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CinemaCon 2014: Press Release Roundup

CinemaCon Logo

PLEASE NOTE: If we missed any individual press release it was not done purposefully. If you would like us to include a CinemaCon related press announcement in a future roundup, please forward it to tips@celluloidjunkie.com.

Historically companies and organizations doing business at trade shows and conferences have relied heavily upon press releases to get their message out to an industry. This has been especially true at CinemaCon and ShoWest before it. This year was no different.

The first day of the show always sees a flurry of announcements “hit the wire”. As the week (and convention) progresses the number of releases tends to dwindle. We thought it might be useful to sum up all of the announcements made at this year’s show, and when appropriate, provide a bit of insight or analysis. Here are the releases published during CinemaCon 2014 listed in alphabetical order by company name:


Arts Alliance Media
The London based digital cinema integrator and software developer is is always good for a few releases during industry trade shows. CinemaCon saw them release no fewer than four. The first announced the launch of a new software solution called AdFuser. The software was designed for all aspects of on-screen cinema advertising. The software is capable of planning campaigns and managing inventory, targeting ads to appropriate genres or audience demographics, automated ad playlist creation, ad content delivery, reporting and much more. AdFuser can be used in either an extremely granular or completely automated fashion.

Our Take: AAM’s cinema advertising software has been in development for years so it is interesting to see them finally launch the product. We have yet to have a close demonstration of the solution, but look forward to seeing it in action. The company is entering a niche market with a stiff competitor (Unique Digital) that has more than a decade head start in the space.

AAM announced a software deal with Vox Cinemas, a cinema chain based in the Middle East. The circuit will be employing AAM’s suite of software to manage their digital cinema technology and operations. This includes solutions such as Screenwriter Plus (Theatre Management System), Producer (Enterprise Circuit Management System) and Locksmith (Enterprise KDM Management) and Lifeguard (NOC Tools). Vox operates 9 complexes which account for 92 screens in Lebanon and the UAE.

Finnkino was already using AAM’s theatre management system (TMS) and will now upgrade to Screenwriter Plus, which has additional features for automation and monitoring. The circuit will rollout the new version of Screenwriter Plus throughout their 14 sites and at a later date has the option to include their 11 Forum Cinemas located in the Baltic.

AAM began as a digital cinema integrator with their own virtual print fees (VPFs) in Europe. They have now entered the complicated Latin American market with a series of partners, most recently Quanta-DGT. The trio announced three deals for VPF rollouts with three exhibitors in Uruguay; Grupo Cine, Life Cinemas and Movie.

Our Take: This agreement is a perfect example of just how complex Latin America can be for the motion picture business. While the combined 61 screens covered in the contract already have digital cinema equipment installed, these screens will now fall under AAM/Quanta-DGT’s VPF agreements.


Barco
CinemaBarcoThe Belgian based projector manufacturer was incredibly active during this year’s CinemaCon, showing up at the conference with half a dozen press releases. Many of the notices centered around their new CinemaBarco initiative, specifically the 60,000-lumen laser projector the company is bringing to market. The projector is DCI-compliant and capable of showing 4K content all the way up to 60 frames per second. The Barco 6P laser projector is capable of showing 3D content in 4K at 14 ftL and is fully integrated within the DCI-compliant projector. It will be commercially available immediately in the United States and China before being distributed in the rest of the world by the end of 2014. The company demonstrated the projector at CinemaCon without a “shaking” screen.

To prove just how market ready their laser projector is, Barco announced that Cinemark would be the first exhibitor to install the new technology. The release didn’t specify precisely which sites Barco would be installing its high-tech projector in, though don’t be surprised if Cinemark Century 16 South Point and XD winds up being the first. That’s the Las Vegas cinema in which Barco was conducting off-site demonstrations of its laser projector during CinemaCon.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 25 February 2014

Two article’s on the challenger to ROH’s event cinema opera supremacy in the UK. First is The Guardian’s take on ENO’s Peter Grimes showing and decision to hire rock music director Andy Morahan to film it. Overall positive, bar a few technical glitches.

“English National Opera’s new venture into live-screened opera has attracted industry hype for several reasons. It was less than two years ago that ENO’s artistic director John Berry claimed not to be interested in such endeavours: they don’t create new audiences, he said, and “putting work out into the cinema can distract from making amazing quality work”. The company explained their about-face in December by announcing a fresh take on screened opera, promising rock ‘n’ roll camera angles, HD hyper-realism and a degree of intimacy and immersion that existing screenings from, say, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne or the Met don’t tend to offer.”

Link

The BBC features an interview with the director, where he explains his thinking.

“Previous broadcasts have “tended to be shot in quite a flat way, just looking at the stage” he explains. “You don’t really get a sense of where you are and they miss out on some great angles. You can have reverse shots and even someone shooting while part of the chorus. You can make the stage itself the centre of the immersive experience.” Employing multiple cameras, Morahan likes “to keep them moving. Whether it’s little creeping zooms, dolly shots or jib crane shots. I always found with music videos that the more the camera moves, the more lyrical it looks.”"

Roll Over Britten! Link.

Terrorism

Pakistan: The perpetrator of the first of the two recent Peshawar cinema attack that killed three people has confessed – and it is a teenager.

“Fifteen-year old Hassan alias Israr, mastermind of the bombing at the Shama Cinema in which 14 people were killed and 21 others injured, on Monday confessed to his crime in a local court.

Recording his statement in the court of Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Ilyas Khan, the young attacker stated he along with three accomplices first reached the gate of the cinema. He stated that he and his other accomplice Bilal first offered body search at the entrance gate of the cinema and bought tickets.

Soon after the body search, he said they came out from the cinema premises and tied the hand-grenades to their legs. The second time, he said, they succeeded in carrying the grenades into the cinema hall, where they attacked the film viewers from behind after watching the film for some time.”

So that this does not give you a one-sided view of Pakistanis as a country of terrorists, contrast this despicable act with those of fellow 15-year old Pakistani school boy hero Atizaz Hasan . Link.

Event Cinema

UK: NT Live’s War Horse transmission will be 4K, thanks to the involvement of Sony.

“On Feb. 27 2014, National Theatre Live will broadcast “War Horse” live from the New London Theatre to cinemas across the world. The broadcast will be shown in Sony 4K at the Curzon Cinema in Chelsea, the production will be projected using a Sony projector. The recording will be available as a 4K DCP allowing many 4K enabled cinemas to also show encore screenings at a later date.

Creative Broadcast Solutions, technical producer for NT Live, with NEP Visions, NT Live’s long-term OB partner will work with Sony, using Sony’s F55 Super CineAlta cameras equipped with Fujinon Cabrio lenses to capture the performance. NEP Visions will provide the technical infrastructure and expertise to take the 4K content from camera to satellite, as well as recording and broadcasting a simultaneous HD version.

Link.

USA: It’s not just Oscar nominated films that will be playing in cinemas this Sunday in Cape Cod.

“Two local theaters will bring Hollywood glamour to the Cape on Oscar night, March 2. The Chatham Orpheum Theater will host its first annual “An Evening with Oscar” celebration. The 86th Academy Awards will be shown live from Hollywood in HD and Surround Sound in the historic cinema’s main theater.

In Dennis, Cape Cod Museum of Art, Cape Cinema and Eventide Arts will team up to present the “Red Carpet Gala.” The evening will start with pre-Oscar festivities at the museum followed by a live telecast of the Academy Awards at Cape Cinema. The buildings are adjacent to each other, both located on the grounds of the Cape Cod Center for the Arts, on Route 6A in Dennis. And there will be an actual red carpet, the organizers say.”

Tickets are $25 and $75 respectively. Link.

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ShowEast 2012 is Latin America’s Last Chance for VPF Deals

This year’s ShowEast cinema trade show is likely to be the last one where any significant virtual print fee (VPF) deals are still on the table. Not only will there soon be no more actual 35mm prints to replace with fees for  virtual ones, following the winding down of film operation by Fuji and Kodak. But Hollywood studios too are rapidly winding down their funding mechanisms. This is particularly bad new for Latin American countries, which have the lowest digital cinema penetration numbers for any continent bar Africa. This was highlighted at the recent 2nd International Conference on Digitisation of Cinemas in Bogota, Colombia, which “focused on the difficulties being experienced by Colombia and Latin America in general in finding the financial model and public funds to help the region convert its cinemas to digital technologies adhering to the global standard.”

With approximately 13,500 systems installed around the world (over 10,000 in North America and over 3,000 in the rest of the world), Sony is intent on pushing its global market share up from the current one tenth of all world-wide screens. Hence Sony’s decision to extend its VPF scheme, most likely by agreeing to lower terms with the Hollywood studios in return for longer lead time. As quoted in THR:

“[Some] VPF deals for the U.S. and Canada ran out at the end of September. Ours are available until March 31, 2013,” reported Gary Johns, senior vp, digital cinema solutions at Sony Electronics. The deadline to sign up for Sony’s program in international markets extends even further out.

Sony is also using the ShowEast opportunity to showcase its newest SRX-R515P projector designed for small and medium auditoriums, as well as its Entertainment Access Glasses for hearing and visually impaired cinema patrons.

ShowEast has traditionally been the cinema trade show for Latin American countries and there is no more pressing issue for that region than the imminent end of 35mm prints and the do-or-die conversion to digital in less than a year. As such, it should come as no surprise that third-party digital cinema integrators, consultants and VPF brokers from across the world are homing in on Latin America. The most recent operator, India Scrabble, has just announced a deal for three territories:

The company has signed separate non-exclusive agreements with Hollywood studios Warner Bros Pictures International, Universal Pictures International, Walt Disney Motion Pictures International and Sony Pictures Releasing International Corporation… The roll-out of the technology will begin from 2013 and will initially be launched in Brazil, Mexico and Chile.

Note that 20th Century Fox and Paramount are missing from the list of studios. While neither of these two will get a free ride on the equipment installed by Scrabble under the terms with the other studios, it highlights the difficulty of getting VPF deals in place this late in the day. Other operators were already present in the region. Cinedigm signed a deal last year with Contenido Alternativo for satellite delivery of DCPs and alternative content, under which it would also “collaborate with theatres in Mexico to bring digital cinema deployment and Virtual Print Fee management services to the region,” on as-yet unsepcified terms. Cinedigm has more recently signed a deal for 290 screens out of the 437 operated by Caribbean Cinemas (pdf) in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and Trinidad.

Cinedgim has also signed a deal (pdf) with Brazil’s DGT for the deployment of its software solutions suit, “in preparation for its VPF program roll out later this year.” Similarly, Arts Alliance has contracted with Mexico’s Cinemex for the deployment of its software, though the exhibitor is “negotiating its own VPF (Virtual Print Fee) deals directly with the studios” for its 2,000 screens. Yet the largest obstacle to digital cinema installations in LAtin American territories is not Hollywood studios refusing VPF deals but high tariffs and restrictions on imports of digital cinema equipment. Brazil recently reduced its import duty, but it won’t be until analog screens start going dark for lack of 35mm film that governments across the continent are likely to wake up. Come ShowEast 2013 it will be a very different picture for the continent.

 

Japanese Earthquake May Not Impact The D-Cinema Supply Chain

Texas Instruments DLP

Shortly after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan on March 11th numerous rumors and speculation have swirled around the exhibition industry over its impact on the availability of digital cinema equipment. In part, this was spurred on by Texas Instruments reporting that their manufacturing plant in Miho, Japan, about 40 miles northeast of Tokyo, “suffered substantial damage” during the quake.

Because third of the output at TI’s Miho plant is dedicated to DLP production. The DLP chip is one of the most important parts in digital cinema projectors manufactured by Barco, Christie and NEC, so it was initially thought that the industry would once again face a shortage of equipment. However, since then both Barco and Christie have publicly said they have enough inventory on hand to meet demand for months, if not a year, into the future.

As the number of emails coming in to Celluloid Junkie with questions about the issue increased to more than two dozen, I felt it appropriate to give TI a call for an update. What I learned was that, most importantly, all of TI’s personnel are safe and unharmed. The company’s fabs in both Miho and Aizu-Wakamtsu (about 150 miles north of Tokyo) were damaged in the earthquake. At Miho, the building withstood the earthquake, though the manufacturing equipment inside was damaged as it got tossed around with all of the shaking.

By the end of March repairs at Miho were finished on the facility’s infrastructure systems that deliver water, gases, chemicals and air. Most significantly, the fabs cleanroom was recertified. At the time, 90 percent of the plant’s equipment had passed electrical tests.

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First Run Movies Headed Into The Home At Premium Prices

Prima Cinema Logo.jpgThe debate over motion picture release windows heated up again last week as two studios spoke openly about their plans for allowing limited home viewing of movies shortly after their theatrical opening. In addition, news came of a pricey new service looking to make films available in living rooms day-and-date with their theatrical launch.

On Tuesday, Sony’s CFO, Rob Wiesenthal, said that his company was not only looking to cable and satellite operators to provide early releases for the studio’s titles, but has high hopes for its new streaming video service, Qriocity. The service was established earlier this year to beam content directly into Sony’s consumer electronics products (televisions, video game consoles, Blu-Ray players, etc.).

Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, Wiesenthal spoke of the “big white space” between theatrical and home video release dates for movies, stating there was “a real consumer desire for a premium offer” for such content. He did not cite any studies or reports to back up the claim that consumers were clamoring for such services.

In fact, it often seems that the only people making such statements publicly are the studios themselves, rather than moviegoers. This is probably because a number of studios are exploring premium video on demand models that will enable them to release movies for home viewing during their theatrical window but with significantly hire prices; around $30 per viewing.

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Screen Digest’s David Hancock Discusses Europe’s D-Cinema Funding Shortfall

Europe's Digital Shortfall (Courtesy Screen Digest)

Europe's Digital Shortfall (Courtesy Screen Digest)

On June 21st, just in time for Cinema Expo, Screen Digest published a report titled “Digital Cinema Moves Into The Mainstream“. Twelve pages in length and with 10 tables and charts, the report uncovered a significant “digital shortfall” in the amount of financing required to convert all of Europe’s screens to digital. David Hancock, a senior analyst at Screen Digest, authored the report and we asked him to shed some light on its key findings. (The interview appears after the jump).

Details From The Report
Not counting Russia there are roughly 32,600 screens throughout Europe for which a digital rollout will cost EUR €2.1 billion (or USD $2.65 billion). Of those screens 23,800 are covered for digital conversion through virtual print fees offered by Hollywood studios. Upwards of 5,000 screens will be handled directly by theatre owners themselves. Theoretically that means there is funding of EUR €1.65 billion (or USD $2.1 billion) for d-cinema conversions, leaving a gap of EUR €450 million (or USD $568.4 million) to cover all Europe’s screens.

And who is being left out of the funding equation? Well, it’s mostly art houses, seasonal theatres, repertory venues and mobile cinemas.

The United Kingdom and The Netherlands have set up special funding groups to help solve this problem. Support funds have also been established in such countries as the Czech Republic, Finalnd, France, Germany, and Sweden. On region in Poland plans to pull money out of a tourism fund and Italy is giving tax credits to any theatre which converts. The European Union is offering assistance through its MEDIA Programme.

Driven mostly by 3D content, the number of European screens equipped for d-cinema at the end of the first quarter in 2010 had risen 16% over 2009 to 5,333, or a full 15% of the region’s screens. Presently 75% of all digital screens in Europe are 3D capabe. Thanks to competition among France’s largest exhibitors, the country leads the 3D screen count with more than 700. The U.K. and Germany are second and third hovering around the 500 screen mark.

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Sony Expands In Europe With National Amusements, AMC, And Dealer Partnerships

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

If Sony wanted to make a big splash at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam this past week then they did one heck of a job. On Tuesday, the second day of the conference, Sony announced two exhibitor agreements with National Amusements and AMC Entertainment’s United Kingdom based theatres for digital conversions. The company, known for its 4K digital cinema solution, also struck up partnerships with three European digital cinema dealers.

National Amusements
The biggest of these announcements had to be the news that National Amusements had chosen Sony as their integrator. The theatre chainis one of the largest in the world, operating 950 screens across venues in the U.K., United States and Latin America. National Amusements is the fifth largest theatre chain in North America.

Under their existing virtual print fee (VPF) agreements with Hollywood studios, Sony will install their 4K digital cinema projectors on all of National Amusements’ screens. They will start immediately with Showcase Cinemas, National Amusements’ U.K. theatre chain where Sony Digital Cinema 4K systems will be deployed on all 276 screens. In an effort to quickly ramp up the number of 3D screens at the circuits disposal, Sony will install the first 24 systems before the end of July.

There was no mention when installation of d-cinema equipment would begin in the U.S. or South America.  In fact the press release seemed purposefully non-committal, referring to the deal as an “expected global exhibitor agreement”. One could read into the use of the word “expected” or assume that Sony will be deploying equipment to the 450 screens National Amusements has in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. The theatre chain owns 16 theatres in South America which would probably be included in any worldwide rollout.

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Panavision Heads Into Theatres With Hybrid 3D System

Panavision Logo.jpg

When one thinks of Panavision, what immediately comes to mind is all of the motion picture camera systems they have manufactured since the mid-1950s, ubiquitous on the sets of countless hit movies and television shows. The thought of 3D, be it digital or on 35mm, is probably the last thing any industry professional would ever associate with Panavision. Well, that’s all about to change and I’ll explain why.

On Friday of last week, the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF) was kind enough to let me tag along on their annual pre-ShoWest industry tour through Los Angeles. When we arrived at Panavision I was a little baffled why a group of exhibitors and digital cinema manufacturers would want to visit a company better known for what happens on a movie set rather than a movie theatre. After a quick tour of their Woodland Hills, California facility, the group was ushered into a screening room and it became immediately obvious why were there.

We were greeted by John Galt, Panavision’s Senior Vice President of Advanced Digital Imaging, who gave us a very brief PowerPoint presentation on a project he’d been working on since the middle of 2008. Turns out while the media was busy hounding Panavision with stories about how labor strikes and production slowdowns had adversely affected the company, they have quietly been working on a 3D system for both film and digital projection. That would explain the reusable 3D glasses we were handed.

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Euroscoop and Apollo Cinemas Set To Go Digital

euroscoopIf there was any debate over whether digital cinema would ever roll out in the European market one would hardly know after the past two weeks. Sure there have been lots of discussion at the European Cinema Summit and Cinema Expo about which European countries would be eligible for virtual print fees, which would have to go it on their own and wether the European Commission would offer any subsidies, but at the same time several theatre chains have been announcing their plans to deploy the new digital technology.

After yesterday’s announcement that Hungary’s Palace Cinemas had selected XDC for the conversion of 170 screens, Euroscoop, a chain with theatres in Belgium and The Netherlands, has also signed an agreement with the European integrator. Finance by their VPF agreement, XDC will install DCI-compliant digital cinema equipment on Euroscoop’s 61 screens starting in September and finishing before the end of the year.

Euroscoop will be using XDC’s CineStore Solo server and central library server, the CineStore Plaza. Each of the circuits six theatres will get XDC’s theatre management system and will be fully networked. Euroscoop has elected to go with Barco projectors. Read More »

Daily Cinema Roundup-Monday 18 May

regal-entertainment1–Sony and Regal released a press release this morning, officially announcing that Regal will install the Sony 4K digital projections systems across its entire circuit. (See Celluloid Junkie’s Friday post below on this news).
According to the release, the installation of the systems is expected to take 3-5 years, but the financing is being handled through DCIP. So the question is, when will installations start?
There is still no word on DCIP securing the needed funding to begin its planned wide rollout. DCIP represents AMC, which also plans to deploy Sony technology; as well as Regal and Cinemark.
images1Sony also reported that approximately 1,500 of the Regal screens will be outfitted for 3D using Sony’s dual-lens adaptor technology.
Amy Miles, Regal Entertainment Group’s incoming chief executive officer, is quoted in the press release as saying: “The rollout of these Sony 4K systems gives Regal the opportunity to utilize the latest technology to provide our patrons the best available presentation. Sony’s state-of-the-art 4K systems produce the highest levels of resolution, contrast and overall image quality.”

–Another example of the growing interest and potential of alternative content, The Financial Times is reporting that a June 25 production of Racine’s Phèdre at London’s National Theatre is to be screened live in 170 cinemas worldwide. Dame Helen Mirren stars in the production, which according to the article is nearly sold out in the d-cinema venues. See the complete article, titled “British Theatre to be Seen Around World,” here

–An interesting feature on CNN Money/Fortune titled “Every Blog Becomes a Cinema” examines a new model of distribution, as well as advertising. SnagFilms aims to distribute documentaries—which have always been challenged to find a theatrical release—on the Internet. The article is here

smpte_logo1–Call for Papers: SMPTE is seeking proposals for technical papers and tutorials for the 2009 SMPTE Technical Conference & Exhibition, 27-29 October in Hollywood.
The organization is seeking papers on a range of topics including digital cinema exhibition, d-cinema production and post, advancements in film technologies, content security and stereoscopic 3D Imaging.
Interested parties are invited to submit a one-page abstract, no later than June 12. Further details on how to submit a proposal are here

image003Call for Entries: The Hollywood Post Alliance has issued a call for entries for the Engineering Excellence Award, part of the 4th Annual HPA Awards. The call for entries is now open and will run through July 1. Entrants will be given the opportunity to present their technology during the Engineering Judging Day.
The HPA Awards also accepts entries in categories for compositing, DI/color grading, editing, audio post, as well as for the new Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation in Post Production. For more, see the website here