Tag Archives: IMAX

AMC Q2’14 Results: Revenue Down But Focus On Re-Seat, Imax, AMC Prime, F&B and Internet Ticketing Steady

AMC Wanda logo

AMC has released its quarterly figures and it was a dark cloud but with a silver lining. Revenue was down nearly five per cent (4.7%), dragged down by a 7.1% drop in admissions and despite average ticket price being up to an average of USD $9.55, with Imax and F&B (food & beverage, i.e. concessions) as the main good news. The press release highlighted this other significant milestones.

“In spite of some tough comparisons, we enter the second half of the year building momentum behind our continuing transformation of the AMC guest experience. Our five strategic action fronts continue to deliver innovation, additional revenue opportunities, improved profit flow-through and better-than-industry results,” said Gerry Lopez, AMC president and chief executive officer. “Our vision for the circuit is working and is long-term, and we’re keeping our focus on it.”

“Our comfort and convenience, and enhanced food and beverage initiatives drive significant benefits for our guests and the Company, and are helping us outperform our peers. One of the newest, best examples is open source internet ticketing. After rolling out our own ticketing engine in April, tickets to an AMC theatre are now both easier to get and available in more places on the web than any of our competitors’. So far, we’ve seen a 45 percent increase in online ticket revenues this year, and have sold approximately 13 million online tickets this year. ”  LINK

The conference call provided some ‘drill-down’ details, particularly for topics such as AMC’s re-seating (swapping regular seats for larger and more luxurious premium seats).

Let me briefly give you an update on the significant progress we have made on a few of our strategic action fronts. First, comfort and convenience remains a key focus as we continue with our recliner reseats. There are 505 screens at 44 locations; I said 505 screens at 44 locations that we have deployed to-date, delivered admissions revenue per screen growth of 33% more than doubling of the EBITDA in the second quarter of 2014.

To be sure, the solid top-line per screen growth and more than doubling of EBITDA in a period where industry admissions revenue was down 6.5 points, says we are dramatically significantly outperforming and our strategy is working. That 33% per screen admissions growth was nicely balanced as well, with 21 points coming from attendance and 10 points coming from average ticket price increase.

We believe that this type of balanced growth clearly illustrates the tremendous power of our re-seat program and their customers are not solely driven by this slate of movies, but also the experience of seeing those movies in the comfort and style of an AMC theater.  LINK

Lopez also highlights the 69% top-box get satisfaction scores, calling it “not only the highest in the circuit, but in a class by themselves when it comes to retail enterprises.” Coupled with the improved on-line ticketing and an average concession spend per customer of USD $4.22, the message is clear: even if Hollywood delivers a poor slate of film, we are getting good at extracting more money from the people who do still go to the cinema.

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Giving the Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium a Closer Look

Simons IMAX Theatre

The Matthew and Marcia Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium (Photo: J. Sperling Reich)

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram are probably aware I’ve been in New England over the past two weeks. (Thus the lack of posts from me). Specifically, I was in Boston.

While there I stumbled upon the Matthew and Marcia Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium. Though “stumble upon” is hardly the proper expression and can only be used in the most figurative sense since the theatre is enormous and hard to miss. That’s kind of the point of this post.

I happened to be dining at Boston’s world famous Legal Sea Foods at Long Wharf just across the street from the aquarium and snapped a few photos of the asymmetric metallic exterior. I figured I could dash off a quick post featuring the photo with a humorous caption along the lines of “Is it just me, or is there something fishy about this IMAX theatre?”.

Upon downloading the photo from my camera I began to wonder who designed the theatre’s rippling metal exterior, as it reminded me of some of architect Frank Gehry‘s more recent work, such as Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain. I hope the good folks at Verner Johnson, Inc. don’t mind that I mistook their work for Mr. Gehry’s.

Actually I’m glad my curiosity led me to investigate the Simons IMAX Theatre further to discover Verner Johnson, the only architectural firm in the United States that specializes solely in planning and designing museums. I’m surprised I wasn’t aware of them already since they have designed at least 15 IMAX theatres for museums and science centers throughout the U.S. (and even one in China).

What’s noteworthy about the Simons IMAX Theatre, and the reason I chose to expand this post beyond my questionably humorous caption, is an important feature of the auditorium that might otherwise go unnoticed; its ability to market both the aquarium and IMAX.

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Quarterly Earnings: Regal, Imax and Dolby

 

Quarterly figures have been arriving thick and fast this week. We look at three key cinema companies: Regal Entertainment, Imax Corporation and Dolby Laboratories.

regal-entertainment1

The world’s largest cinema operator announced its quarterly figures and they were not what the analysts had hoped for, with revenue of USD $770.3 million, down 8.5% year-on-year and misses expectations by USD $41.41 million. There was a dividend of USD $0.22 per share. The CEO put a brave face on the drop and found a silver lining to highlight, though I’m not sure about her positive take on this year’s BO potential.

In a challenging summer box office environment, the growth in our average concession sales per patron and our focus on controlling variable costs helped drive Adjusted EBITDA margin of over 19%, stated Amy Miles, CEO of Regal Entertainment Group. With year-to-date industry box office results on par with last years record setting pace and an exciting film slate in the back half of the year, we are optimistic regarding the potential for further box office success in 2014.  LINK

In the earnings call that followed there was an acknowledgment of the harsher realities faced this summer but also some historical perspective by Ms Miles.

When viewed from a broader perspective, this year’s second quarter industry box office revenue was in line with the historical average for the last 5 years. On — one other item of note as it relates to the second quarter box office performance, we were again encouraged by the studios’ willingness to expand the summer box office season by delivering high-profile films throughout the quarter. Difficult comparisons aside, we continue to believe that a diverse film slate and a well-spaced release calendar increase the long-term potential for box office success for us and our studio partners.  LINK

Concessions, better consumer amenities, premium seats as well as Imax/RPX (premium large format) screens are the key to riding out the financial troughs.

And finally, the early returns on our initial investments in luxury, reclining seats are very promising, and in most cases, ahead of our expectations. We have fully converted 5 locations with 46 screens and are on track to complete 25 locations with 275 screens by the end of the year. As a reminder, this concept is not right for every location. Many of our theaters are simply too busy to sustain the seat loss that results from the installation of the larger recliners.

But in some situations, where the theater has been impacted by competition or simply nearing the end of its useful life, a return-minded investment in reclining seats can rejuvenate and potentially even extend the life of an existing theater. Based on the early success of these auditoriums, we believe we will have further opportunities to invest in our asset base in both 2015 and ’16. We remain excited about the potential for growth and financial returns associated with these initiatives and look forward to updating you as they progress.  LINK

Other insights: average ticket price was up by USD $0.05, premium screens attract 17% of box office, operating expenses were down by 1% (“due primarily to decreases in attendance-driven theater-level cost and lower payments associated with premium format revenue”), New York City and Washington D.C. were down by more than the market average, while alcoholic beverage serving was up from 31 to 39 locations. Interestingly the company doesn’t think it is possible to cut staffing levels any more than they already have.

Obviously, we’ll always look to reduce costs where we can in a low-attendance environment, and I think our managers and our field personnel will continue to do a great job doing that. But to ask them to do a lot more than that I think is going to be tough for us.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 22 July 2014

Imax China

Imax – According to Wall Street Journal China, Imax is planning to open a further 19 screens in partnership with local companies ahead of listing its local operation. Interestingly Richard Gelfond’s Chinese name is Gail Fang.

IMAX theater will open new cooperation with Chinese state-owned Shanghai Film Group (Shanghai Film Corp.), these new theater will open in the second half of 2015. IMAX chief executive Gail Fang (Richard Gelfond) in an interview that the new screen is in agreement IMAX April this year after the signing of a new partnership agreement, IMAX at the time that 20 percent of China operations will the shares sold to the Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund (China Media Capital) and private equity firm party sources of capital (FountainVest Partners), Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund and each party sources of capital will be paid before the beginning of 2015 to $ 40 million to purchase these services 10 % stake. Gail Fang said that this is one of the local partners to introduce IMAX many reasons. He explained that the next few weeks IMAX will sign an agreement with the Shanghai Film Group, a related company in China to open six new screens. He would not disclose more details. Gail Fang said they feel American investors do not fully understand the potential of the Chinese film market. IMAX China is a key growth market, also destined to become the company’s largest market.  LINK

Chinese ticket machine cinema third party

China – Internet purchases of cinema tickets via PCs and smartphones now accounts for as much as 40% of some screenings in China, many through third-party operators. But there are problems getting refunds when a screening or booking is cancelled.

So why buy from a third-party platform movie tickets will not refund it to industry sources, it involves a lot of problems:? First permissions issues, some theater tickets willing to open permissions to the site at any time to cancel or reservation, some if not, for unwilling audience request returned tickets, you need a web site to communicate with the theater; Second, the number of back problems, the user tickets through the website, the website will charge a service fee, which is not linked to the occurrence and the theater, And every ticket website service charges are not the same, how much money to retire to cinema audiences has become a major problem; most critical is that each theater has its own ticketing provision that “once sold, will not refund” also it as a “norm”, because in the theater seems, movie tickets have a time limit, the audience returned tickets may affect sales, so in the case of theater tickets out of their own can not retire, the net purchase tickets.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wed/Thur 18-19 June 2014

With Patrick von Sychowski still in Barcelona attending CineEurope, I have been tasked with curating the daily digest posts in his absence. Celluloid Junkie readers (i.e. you) have been telling us lately how much you like the daily digest and I’ll do my best to keep it up as best I can.

Needless to say, the past few days have been filled with news coming out of CineEurope. Not only do we have Patrick’s live blog of the conferences panel sessions, but there is no shortage of press releases being published by industry vendors. Here’s a summary of some of the releases which contained new, updated or relevant information:

Technology

JT Bioscopen Hilversum

Artists rendering of JT Bioscopen cinema being built in Hilversum Media Park

Barco: As is their custom during trade shows, the projector manufacturer has had their public relations department working over time during CineEurope. On Tuesday came news that JT Bioscopen will install a Barco laser projector at one of its multiplexes. More precisely, d-cinema integrator dcinex will install the Barco 6 primary Laser3D (6P) laser-illuminated projector at JT Bioscopen’s new seven-screen complex at Hilversum Media Park.

JT Bioscopen is the second largest cinema chain in the Netherlands (behind Pathé) with 21 multiplexes in 19 different cities. The circuit converted entirely to digital in 2011.

Here’s a nice little factoid front the release:

Known as ‘Holland’s Hollywood’, the Hilversum Media Park houses all major Dutch TV and radio stations, production houses, studios and other companies in the audiovisual and entertainment business.

You learn something new everyday. Granted, Barco was probably hoping that their announcement would help educate people about their 60,000-lumen laser projector which, thanks to the company’s Alchemy technology, can show 4K content at 60 frames per second or in 3D, all while minimizing speckle and thus the need for a mechanical vibrating-screen. But that bit about Holland’s Hollywood seemed like a good piece of trivia worth passing along. LINK

Now, while we’re on the subject of Barco, the company also announced that the relatively new Barco Alchemy Integrated Cinema Media Processor (say that ten times fast) is now fully integrated with Arts Alliance Media’s Screenwriter Theater Management System (TMS). Actually, Screenwriter is the first TMS to be support Barco’s new ICMP (which is how all the cool kids refer to the Integrated Cinema Media Processor). The good news is that any AAM customer already using Screenwriter will also get an upgrade featuring the Alchemy integration, not just customers that deploy the software in the future.

Naturally, Screenwriter already supports a multitude of cinema equipment from various industry vendors. It is, after all, a TMS. This is just the latest integration AAM has completed. Rich Phillips, CTO of AAM, explained this much better in the release, stating:

“We support all the key servers and media blocks, enabling exhibitors to use equipment from different vendors in the same facility seamlessly. We are delighted to be able to now offer the same support for the innovative Barco Alchemy product, giving exhibitors the freedom to make technology decisions that are not limited by compatibility with their existing systems.”

Yeah, Mr. Phillips did a much better job of what I was trying to explain.

Speaking of which, since it’s fairly new we should probably tell you that the Barco ICMP is what is known as an integrated cinema processor, or if you want to sound hip, an ICP. The DCI-approved module goes a step beyond decoding encrypted content as a media block and adds the functionally of a media server onto a single board. This is meant to reduce the amount of digital cinema equipment in the booth. Barco is putting the Alchemy ICMP into all of its new d-cinema projectors, though any of the company’s Series 2 projectors can support the technology. Hard to believe all that fits into the device shown below. LINK

Barco Alchemy ICMP

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CineEurope 2014: The Future of Big Screen

The Future of Big Screen Panel at CineEurope 2014

Next panel-ette starts a bit early with IHS’s David Hancock saying he will try to “keep it short, sharp and punchy.” RealD and IMAX in the ring with him.  Here are some of the highlights from the panel discussion as submitted live via iPhone:

“How do you define large screen?” asks Hancock. Andrew Cripps of Imax cites Los Angeles Times article that reported that premium large format (PLF) screens are 20% larger than regular size movie screen but says in IMAX “a lot of other elements go into it.” RealD’s Bob Mayson notes irony of discussing big screen in a very small conference room. [Indeed].

Luxe is an Eastern Europe/Russia focused initiative. Mayson told me earlier that they announced in a recent investor call that they now have 22 PLF screens committed of which at least half should be in place before the end of this year.

Cripps talks about working with film makers and the ‘total experience’. Hancock asks what drives it. Mayson says premium ticket prices and the ‘thirst for a better experience, particularly when there is so much competition for the consumer’s dollars.’ He points out that when he was at Kodak he sold a LOT of film to IMAX. [that was before Cripps joined].

Cripps agrees with Mayson on the premium price/experience. Makes an analogy with Starbucks coffee. Hancock asks if smaller 2D screens are under threat. Mayson mentions small VIP seating, but acknowledges that’s not today’s topic.

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Premium VoD Just Killed the Cinema Release Window

100,000 viewings DSK movie

One single tweet was the final nail in the coffin of the cinema exclusivity window, given added poignancy by being in French; “100 000 locations en une semaine, rien ne sera plus comme avant” (’100,000 viewings in a week, nothing will be as it was’).  This was the message from Vincent Maraval, Co-Founder of Wild Bunch, the French production and distribution outfit behind the controversial “Welcome to New York”, which was released on video-on-demand without first screening in French cinemas.

In a country (France) that counts cinema admissions rather than box office takings for a film (something that sets most of Continental Europe apart from Anglo-Saxon markets like the United States and United Kingdom), this tweet added insult to injury for what was truly a milestone for the industry in slaughtering its last sacred cow.

The day-and-date release of films in cinemas and on-line is nothing new, but we have now reached a point where the sacrosanctity of the exclusive theatrical window is well and truly dead for the vast majority of films. The recent Cannes Film Festival and the release of the report “Circulation of European Films in the Digital Era” (funded by the European Parliament and European Commission) has thrown this into sharp focus, yet there are many other factors to consider.

Fighting Day-and-Date for Years

“It’s the biggest threat to the viability of the cinema industry today,” is how John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), put it in 2006 in response to the day-and-date release of the Steven Soderbergh directed “Bubble”, which was released simultaneously on DVD, pay-per-view and in cinemas. Or rather, in a handful of cinemas. In Landmark Theatres alone, to be precise, the sister company of Magnolia Pictures, which produced and distributed the film, both owned by Mark Cuban.

Commenting on the experiment six years later, Steven Soderbergh opined:

On “Bubble” and “The Girlfriend Experience”, we really weren’t able to find out if the experiment worked because frankly, we were blackballed by all the chains. We couldn’t get any screens outside of Landmark, even though we offered to cut them in on some of the VOD and video revenue. They just blackballed us. Part of the point of going day-and-date is that somebody who lives in a place where that kind of movie wouldn’t typically open could watch it through VOD because they’ve read about it, because this whole thing of having to sell a movie multiple times is really f–king boring. We never got to find out if that worked or not because what does Landmark have, 75 screens or something? The movie was not allowed to be shown outside that group of theaters so I don’t know how day-and-date works.

Fithian was skilled in rallying his members to boycott the film, even though he knew that releasing a small independent film with no stars on DVD the same day as it plays in a few art-house screens was not the same existential threat as, say, releasing “Oceans 12″ (also directed by Soderbergh) on all platforms on the same day. But what it did represent was the thin end of the wedge, which is why Fithian was willing to risk coming up with a Jack Valenti-VCR-Boston-Strangler-type of quote.

Soderbergh Bubble

Bubble: “the biggest threat to the viability of the cinema industry today”

The key word in the Fithian quote is ‘today’ and where his greatest success lies was in killing off the discussion and experimentation for another half decade. Fithian is neither a technophobe nor is NATO blind to the direction in which the industry is heading. In response to Soderbergh’s interview, Fithian wrote, “Over the past two years NATO and our members have stated publicly that distributors should sit down privately with their exhibitor partners and their creative partners in dialogue about how the industry moves forward together.” But everything changed in early 2014.

The most serious threat wasn’t “Bubble” in 2006 but the MPAA-FCC exchange in 2009, known by the exhibitor-baiting headline, “MPAA Seeks FCC Okay For Transmission of First Run Movies Directly To Consumers”. While seemingly about day-and-date, we wrote at the time that “the MPAA may simply be hiding behind the concept of protecting content during shortened release windows as camouflage for their true motive; securing high definition digital content as it is distributed into the electronic ether of the home by controlling which devices can playback and display the content.”

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 2 June 2014

Farewell my concubine opera

“Farewell My Concubine” had its global premiere yesterday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles; the first ever Chinese 3D opera in Atmos to be shown in cinemas.

Yesterday, appears on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles of a particular landscape, held annually Oscars Dolby theater entrance a few meters of the opera “Farewell My Concubine” eye-catching posters, many pedestrians stopped to watch, even passing The open-top bus passengers have also picked up a camera on Mengpai. China’s first 3D opera film “Farewell My Concubine” overseas premiere was held last night at “the temple” of the Oscars. Dolby Executive Vice President Andy said, “this is not only the first Chinese film premiere held here, it is also the film’s first country outside the United States premiere to be held here.”  LINK

Farewell my Concubine Q&A

Co-star Shi Yihong agrees the whole experience was new and exciting.

“As a Peking Opera performer, being a part of a film is very interesting for me, especially in this amazing 3D project,” Shi Yihong said.

The film is being shown in the US as part of celebrations to mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the US.

It’s hoped that the combination of a 200-year-old Peking Opera and modern 3D technology can help American people better understand Chinese Culture.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 16 May 2014

NCM logo

USA (NY) - National CineMedia has announced the details of its partnership with Shazam, to create audio-embedded links in its adverts for enhanced content. There are further partnerships with Disney’s Maker Studios and Idea United.

National CineMedia revealed intriguing partnerships with Shazam and Maker Studios today at its upfront event near Lincoln Square in New York. The moves underscore how the cinema ads network increasingly sees itself as a digital company.

As part of NCM’s update to its longstanding FirstLook platform, the Shazam integration is designed to extend advertisers’ reach among smartphone-toting moviegoers. When they observe a sponsor’s FirstLook promo via the mobile app, they can consume and share that content while also making a purchase when it comes to e-commerce pitches.  LINK

Cineplex

Canada - Ticket prices fell in the first quarter of 2014, which is perhaps why Canada’s Cineplex is experimenting with higher charges for some seats and shows.

Later this year, at the Varsity location in Toronto’s Manulife Centre, the company will launch a pilot project in which patrons pay an extra $2-$3 for the prime seats in the middle rows of the theatre.
“We’ve had great success with our UltraAVX cinemas ($3-$5 surcharge) as well as our VIP cinemas ($7-$12 surcharge) which both offer reserved seating; and so people really like that opportunity,” said spokeswoman Pat Marshall.

“It’s really about providing our guests with choices when they go to the movies . . . I sort of position it akin to an aircraft where you have your regular coach seating, then you might want a bit more amenities, so you go into business class, and then you have a first-class.”  LINK

USA - Fandango has added three more exhibitors to its network.

Harkins Theatres, Digiplex Destinations and Premiere Cinemas have joined Fandango’s network of cinema chains, the movie ticketer said Thursday.

The company said that the new agreements will add 1,000 screens to its rolls in a dozen states including California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New Mexico and Texas. The deals will go into effect this summer.

The online and mobile ticketer now represents more than 24,000 screens domestically.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 14 May 2014

Tim League

An in-depth interview with Tim League, founder and CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a true pioneer in the American exhibition industry. Very disarming and insightful.

How did the dining experience while watching a movie come about?
There was a theater in Portland [Ore.]that did beer and food service in the theater, and we really liked it. … So, yeah we completely blatantly ripped it off from another theater.

Why do you think the cinema eatery concept has been so popular?
Traditional movie concessions work for a certain group—sometimes you want a Coke and a popcorn. But our audience is a little older just by the nature of what we do, and so it’s a great date experience where you can compress eating and going to a movie into two hours and minimize the babysitting time.

How did you start the whole concept of making themed nights in which the food reflects the movie?
I think that just comes with me being a movie fan, and I like to throw events and parties. So it just seemed a natural fit. … The idea of making the experience special and offering people something they can’t get anywhere else was very early on part of our marketing strategy to build loyalty.  LINK

 

RealD

Italy – RealD has signed a deal with Italian exhibitor The Space Cinema to increase the latter’s 3D screens by 40%.

RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) and leading Italian theatrical exhibitor, THE SPACE CINEMA, announced today an extended agreement to install an additional 40 RealD 3D Cinema Systems at THE SPACE CINEMA locations throughout Italy. When combined with the approximately 100 RealD 3D equipped THE SPACE CINEMA auditoriums today, the number of RealD 3D installations across THE SPACE CINEMA locations will be in total more than 140. New RealD Cinema System installations have begun and are expected to be completed by this summer.  LINK

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