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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China Cinema Digest – Wednesday 5 November 20

Transformers China

Not a month seems to go by without China breaking a new box office record. The Mainland box office is now on course to hit USD $5 billion (30 billion yuan) by the end of this year according to the Chinese Film Producer’s Association (CFPA).

The CFPA’s vice president Wang Fenglin told an film industry expo in Wuhan that China’s box office had reached $3.59 billion (22 billion yuan) for the January-to-September period, topping the $3.55 billion (21.8 billion) for the same period last year.

Wang also said that domestic films accounted for 51.4 percent of the market while imported films were 48.6 percent and that a total of 230 films were shown in mainstream cinemas in the first nine months of 2014.

Although the CFPA touted the $4.9 billion figure, the $5 billion mark looks within reach. A slew of big releases are set to hit theaters in the last two months of the year, and key moviegoing dates such as Singles’ Day (Nov. 11) and Christmas are still to come.  LINK

Danzish cinema Chonqing

Danzish Cinema – rated No. 1 on Chongqing

The Chinese central government is subsidising the building of cinemas in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities as a means of improving and speeding up urbanisation, though this can have the unintended consequence of inflating the exhibition bubble if the market cannot sustain these cinemas.

National Film Development Office recently allocated special funds for the cause of the second batch of county-level city theater construction subsidies totaling 14.2 million yuan [USD $2.3 million] 2012-13 . Reporters today (28) days from the Chongqing Municipal Culture Committee was informed that this subsidized a total of 25 theaters, including 11 in 2012 did not apply for a full refund in 2013 and 14 between the new theater.

Chongqing Municipal Committee of the person in charge of culture, the city had about 20 theaters will not enjoy subsidies. In order to reduce agriculture-related areas and remote counties film screenings main operating pressure and the cost burden of investment, the city actively seek the State Press and Publication Administration of Radio and national experts and Resources Committee, together with the municipal finance, and other multi-national digital management center to coordinate the efforts of last year National Resources Committee research group dedicated field visits to understand the actual situation in Chongqing.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 4 November 2014

RealD Glasses

RealD has rebuffed the takeover offer from hedge fund Starboard Value, having posted better-than-expected quarterly financial figures.

The company says that its board has “unanimously determined not to pursue” a $600 million unsolicited offer from Jeffrey Smith’s activist hedge fund Starboard Value. RealD directors “believe the value of its business will benefit from the strength of its cinema platform and upcoming film slate, the value inherent in its IP portfolio, and the changes being made to further reduce operating expenses and capital expenditures,” it says in a just-released quarterly earnings report.

CEO Michael Lewis added that the company is “in the process of taking additional steps designed to enhance shareholder value.” That could include a restructuring of its R&D efforts and “a further streamlining of our organization and efficiencies in our cost structure.”  LINK

Although RealD posted a loss for the most recent quarter, the figures were still an improvement on last year and met market expectations.

RealD reported Monday that revenue in its most recent quarter rose 8 percent to $47.4 million and the company lost $1.6 million, an improvement over the same quarter last year when it lost $4.7 million.

On an earnings-per-share basis, the 3D movie company lost 3 cents, while in the same frame a year ago it lost 9 cents. LINK

Unfortunately for RealD “Interstellar” will not be released in 3D, except possibly in China. Catch it tonight in 35mm, 70mm and analogue Imax.

K Sera Sera

The Indian digital cinema company KSS Ltd (formerly K Sera Sera), whose Vice President of Technology Rajesh Chowdhry was previously caught pirating a major Bollywood release, has pledged to work with Sony to install thousands of projectors in the country over the next few years.

Digital media and entertainment company, KSS Ltd today announced its foray into 4K space and has joined hands with Hong Kong-based Sony Corporation to bring in the 4K cinema technology.

Also KSS has set up a target to install 3,000 4K cinema screens over next 2-3 years, the company said in a statement here.

“KSS has always focused on providing the best technology and innovation in cinema. With this partnership with Sony, KSS aims to provide Indians a never before experience of cinema through 4K technology,” K Sera Sera Digital Cinema Private Limited CEO Vineeta Dwivedi said.  LINK

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US Department of Justice Seeks to Block NCM-Screenvision Merger

NCM DoJ Screenvision

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed a lawsuit with the aim of blocking the proposed USD $375 million merger between US cinema advertising majors National CineMedia Inc. (NCM) and Screenvision LLC. NCM admitted to being both “disappointed” and “surprised” by the decision, but predicted that the case could be overcome within “four months or possibly more,” setting the stage for what could be an interesting court battle.

The DoJ move shows that, whatever the merits of the deal, NCM has not made a strong enough case as to why “eliminating competition that has substantially benefitted movie theaters, advertisers and, ultimately, movie goers” (in the words of the DoJ) should be allowed to be replaced with a de-facto monopoly for cinema advertising in the US.

The DoJ’s Case Against the Merger

The DoJ issued a strongly worded press release on Monday 3rd of November after the DoJ Antitrust Division’s lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“The proposed combination of NCM and Screenvision is a bad deal for movie theaters, advertisers and consumers.  This merger to monopoly is exactly the type of transaction the antitrust laws were designed to prohibit,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “If this deal is allowed to proceed, the benefits of competition will be lost, depriving theaters and advertisers of options for cinema advertising network services and risking higher prices to movie goers.”

As the press release points out, the proposed merger is between two majors that control cinema advertising in “88 percent of all movie theater screens in the United States through long-term, exclusive contracts.” What the press release does not say is that while this merger covers 88% of total US screen count, these screens represent a higher proportion of box office, cinema attendance and prime audience demographic, which is what matters to advertisers.

The DoJ is methodical in laying out why during the past few years competition in the US cinema advertising sector has been so strong:

Over the past two years, competition between NCM and Screenvision intensified as Screenvision became a particularly aggressive competitor, increasing its efforts to steal business from NCM by dramatically reducing the prices it charges advertisers and offering movie theaters a variety of attractive financial incentives. The complaint contains statements from NCM’s and Screenvision’s executives describing the competition between the two companies and the motivation to end that competition by entering into the transaction:

  • Aggressive competition between NCM and Screenvision for movie theaters led NCM to observe that “we need to buy [Screenvision] before either us or [Screenvision] does a stupid deal.”
  • By April 2014, NCM arrived at what it called a “Strategy Decision Crossroads.” As NCM had told its board it could either acquire Screenvision, which would give NCM the ability to “Control Selling Tactics,” including “Pricing,” or it could compete through more aggressive pricing and adding theaters to its network. NCM chose to buy out its competitor.
  • NCM viewed Screenvision’s “new strategy of undercutting [NCM’s] pricing by 50 percent (or more) [as] a direct threat to [NCM’s] business model” and “a very unusual strategy in a duopoly.”

The implication is that NCM is not pursuing the merger so much to unlock synergies and better compete with television and online advertising, as to get rid of pesky competition that is eating into its bottom line.

The DoJ believes the proposed merger would lead to “advertisers paying more for cinema advertising and movie theaters receiving less revenue,” which in turn is likely to “result in movie theaters having to raise ticket or concession prices to consumers or forego theater upkeep and improvements.”

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 3 November 2014

Cinepolis

Mexican/international chain Cinepolis is mentioned as one of the potential bidders for Regal, according to the LA Times. Other potential buyers mentioned include No. 3 US chain Cinemark, Shanghai Film Group Corp., Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba, or South Korea’s CJ Group. It is clear that there is no obvious front runner, but nobody is prepared to rule themselves out at this stage.

Cinépolis, Latin America’s largest theater chain known for its luxury amenities, may be among the prospective bidders for the United States’ largest theater chain.

Adrian Mijares Elizondo, chief executive of Cinépolis USA, said his company would consider buying Regal Entertainment after the Knoxville, Tenn., company surprised investors last week when it announced that it would entertain offers to sell the chain.

“It’s not every day that the biggest chain in the industry goes on sale,” Elizondo said. “We would take a look at Regal. This is a growth opportunity, and like any growth opportunity we have available, we will discuss it and evaluate it.”  LINK

Zhovten yellow cinema fire

Ukraine – The apparent arson attack on Kiev’s oldest cinema is starting to make waves with the city’s population and politicians, including the Mayor of Ukraine’s capital. Questions are also being raised if it was a hate crime or related to a rent dispute.

Hundreds of people rallied in front of Kyiv city hall on Oct. 31 to demand an investigation into a fire that recently destroyed the popular Zhovten cinema. They also called for reconstruction of the historic building and Kyiv’s oldest move theater built in 1930, which has been the subject of a years-long rent dispute.

The activists honored the ruined arthouse cinema by wearing yellow jackets, hats and scarves and holding yellow posters that read “Give Zhovten cinema back!” Zhovten means ‘October’ in Ukrainian and derives from the word “yellow.” Others spattered black drops on their placards accompanied by the inscription: “There are still drops in the ocean,” a reference to the popular EuroMaidan Revolution slogan “I am a drop in the ocean.”  LINK

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