Cinema News Roundup – 29 May 2009 – Indian theme day

By | May 29, 2009 9:35 am PST

– 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.

Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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