Tag Archives: Cinemark

Barco Escape Gets First Real World Test With “Maze Runner”

Maze Runner In Barco Escape

This weekend’s North American debut of Twentieth Century Fox’s “Maze Runner” is enabling Barco to move forward with a new product initiative it first announced at CinemaCon earlier this year.

Barco Escape is an immersive offering being developed by the digital cinema projector manufacturer that wraps three screens around the audience to provide a 270 degree viewing experience. The additional screens are placed to the left and right of the main screen, extending the projection surface and placing images in an audience’s peripheral vision.

The existing visuals of a film shown in the Barco Escape format are not simply extended onto these new screens. Supplemental visual material must be created specifically for the increased projection areas. That is exactly what Barco had to do for the Escape version of “Maze Runner” showing in the following five specially equipped theatres throughout the United States:

  • Cinemark 18 & XD at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles
  • Cinemark Paradise 24 & XD in Davie, Florida
  • Cinemark Legacy Theatre & XD in Plano, Texas
  • Cinemark at Seven Bridges and Imax in Woodridge, Illinois
  • Cinemark’s Redwood Downtown & XD in Redwood City, California

It should be noted that each of these cinemas is owned and operated by Cinemark, a circuit that is predominantly outfitted with Barco projectors. Presumably the exhibitor is assisting the manufacturer with what Barco’s CinemaVangelist Ted Schilowitz refers to as a “technology experiment”.

“We are in probably phase two of something that is not completed yet,” Schilowitz told an audience of press and industry professionals last Wednesday evening before a special screening of the Escape version of “Maze Runner” at the Cinemark 18 in Los Angeles. “You are all getting a sneak peek of something behind the curtain. We have been working with a visual effects team on helping create some of this movie magic.”

Schilowitz was referring to the seven minutes of “Maze Runner” that are projected in the Barco Escape format. This includes the opening scene and an action sequence in the middle of the film. The vfx team will continue to work on “Maze Runner” so that in two or three months an estimated 16 to 18 minutes of the movie will be in the Escape format.

Production of content in the Escape format is one of the biggest hurdles to its adoption. The team working on “Maze Runner” utilized a gaming engine from Crytek a German video game company, to speed up the production of the computer generated visuals. The images were then rendered by supercomputers from Devil & Demon, a company for which Schilowitz serves as president.

Inside a cinema the Barco Escape format requires that an existing theatre be retrofitted not only with two additional screens on the left and right walls, but also with two additional projectors. Unlike the projector that throws the original movie onto the main screen from a projection booth in the back of an auditorium, the two ancillary projectors are mounted to the ceiling inside an auditorium and cast images across the theatre to a screen on the opposite wall.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 18 August 2014

James Holmes

Cinemark will also be on trial for the deaths resulting from the shooting and killing of 12 people by alleged mass-killer James Holmes, after a Colorado judge threw out Cinemark’s attempt to have the wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits dismissed.

U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson on Friday rejected a motion for summary judgment filed by lawyers for Texas-based Cinemark USA to dismiss the lawsuits.

Nearly 30 victims or the families of those killed or wounded in the rampage have sued Cinemark, owner of the theater complex where the massacre took place.

In general, the lawsuits claim Cinemark had lax security at its theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora when a gunman opened fired during a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”  LINK

Cineplex adults-only VIP cinema

Cineplex has opened Canada’s first adults-only multiplex. I wonder if it is also a way to get around liquor licence restrictions, as booze is served there, since no underage are admitted. But Cineplex has long been a pioneer, including supposedly the first one to introduce the concept of VIP cinema in Canada 15 years ago.

Cineplex VIP Cinemas Don Mills, Canada’s first theatre built just for 19-plus audiences, opened Friday in the former McNally Robinson Booksellers at the Shops at Don Mills.

The theatre, its adult status born of being licenced for beer, wine and liquor, has five auditoriums with reserved seating in oversized chairs with extra legroom — including two rooms with oversized faux leather seats that recline at the touch of a button and Dolby Atmos digital surround sound. There’s also valet parking.

“There’s a feeling of feeling of intimacy. You feel like it’s a special environment,” said Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of Cineplex Entertainment of the outlet he calls “the most refined movie theatre in North America.”  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 8 July 2014

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Today’s big news is AMC spending USD $600 million on upgrading its cinemas, primarily introducing bigger and more comfortable seats. The strategy has been flagged before but now everyone is following. It is effectively an admission of defeat in terms of ever hoping that attendance figures will improve. Now it is about extracting as much revenue from the few people that still go to the cinemas (NB: though attendance is up in the renovated screens, but unlikely to boost overall national figures). WSJ has a good analysis:

The nation’s second-largest movie theater chain is spending hundreds of millions of dollars outfitting a number of theaters with La-Z-Boy-type seats that fully recline—a conversion that removes up to two-thirds of a given auditorium’s seating capacity. It’s a less-is-more approach to a business that has long thought bigger was better.

But AMC’s counterintuitive success with the program has converted skeptical competitors and become integral to the company’s pitch to new investors.

The conversions are AMC’s highest-profile campaign since it was purchased for $2.6 billion by China-based Dalian Wanda Group Corp. in 2012 and went public last December. The company plans to spend about $600 million over the next five years to “reseat” 1,800 of its nearly 5,000 screens. The renovations typically cost $350,000 to $500,000 per auditorium, with landlords often shouldering some of the cost. LINK

The WSJ blog also has a good point that you wio’t be finding this in the biggest cities (NYC and LA) as rent is too high already.

The conversions highlight a liability facing the country’s biggest film exhibitors: a supply of outdated theaters that rarely sell out, yet would be costly to tear down and rebuild.

Attendance in renovated AMC auditoriums has leapt 80%, on average, despite the drastic reduction in capacity to sometimes fewer than 70 seats. The company declined to say what the average before-and-after attendance numbers were, though Mr. Lopez acknowledged that the biggest attendance boosts would come in theaters that were weak performers, some of which were losing money. LINK

Event Cinema

Argentina: As the World Cup approaches its conclusion, one country is going all out to show the key game on the big screen. No, not the UK, but rather its old foe Argentina in their game against Germany tonight.

Over 100,000 people across Argentina have watched their national team compete in the 2014 World Cup at movie halls, which broadcast the games.

The National Cinema and Visual Arts Institute (INCAA) said in a statement that it has made 38 movie halls available for screenings of national team matches, featuring star footballer Lionel Messi, Xinhua reported.
Argentina Saturday defeated Belgium 1-0 to advance to the semifinals against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo Wednesday. The two nations haven’t disputed a World Cup semifinal since the 1990 edition in Italy. LINK.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 2 July 2014

Cinema Popcorn Buckets

Here is some interesting and much needed research into the study of nutrition and eating habits of cinema goers. Dr. Rachel Crockett, Senior Research Fellow at London’s University of Greenwich Faculty of Education & Health, led the research that resulted in the “The impact of nutritional labels and socioeconomic status on energy intake: An experimental field study,” has been published in the international journal Appetite

People munching popcorn in a cinema don’t change their eating habits whether the snacks are labelled high fat, low fat or not labelled at all, even if they are concerned about their weight, according to a new study led by the University of Greenwich.

But add in a third factor – the socioeconomic background of eaters – and some quirky results emerge. When concerned eaters of higher status saw the low fat label, it made them eat more than their unconcerned counterparts.

Labels had the opposite effect on concerned popcorn lovers of lower status: they ate less of the low fat snack – and less of the high fat snack. But they did tuck in as normal to the unlabelled tub. LINK

Business

Germany: The German cinema trade body AG Kino-Gilde weighs in on the day-and-date release debate in an article with the headline “AG Cinema Guild makes front against distorted picture of Day & Date experiments”. But as so often the article/interview with Christian Bräuer is behind a pay-wall, so we only get teased with the intro paragraph. Obviously AG Kino-Gilde do not want this discussion to be widely read.

The pros and cons of the ultimately unsuccessful experiment of “Love Steaks” is discussed passionately in the industry (and beyond). It was repeatedly in this context recently that Thomas Paris wrote about the first wave of the EU-funded evaluation experiments that led the field, but it was limited in general to that excerpt that… LINK

Germany: Also behind the same paywall is the six-month figures for German cinemas. Not encouraging reading, based on the headline, with an eight per cent fall year-on-year according to data from Rentrak.

Rund acht Prozent Minus im deutschen Kinomarkt. Zum Ende des ersten Halbjahres steht laut Rentrak beim deutschen Boxoffice ein Minus von rund acht procent. LINK

Annette Mischke, Reinhard Abitz and Lars Baumgart

(From left): Annette Mischke, Reinhard Abitz and Lars Baumgart

An award has been handed out to the most outstanding small German cinema in the state of Schleswig-Holstein and the prize goes to the Savoy Cinema in Borderholm. It is good to see local government valuing their small cinemas and recognizing them as important centres for the wider community. Something for others to copy. AG Kino has a full list of all the honourable mentions.

In noble ambience and adorned with lots of socializing in a happy gathering yesterday evening 100 cineastes celebrated the awarding of the cinema prize to Schleswig-Holstein in Bordesholmer Savoy. In addition to 18 other winners from the entire country the team led by Lars Baumgart Schulstraße won one of the coveted awards. Nineteen cinemas won 18 prizes with a total of 27,500 euros.

The Savoy Cinema hosted the event because in the past year it had won 3500 euros in prizes. The Prize 2013 went to Bordesholm, because there is much more on offer than you can expect for a small place actually.

What makes a good cinema? The selection of films plays not only a role, even width effect, public relations and the atmosphere in the rows in front of the big screen also play a role. As well the Savoy is multi-function venue which scored a few points, especially after its rebirth in 1998 when the house was nearing the end and was revived by the initiative of many citizens. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 6 June 2014

children in cinema

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” Mark Twain once said. Is the same true for declining cinema youth attendance? Not in France, which is making sure that the next generation values and keeps the ’7th Art’ alive in cinemas.

To overcome this drop and respond quickly to the first problem, exhibitors have at the beginning of the year set a single price of 4 euros for children under the age of 14. The operation caused some gnashing of teeth from the distributors, who have seen their revenues decline. It nevertheless proved a success, and contributes greatly to the revival of attendance in the last six months.

More fundamentally, the education aspect of cinema is subject to multiple touches. A report commissioned by the CNC has been finalized. Directed by Xavier Lardoux, Deputy Director General of Unifrance (Support Association of French cinema export), he advocates through 10 measures, the establishment of a genuine European policy for film education.

The author of the report considers educating young audiences about the 7 th art to be both a political and an economic necessity. “When we see a French child spends more time in front of a screen, whatever it is, at school, and that children are facing more and more young people in these screens, learning how to watch should be taught earlier. As for the economic aspect, it is about creating the spectators of tomorrow for European cinema, which is a major industry,” Xavier Lardoux said.  LINK

Cocteau cinema Game of Thrones

Calling the theatrical platform ‘the largest pay-per-view platform in the world’, Cinemark’s CEO Tim Warner calls for big shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and episodes of “The Voice” to be shown in cinemas. Give the success of TV events like “Dr Who: The Day of the Doctors” even in the US, it would be more surprising if he didn’t call for cinemas to have access to such premium content.

“‘Game of Thrones’ on the big screen would be so exciting,” Warner said. “It’s not that you can’t go to the bar and watch this stuff, but you can’t have that premium experience.”

However, studios may need to become more collaborative. Structurally, media conglomerates tend to run their television and film arms separately without allowing for much overlap.

“They’re going to have break down that barrier within the studios, so that all the content providers take a look at whatever content they’re doing and say, ‘Should this be going into this platform?’” Warner said.  LINK

If nothing else, it gives credence to Quentin Tarantino’s recent rant that “Digital projection, that’s just television in public.” And “Game of Thrones” did screen in one particular cinema.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 28 May 2014

Flick restaurant Belfast

UK - An alleged case of E-Coli in a restaurant owned by a Belfast-based cinema. The list of charges is pretty disturbing and disgusting. Read it for yourself. As more and more cinemas focus on premium F&B options, food safety and handling will only become more critical.

Belfast City Council brought charges following an investigation into diners being struck down after eating at the restaurant in Cityside Mall, York Street nearly two years ago.

Up to 170 people were believed to have contracted E.coli linked to Flicks, which voluntarily closed its doors at the time.

Allegations of failing to comply with food hygiene regulations have been brought against Mr McAdam and Ms Tolan as restaurateur and operator.

A case is also being pursued against Movie House Cinema Ltd as the owner of the restaurant. LINK

Hollywood Theatre in Sumner

New Zealand – If you want good cinemas in New Zealand, head to Christ Church.

Reading Cinema at The Palms was named the chain cinema of the year award at a ceremony in Wellington last week, while Sumner’s Hollywood Theatre was named the country’s independent cinema of the year.

It was the fifth time the annual awards had been given out by the New Zealand Motion Picture Industry Council.

Organiser Mark Croft said the cinema of the year awards were voted for by “loyal patrons” through the Flicks.co.nz website.  LINK

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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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2013 – Bad Year for Film; Great Year for Exhibitor Share Price

It may seem paradoxical, but while 2013 was a bad year for films in terms of growth, it was an excellent year for cinemas. Even with a strong summer at the box office, 2013 was flat or even down compared to the previous year in most western countries. Only emerging markets like China showed strong and significant growth on the back of their multiplex expansions.

It would seem logical that this trend would be reflected in the share price of listed exhibitors, but analysis by CelluloidJunkie.com has found that major exhibitors in the four largest English-speaking territories (USA, Canada, UK and Australia) had one of their best years ever in terms of share price. We will examine this, as well as looking at the possible causes and outlook.

We first have to preface the analysis by noting that it is difficult to make a completely accurate like-for-like comparison. While the majority of the largest exhibitors in the US and Canada are publicly traded (Regal, Cinemark and Cineplex are, while AMC is privately owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group), the same is not the case in UK, where only one of the Big Three is listed (Cinemaworld; Odeon-UCI and Vue are privately held), whereas in Australia the multiplex chains are privately owned (Hoyts) or have complicated joint ownership or subsidiary status (Village and Greater Union/Event Cinemas).

Even so, it is still possible to get a good idea of how markets value exhibitors and why 2013 was a good year for them, as we will see.

USA and Canada

2013 was a flat year in terms of box office growth. Statistics from BoxOfficeMojo tell us that overall gross was $10.925 billion, compared to $10.823 billion the previous year. While up by $100m year-on-year, this “growth” is effectively cancelled out by inflation. The underlying ticket sales are likely to show a decline when the official statistics are published by the MPAA. Projecting an annualized rate The Numbers sees attendance fall from 1.36bn to 1.19bn between 2012 and 2103.

This decline is in-line with what was predicted ahead of CinemaCon last year. Reported in Deadline:

“Bond analysis firm Fitch Ratings forecasts a “modest” decline in 2013 ticket sales and long-term challenges that should “cause concern” for lenders. Studios will find it “difficult to replicate” the success they had last year with hits including The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, analysts Shawn Gannon, Rolando Larrondo and Mike Simonton conclude. In addition the 3D market is “starting to mature.””

All-in-all you would think that it would have been good to short stocks in exhibitors, but you would have been wrong.

Screenshot 2014-02-14 15.07.12

Regal Cinemas went from strength to strength as the share price rose from just under $14 per share in January 2013 to close to $20 per share at the start of 2014, before slipping down closer to $19 recently.

Screenshot 2014-02-14 15.15.21

Meanwhile competitor Cinemark started the year below $27 and ended it above $33, before currently landing just above $30. Not as strong as Regal’s growth, but still significant.

Screenshot 2014-02-14 15.12.09

North of the border, Cineplex pulled off the most impressive stock market feat of them all by increasing from C$32 to coming within a whisker of C$45 before declining to just over C$40.

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Barco Expands In Latin America and India

Barco Logo.jpgAfter launching their 4K projector at ShowEast, Belgium based Barco is ramping up their global sales effort with the announcement of two new deals.

The first was a reseller partnership arrangement with Real Image in India, a country presently experiencing high growth in new multiplex openings. Real Image may be familiar to some as the company behind Qube Cinema. Barco will provide training, service and customer support to Real Image in a deal that should help the projector manufacturer strengthen marketing efforts and increase its install base throughout the territory.

Real Image will be able to offer Barco’s entire digital cinema product line to their customers, a necessity in a country where cinemas range from small single screen complexes in remote geographical areas to state-of-the-art venues in large urban areas. Arvind Rangnathan, Chief Executive Officer of Chennai based Real Image pointed this out in the press release announcing the partnership:

“The complete range of digital cinema projectors offered by Barco are ideal for this market, be it the mid-sized multiplex screen or the large single screen… we are now able to provide a stunning experience in 2D and 3D even on larger cinema screens.”

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Cinemark Announces NextGen Cinema Concept

PrintWhat is the next hot trend for theatre owners and moviegoers? Cinemark, North America’s third largest theatre chain, thinks they may have the answer and they have begun publicizing a new cinema concept. Last Friday the Plano based circuit announced plans to build what it has dubbed Cinemark NextGen theatres. The first such complex will be the Cinemark Frisco Square which is set to open in Frisco, Texas some time in December.

Based on the press release and various news reports it seems as if the NextGen theatre concept is being marketed as a technologically advanced, and thus superior, moviegoing experience. Alan Stock, Cinemark’s Chief Executive Officer said in a statement:

“The new Cinemark NextGen theatres represent the next generation in cinema. We have designed an entertainment environment that offers technologically advanced amenities and a movie-watching experience that simply cannot be duplicated.”

The environment Stock refers to will feature giant screens that cover an entire wall of each auditorium, Barco digital cinema projectors, 3D systems from RealD and a customized JBL sound system. There is no mention of how the sound system will be any different from the standard 5.1 or 7.1 digital surround setups that can be found in most theatres these days. Nor is it clear how NextGen theatres will be any different than the 29 Cinemark XD Extreme auditoriums they have opened since 2009.

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