Daily Cinema Digest – Fri/Sat 14-15 March 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | March 14, 2014 11:24 pm PDT
China 3D audience

While India is  interesting as a cinema market (see yesterday’s Daily) it is China that matters as far as Hollywood is concerned, with Mainland BO set to overtake the US in as little as four years.

So domestic Chinese cinema news is of international importance and with multiplexes approaching saturation in the major urban centres (Beijing, Shanghai, etc), some good news for the Tier II and Tier III cities that you’ve probably never heard of but still have populations of three to six million inhabitants. PRC central government has recognised the role the film and cinema industries have played in boosting the economy and are proposing tax breaks o for real estate companies to ensure further multiplex growth in shopping malls. From THR:

The rate of shopping mall construction in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other tier-one cities — already well served by shiny new theaters — is set to cool because of measures aimed at offsetting a possible real estate bubble. But analysts believe smaller cities remain full of potential.

The government also is examining ways to consolidate the Chinese exhibition sector and slash the number of theater chains — now about 40 — in half. Many are owned by local governments, but their theaters are antiquated and no longer competitive.

There also are plans to encourage the use of theaters for diverse content other than movies, such as major sporting events and 3D classical music concerts.

While not as good news for Hollywood as any further easing of the annual 34-film quota, this still means a bigger audience for Hollywood films.

Event Cinema

New season from Met won't be cheap
New season from Met won’t be cheap

USA: The new season of the Met Opera is about to start and tickets go on sale tomorrow (Sunday) in the UK for Cineworld’s Picturehouse cinemas and elsewhere.

Prices are: Live screenings £30, Encore screenings £20, with £7 off each price for members. Annual membership cost varies; in London it’s typically £40, and includes 3 free tickets for standard shows (not including Met Live and similar events).

Even with the members’ discount Picturehouse is not quite the cheapest deal in London (see here for alternatives), but it still (oddly) costs less than the grant-aided BFI and Barbican, which have not yet announced when they will open for booking.  LINK

That’s a pretty steep price (rise) and Londoners looking for cheap tickets would have to travel to the suburbs.

For the true ‘Live in HD’ experience, the cheapest London tickets I can find are the Barnet Odeon’s. OK, so it’s a 30 minute tube ride from the centre of town (close to High Barnet station), but with seats at £15.50-£18 the prices make the journey worthwhile. And there are still plenty of tickets available, for everything.  LINK


Cine Cube, an independent theater in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. / Korea Times file
Cine Cube, an independent theater in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. / Korea Times file

Korea (South): Independent cinema in Korea seem to have stabilized by tapping into niche audiences.

There was a time when independent theaters were almost driven to extinction by the slew of multiplexes owned by the country’s entertainment conglomerates.

However, these small theaters are now appearing to be regaining their relevance, finding a niche among the more serious moviegoers who are increasingly frustrated about the limited selection of mass market films shown at CGV and Lotte Cinema theaters.  LINK

India: Rentrak is set to launch its box office tracking service in India after several years of persuading all major cinema operators to come onboard.

“Our goal is to capture as much data in India as we do in other territories – we have 95% coverage in each one,” said Rentrak senior vice president Jim Zak, speaking on a FICCI Frames panel about business models for the film industry.

Speaking to Screen later on the sidelines of the conference, Zak said Rentrak is in talks with all the major Indian cinema circuits and digital cinema aggregators such as Qube and UFO Moviez.  LINK


Volunteer-run: The Ritz Cinema, Thirsk

UK: Community run cinemas can be a success in small towns. This one has been going for two decades.

A GROUP of volunteers who set out to relaunch a traditional cinema in a market town, despite a downturn in the industry, are celebrating 20 years of reversing the venue’s fortunes.

The Ritz Cinema, in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, now attracts more than 20,000 movie-goers a year, almost double the number of users than when it was relaunched in March 1995, following the closure of the Studio One picturehouse.

The volunteers group was formed after about 100 residents attended a public meeting, where it was decided to reopen the cinema, which was first launched in 1912.  LINK


USA (FL): The man accused of shooting a fellow cinemagoer to death over a texting argument is apparently not averse to texting in the cinema himself.

Records show that a retired police captain who allegedly shot a man in a cinema because he was texting had himself sent a message moments before the incident.

According to records released by prosecutors, Curtis Reeves texted his son, who was on his way to the cinema in Pasco, Florida, saying he was already inside.  LINK

USA (CO): The Aurora cinema shooter has suffered several legal setbacks.

A Colorado judge overseeing the mass murder case against a gunman charged with killing 12 people in a suburban Denver movie theater has rejected several defense challenges to the state’s death penalty laws and abruptly canceled hearings on the issue.

The series of written opinions issued on Friday by Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour represented a setback and rebuke to efforts by the defense to shield James Holmes from the possibility of execution, if he is convicted.  LINK

Jerusalem multiplex currently not open on Shabbos
Jerusalem multiplex currently not open on Shabbos

Israel: The question of whether the new multiplex in Jerusalem can be open on Shabbos (sabbath/Saturday) goes to the Supreme Court. Currently it is not open on Shabbos.

The opening of the new movie theater in Jerusalem has been a source of conflict between communities. The haredi community wanted it closed on Shabbos, some of the secular community wanted it to be open on Shabbos.. and in the end the mayor committed to keeping it closed. The new Cinema City recently opened, and sure enough it is closed on Shabbos.  LINK

Those who want it open appealed to the courts, claiming, among other things, that keeping it closed on Shabbos is religious coercion.


Las Vegas: Harkness Screens will hold its first ever Harkness Academy at this year’s CinemaCon 2014, looking at cinema-issues and offering its own solutions.

“We’ve had enormous success to date with our web seminar series. Since we started running these events back in 2012, their popularity has grown and they continue to receive praise and critical acclaim from our customers, industry partners and indeed the media. With the Academy we have the ability to share some of those technical themes and messages with a captive audience that are in town for the biggest cinema show on earth,” says Richard Mitchell, head of global marketing at Harkness Screens.

The Harkness Academy will consist of four standalone seminars on Tuesday, March 25, in the Siena Room (third floor Promenade Level) at Caesars Palace, with each seminar lasting for approximately 45 minutes. LINK

Digital Cinema Deathwatch

Folkestone Silver Screen Cinema is under threat of closure
Folkestone Silver Screen Cinema is under threat of closure

UK: The last and only cinema in one of UK’s leading port cities is threatened with closure.

More than 2,900 people have signed a petition to try to save Folkestone’s Silver Screen Cinema in Guildhall Street.

The cinema, in the town hall, is the only one in Folkestone and currently does not have the digital facilities to cope with newly released films.

But the cinema is also looking to renegotiate its lease with the town council, which owns the town hall building.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Ida Lupino - Hollywood star and now also a cinema
Ida Lupino – Hollywood star and now also a cinema

UK: One of Britain’s smallest fully functioning cinemas has opened in Canterbury.

THE University of Kent has opened a new 62-seat cinema named after the pioneering female film director Ida Lupino.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, The Lupino, which is based at the University’s Canterbury campus, was launched last Friday at an event celebrating some of the world’s most acclaimed female film directors, including Claire Denis, Agnes Varda, Kathryn Bigelow, and Jane Campion.  LINK

Etched-glass Amazon on a lobby mirror in the Boyd. The lobby and auditorium, top, will be gutted. Preservationists say they will appeal the decision. GEORGE WIDMAN / AP
Etched-glass Amazon on a lobby mirror in the Boyd. The lobby and auditorium, top, will be gutted. Preservationists say they will appeal the decision. GEORGE WIDMAN / AP

USA: One of Philadelphia’s most architecturally significant cinemas will be gutted, following a vote by the city council:

The Philadelphia Historical Commission on Friday granted Live Nation permission to gut the lavish interior of Center City’s landmark Boyd Theater, opening the way for the building’s sale to a Florida entertainment company and the construction of a high-end multiplex on Chestnut Street.

As the 9-1 vote was announced, chants of “Save the Boyd” rang out in the packed hearing room. About 50 theater supporters, who had listened stoically to four hours of detailed testimony on the physical state of the theater and the challenges of converting it to a nonprofit cultural venue, denounced the commission’s ruling, calling it a misreading of Philadelphia’s preservation law.  LINK

We previously wrote about the cinema here.

Canada: Saskatchewan’s Estevan is set to get a second cinema screen, with a 7.1 upgrade to the first.

After years of planning, and about nine months of construction, the second cinema for the Orpheum Theatre is now open.

The new cinema, or Cinema 2, opened on March 7; the first flick shown in the 168-seat venue was the George Clooney war movie The Monuments Men.  LINK


The Rex in Berkhamsted - UK's best cinema
The Rex in Berkhamsted – UK’s best cinema

A poll in the UK’s The Guardian has named The Rex in Berkhamsted has been voted best cinema in the UK.

Queues to the much-loved Three Close Lane picturehouse regularly stretch around the corner into the High Street when tickets go on sale. Popular films are known to sell out within hours.

Berkhamsted mayor Ian Reay said: “That just goes to show how successful and well-run it is.

“The Rex has really put Berkhamsted back on the map as far as arts entertainment is concerned.”

The cinema’s reputation for comfy, spaced out seats stretches far and wide.

There are also tables around which guests can enjoy a drink and nibbles during film screenings. Upstairs and downstairs bars are open while movies are being shown.

What’s even more encouraging is that Rex had been lying empty for 16 years and was only resucitated in 2004 by entrepreneur James Hannaway and Berkhamsted-based chartered surveyors Robert Martell & Partners.

Patrick von Sychowski
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