Our ‘Finally’ item from yesterday is today’s front page article; the opening of the first major multiplex in Jerusalem. Its opening is a big deal to the city.
Many of Jerusalem’s movie theaters closed over the last two decades, leaving a dearth of silver screens in the city. For Mayor Nir Barkat, who has spent a considerable part of his time in office reconsidering the capital’s cultural landscape, the lack of a real movie theater complex — complete with comfortable seating, available parking and access from various neighborhoods of the city — was a real concern.
“We’ve spent the last five years trying to bring Jerusalem to a new level, and there is no better marketing tool than the movies,” he said. “It gets added to the mix of new cultural centers, like Beit Hansen, Beit Mazia and the First Train Station. Jerusalem has a huge potential and we want to realize that potential.” Link 1.
It sounds like it will be quite a cinema, as no effort has been spared (bar one).
Jerusalem’s Cinema City will open Thursday, after an investment of NIS 250 million. The eight-floor 20,000-square meter entertainment complex, located on the site of the National Car Park across the street from the Supreme Court, has 19 screens, auditoriums for shows and conventions, and a theater.
The center also includes the Museum of Jewish Cinema, the Old Testament City, and a dynamic 3D “Journey to Judaism” and other children’s shows. The cinemas and auditoriums have 3,000 seats altogether, and the commercial space includes over 50 restaurants, cafes, and shops.
The Jerusalem Cinema City’s developers, brothers Moshe and Leon Edri, who own New Lineo Cinema (2006) Ltd., expect to sell two million tickets a year and host 15 million visitors in the first year. Link 2.
But the one thorny issue of whether it can be open on Shabbat (Fri evening-to-Saturday, ie the businest time for most cinemas) has yet to be resolved. There were protesters outside demanding the right to watch films when they wanted, not when Orthodox Rabbis permitted them.
Near the Bible Museum downstairs I see that a few girls are leaving. One of them sits down for a selfie on the horn of a giant rhinoceros statue that protrudes from between her legs. She tells me she’s one of the employees of the architectural firm that built the complex. I ask her what she thinks about the fact that the building didn’t take the Supreme Court into consideration. “We have an opinion but we’ll keep it to ourselves,” they respond diplomatically…
Outside a single protester is left, Ben Mukhtar, 14, from Ramot. “Everybody went home. If they had wanted to fight they would have all stayed. I’m tired of wandering the streets on Friday nights. The Haredim don’t even care that it’s open on Shabbat. Show me even one Haredi who watches ‘The Fast and the Furious,’” he says. Link 3.
Let’s see if the multiplex closes its doors one day after opening.
Australia: Encouraged perhaps by our article of how well exhibitor share prices are doing, Hoyts is once again considering an IPO.
Cinema company Hoyts Group is again considering listing on the sharemarket, tipped to take place sometime later this year. It’s expected that the float will be valued at about $700 million.
The group has an impressive footprint, controlling about 18 per cent of the approximately 2000 cinema screens in Australia. It edges out nearest rival Greater Union to command the largest slice of the market.
As well as its numerical supremacy, Hoyts also owns Val Morgan, the cinema advertising business which controls 95 per cent of the Australian market. Last year, Val Morgan posted a 30 per cent rise in revenue.
But a challenging landscape lies before the company.
USA/China: If not IPO, perhaps sell Hoyts’ cinemas to the Chinese? The rising share price of exhibitors has paid of handsomely for AMC’s Chinese owner.
“China’s second-richest man, Wang Jialin, has seen the value of his controlling stake in AMC Entertainment more than double since he purchased it 18 months ago.
In August 2012, Wang invested about $800 million to acquire 80 percent of AMC — North America’s second largest movie chain — in a $2.6 billion debt-financed deal. That stake is now worth $1.7 billion at Monday’s closing price of $22.47, netting Wang paper gains of $900 million, according to Bloomberg.
Such a result was all but unthinkable back in 2012.”
AMC’s CEO claims that the rising value is down to “a record year for Hollywood films in 2013, improvements in customer service and a rising stock market overall.” He is two-third’s right.