IMAX future lies in Asia (read: PRC)… turning to Twitter to save a local cinema as new UK cinema openings abound… a possible case of self-censorship in South Korea… and porn in UK cinemas – on and off-screen.
Asia-Pac/China: There can be no doubting that Imax’s future lies in Asia and particularly in China. With the explosive growth of multiplexes, the large format operator is tapping into a burgeoning middle class across the region, as revealed by the company’s regional head in this THR article. “Imax will extend its reach in China by expanding its business into the country’s so-called “fourth and fifth tier cities,” Imax Asia Pacific managing director Don Savant told The Hollywood Reporter. China’s Wanda Group Commits to Building 120 Imax Screens by 2021. In China, excluding Hong Kong, Imax already has over 300 theaters contracted. Among those, 137 are now open.” Imax also has many deals in Malaysia, The Philippines, South Korea and other regional territories, but PRC is bigger than the rest of these combined. This is why Imax is also targeting four to six Mandarin films for Imax conversion this year. In addition the interview reveals that “Imax also has partnered with China’s TCL Multimedia to develop luxury home cinemas. “We believe there is a substantial market for in-home entertainment for a very high-end product,” said Savant. “So we’re working to develop that product exclusively with TCL. We hope to have a product to market by the end of 2015 and it’s something we’ve just established and we’re very optimistic about.” Link.
UK: While the US tends to dominate Kickstarter fundraising to digitise local cinemas, this example in the UK demonstrates a holistic approach involving Twitter, Facebook and website to save a local cinema. “The newly-formed Paignton Picture House Trust, working to reopen the internationally-important cinema, has launched an online form for people to register their interest and support in the project. The trust is negotiating to buy the historic building from the Dartmouth and Paignton Steam Railway and River Boat Company to restore it as a community project. The historic building in Torbay Road, which closed its doors to the public in 1999, is one of the most important cinemas in the country, according to experts at English Heritage.” Link or follow them on Twitter.
USA: More details are emerging about the Florida incident in which a retired policeman shot an un-armed cinema goer. “The retired police captain charged with fatally shooting a man in a Florida movie theater in a dispute over texting exclaimed afterward, “I can’t believe what I’ve done,” a witness testified at a bail hearing Wednesday. Curtis Reeves, 71, repeated the statement after victim Chad Oulson, 43, started making “gurgling sounds” that signaled he was in bad shape, said Alan Hamilton, a Sumter County cop who was off-duty during the Jan. 13 screening of “Lone Survivor” in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Hamilton said he also saw Reeves blow up at his wife when she criticized him for going for his gun. “She postured and said, ‘That was no cause to shoot anyone,’ and he leaned back around and stuck his finger out as to scold her and said, ‘You shut your [expletive] mouth and don’t say another word,” Hamilton testified.” Link.
USA: Playing non-arthouse foreign films to the diaspora from India and other Asian territories is becoming an increasingly important niche to several multiplex cinema operators, including this Regal cinema in Las Vegas. “It’s a typical Friday night at the Regal Cinemas Village Square. A crowd is filling up one of the larger auditoriums, with audience members ranging from senior citizens to a baby in a carrier. But this isn’t a mainstream Hollywood release, or even one of the independent films for which Village Square is known among cinephiles. It’s Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy (starring Filipino comedy superstar Vice Ganda), one of dozens of movies that play throughout the year at Village Square targeting specific cultural communities.” It also plays Bollywood films, which Regal now screens regularly in 39 sites across US. Link.
USA: “The last-ever film was shown last weekend at Amherst Cinema, which shut its doors yesterday. But don’t worry — the downtown theater will reopen tomorrow after the installation of a new digital projector, said owner Mark Costilow. His old 35mm projector is being dismantled and replaced, ending a long era of film. “I’ve waited almost as long as I can until I’m forced by the distributors,” Costilow said.” Interestingly the cinema owner claims price for the equipment has dropped to $44,000 from $80,000 a year ago. Are manufacturers getting desperate? Link.
USA: “Regal Cinema’s movie theater monopoly in Charlottesville has ended, and the new kid on the block is planning to serve up something sure to have local cinephiles salivating: a Downtown theater that offers upscale food and cocktails along with indie film fare. William S. Banowsky, Jr., owner of Violet Crown Cinema in Austin, is partnering with Downtown Regal building owner Dorothy Batten to open the next in what Banowsky hopes will be a successful chain of arthouse-cum-bar-and-restaurant theaters across the country (another is in the works in Santa Fe).” Link.
USA: “Even as studios phase out 35-mm reels in favour of digital alternatives, Clova Cinema is still screening movies the old-fashioned way. The theatre’s operator, Craig Burghardt, said he wants to take the rather expensive leap into digital cinema but remains in a deadlock with the building’s owner over the future of the Clova. “For about seven years now we’ve been trying to get a long-term lease,” Burghardt told The Cloverdale Reporter, adding he expects to find out in February whether or not he can stick around.” Link.
USA: “With much fanfare and celebration, Texas Cinema broke ground on construction of an $18 million, 75,000-square-foot entertainment facility in Kyle, which will feature a movie theater, bowling alley and restaurant. The massive project would be the first of its kind, and city leaders said at the groundbreaking ceremony last week that Kyle is awaiting the entertainment venue with open arms.” Link.
UK: “[T]he cinema at the historic Miners Welfare Hall and Institute building in Resolven, Neath, has not shown any films since the late 1980s. The cinema, which was also used as a theatre, is part of the iconic Miners Welfare Hall building which has been part of the Neath Valley village since the 1920s. Now there are calls for the ghostly “cinema that time forgot” to be brought back into public use.” Link.
UK: “A £10million cinema and restaurant entertainment supercentre for Harrogate is set to replace Beales department store on Albert Street. A total of 250 town jobs would be created at the four-screen Curzon cinema and at least three restaurants proposed by Harrogate-based 4Urban Consulting Ltd.” Link1 and Link2.
UK: “A Porthmadog businessman is battling to raise £300,000 to buy the town’s Coliseum and reopen it as a cinema and a centre for youngsters. In November, the directors of Porthmadog Coliseum unanimously rejected plans from the Save the Coliseum group to reopen the building as a cinema, and instead decided to put the building up for sale.” Link.
UK: “The operator of the nine-screen cinema to be built on The Moor was revealed this week. A growing chain called The Light is promising a mix of mainstream films, broadcasts of live arts and sports programmes and a strong range of food and drink for the complex earmarked for the site being cleared below Debenhams department store. Altogether, there will be 1,600 seats. The biggest theatre will have 350, the smallest 80.” Link.
UK: “Film fans will be able to enter the world of Hollywood when the £7 million cinema complex in St Neots opens its doors this summer. Turnstone Estates and Britannia Construction have announced that the building phase of the Rowley Arts Centre project has now been completed. Fitting out will take place ready for the 886-seat cinema’s target opening date of May 16.” Link.
UK: “A huge out-of-town shopping outlet on the M5 could have serious consequences for nearby retail centres, it has been warned. An Imax cinema, concert hall and designer outlet village are among the proposals for a multi-million pound investment project to transform land beside junction 27 of the M5 which serves Tiverton.” Link.
UK: “Independent cinema owners Shortwave have moved to the front of the queue to run a new boutique picture house planned for [London’s] Kentish Town. As the New Journal revealed last year, the former North London Polytechnic building in Prince of Wales Road is set to be turned into a cinema with homes built on the roof to pay for the scheme.” Link.
South Korea: Did Samsung pressure one of the largest South Korean multiplex operators to cur back on screenings of a film critical of the chaebol? Or were shared ownership links behind this? “Bigbox theatre Megabox is involved in a dispute over its decision to drastically reduce the number of first-run theaters for ‘Another Family’, a film that was released on Feb 6. The film is about the death of a Samsung semiconductor factory worker. Its distributor, All, said on Jan 4, “Megabox has reduced the number of screens from 15 to 3 just two days before the release. There is enough demand among viewers for the film, so this is nonsense.” On Feb. 5, after a Korean language Hankyoreh report, Megabox increased the number of screens to 22.” This is not the first time that Megabox has found itself in such controversy. Last year the multiplex major pulled showings of the film ‘Project Cheonan Ship’ without giving any clear reason for doing so. Link.
Sex & Porn
UK: Blue movies may be a rarity on the big screen these days (unless you count Cannes-winner ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’) but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t XXX action in the auditorium. That is what the owners of one of UK’s oldest cinemas discovered, much to their embarrassment. “Chiefs at the Phoenix Cinema are said to be reviewing their guidelines after a five-minute x-rated clip was shot during a private screening at the venue… Barrister James Kessler, deputy chair of the Phoenix Cinema Trust, claims he does not believe the porn film was a pro shoot but rather a hen party which turned raunchy. He said: “I was sorry to discover that a hen night party which took place at the Phoenix some years ago was not conducted with decorum and am embarrassed that a video of the occasion was put online.” Quite the stiff upper lip response. Local celebrity patron Maureen Lippman’s response to the news was more tongue in cheek, ““I hope the Phoenix was looking majestic. I’d like to know which seat this went on in, because I don’t want to sit there.” Incidentally, the cinema had featured in an officially sanctioned film shoot for the 1991 film The End of the Affair. Link.
UK: And if that wasn’t enough to shock you, news reaches us of another sex-related cinema in the UK. This one though is looking distinctly less glamorous. “A sex cinema described as “like something from Amsterdam’s red light district” where couples allegedly take part in orgies is believed to be still operating – months after it gave up its licence. During an undercover visit to Fantasy Video, City Road Street, Finsbury, almost a year ago, a council official reported seeing men pleasuring each other and he was touched on the thigh.” Judging by the photo you would be hard pressed to categorize it as a ‘cinema’ as much as a video parlour. Link.
UK: Lest you are fed up with all the cinema-related smut in today’s edition, let us end with a bit of sexy glamour. Cinemas make very, well, cinematic backdrops, as appreciated by the photographer for this fashion shoot. “Former Truro College student Alison Ballard was joined by local models Suzy Monty, Savanna Skye-Coester and Polly Georgina Jopling at the shoot at Truro’s Plaza Cinema. Ms Monty said: “Alison was very appreciative that the cinema gave us permission to hold the photo shoot. “Myself and other models are always on the lookout for indoor locations at this rather cold and wet time of the year. In the warmer months we have the whole of beautiful Cornwall to choose from but in winter, we need to source interesting locations that are warm and dry.” Much more wholesome use of cinema, wouldn’t you agree? Link.