Tag Archives: India

Taking A Closer Look At Cine Grand’s 500 Screen Deal With Time Antaeus In China

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“Cine Grand BV, Netherlands based Cinema Exhibition company announced their collaboration with the Beijing based Time Antaeus Group,” said the press release as did all the articles regurgitating it. The release went on to say that there is a joint plan to open over 500 screens in China over the next three years. So what is a Dutch cinema chain doing partnering a Chinese exhibitor? The answer is that it isn’t.

Do a search for Cine Grand BV online and you primarily find the press release/news articles related to the Time Antaeus announcement. Grand Cinema BV does not operate a single screen in The Netherlands, but the company is registered there (Herikerbergweg 238, Luna ArenA, 1101 CM NL-23393 Amsterdam – around the corner from Dolby International AB). A detailed search reveals that Cine Grand BV used to be registered as Inspire Multiplex B.V. (Company Number 53220188 - Strawinskylaan 3105, Atrium Amsterdam NL 1077 ZX – the business district of Amsterdam Zuid) and owns couple of trademarks in the country, including Cine Grand Class (above) and My Cinema (below), both of which have “Filing Language” stated as ‘Romanian’.

This is explained by a third trademark filing for TSAR Luxury Lounge and Cinema. This filing was done by Biris Goran, a Romanian lawyer heading an eponymous lawfirm that defended RoGroup in a 15 million euro tax case against the Romanian Customs Office and the Ministry of Finance. His/their firm is also listed as:

Biris Goran SCPA has significant IP expertise. Highlights included acting for Inspire Multiplex Private on the registration of its trade mark portfolio, and advising Red Bull Romania on IP matters and sponsorship agreements relating to advertising and promotional campaigns. Ana Maria Andronic heads the team.

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Eastern Europe and Middle East

Cine Grand currently operates one five-screen cinema in Romania and two cinemas in Bulgaria in Burgas and Sofia with a total of 14 screens. Having established a toehold in Eastern Europe, Variety writes, “Nirmal Anand, chairman of Cine Grand, said that they plan to open 500 screens in China over the next three years… Cine Grand currently has four screens in Ahmedabad, India. A complex with a further four is under construction in Gurgaon.” The press release also calls Mr. Anand a “pioneer in exhibition business in the Middle East & Eastern Europe.”

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 26 February 2014

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.

Business

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.

Link.

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.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 28 January 2014

Stephanie Georgio at Cineworld

Stephaanie Georgio was bitten by a false widow spider at the Cineworld in Enfield in Middlesex.

UK: A girl is recovering after being bitten by a venomous spider at a Cineworld multiplex. yes, you read that correctly; not in Australia but in the UK. “A teenager needed three operations after she was bitten by a venomous spider at an Enfield cinema. Stephanie Georgiou, was bitten by a false widow spider at Enfield Cineworld in Southbury Road, on January 2, just one day after her 18th birthday. It wasn’t until three days after she had watched the film that the teenager realised something was wrong with her hand.” She needed several operations and will require skin grafts. For a poisonous spider bite! In a UK cinema!! Incidentally, the film she was watching was the latest Paranormal Activity. Link

Cinema Opening/Closings

USA: Tahoe is losing one of its last cinemas. “After more than 40 years in business, Cobblestone Cinema closed on Jan. 2. Its owners opted to not renew the theater’s lease at 475 North Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City. “Having a movie theater in Tahoe City has always been a staple,” said Michelle Gordon, manager of Lather & Fizz Bath Boutique, located in the Cobblestone Center. “It will be greatly missed.” It’s unclear why Cobblestone Cinema closed. Owners Todd and Tiffany Bloomhuff, of North Shore Theatres, did not return numerous phone messages and emails seeking comment for this story.” Most likely it fell victim to the end of 35mm. Link

UK: Arthouse cinema chain and independent film distributor Curzon has just two cinemas outside London, one in Richmond-upon-Thames just outside the capital and one in tiny Ripon in North Yorkshire. “Run in a hands-on way by Penny, her deputy manager James Hare and duty manager Beverley Isherwood, things are going well enough at this new Curzon to start thinking about completing work on the ground-floor restaurant, private VIP area and cellar bar in this spacious property. With seats for a total of only 100 in its two screens, it’s doubtful whether this sort of venue could have been cost-effective in the staff-intensive days of print reels and trained projectionists. Digital has made all the difference and the cinema is thriving already in this close-knit community.” Good profile of pioneering venture for a smart exhibitor. Link

Law

Germany: German exhibitors have failed to overturn a film production support levy that has cost them 195m euro since its 2004. “Germany’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has ruled that existing subsidies for film productions are legal. Big cinema chain operators had complained about a compulsory fee, but their arguments were not accepted.” 2/3 of the films supported by the FFA scheme attracted fewer than 55,000 cinemagoers, representing a poor return on investment, it was argued. Link

Technology

UAE: 4DX has come to Dubai’s Vox Cinema, which has rolled it out at a hefty $1.5m per screen. “Rendering the traditional ‘night at the movies’ a wholly different animal, this month Dubai has welcomed the multi-sensory face of 4DX cinema into its fold, promising an experience that adds smell, motion wind, lights and even water effects to a number of old and new film releases.” The first film shown using the technology was Fast & Furious 6, which is probably a safer choose then “12 Years a Slave”. Link

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India’s New Censor Board CEO Faces Industry Revolt

The role of a censor/certifier is not an easy one in any country.

It is a tightrope walk between filmmakers and demanding audiences seeking freedom of artistic expression and right to view age-appropriate content on one hand, and concerned parents and moral guardians on the other worried about the influence of sex, violence and bad language on the big screen, while balancing on a precariously slack rope of constantly shifting cultural norms. Even so, the appointment of a new CEO seems to have stirred up an exceptional amount of bad feelings in India.

Rakesh Kumar formally took over the role of heading  the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) last Friday, as noted in the Times of India. His previous qualification for the role was, well, none. Other than that he goes to the cinema sometime. He was previously Indian Railways Personnel Officer (IRPS) and his bio reveals that before that he was Managing Director of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC). Prior to which he worked as Executive Director(Passenger Marketing) and Executive Director (Efficiency & Research), Ministry of Railways, having gained a post-graduate in Physics from Lucknow University (1975) and an MBA graduate from Patiala University (1993). So how did his career get side tracked (see what we did there?) into deciding what films are appropriate for which audiences.

The answer lies in the murky underworld of patronage and appointments that underpins much of Indian politics and bureaucracy. As noted in the TOI:

Like his predecessor Pankaja Thakur, Kumar is also a rank outsider in that he has not worked as a regional officer in CBFC, to have some knowledge of film censorship. It may be recalled here that Pankaja Thakur has gone back to her parent department – customs and central excise after she completed her three-year tenure as the CEO. Rakesh Kumar will also have a three-year term to serve.

So while it is not unusual for ministers in other countries to change departments as separate as Transport and Culture, it is unusual for civil servants that typically specialise for years in one filed to do so. Kumar did not help his case by giving an interview to the Mumbai Mirror, headlined ‘It’s Time for a Clean Up Act’, where he was given ample celluloid to hang himself by spouting off about what currently bedevils Hindi cinema. It is worth quoting the Q&A at length:

Mumbai Mirror: What’s your take on today’s films?

Rakesh Kumar: The seriousness in content is missing. Filmmakers are pushing the envelope a bit too far. They tell us, “Whatever we show is happening in our homes.” But what is happening in their homes is not necessarily happening across the country. So it cannot be the yardstick. I seriously don’t think Ranbir Kapoor should have shown his middle finger and bared his butt in Besharam. I also felt that given his reputation, Aamir Khan shouldn’t have produced a cussloaded film like Delhi Belly(pauses).

MM: Go on…

RK: My wife and I walked out of Agneepath in the interval because it was just too gory. Gangs of Wasseypur had terrible language and Vishal Bhardwaj retained Arshad Warsi’s sex scene in Dedh Ishqiya despite us ordering him to blur it out. It was only when we told him that we’d be forced to make a police complaint, did he edit it out.

After watching Shudh Desi Romance, my five-year-old daughter asked me, “Dad, isn’t there too much love in this movie?” More recently, I went to see Yaariyan with her and came out visibly embarrassed. Now, I have decided not to see even a U/A film with my kid.

MM: How do you plan to change things?

RK: I called a meeting of my Regional Officers and have told them that I am not happy with the way certain things are going.

MM: Are you in favour of removing ‘No Smoking’ disclaimer?

RK: No, Anurag Kashyap has to follow the law of the land. He has challenged it in court but he is unlikely to win the case.

MM: How will you make adult content suitable for TV viewing?

RK: If you have content like Grand Masti, I wonder how much would remain after we clip.

MM: But the film did well…

RK: Then pornography, which has a huge market in India, should be included in films to make them work better in the box-office.

The outcry amongst filmmakers, newspapers, critics, social media and cinema goers was almost instant.

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Cinema India Expo Sets Dates For 2011

Cinema India Expo Logo.jpgAfter taking over Cinema India Expo last year, Diversified Business Communications will be putting their own mark on the annual event in 2011 when it takes place June 24th and 25th in Mumbai.

A convention along the lines of Show East or Cinema Expo, Cinema India was first held in 2000 as a trade show for theatre owners and motion picture distributors. Held in conjunction with the music industry’s PALM Expo, Cinema India grew into India’s largest conference for exhibitors despite a program faulted for being “hit-or-miss”. That reputation changed for the better last year when Createasphere, a Diversified company, picked up the show.

This year Createasphere is continuing to modify the convention keeping all the changes from 2010′s show which received such positive feedback. Fist off, Cinema India 2011 won’t be held alongside PALM. Instead, the event has been moved back to late June and will take place at the upscale Renaissance Convent Centre. Secondly, the two day program is being crammed with keynotes and educational programs that go beyond exhibition and distribution, to include visual effects and cinematography. Organizers are currently lining-up world renown cinematographers and filmmakers for the event.

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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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Samosa Shortage Hits Mumbai Theatres

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Samosas Are Popular At Mumbai Movie Theatres

In many countries around the world it is hard to think of going to the movies without the smell of popcorn wafting through the air. The salty snack is a staple for millions of moviegoers, not to mention a high margin profit center for cinema owners. But it turns out popcorn does not top the list of movie concessions in places such as Mumbai, India.

In fact, this past weekend theatre owners in Mumbai found themselves in short supply of their top selling treats – samosas.

After the recent death of a partner at A1 Samosa, the city’s top samosa supplier to cinemas, the masala delicacy went missing from concession stands. According to a story in the Times Of India, about 30,000 samosas are consumed daily in 90 cinemas throughout Mumbai.

At the popular Gaiety-Galaxy Cinemas, where an average of 2,600 samosas are sold each day, management was unprepared for the shortage. Like many theatres in Mumbai, they relied on samosa alternatives such as batata wadas, burgers and vegetable puffs. Some cinemas were able to find samosas from an alternate supplier.

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India’s Reliance MediaWorks Takes Over UFO’s E-Cinema Operation

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This past week the digital cinema pipeline into movie theatres in India became a little more narrow – figuratively, not literally or technically. On Thursday Reliance MediaWorks (formerly Adlabs), one of India’s largest entertainment services companies announced a “strategic alliance” with UFO Moviez, a company billed as the world’s largest digital cinema network in the press release.

This is the kind of business news that usually doesn’t make a huge impact whether in trade papers or in the mainstream media. However, it’s actually a significant announcement. What it means is that a most digital content mastering being done for the Indian market will now be conducted under one roof. Besides being the film lab which handles 80% of all Bollywood releases, RMW is also home to one of India’s largest digital intermediate facilities. Previous digital mastering for pan-Indian films was split between the two companies with RMW handling JPEG200 DCI content and UFO taking care of non-DCI e-cinema content.

Real Image is another company offering digital mastering in India, handling both d-cinema and e-cinema to support the sale of its servers for both markets. What the alliance between RMW and UFO does is swing the balance of digital mastering work squarely in RMW’s favor while leaving a question mark over the future of Real Image’s mastering efforts.

Under the agreement UFO will set up an additional encoding and encryption facility on RMW’s premises and effectively turn over the work to their new partner.  Read More »

Cinema News Roundup – 10 June 2009 – Lies, damn lies and Cinedigm ‘first-ever’ claims

- Cinedigm is making a big deal out holding a live Q and A for a film, which, contrary to what it claims, has been done many times before. From the press release, “Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. (NASDAQ: CIDM) announced today that it will host the first-ever [original emphasis], live virtual Q&A between a film cast and theatre audiences nationwide as a part of the June 19, 2009 opening night of the feature film “The Narrows.”  The live Q&A will be simulcast to selected theatres across the country giving audiences direct access to the movie’s cast members. Reuters adds. “Moviegoers in 17 U.S. cities will be able text-message questions to the cast of independent movie, “The Narrows,” and watch the actors answer on screen in theaters, giving Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp a trial by fire in how to get moviegoers more involved in the cinema experience.” This was tried five years ago by Arts Alliance in the UK for M Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Village”, but more significantly, was done on a regular basis way back in the mid 90s by Network Event Theatres. So not quite “first.” Not even close;

- Indian e-cinema operator InterWorld Digital has raised $10m from institutional investors to expand its network. From BoC, “Interworld Digital has identified 300 theatres in the Mumbai circuit to bring them into its digital cinema network. The company would require approximately Rs 450 million (Rs 45 crores) to digitise these 300 theatres.During the last one year, Interworld Digital has digitised 52 theatres in the Mumbai circuit like Eros, New Empire, Paradise and Jaya amongst others. A total investment of approximately Rs 12 – 15 lakhs is required to upgrade each theatre. ” At $24-30,000 per theatre this is most likely not going to be 2K, but India is already ho,e to the world’s largest e-cinema networks, so it doesn’t really need Hollywood;

– Terrorist attacks are sadly becoming all too common place in Pakistan and cinemas are collateral victims too. From Daily Times, “There were two cinemas in the city [Lahore] that suffered from terror attacks. The FIA blast completely destroyed the Regal Cinema, located a few yards away from the office. The cinema has stopped screening movies since the FIA blast on March 11, 2008. The May 27 attack on the Rescue 15 building has left the Plaza Cinema in a state of despair. The roof was badly damaged and expensive equipment was destroyed due to the blast while the doors and widows were also shattered.” No compensation is forthcoming from the government. Note the poster for “Die Hard 4″ in the picture of Plaza cinema;

- India’s BIG Cinemas will be the first* in the country to screen operas in digital on the big screen. From ET, “BIG Cinemas, an R-ADAG company, has forged an alliance with London-based More2Screen to bring Italian operas to Indian cinemas. Big has entered into a revenue-sharing arrangement with More2Screen, which will involve screening two operas and a concert…. According to Tushar Dhingra, COO, Big Cinemas, the objective has been to provide distinct content.” Opera in cinemas have been a great success in US, Europe and Japan, but India with its very different musical heritage will be an interesting test, not to say ‘trial by fire.’ Full disclosure: I was involved in setting this event up;

*(‘first’ in the sense of no one else in India having done this before. Ever.)

Carmike Cinemas has appointed its current chairman S. David Passman III to the post of President and CEO, with board member Roland C. Smith taking over as Chairman of the Board. Smith is quoted in the press release as saying, “”We are optimistic about our future prospects under David’s management based on Carmike’s industry leadership in digital cinema and 3D cinema deployments. The Company has achieved significant operating, financial and balance sheet improvements including increases in total attendance and average attendance per screen.” They certainly can’t do any worse than under previous Chairman Michael Patrick who was given a $5.5m golden parachute for leaving the company after helping Carmike achieve a $127m loss in 2007;

- Box office prospects are strong in China, according to THR.com. “China produced 406 feature films in 2008 and saw its boxoffice jump 30%, the fifth consecutive year of more than 25% growth….In its annual report on the nation’s media industry progress, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television said overall 2008 boxoffice receipts reached 4.3 billion yuan ($635 million), led by such companies as the state-run China Film Group, Huayi Brothers Pictures, the Shanghai Film Group and the New Picture Co.” Despite restricting Hollywood releases to just 20 titles per year, it features in the global Top 25 – pity that the studios get just 13 cents out of every dollar equivelant spent at the box office;
logo_capcinema – Having lost the CGR deal to Christie, Barco has clawed its way bck into France through a joint deal with Ymagis and Cinemeccanica for French exhibitor Cap Cinéma. From the press release, “Cap Cinéma selected Barco’s DP series of projectors for its digital conversion, powered by financing from Ymagis. During the first deployment phase, running until September 2009, theaters in Blois, Saint-Quentin, Périgeux, Agen, Carcassonne, Montauban, Beaune and Fribourg will be digitized. Rollout for other complexes will start in October 2009.” This deals also highlights the fact that having been one of the laggards in the European conversion process (“Numerique? Non!”) for many years, France is emerging as one of the leading territories in terms of digital conversion, which as a recent Screen Digest report notes, has lead to an upswing in terms of local French digital releases (0 in 2006, 12 in 2007 and 15 in 2008);

- ‘Ultra-Lux Plaza Cinema Cafe 12 Theatres Open up in Downtown Orlando‘ and based on the description, the cinema real does seem to be ‘ultra’lux’. “The 57,000 square foot theater will be operated by the American Theater Corporation founded by proprietor Jim Duffy. This upscale state of the art cinema features digital surround sound on all 12 screens. The two largest screens are digital high definition projection systems capable of 3-D movies, a first for Central Florida. There are over 1,100 leather rocker seats in a stadium configuration with 10-inch tables and ample legroom. Concessions range from traditional candy and popcorn to a full menu of pizza, sandwiches, and appetizers from cheese platters to caviar.  Beer, wine and champagne will be served throughout the theater as well as in two wine bars.WESH reports that “Theater owners hope patrons will not only catch a flick, but they hope to bring back the dinner and a movie concept. Orlando’s first downtown movie theater in decades is expected to be an economic shot in the arm to local businesses.” Let’s also hope that it starts a trend for more down-town & high-end multiplexes world wide. Interestingly enough the multiplex was paid for by Orland’s tax payers, as a means of urban re-generation;

- Imax has announced an IPO of 9.8m shares, just as share holders have woken up to the fact that “Harry Potter 6″ will be arriving two weeks late on the sometimes-giant screen, THR.com points out. “Shares of Imax dropped 4% on Monday to $7.31 after a Wall Street analyst said the delay “should negatively impact Imax boxoffice results.” “Prince” opens wide July 14. Although it opens on two Imax screens that day — one in New York and one in Los Angeles — it won’t get the wide Imax treatment until July 29.Imax screen are mostly booked up with “Transformers 2″ when “Potter 6″ arrives. But with Imax under fire for its shrinking screen sizes, exhibitors like Cinemark and Greater Union are introducing Imax-like theatres (called, respectively, Cinemark XD and Vmax), says WSJ (subscription required). Perhaps it’s time for Imax itself to launch ‘Imax-lite’ – just like Imax, only fewer storeys;

- Washington DC’s Screen on the Green outdoor cinema is back, says the Washington Post. “HBO, Comcast and the Trust for the National Mall will now jointly bankroll the series’ 10th year on the Mall this July and August, after fans sent hundreds of e-mails to complain and beg for its salvation.” It is no small irony that a cable television company and the by-word for watching movies at home will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for people to leave their homes and watch movies with mosquitos. July 20th is the kick-off date;

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- And finally, moddish British pop singer Jarvis Cocker is annoyed that one of east London’s oldest cinemas is being renovated next to his Hoxton home. From NME, “Calling the development a “big ugly lump”, Cocker launched into a tirade while talking about the situation to the Hackney Gazette.  “I don’t want office workers to see me parading in my pyjamas,” he stated.” Neither do we, Jarvis, neither do we. But you’re not getting in the way of my very own beautiful local art deco cinema getting re-built, you prat.

Cinema News Roundup – 29 May 2009 – Indian theme day

- The stand-off between Indian multiplexes and Bollywood distributors appears to be close to being resolved, according to several news sources. TOI says, “Evidently, it was the producers who first blinked. An industry insider said, “The final settlement reads 50 per cent in the first week, 42.5 per cent in the second week and 35 per cent revenue in the third week for the producer of all films.”" With films taking an average four weeks to launch, don’t expect a Bollywood title next weekend, and while Hollywood has turned the tap back on for its titles, Sony Pictures’ “Angels and Demons” won’t be showing in Indian multiplexes this weekend, playing only in single screens. According to Businessofcinema.com, “sources inform that Sony is quoting revenue sharing terms of 55:45 (Sony:multiplexes), 50:50, 45:55 and 40:60 for the first four weeks to national multiplex chains. “The terms quoted by Sony are not viable and acceptable in the current scenario. As of today, we have not yet signed up with Sony for Angels & Demons,” said a multiplex officer, on condition of anonymity.” For past big Hollywood titles the split was 52:48 first week, but multiplex owners appear to balk at 55:45 for a heavily censored Tom Hanks running around a replica Vatican;

- The end to the Bollywood stand-off will come too late for some, with victims of the impasse to be found on the other side of the globe. The New York Times highlights how ‘A Dispute Half a World Away Darkens a Movie House in Queens’ as the Eagle Cinema (pictures above) in the New York borough went dark for lack of Masala movies. “In Mumbai, India, a seven-week-old strike by film producers has brought Bollywood, that country’s multibillion-dollar film industry, to a halt. The Eagle specializes in first-run Bollywood movies, and without a supply of new films, theaters like it around the world have had to screen old ones, dip into the pricier Hollywood and European film catalogs — or shut down. “You get more frustrated when you have no say in it,” said Mohammad Asif, a Pakistani businessman who helps to manage the 500-seat Eagle, nestled in the heart of a neighborhood thick with immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and shops selling products from South Asia. “We’re not part of their problem, but we’re affected.“” Worse then the strike, overseas Bollywood theatres are hurt by piracy, with pirated Bollywood films sold openly in Indian corner shops in a way that they would never get away with if they were selling Hollywood copies;

golf-glen

- But piracy is not deterring Indian film and cinema major Adlabs, whose BIG Cinemas is opening a deluxe five-screen multiplex in Chicago this weekend. This is the first re-built-from-scratch cinema that BIG Cinemas has opened in US, having bought 170+ screens from other operator. From Business Standard, “The multiplex, Big Cinemas-Golf Glen, is located in Niles, Chicago. It will have five screens and a premium lounge. The facility will be digitally connected to Adlabs India, enabling the films to be transferred on fibre optic cable within four to six hours instead of using physical films, a statement issued by the company said.” The cinema will be showing free movies and there’s an opening party with over 1,000 invitees. (Full disclosure: I work for Adlabs, but sadly didn’t get invited for the opening. <sniff>);

- Establishing a foot-hold in Europe, Adlabs has also signed a ground breaking deal with Pathe Cinemas to expand the reach of Bollywood in The Netherlands. From ET, “In the Netherlands, the company will roll out three Big Cinemas screens in Pathé Theaters’ existing megaplexes in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Hague. “Pathé is a perfect fit in our global strategy to bring Indian movies to Europe and other continents. Starting with the Netherlands, we will explore other countries in Europe,” says Anil Arjun, CEO of Adlabs Films.” With some 700,000 Bollywood fans (of Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Turkish and Moroccan origin) living in Holland, this market seems ripe for exploitation. (Disclaimer again: I still work for Adlabs, but can take no credit for this deal);

cinepolis-logo – But while Adlabs is going overseas for cinemas, overseas exhibitors are going to India to open screens. Mexican exhibition giant Cinepolis has designs on the Indian multiplex market . THR.com took notice, “Mexican multiplex major Cinepolis will become the first international theatrical player to foray into India with plans to invest about ($78.45 million) to launch 110 screens across eight cities over the next three years to start with. New Delhi-based Cinepolis India country head Milan Saini said Friday that the first property will open in the second half of this year.Cinepolis plans to make India its largest market outside Mexico. Nachos with paneer masala dip anyone?

- Cinepolis might be encouraged by the fact that bad quarterly figures were posted by both Inox (down eight per cent) and Cinemax (down 56 per cent), shares in Indian multiplex operators have been up recently.  From Businessofcinema.com, “Despite low occupancy levels due to the strike and IPL, multiplex companies’ stock prices have been up between 25 – 70 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). While Inox Leisure’s stock price has been up 69.1 per cent in the last one month from Rs 33.50 to Rs 56.65; Adlabs Films, which operates BIG Cinemas, has seen a 44.71 per cent rise in share price from Rs 236.10 a month back to Rs 341.65 currently. On the other hand, PVR stock price has also seen a rise of 44.23 per cent over the last one month and the stock is quoting at Rs 123.75 currently from Rs 85.80 a month back. Cinemax India witnessed a rise of 38.05 per cent in its stock price from Rs 46.65 to Rs 64.40; whereas Fame India’s stock has been up 25.49 per cent from Rs 12.67 to Rs 15.90.” Don’t buy tickets at the box office – buy shares in the cinemas themselves! (Disclaimer: CelluloidJunkie’s frivolous comments should NEVER be mistaken for sound stock investment advice. Ever.);

– But the stock market surge will not save the fortunes of Mumbai’s decaying single-screen cinemas. From livemint.com, “Along with Regal, New Empire, Eros and New Excelsior cinemas, Liberty constitutes the remainder of Mumbai’s Art Deco cinemas, which dominated the cinema-going scene from their inception in the mid-1930s onwards. But now, faced with hurdles, including a dearth of new releases, as well as hefty entertainment taxes and competition from multiplexes, the survival of these structures, characterized by their geometrical shapes and vibrant colours, is hanging in the balance.” Perhaps one of them will get bought up by Cinepolis and converted to a multiplex, as Adlabs did with Metro cinema. Do your bit for these masterpieces of picturehouse architecture and watch “Angels and Demons” there this weekend.