Tag Archives: Dolby

Daily Cinema Digest – Saturday 24 January 2015

Art House Convergence

Since 2008, just before the Sundance Film Festival begins in mid-January, art house cinema operators from around North America (and beyond) have been gathering for Art House Convergence. The conference is held over four days in Midway, Utah, not far from Park City where Sundance takes place.

A record 500 attendees showed up for this year’s event, representing independent theatre operators, non-profit cultural centers, distributors, and the many companies that support and work with art houses (think Vista Entertainment Solutions, NEC, Ymagis, Sonic Equipment, etc.). There was more information and news coming out of Art House Convergence this week than we can possibly cover here in the digest, so we’ll be following up on many of the leads gathered there over the coming weeks. Instead, we’d like to focus on two corporate announcements that got those at the confab buzzing.

First up was Tugg, the on-demand-movie service that allows audiences to request screenings of titles at a given movie theatre on a specific date. If enough audience members sign-up ahead of time, the film is booked and played. The three year old start-up is now partnering with New Balloon, which is being described in the media as a cross-platform media venture whose purpose is “advancing innovative storytelling technologies”. If that sounds rather subjective, or confusing, then you’ll likely be thrown by how Anne Thompson of Indiewire describes the initiative the two companies are teaming up on:

They will form a multi-million dollar Event Cinema Fund. Through the fund, both companies will provide high-impact investment capital, expertise, and other resources toward marketing and distributing culturally significant films.

Our suggestion is to read Thompson’s piece on the announcement. It’s filled with the usual buzz phrases found in such announcements like “enhance traditional release strategies”. This is no fault of Thompson, as companies often struggle to convey these types of hybrid, experimental efforts when talking to the media and thus often fall into the trap of using such language.

Thompson, who was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Art House Convergence (and deservedly so), also reported on a more straightforward bit of news about content distributor Emerging Pictures, which was acquired by 20 Years Media Corp., a digital media company based in Vancouver.

I ran into Ira Deutchman, co-founder of Emerging Pictures as well as chairman of the film program at Columbia University School of the Arts, on the first day of Sundance. He explained the deal was meant to give Emerging Pictures the deep pockets required to take the company to its logical next level. Having helped overcome the many digital distribution hurdles alternative content and niche films often face, the next obstacle Deutchman believes will be marketing.

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And the Oscar Goes to… Digital Cinema! (Specifically TI)

AMPAS Sci-Tec announcement

Last year the Motion Picture Academy’s Science and Technology branch effectively closed the book on film as a distribution medium for motion pictures by awarding the Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette) to every single film processing lab in the world. So it is perhaps fitting and symmetrical that this year’s recognition would go to the technology that replaced it, i.e., digital cinema, or more specifically Texas Instruments’s team of engineers (and one from Dolby, more on which later).

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or AMPAS (to give the Oscar Academy, or just ‘the Academy’ its full name) is staying true to the latter part of its name (‘Science’) by each year recognising those people behind the scenes that have contributed to the advancement of motion picture technology, and thus storytelling, by handing out the Scientific and Technical Awards at a ceremony prior to the red carpet Oscars. As AMPAS puts it:

The Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards honor the men, women and companies whose discoveries and innovations have contributed in significant and lasting ways to motion pictures. Honorees are celebrated at a formal dinner held two weeks prior to the Oscar ceremony. The Sci-Tech Awards presentation has become a highlight of the Academy Awards season.

It is important to remember that these are not awarded to companies but to people, though individuals given the awards have often made their achievements working for companies that have often also given the name to the technology being recognised. While it honors the technologies, it is the people behind them that are being feted.

There are furthermore three levels of recognition: the Technical Achievement Awards (which entails an Academy Certificate), the Scientific and Engineering Awards (gets you an Academy Plaque), the Academy Award of Commendation (Special Plaque), and finally the Award of Merit (an actual Oscar statuette). What is remarkable is that this year Texas Instruments was selected in not one but all three of the main categories, putting a big AMPAS seal of approval on the digital cinema technology that has defined the cinema business.

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CJ@CineAsia ICTA – A Panel Discussion

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In an effort to provide updates on the CineAsia 2014 conference and trade show presently taking place in Hong Kong SAR, this post was written live, and in the present tense, during one of the event’s presentations. Comments attributed to speaker(s) are paraphrased unless denoted specifically by quotation marks. [Also no spell check on my tablet version of WordPress. Sorry.]

Dolby’s Senior VP Ioan Allen introduces the ICTA discussion with a distinguidshed panel of exhibitors, distributors, consultants and Hollywood studio reps, then sits down and joins them. They are:

Irving Chee, General Manager, Golden Screen Cinemas
Brian Hall, Exhibitor Consultant  
Brett D. Hogg, Senior Vice President, International Distribution, Sony Pictures Releasing International
Sunder Kimatrai, Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, Twentieth Century Fox International

“Three of you come year after year, so you must be good,” Ioan observes and then asks them what has surprised them in the last 12 months. Irving says “not too much surprised me but the slow and steady decline of 3D movies is a concern. That’s a little bit on the downside.” He questions how effective 3D is whether shot or converted in terms of audiences perceiving value.

Brian echoes that. “Customers have become much more important. Five years ago people were wowed by Avatar,” but now they are more discerning. Brian then points out that Hollywood studios have become better at filling the gap between the [Christmas] holiday and the summer box office, but this year there was a gap after the summer, “though this might have been an anomaly.” Ioan asks whether in 2015, the offical ‘Year of the Blockbuster’, there is adanger of ‘clumping’ that will see too many big films released too close together.

Brett observed “We are glad that Sony has survived the last 12 months, particularly recently.” Ioan jokingly retorts, “I wasn’t going to bring that up,” but Brett says “It’s the elephant in the room.” Brett then aknowledges that that ‘clumping’ does continue to happen, “but hopefully where is small and medium size films that do find an audience.” Ioan asks if we were getting to a natural equilibrium when it comes to the number of 3D films. Brett says that this could be the case not just for 3D but also for 4DX and other new technolgies.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 29 October 2014

Regal cinemas

“Psst, wanna buy a cinema?” That seems to be the not-so-subtle message from Regal, the largest cinema chain in the United States, which unexpectedly put a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front door. Speculations immediately focused on Alibab’s Jack Ma, though my gut instinct is that he won’t be following in the footsteps of Wanda/AMC, primarily because his background is not real-estate and there are no obvious Chinese-US synergies to be had from such a deal. A sovereign wealth fund if not VC outfit is more likely to be checking Regal’s numbers right now. Variety covers all the other angles.

Regal CEO Amy Miles was tight-lipped about the issue on an earnings call Monday with analysts and media, only offering that the company’s board felt it was “an opportune time to conduct a thorough review of our options.” But in an interview with Variety for a lengthy profile earlier this month, Miles may have inadvertently explained why Regal shifted from bidder to acquisition target.

“We’re all excited about the years 2015, 2016 and I’m going to be aggressive and say even 2017,” she told Variety at the time. “I think that (in the) environment of very healthy strong box office, it’s a natural time to think, ‘OK that might be a good time for an individual to exit.’ Value maximization happens in that environment.”  LINK

Dolby Doremi Logo

The European commission has give its go-ahead to the Dolby-Doremi merger. The approval was expected but was most likely sitting in the IN tray of some EU bureaucrat away on holiday, or it might have gone through earlier.

Dolby Laboratories (DLB.N) on Monday received EU clearance for its acquisition of digital cinema technology group Doremi, the European Commission said.

The Commission, which acts as the competition watchdog in the 28-member bloc, said that while there was overlap between the two companies in the digital cinema servers business, the merger did not distort the market.

“The proposed transaction would not lead to any anti-competitive effects because of the presence of alternative suppliers, the fast-moving nature of the market and the ease of switching for customers,” the Commission said in a statement on Monday.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 24 October 2014

Ymagis and dcinex

The acquisition of dcinex by Ymagis has finally been approved by shareholders. This is the single largest and most important digital cinema consolidation in Europe as dcinex/Ymagis is without a pan-European competitor of similar size, facing instead competition on the national levels. From the translated French-only press release.

“We are convinced that the combination between dcinex Ymagis and will in the short term, create synergies creating value for all shareholders Ymagis” says Bart Diels, outgoing Chairman of the Board of Directors and Partner of dcinex GIMV (1).

Creation of the European leader in digital technology for the film industry

With the acquisition of dcinex, Ymagis performs an operation that will create a European leader in the provision of financial services and technology to the film industry.

Following this acquisition, Ymagis becomes:

The financier No. 1 Park cinemas in Europe deployed VPF contract with nearly 5800 auditoriums in 14 European countries;

The European leader in the sale and installation of cinema equipment operators with a share estimated at 20% of the European market;

Operator No. 1 st European network routing dematerialized content, with more than 3200 theaters in 15 countries connected in Europe;

Technical partner No. 1 Park cinemas in Europe as outsourcing and maintenance contract with nearly 7200 screens (about 36 000) under contract in 21 countries.  LINK

Dolby Logo

Dolby – Quarterly earnings from Dolby show revenue at USD $227 million, which was slightly above their own projections and full year-on-year revenue is up 6%.  Licensing revenue outweighs product and services revenue by more than 11:1 (USD $208.9 million to $18.1 million), so don’t be surprised that Atmos was not the first thing discussed in the earnings conference call (transcript courtesy of SeekingAlpha). They do say that “The amount of revenue we get from the Doremi acquisition in Q1 will depend on the actual timing of the close,” which is still pending approval in Brussels.

Turning to cinema. We’ve seen tremendous growth with Dolby Atmos, increasing our screens by 150% this year to over 750 screens committed globally. Providing content to these screens is a key focus, and we now have more than 200 titles released or announced in Dolby Atmos; which includes content from all of the major studios. 14 of the 15 highest grossing titles in 2014 were in Dolby Atmos and we have a strong slate for the rest of the year, including The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 24 September 2014

Iosono lab

IOSONO – when 11.1 speakers just ain’t enough.

Barco is doubling down on its immersive audio efforts by hiring away IOSONO’s audio team and setting up what is now called Barco Audio Technologies [BAT?]. This could potentially mean moving away from a dependance on the Auro brand and Auro Technologies partnership, though the latter is quoted on how thrilled they too are about the new corporate sibling’s arrival.

With 500 screens committed or installed, Barco is now ready to take immersive sound to the next level. The digital cinema leader is adding the team of 3D audio expert IOSONO and its assets to the Barco family to further enhance and customize its object based immersive sound technology. In this way, it wants to help cinema exhibitors bring even more magic to the movie-going experience.  LINK

And since Barco does not have any film immediately lined up to follow “The Maze Runner” for its Escape triptych-screen it is venturing into event cinema, by announcing a concert film with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.

Barco will collaborate with Universal Music/Interscope Records and recording artists Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga to bring their performance at the Grand Palace in Brussels into Barco Escape theaters in early 2015.

The performance will be filmed today specifically for the Barco format, the day before Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s “Cheek to Cheek” album of jazz and popular standards is set to release worldwide.  LINK

Everstone

The interest in India’s multiplex business is heating up, with yet another private equity company talking to two multiplex veterans about setting up a new cinema venture called Cinemasia, that could be looking beyond just India.

Private equity fund Everstone Capital may team up with two individuals with experience in the entertainment industry to start a venture called Cinemasia, three people familiar with the development said. Everstone is in talks with Shravan Shroff, the former promoter and managing director of multiplex operator Fame India Ltd, and Pramod Arora, who recently quit PVR Ltd as group president, the people said on condition of anonymity.

And:

This would be Everstone’s maiden venture in the multiplex business, which has already attracted other private equity funds. Renuka Ramnath-promoted Multiples Alternate Asset Management Pvt Ltd and L Capital Asia, the third party private equity fund of LVMH Group, backed PVR Ltd to acquire Cinemax India Ltd in November 2012. Before selling off Fame, Shroff also raised capital from India Value Fund and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd.  LINK

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CJ@IBC ‘High Dynamic Range imaging – contrasting views?’

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The quest for better-(not-just-more)-pixels is a big theme at this year’s IBC conference – primarily for television but with major implications for film and cinema too. For anyone thinking of buying a 4K/UHD TV, this is the session that tells you to wait until more than just the resolution of the big television sets improves.

Session chair Alberto Morello (RAI, Italy) calls this one of the “most interesting development in the evolution of video.” He singles out (more) pixels, (higher) frame rate and HDR (high dynamic range) as the things that “will give pleasure” to our viewers.

Touradj Ebrahimi (EPFL, Switzerland) goes up to the podium first to present an overview of the topic. He starts off by confessing to being an IBC virgin, but being ‘impressed’. Prof Ebrahimi stresses the importance of being able to measure to quantify improvements such as HDR.

Tests used Dolby Pulsar Display 42″, calling Dolby their “good friend” who “defined past, present and probably future” of high quality innovation. For content they “begged again” and Dolby provided that as well. Test material was shown sequentially and side-by-side in four different grades/mappings (4,000, 1,000, 400 and 100 nit). Appropriately one of the pieces of content was “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, but he wasn’t authorised to show that to us.
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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 5 September 2014

Selfridge cinema

London’s luxury department store Selfridges (star of the ITV drama series about its eponymous American founder) will be one of the first stores in the world to have its own in-house cinema. We like the look of it so much that we even break our usual policy of only posting on photo per story to show you both the outside (above) and inside (below) – so no artwork for China BO.

Selfridges opens the world’s first department store cinema in its iconic Oxford Street store today, which will screen classic and contemporary films.

Selfridges has teamed up with the independent chain Everyman to install the 60-seat 3,500 sq ft experience, located on the store’s lower-ground floor.

The cinema, which will be at Selfridges until spring 2015, will initially screen films selected by designers from the store’s Masters campaign, which showcases the work of 12 influential designers such as Paul Smith, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.  LINK

Selfridge cinema

China (PRC) – Chinese Mainland box office it set to pass USD $5 billion this year, according to THR.

China’s box office has just passed the key 20 billion yuan ($3.26 billion) threshold, a full three months faster than last year, and is already swiftly approaching last year’s $3.55 billion total.

With a raft of major Hollywood and domestic titles still to come this year in the world’s second-biggest film market, box office is on track for $5 billion in full-year 2014, according to M1905, which is the official website of the state broadcaster’s movie channel, CCTV6.

It took 246 days to break through the 20-billion-yuan marker, which is 96 days faster than last year.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 26 August 2014

Quad Cinema New York

USA (NY) – Manhattan’s arthouse Quad Cinema has been sold and it could frankly not have asked for a better new owner.

At first, news that the revered Quad Cinema in New York’s Greenwich Village had been sold to a real estate magnate caused us alarm. But it turns out that Charles S. Cohen, in addition to being the president and chief executive of Cohen Bros. Realty Corp., is also a major supporter of great film, both as a distributor and as a historian.

Cohen is a film producer and distributor through the Cohen Media Group, which has distributed films such as “Le Chef,” “Chinese Puzzle” and “Farewell, My Queen.” Cohen also runs the Cohen Film Collection, which includes 700 film titles, including classics by Jean-Luc Godard, D. W. Griffith, Alfred Hitchcock and Buster Keaton.  LINK

Cinema Popcorn Buckets

Europe is behind the US when it comes to the sophistication of the popcorn market. Gourmet flavour and so-called healthy-option popcorn apparently represent untapped markets according to a new report.

Global launches of popcorn rose over 8% in the 12 months to the end of June 2014. The large and mature US market was the leading individual country, accounting for over 20% of total introductions. But this was behind Europe, where the large number of countries involved took its share to 36%, according to data recorded by Innova Market Insights.

Meanwhile, gourmet lines, already established in the USA, are starting to make their way across the Atlantic, bringing a whole raft of more complex flavours and moving the sector away from its traditional ‘cinema’ image and a simple sweet or salty flavour choice.  LINK

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Future of Cinema Advertising on Show at SAWA Cannes Lions 2014

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The Screen Advertising World Association (SAWA) held its annual showcase of Cinema Advertising innovation at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2014 on Monday 16 June. For those of you unable to attend (perhaps understandably, as CineEurope kicked off the same day), we bring you a report of what was said and shown.

The theme this year was “Back to the Future”, in honour of the imminent key year of 2015 that featured in all three films of the trilogy, which is also predicted to be the biggest year in box office history. As Cheryl Wannell, General Manager of SAWA pointed out in a pre-show interview, “there is no better time to use the cinema medium.

SAWA together with its sponsors pulled out all stops to stand out in the crowded Cannes Lions schedule, not least attracting attention by hiring one of the original DeLorean cars from Universal and parking it in front of the Palais. Delegates filled out the Estrelle auditorium in the Palais De Festivale as the music and trailer from Back To The Future (BTTF) played.

The regular MC channelled Doc Emmet Brown from the films and with an electric arc flash opened ‘the portal to the future’ that is cinema big screen, in terms of showcasing innovation. Speaker after speaker would return to this point, that innovations are often imagined in films before the become reality as real life technology. Nothing matches cinema’s ability to inspire innovation, as the audience was about to be told and show.

First up was a clip reel combining gadgets and technologies such as interactive driving maps, hand-held communicators, swipeable surfaces and voice controlled computers from films such as James Bond, Star Trek and Minority Report, coupled with adverts from companies such as General Motors, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple that had brought these technologies to life.

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