The trade body of the United Kingdom’s cinema industry has appointed former government film deputy secretary Phil Clapp as its new chief executive. Clapp thus replaces John Wilkinson, who stood down earlier this year (or was stood down?) , as head of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA). Though Wilkinson remains head of the European Digital Cinema Forum, so the two will have to get on when it comes to UK-European digital cinema issues. What little information there is about the appointment comes from an article in the Hollywood Reporter, which tells us that Clapp, “joins from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS], where he most recently was deputy director, responsible for policy on the creative industries, including film.”
Given that digital cinema is the greatest challenge facing the UK exhibition industry, this is not encouraging as the DCMS’s interest in digital cinema has been measured to date, compared to the Department of trade and Industry, which for many years encouraged digital cinema meetings while a new DCMS representative would show up for each meeting. However, this is not a reflection on Clapp, who must have something going for him to have qualified for the post at CEA. The CEA itself has always been the poorer cousin of its US counterpart NATO, unlike whom it does not even have a website, only these contact details. Most interesting to watch will be the dynamics between Clapp/CEA and UK Film Council/Peter Buckingham, that were responsible for the 240 screen-strong Digital Screen Network (DSN) that has made the UK the poster child of government sponsored digital cinema deployments in Europe.