Daily Cinema Roundup – Wednesday 6 May

By Patrick von Sychowski | May 6, 2009 9:05 am PDT

Irish cinema advertisisers want to point out that you can’t fast forward through a cinema ad, the way you can with your PVR/DVR at home. From Ireland’s Independent.ieThe FAME research also debunks the widely-held myth about cinema advertising being only relevant to youth brands by showing that over half of cinema audiences are the grocery shoppers for their household. The study, carried out by research firm Milward Brown IMS, comes after the most recent ticket sales figures charted an 8pc rise for February as recession-inspired escapism takes hold.” Interestingly the company behind it still calls itself CarltonScreen, despite its UK parent company changing name to Digital Screen Media some time ago;

AMC has spent $25m doing up its flagship multiplex in Kansas City, opening just in time to set the tills ringing to the growls of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. From Bizjournal.com, “The renovated theater has three auditoriums featuring Cinema Suites, an upscale in-theater dining and entertainment option; three traditional auditoriums; and The Marquee Bar & Grill.  All six auditoriums use digital technology,part of an initiative announced Oct. 1to roll out digital projection systems at nearly 20,000 movie theater screens in North America.” So it looks like all new AMC screens and all renovated ones will get priority in installing the SXRD 4K projectors from Sony. However, the Cinema Suites concept (see above) intrigues us more – Dorothy, let’s go to Kansas City:

– The transcript of the most recent Dolby Quarterly earning conference call is now posted, thanks to Seeking Alpha. Interesting digital nugget, “In our cinema market, we have shipped more than 2,500 Dolby Digital Cinema Servers and 1,000 Dolby 3D systems across 41 countries to date. And in the second quarter, we delivered on our obligation to make these systems compliant with DCI specifications. As a result, we recognized approximately $24 million in deferred revenue related to Digital Cinema in the second quarter.” No speculation that the Hollywood studios abandoning subsidizing disposable 3D glasses might drive exhibitors to Dolby – but it is highly likely;

Regal Cinemas is upgrading its multiplex in Charlottsville, and not surprisingly 3D is at the centre of the refurb. From DailyProgress.com we learn that, “The company said it intends to add five new screens, digital projection, stadium seating in every auditorium, new high-back recliner seats, a new lobby, a new entrance, new restrooms and more.” and, “The expansion will add several amenities, including digital surround sound, a new concession stand designed for faster service, a guest service desk in the lobby, kiosks for automated ticket purchasing and “Real D 3D” projection systems for better 3D movie experiences.” ‘Better’ than what? Damningly a reader comments, “It always amazed me how the people of Charlottesville are so willing to pay New York City ticket prices for what can only be described as a Hooterville movie theater experience. Sometimes it seems like we just got “talkies.““;

– The cinema might not open in time for its patrond to enjoy the Free Family Film Festival 2009 scheme. From the press release, “During this 9-week festival, more than 300 Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres offer selected G and PG rated movies for free on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am.” How will Regal make money?  That’s right – “there is a special “Kids Reel Meal” combo pack available.” at the concession stand. (Ah, but will it include healthy snack options?) The scheme has been running since 1991 and Regal also “sponsor the Boys & Girls Clubs of America “Mornings at the Movies” program.” I still have my ‘Snuck Into R-movie at 13’ badge from the scouts;

– But being hip to the way of the kids in the 21st century, Regal is also down with the whole social networking thing, we learn from a second press release. “Regal invites moviegoers to join them online to enter a special MyRegal Sweepstakes connected to their MySpace page. Regal will be further expanding programs on Facebook and Twitter throughout the month of May. ” There is an on-line sweepstake and Regal apparently has the world’s largest cinema loyalty program with 14m members. Now let’s see how many ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ they can get. Bet they won’t beat Ashton Kutcher just yet;

ShowCanada wrapped last week and though Co-Editor Sperling was there and reported that there wasn’t much to report, THR.com tells us that the Canadians are a head of their US cousins when it comes to digital 3D. “As talk of 3-D technology dominated the last day of the annual gathering of Canadian theater owners, Fithian said that 130 of the 222 existing digital screens in Canada already have 3-D capabilities. And while there are currently 2,030 3-D-capable screens stateside, Canada represents 10% of what is considered the domestic cinema market, which puts it in step with the 3-D rollout south of the border.” While Fithian understandably biggs up Canada in this space, he is not correct about US/Canada leading as UK will be ahead of both when it comes to proportion of 3D installs by the end of 2009, as Katzenberg noted at ShoWest. Sperling also got to watch the ‘Star Trek’ movie ahead of the rest of us, but we’re not jealous, no;

Indian classical music concert screened in digital in the Gulf is surely proof that alternative content is going global. From the Gulf Times, “Sreeram’s camera captured every expression of the artiste, the intense absorption of Jayashri in her rendition and the emotive expressions and body language of Krishna, including his intermittent appreciation for his fellow artistes. The 110-minute concert movie was produced by C Srikanth of Aghal Films in association with Real Image Media Technologies, India’s leading provider of technology in the film, video and audio domains.” The original event had been captured with the ubiquitous RED camera. Next up we hope they record an AR Rahman concert – Jai ho!;

– European film major StudioCanal is getting behind both digital 3D (content) and digital cinema (installations). From Variety we learn that “StudioCanal is also part of a digital 3-D work group set up by French distributors, exhibitors, third-party 3-D facilitators and the Centre National de la Cinematographie, the government org that regulates and promotes the film and TV industry. The group aims to establish a fund subsidizing the digital conversion of cinemas in France. The fund could be up and running by the end of the year, said a government spokesman. “StudioCanal’s ready to help pay for conversion,” Courson added. “We just need to establish the level of support from French film authorities.”” It makes sense that if SC is producing 3D movies they will also want to help create a theatrical 3D market for them – but this being France, they are more likely to want to push the French government to pay up the Euros for it;

– Staying in France and continuing the long tradition of Americans invading the Croisette in May, Christie will be providing the digital projectors for this year’s Cannes Film Festival again. From LSI  Online. “Christie reports that it has been appointed by XDC for the third year running as the supplier of digital cinema projection solutions at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, 13-24 May 2009. This includes the opening 3-D screening of Up, the new Pixar/Disney animated comedy adventure.” OK, so they are technically Canadians – though not from Quebec – but still a nice feather in their cap to screen the first digital 3D film in competition;

– Despite the good year at the box office, not all exhibitors are swimming in money, as proven by the Q1 results of US digital cinema pioneer Carmike. Despite revenue rising almost five percent Bizjournal tells us, “The Columbus Ga.-based cinema owner and operator (NASDAQ: CKEC) had a net loss of $4 million and a loss per share of 32 cents, compared with a net loss of $4.3 million and a loss of 34 cents a share in the first quarter of 2008.” However, “The results for the first quarter of 2009 included a one-time $5.5 million charge related to its former CEO separation agreement.” Read that again. A cool $5m+ is what it took to remove CEO Michael Patrick for having delivered a spectacular loss of $127m in 2007 (2008 wasn’t that great either). That will buy him a lot of tickets, popcorn and soda to console himself at having been removed from the cinema chain his father acquired in 1982 and was named after him and his brother Carl. Mike, who will continue to enjoy receive medical benefits and group life insurance coverage until Jan. 31, 2012, also helped to drag down the share price from $26 to less than the price of a cinema ticket – just $3. Reward for failure – why should banks and auto makers have a monopoly on it?

Patrick von Sychowski
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