO price of 33.33 yuan per share, the market value of Wanda Cinema would be around 18.7 billion yuan (USD 3 billion), giving the Wang Jianlin family a stake of 13.35 billion yuan (USD $2.18 billion) with Wang’s four brothers earning around a billion yuan each  (USD $160 million). So the IPO is a profitable family affair.

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