Tag Archives: AMC Entertainment

Fathom Events New CEO John Rubey Provides Both Experience and Leadership

John Rubey

John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events

When National CineMedia (NCM) spun off its alternative content division, NCM Fathom Events, into a completely separate business entity at the end of 2013, it did not identify a chief executive officer for the newly formed company. Kurt Hall, the chairman and CEO of NCM, stayed with the cinema advertising network, and Fathom went off to find a suitable senior executive to fill its open leadership position. Their search came to an end earlier this month when it was announced John Rubey would become the stand-alone Fathom Events first CEO.

If Rubey’s name sounds vaguely familiar there’s a good reason why. Rubey comes to Fathom after spending the last 14 years as the President of AEG Network Live, the concert promoter’s in-house multimedia production company. While with AEG he helped produce some of the earliest noteworthy events in the nascent alternative content industry by beaming concerts into cinemas from the likes of Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Garth Brooks and Phish.

This is a great hire for Fathom as Rubey brings a lot to the table. He’s got more than two decades of experience working in one form or another on content and marketing for big-ticket entertainment events. Before signing on with AEG, Rubey founded and owned Spring Communications which specialized in pay-per-view events. He has a working knowledge and practical experience in multiple forms of media production, entertainment marketing, alternative content and working with exhibitors. His relationships and ties to key players in the concert and entertainment industries run deep.

The whole purpose of AEG Networks Live is to “eventize” a concert, a tour, an arena or sports, generating marketing opportunities and actual revenue. These goals are identical or complimentary to most alternative content releases. To help him achieve these objectives during his tenure at AEG, Rubey worked with content aggregators and distributors such as Hulu, MySpace, Vevo and YouTube. Thus, he’s no stranger to digital content distribution and its many intricacies.

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Chris McGurk Says Cinedigm’s Future Is In Software And Content

Chris McGurk

Cinedigm's Chris McGurk

Not sure if you noticed, but over the past week Cinedigm’s stock price jumped over 33% from USD $1.50 to USD $2.00. It closed Friday out at USD $1.88. The sudden price increase in Cinedigm’s stock is likely due to a number of factors, rather than a single reason.

It has been a busy year so far for North America’s largest digital cinema deployment entity. In January industry veteran Chris McGurk (formerly with Overture Films and MGM) joined Cinedigm as it’s new chairman and CEO. In February the company announced improved financial results for the third quarter for fiscal 2011, hired back David Gajda as the chairman of their software division and signed Southern Theatres to a d-cinema deployment contract.

Last week AMC, the second largest U.S. theatre chain, selected Cinedigm’s Exhibition Management Solution to handle such head office tasks as film rental and revenue auditing. This was a day after the third annual Gabelli & Company Movie Industry Conference, where Cinedigm was represented by McGurk, whose presentation on maintaining theatrical film windows was reportedly well received.

In the following conversation, which took place on the eve of the first annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, McGurk openly discusses the company’s stock price, digital Cinema, and most importantly, Cinedgim’s future business direction.

Celluloid Junkie: So, as someone who has attended ShoWest in the past as a studio executive, how does it feel to be heading to Las Vegas for CinemaCon as the head of a digital cinema deployment entity?

Chris McGurk: There’s a little bit of a difference but I think it’s kind of great because we’re positioned right in the middle. We’re not on the studio side and we’re not on the exhibition side, but we’re basically a facilitator for what both sides are trying to do and right now that’s a great position to be in. I was just at the Gabelli Conference last week in New York where we presented and listened to everyone talk for six hours. It seems the level of tension that exists between studios and exhibitors right now is higher than it’s ever been, primarily because of windowing. But I think a company like Cinedigm, a digital services provider, a provider of alternative content and software solutions, I think we’re in kind of a unique position to sort of get in the middle of all that and help find some solutions to make things work.

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Travis Reid Departs DCIP To Head Up Screenvision

Travis Reid - Screenvision.jpg

Travis Reid

Last Thursday Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) announced that Travis Reid, their CEO, had resigned. That same day on-screen advertising giant Screenvision announced that Shamrock Capital Advisors, a private equity fund founded by the late Roy Disney, had finalized the $160 million purchase of the company and had appointed Reid as its new CEO.

At ShowEast, which was just wrapping up at the time, many industry folks I spoke with were surprised to hear the news, though looking at it objectively, the move is somewhat inevitable.

Reid has had a long career in motion picture exhibition that includes his stint as the President and CEO of Loews Cineplex for which he worked from 1991 until 2005 when the chain was acquired by AMC Entertainment. In 2007 he joined DCIP, the deployment entity formed and owned by North America’s largest exhibitors; AMC, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark. Reid has also sat on the boards of Cineplex Galaxy, Yelmo and Fandango among others. As Shamrock’s Managing Director Steve Royer said in Screenvision’s press release:

“Travis has an over thirty-year history in the exhibition space having operated chains and most recently, pioneering the digital revolution for the cinema exhibition industry. He was our ideal candidate.”

Reid led DCIP through a challenging period in its formation and development. Not only did he successfully oversee the companies protracted negotiations with major studios for virtual print fees (VPFs), but just as it seemed digital cinema was taking off, the financial meltdown caused funding for rollouts to dry up for more than a year. Reid and DCIP persevered and in March of this year he secured $660 million in funding from a consortium of banks.

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Sony Expands In Europe With National Amusements, AMC, And Dealer Partnerships

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

If Sony wanted to make a big splash at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam this past week then they did one heck of a job. On Tuesday, the second day of the conference, Sony announced two exhibitor agreements with National Amusements and AMC Entertainment’s United Kingdom based theatres for digital conversions. The company, known for its 4K digital cinema solution, also struck up partnerships with three European digital cinema dealers.

National Amusements
The biggest of these announcements had to be the news that National Amusements had chosen Sony as their integrator. The theatre chainis one of the largest in the world, operating 950 screens across venues in the U.K., United States and Latin America. National Amusements is the fifth largest theatre chain in North America.

Under their existing virtual print fee (VPF) agreements with Hollywood studios, Sony will install their 4K digital cinema projectors on all of National Amusements’ screens. They will start immediately with Showcase Cinemas, National Amusements’ U.K. theatre chain where Sony Digital Cinema 4K systems will be deployed on all 276 screens. In an effort to quickly ramp up the number of 3D screens at the circuits disposal, Sony will install the first 24 systems before the end of July.

There was no mention when installation of d-cinema equipment would begin in the U.S. or South America.  In fact the press release seemed purposefully non-committal, referring to the deal as an “expected global exhibitor agreement”. One could read into the use of the word “expected” or assume that Sony will be deploying equipment to the 450 screens National Amusements has in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. The theatre chain owns 16 theatres in South America which would probably be included in any worldwide rollout.

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AMC To Shutter First U.S. Megaplex

The Grand 24.jpgHave you ever wondered what the difference was between a multiplex and a megaplex? It’s not a question that keeps me up at night, but every so often I’ll read about a theatre which is described as a megaplex and it will cross my mind. I mean, how many screens does a theatre need to have in order to be considered a megaplex? Fifteen? Eighteen? Or is it anything over 20 screens?

This rhetorical question was answered last week when AMC Entertainment announced they would not be renewing their lease on The Grand 24 in Dallas, TX., the first megaplex ever built in the United States. Several news stories, including one in the Los Angeles Times, defined a megaplex as any theatre with 14 or more auditoriums.

I could be faulted for burying the lead here, which is that AMC will be closing the historic venue after it couldn’t reach new lease terms with the property owner Entertainment Properties Trust. In a written statement Gerry Lopez, Chief Executive of AMC, the nation’s second largest theatre chain, said of the venue’s closure:

“It’s disappointing that we have not come to terms on a historical, and to us, a somewhat sentimental property. But in our opinion, the proposal advanced by EPT is simply untenable. We continue to negotiate with EPT on several other properties and will see where those discussions take us.”

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DCIP Closer To D-Cinema Funding

The announcement the entire exhibition and distribution industry has been waiting for has finally happened; Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) will finally get funding to roll out d-cinema equipment on over 15,000 screens at U.S. exhibitors AMC, Regal and Cinemark.  Some may view it as a non-announcement as this doesn’t mean the money is in the bank yet.  At the very least though, DCIP’s financing is looking more probable than it did earlier this year when the global financial meltdown was holding up any potential funding.

The Hollywood Reporter is stating that investment bank J.P. Morgan has set out to raise $525 million from brand name lenders before seeking additional sources of cash from private equity firms and the exhibitors themselves. So, while funding is not readily at hand, with a heavyweight such as J.P. Morgan in their corner it hopefully won’t be long before DCIP will be seeing some cash to jump start its efforts. Read More »

Daily Cinema Roundup – Wednesday 6 May

- Irish cinema advertisisers want to point out that you can’t fast forward through a cinema ad, the way you can with your PVR/DVR at home. From Ireland’s Independent.ieThe FAME research also debunks the widely-held myth about cinema advertising being only relevant to youth brands by showing that over half of cinema audiences are the grocery shoppers for their household. The study, carried out by research firm Milward Brown IMS, comes after the most recent ticket sales figures charted an 8pc rise for February as recession-inspired escapism takes hold.” Interestingly the company behind it still calls itself CarltonScreen, despite its UK parent company changing name to Digital Screen Media some time ago;

- AMC has spent $25m doing up its flagship multiplex in Kansas City, opening just in time to set the tills ringing to the growls of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. From Bizjournal.com, “The renovated theater has three auditoriums featuring Cinema Suites, an upscale in-theater dining and entertainment option; three traditional auditoriums; and The Marquee Bar & Grill.  All six auditoriums use digital technology,part of an initiative announced Oct. 1to roll out digital projection systems at nearly 20,000 movie theater screens in North America.” So it looks like all new AMC screens and all renovated ones will get priority in installing the SXRD 4K projectors from Sony. However, the Cinema Suites concept (see above) intrigues us more – Dorothy, let’s go to Kansas City:

- The transcript of the most recent Dolby Quarterly earning conference call is now posted, thanks to Seeking Alpha. Interesting digital nugget, “In our cinema market, we have shipped more than 2,500 Dolby Digital Cinema Servers and 1,000 Dolby 3D systems across 41 countries to date. And in the second quarter, we delivered on our obligation to make these systems compliant with DCI specifications. As a result, we recognized approximately $24 million in deferred revenue related to Digital Cinema in the second quarter.” No speculation that the Hollywood studios abandoning subsidizing disposable 3D glasses might drive exhibitors to Dolby – but it is highly likely;

- Regal Cinemas is upgrading its multiplex in Charlottsville, and not surprisingly 3D is at the centre of the refurb. From DailyProgress.com we learn that, “The company said it intends to add five new screens, digital projection, stadium seating in every auditorium, new high-back recliner seats, a new lobby, a new entrance, new restrooms and more.” and, “The expansion will add several amenities, including digital surround sound, a new concession stand designed for faster service, a guest service desk in the lobby, kiosks for automated ticket purchasing and “Real D 3D” projection systems for better 3D movie experiences.” ‘Better’ than what? Damningly a reader comments, “It always amazed me how the people of Charlottesville are so willing to pay New York City ticket prices for what can only be described as a Hooterville movie theater experience. Sometimes it seems like we just got “talkies.““;

- The cinema might not open in time for its patrond to enjoy the Free Family Film Festival 2009 scheme. From the press release, “During this 9-week festival, more than 300 Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres offer selected G and PG rated movies for free on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am.” How will Regal make money?  That’s right – “there is a special “Kids Reel Meal” combo pack available.” at the concession stand. (Ah, but will it include healthy snack options?) The scheme has been running since 1991 and Regal also “sponsor the Boys & Girls Clubs of America “Mornings at the Movies” program.” I still have my ‘Snuck Into R-movie at 13′ badge from the scouts;

– But being hip to the way of the kids in the 21st century, Regal is also down with the whole social networking thing, we learn from a second press release. “Regal invites moviegoers to join them online to enter a special MyRegal Sweepstakes connected to their MySpace page. Regal will be further expanding programs on Facebook and Twitter throughout the month of May. ” There is an on-line sweepstake and Regal apparently has the world’s largest cinema loyalty program with 14m members. Now let’s see how many ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ they can get. Bet they won’t beat Ashton Kutcher just yet;

- ShowCanada wrapped last week and though Co-Editor Sperling was there and reported that there wasn’t much to report, THR.com tells us that the Canadians are a head of their US cousins when it comes to digital 3D. “As talk of 3-D technology dominated the last day of the annual gathering of Canadian theater owners, Fithian said that 130 of the 222 existing digital screens in Canada already have 3-D capabilities. And while there are currently 2,030 3-D-capable screens stateside, Canada represents 10% of what is considered the domestic cinema market, which puts it in step with the 3-D rollout south of the border.” While Fithian understandably biggs up Canada in this space, he is not correct about US/Canada leading as UK will be ahead of both when it comes to proportion of 3D installs by the end of 2009, as Katzenberg noted at ShoWest. Sperling also got to watch the ‘Star Trek’ movie ahead of the rest of us, but we’re not jealous, no;

- Indian classical music concert screened in digital in the Gulf is surely proof that alternative content is going global. From the Gulf Times, “Sreeram’s camera captured every expression of the artiste, the intense absorption of Jayashri in her rendition and the emotive expressions and body language of Krishna, including his intermittent appreciation for his fellow artistes. The 110-minute concert movie was produced by C Srikanth of Aghal Films in association with Real Image Media Technologies, India’s leading provider of technology in the film, video and audio domains.” The original event had been captured with the ubiquitous RED camera. Next up we hope they record an AR Rahman concert – Jai ho!;

- European film major StudioCanal is getting behind both digital 3D (content) and digital cinema (installations). From Variety we learn that “StudioCanal is also part of a digital 3-D work group set up by French distributors, exhibitors, third-party 3-D facilitators and the Centre National de la Cinematographie, the government org that regulates and promotes the film and TV industry. The group aims to establish a fund subsidizing the digital conversion of cinemas in France. The fund could be up and running by the end of the year, said a government spokesman. “StudioCanal’s ready to help pay for conversion,” Courson added. “We just need to establish the level of support from French film authorities.”” It makes sense that if SC is producing 3D movies they will also want to help create a theatrical 3D market for them – but this being France, they are more likely to want to push the French government to pay up the Euros for it;

- Staying in France and continuing the long tradition of Americans invading the Croisette in May, Christie will be providing the digital projectors for this year’s Cannes Film Festival again. From LSI  Online. “Christie reports that it has been appointed by XDC for the third year running as the supplier of digital cinema projection solutions at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, 13-24 May 2009. This includes the opening 3-D screening of Up, the new Pixar/Disney animated comedy adventure.” OK, so they are technically Canadians – though not from Quebec – but still a nice feather in their cap to screen the first digital 3D film in competition;

– Despite the good year at the box office, not all exhibitors are swimming in money, as proven by the Q1 results of US digital cinema pioneer Carmike. Despite revenue rising almost five percent Bizjournal tells us, “The Columbus Ga.-based cinema owner and operator (NASDAQ: CKEC) had a net loss of $4 million and a loss per share of 32 cents, compared with a net loss of $4.3 million and a loss of 34 cents a share in the first quarter of 2008.” However, “The results for the first quarter of 2009 included a one-time $5.5 million charge related to its former CEO separation agreement.” Read that again. A cool $5m+ is what it took to remove CEO Michael Patrick for having delivered a spectacular loss of $127m in 2007 (2008 wasn’t that great either). That will buy him a lot of tickets, popcorn and soda to console himself at having been removed from the cinema chain his father acquired in 1982 and was named after him and his brother Carl. Mike, who will continue to enjoy receive medical benefits and group life insurance coverage until Jan. 31, 2012, also helped to drag down the share price from $26 to less than the price of a cinema ticket – just $3. Reward for failure – why should banks and auto makers have a monopoly on it?

Daily Cinema Roundup – Wed 22 April

– Belgian digital cinema projector manufacturer Barco did not have a stellar first quarter, according to this article by Reuters. Key bullet points were “*Q1 operating loss 6.0 mln euros, vs 4.9 mln loss forecast; * Says cautiously optimistic for 2009; * Shares rise 3.2 percent.” Further into the article we learn that “Barco said it saw good order intake for digital cinema projectors and expected the digital cinema business to continue to grow over the next quarters.”;

- Barco’s rival Christie has meanwhile partnered high-end home cinema company Sumiko / Wolf Cinema to incorporate the latter’s projector technology, know-how and network of service engineers, says the press release. “Sumiko will distribute Wolf Cinema high-end home theatre projectors–with Christie digital projection technology inside–through a select network of highly qualified audio/video specialists throughout North America and the world.” Just don’t call them ‘DCI-compliant’;

- File this under ‘alternative content we’d like to see more of’. UK’s More2screen will be bringing burlesque to the big screen this May, “Performed at London’s Koko Club in May 2009″ and “Starring: Immodesty Blaize [pictured above], Marc Almond, Julian Clary, Kitten DeVille, Catherine D’Lish, and many more live performances.” I have seen Immodesty live and it is great old fashioned naughtiness that I am sure will translate well to the silver screen;

- Imax is stemming losses and closing in on profitability, according to The Wall Street Journal.”Imax Corp. has a lot to brag about recently — the successful launch of its digital projector, a rapidly expanding theater network and a rising stock price. All that’s eluded the company is profitability, and that may not be far off. The pioneer of large-format movies always knew developing a digital system would deal a blow to its financial performance, but after its last attempt to find a buyer failed in 2006, it had little choice.” Subscription to WSJ.com required for the full article;

- AMC Entertainment has a new President, Programming in the form of Robert J. Lenihan, former SVP of Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas. He will also be opening AMC’s new Los Angeles office, according to the press release. “I look forward to leading the AMC team in its return to its roots as an industry leader in traditional movie marketing while taking advantage of the programming flexibility afforded to us with AMC’s impending rollout of digital cinema and 3D technology,” says Lenihan;

- “Consumers” [NB: not 'viewers'] are apparently not bothered about wearing glasses to watch 3D according to research published by the Entertainment Technology Center at NAB’s Digital Cinema Summit. “If we don’t show visible progress now (on 3D in the home), this momentum could die and move into a niche environment,” said Phil Lelyveld, a strategy adviser for the Entertainment Technology Center.” Eerh – by ‘niche’, does he mean cinemas?;

– The RAND Corporation, in a study backed by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), claims that there is a link between film piracy, organized crime and terrorism. “It presents detailed case studies from around the globe in one area of counterfeiting, film piracy, to illustrate the broader problem of criminal — and perhaps terrorist — groups finding a new and not-much-discussed way of funding their activities. Piracy is high in payoff and low in risk, often taking place under the radar of law enforcement.” The report costs $29.50. “Support RAND Research — Buy This Product!” the website shouts and offers it at a Web discount of $23.60. Alternatively you can wait for the Warner Bros. film adaptation staring George Clooney breaking up a nefarious Taliban-Somali-Chinese terrorist-pirate-drug smuggling nexus;

- According to Silicon Valley’s Mercury News, the Livermore Cinema is now the largest cinema complex in the US to be powered by solar energy. “Monday, local business and city leaders gathered at the cineplex on First Street for a presentation on its state-of-the-art solar-power system, which has been up and running since February. The 132-kilowatt system covers the bulk of the theater’s 20,000-square-foot roof, making it not only the largest known solar-power system to be installed at a movie theater, but one of the largest systems of solar “modules” anywhere in the country.” The system covers some 35 per cent of the cinema’s power needs. The film that inaugurated the installation was Disney’s “Earth“, though I would have voted for “Crank 2: High Voltage“;

It Was A Very Good ShoWest 2009 For Sony

The popcorn has been swept away, the 3D movie banners folded, the quiet talk about how cinema is holding up in the recession has faded – ShoWest 2009 is over.

While VNU will continue to host the Las Vegas-set cinema trade show and exhibition for one more year before NATO is rumoured to take the show back (and move it to Ceasar’ Palace) in 2011, there was something of an End Credits roll feel to the confab. The number of attendees was down, the studios were (with two exceptions) largely absent, the parties scaled back and nowhere was there any open celebration of the fact that this year’s box office easily looks set to cross $10bn.

So who did well in this year’s conference? Digital Cinema? Old hat. 3D? Sure, “Monsters vs. Aliens” did well, but that was to be expected. Instead it would seem that ShoWest 2009 will go down as the year that Sony and its 4K SXRD technology took its decisive step into the limelight. No, it was not a case of audiences waking up and suddenly finding 2K resolution inadequate and demanding 4K, as Sony still hasn’t figured out how to create a pixel-fetish driven demand amongst cinema goers (free hint: don’t call it ’4K’ – call it an ’8 megapixel projector’ versus DLP’s ’2 megapixel’ – sure, it’s not correct, but since when did that stand in the way of aggressive marketing?).

No, it was three interlinked announcement that helped crown Sony Electronics (not SPE – Sony Pictures Entertainment) the unofficial King of the ShoWest hill. Read More »

AMC Set To Deploy Sony 4K Digital Projectors

amc-logoOn the eve of ShoWest, the largest trade show for the motion picture exhibition and distribution industry, AMC Entertainment is set to announce that it will install Sony’s 4K digital projectors on all of their screens.  According to Variety and the New York Times, the world’s second largest cinema chain will begin installing the equipment in the second quarter of 2009 and complete the rollout by 2012.  Presently AMC has 4,628 screens across 309 theatres.

The circuit is no stranger to Sony’s projectors having already installed 150 units to date.

The announcement comes on the heels of last Thursday’s news that AMC chose RealD as the 3D technology provider for 1,500 of its screens.  The cinema chain already has 29 screens capable of showing 3D films.  Together the two announcements are the culmination of the agreement made public in February that Sony and RealD would team up to merge the two companies’ technologies into a combined 3D product offering.

Besides being the kind of news the industry was hoping to hear at ShoWest, given the stalled digital cinema rollout, this is a huge win for Sony.  As the Times points out, there has been little competition for Texas Instruments, which as installed it’s DLP projection technology on nearly 5,500 screens.  Read More »