Tag Archives: IMAX

China Special Cinema Digest – Thursday 25 September 2014

Today we catch up Chinese cinema news from the last couple of weeks, which I was unable to report while travelling. As always, the Google translation is not perfect, but as we do not have a journalist on staff who can translate perfectly from Mandarin (yet!), it will have to do. We are also saving the biggest piece of cinema news to come out of China recently for a separate post.

Chen Xing technology laser

Our favourite Chinese (digital) cinema equipment manufacturer Chen Xing has issues a list of “Seven Rules for Cinema Brand Building” that heavily promotes its own technologies and solutions, while also providing an insight into the company’s thinking and strategy.

Don’t forget what we’ve written about them before: “China’s ‘Last Mile’ Plan for Digital Cinema: Ditch Western Technology.” This is as much true for smartphones and airplanes as it is for cinema equipment – China does not want to keep importing ‘Western’ technologies but build their own (then export it). Such competition and innovation should not be seen as a threat but a good thing.

The Seven Rules are: acoustical design, sound system, laser light source projection, TMS centralized management and control systems, cinema ticketing management system and service quality guarantee system.

Chen Xing talks about the alternatives it will offer up when it comes to laser (illuminated) projection, as well as immersive audio, where its Cinelab has developed 5.1, 15.1 and 17.1 audio which “get rid of the shackles of sources,” and offer “the perfect interpretation of the Dolby (ATMOS) panoramic sound studio truest sound.”

Chen Xing fires a shot across the bows of the other manufacturers by pointing out that while not being part of the original DCI elite, it is one of the largest server/media block deployers in the world today.

Digital Film for film and television industry has brought tremendous changes. Especially in distribution and exhibition side, digital cinema technology has maintained rapid growth in recent years. Of course, these are inseparable from the updated device technology. Regardless nowadays 3D, IMAX, 4K and other high-tech marketing, have become an end shadow vane hall, the market demand for high-tech also “hubbub straight on.” Christie, Barco, NEC, SONY have launched projectors with laser light source, which means Hollywood recommended type of light source laser source trend.

Among them, in the digital cinema systems, as film screenings server core products while always being SONY, GDC, Dolby, Doremi and other foreign manufacturers, “occupation”, but with the development of technology, more and more Chinese national brand manufacturers Chen Xing Technology began as “emerging” by the market influence is also rising. It is understood that the field of the world’s digital projectors DCI-compliant digital cinema server products, market share and influence were sorted by: GDC, Dolby, Doremi, Chen Xing AQ series.  LINK

Imax Tianjin

Imax screens only account for one per cent (1%) of the total Mainland screen count but an astonishing ten per cent (10%) of the box office, according to an interview with Imax’s director in China Yuan Hong. He also reiterates that China’s total box office will overtake the United States, some time between 2018 and 2020. “When will we surpass the United States? Five years ago we did not expect to ask this question, now it is just around the corner,” he observes.

Also at the box office, too, “as the movie, the theater itself is dependent on bringing new grossing film screenings, but also for the huge traffic.” Especially as the Lunar New Year stalls, summer gears up. “It also shows that, for shopping centre developers, the introduction of a cinema format still has a very good future.” At the box office, although high, it brings high turnover, but the scene, Yuan Hong also points out is “broke.” “For the cinema itself the profit margins are very limited, even if the movie is good, it is quicker to make money from popcorn, drinks, toys and other Transformers. ”  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 8 September 2014

Jerome Seydoux Pathe Paris

Paris is about to see the opening of a museum by the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, which will showcase the evolution of cinema through the Pathé film company’s history. The 2,200 square meter building itself looks hugely impressive (even if it makes people think of a ‘giant glass slug’), perhaps no surprise as it was designed by ‘starchitect’ Renzo Piano.

“Pathé was the first to make cinema into an international industry,” says cinema historian Anne Gourdet-Marès, who is in charge of the equipment section. “Pathé was a visionary, surrounding himself with engineers who could turn his ideas into equipment, like the Pathéscope or the Pathé Baby which dates from 1922. The initial studies for this camera were developed secretly with English engineers. ”

One of the draws of the Foundation, designed by the same architect who designed The Shard in London or the New York Times newspaper building, is its cosy 68-seater screening hall, equipped two 35mm projectors and a digital one – because of course the Foundation is involved in restoring and digitalising film.

A black piano at the foot of the screen is not just for show.  LINK

Cinema France

Reassuring then to know that cinema remains the favourite cultural activity of the French.

Over the past twelve months, the cinema topped the ranking with 72% against 42% for museums and 32% for concerts after LH2 study mareduc.com.

Cinemas attract 90% of 15-24 years, while 65 and older prefer the museum and exhibitions.

Next budget, the study says that more than six out of ten French, 65% spend less than 50 € monthly in cultural outings budget.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 25 August 2014

Cineworld Telford

First Cineworld got in trouble with some vocal customers for introducing allocated seating. Now marketers are complaining that the cinema is keeping house lights on during the running of the adverts.

Darren Hayday, marketing consultant at Competitive Edge Marketing and former “loyal customer of Cineworld” after taking issue with the policy, says the decision to keep lights up instead of using ushers to guide customers to their seats is a problem for marketers.

He adds: “What on earth is the point of a brand manager choosing this medium to target a captive audience when to try and cut costs the cinema chain introduce this process which doesn’t benefit anyone other than senior management?”

One client-side marketer and Cineworld customer told Marketing Week: “Cinema is one of the last remaining opportunities for a fully engaged ad audience and when you factor in the site-specificity of movie trailers made especially for cinema audiences, [keeping lights up] is doubly concerning.”  LINK

Imax China

China – The importance of China to Imax was highlighted again this past weekend at the Changchun Film Festival, with the country set to overtake the United States in the next few years. Sadly can’t embed the video, so please follow the link.

August 22, the 12th Changchun Film Festival “IMAX Vision” screening unit was officially launched, Managing Director, Asia Pacific attended the launching ceremony of IMAX Corporation sand Wande said that about three years, IMAX number of IMAX theaters in China will reach about 400, then this figure will exceed North America. China is expected to become the world’s largest IMAX market.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 20 August 2014

AMC Imax

AMC and Imax have signed a deal to deepen their business ties. What this signifies is that AMC and Wanda Cinemas, while technically different companies (though with shared ownership) are increasingly becoming indistinguishable with regards to cinema business policies. I bet they even buy popcorn kernels from the same vendor, even if they don’t put out press releases about it.

IMAX Corporation IMAX, +2.03% (IMX) and AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. AMC, +1.43% today announced an expansion of the companies’ existing joint revenue sharing arrangement with the addition of 11 IMAX® theatres. The theatres, which will carry 13-year lease terms from the date of installation, are expected to be installed in 2015 in cities that include Chicago, New York, Newark and Phoenix. Today’s agreement brings AMC’s total IMAX commitment to 159 theatres and reinforces its position as the largest IMAX exhibitor in North America.  LINK

Rakesh Kumar CBFC

India’s much reviled Chief Censor has been indicted for corruption. You couldn’t make this up, but it highlights what a rotten mess Indian bureaucracy is when a ‘babu’ with a railway background (!) is put in charge of a body like the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). It is worth remembering what a let’s-clean-up-this-cinematic-filth-style moralist Kumar was when he was first appointed to the job.

The CBI arrested Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) CEO Rakesh Kumar in an alleged bribery case on Monday.

Last week the CBI had registered a case against Kumar and also arrested an authorized censor agent and an advisory panel member of the CBFC for demanding a Rs 70,000 bribe on the behalf of the CEO to urgently clear a film from Chhattisgarh.

The CBI had conducted search on Kumar’s residence last week and had recovered Rs 10.50 lacks cash, gold jewellery and property documents.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 14 August 2014

Kino Femina in Warsaw

Polas are increasingly turning their backs on multiplexes in favour of smaller cinemas – preferring cheaper tickets, fewer adverts and more varied programming – according to the latest data from the Polish Central Statistical Office.

The share of the largest, multiplex cinemas has declined from 58.1 percent in 2012 to 55.2 percent last year.

Smaller cinemas are slowly gaining ground. Those with three to seven screens now have 30 percent of the market, compared to 27.4 percent in 2012.

The smallest venues, with one or two screens, have increased their market share from 14.5 percent to 14.8 percent. This translates into some 100,000 viewers more year-to-year.

The upward trend is also visible in the number of smaller cinemas. In 2013 there were 58 of the smallest ones in Poland, compared to 51 in 2012 and just 6 in 2001. LINK

Huayi Brothers Media

China – Having only bought into the cinema market last September, Huayi is selling out and more than doubling its money.

Huayi Brothers Media has agreed to sell its 20% stake in Jiangsu Yao Lai Studios Management, a regional cinema operator.

Huayi is selling to Songliao Automobile and will receive RMB464 (US$75 million) for the stake.

Jiangsu Yao Lai will remain 60% controlled by Beijing Sparkle Roll company.  LINK

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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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