Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 31 March 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | March 31, 2014 4:05 am PDT
CinemaCon logo 2014

We’re back! With CinemaCon over, we resume normal service for the Daily. It was definitely an interesting show and in case anyone was wondering, yes, *we* saw 12 Years a Slave in the cinema.

Apologies for those who were expecting to meet me in Vegas. Sperling flew the flag for Celluloid Junkie in Vegas, attending the seminars, interviewed the movers and shakers of exhibition, trawled the trade-show floor, received your feedback and kind words about CJ and bet it all on red. Meanwhile I was 7,000 miles away attending Hong Kong Filmart (Asia’s biggest film market), which coincided with CinemaCon and so couldn’t be in Caesar’s. Next year the two events don’t clash, so we hope to bring you live Daily updates from the trade show then.

This Daily will not cover any of the news, announcements or press releases from CinemaCon. Instead we plan to bring you a digest of some of the key announcements separately, as well as longer stories based on discussions held there. But there is plenty of other things going on in the cinema world away from Las Vegas. So without further ado, let’s crack on.


FORBIDDEN FRUIT: Michael Kass on Thursday holds berries, which got him bounced from this Brooklyn theater.
FORBIDDEN FRUIT: Michael Kass on Thursday holds berries, which got him bounced from this Brooklyn theater.

USA (NY): Most cinema don’t like it if you bring in concession from the outside rather than buying them there. Fair enough. But denying a diabetic the right to bring in fruit and calling the police (!) smack of over-zealousness.

A Brooklyn movie house in health-food-centric Park Slope called the cops on a diabetic customer — just because he was munching strawberries that were sold outside the cinema.

“It was embarrassing. I didn’t expect it. Two police officers came and told me to leave with a full theater of people watching. I said ‘Is this for real?’ and they said, ‘Yes, you have to leave,’?” said Michael Kass, a 41-year-old financial analyst.  LINK

Kass has since written to NYC’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, “urging him to advocate for healthier snacks in New York City cinemas.” (Need we remind you of the severity of the sugar issue for exhibition?) The cinema has since apologised:

“I think the way the situation was handled was not correct and we apologize sincerely,” [Pavilion Theater] owner Ben Kafash told The News hours after he made amends with moviegoer Michael Kass.  LINK

Ticker Prices

Cinema ticket in Japan

Japan: Having already the highest ticket prices in the world (average ticket is ¥1,800 – USD $17.50), cinema going is set to become even more expensive in Japan with the rise in sales tax and cancellation of discount schemes.

The average cost of watching a film in Japan will increase this week in response to the first raise in consumption tax since 1997. The controversial tax was first introduced in 1989 at 3%. It rises from 5% to 8% tomorrow, 1 Apr 2014.

It will rise again to 10% in Oct 2015.

In late January, operators of major cinema chains announced that the prices of multiple types of discounted tickets — including senior discounts, monthly discount day and “ladies day” discount — would go up by 10% to ¥1,100 (US$10.70).  LINK

Japan is a paradox of a country in that attendance went UP by 0.5% in 2013, but box office revenue went DOWN by 0.5%. This is in opposite to most developed markets but is explained by the Japanese making better use of discounted tickets – many of which will now no longer be available.

Dubai cinema box office

UAE: Differences in ticket pricing seem to be causing confusion in Dubai. Quite why the same film but different show (3D vs 2D, VIP seat versus regular seat) causes confusion is not completely clear in this article.

Regular movie-goer Salma Fahmi, from Egypt, said she is unhappy about the discrepancy in prices. “When a new movie is released, it’s only shown at the more expensive 2D theatre such as Vox Max or in 3D.” Salma pointed out that all movies, whether new or old, should be shown in 2D with standard ticket prices along with the option of 3D or iMax. “With new movies, I feel like I’ve been cheated and forced to pay more every time.” While Salma feels that cinemas are taking advantage of customers when new movies are released, the VIP seating system is another issue, she added. “Separating the theatre into regular and VIP seating to make more money is pathetic.”

More interesting is this comment: “A senior official at the Department of Economic Development (DED) told Gulf News that the price for regular seating at any cinema should be Dh30, while a film shown in High Definition quality should cost Dh35.” So how much can they charge for 4K? Or is there a 5% premium on 2K over HD? (Sorry, couldn’t resist)  LINK


Spain: Voices are being raised in Spain to end the practice of dubbing foreign films and television shows. (Obviously just what the Spanish economy needs; 30,000 unemployed voice-over actors to swell the ranks of the jobless.)

A rather controversial Spanish MP, Tony Cantó, is a former actor who told Spain’s parliament recently that it’s time to get rid of dubbing.

“Do we want to hear Brando, Pacino or Meryl Streep in their own language?

Let’s put an end to dubbing, it will be good for the film industry in our country.”

Cantó continued that the dubbing is an unnecessary financial burden for Spain’s ailing film business adding that “more and more Spaniards want to watch films in their original language.”  LINK

There is a strange claim that MPAA under Jack Valenti was opposed to ending dubbing. “[Film director Carlos] Saura told the Spanish TV channel La Sexta that, “Jack Valenti (MPAA President) threatened to boycott Spanish exports like shoes if the dubbing ban went ahead.”” Huh?

Rumbling Seats

Earthquake Noah tweets

USA (CA): Forget Dolby 5.1 – Los Angeles film goers watching Noah were treated to a 5.1 earthquake. The Twitter-sphere went wild. Be glad it wasn’t 7.1 instead.  LINK


UK: Police were called in this weekend after a man started throwing tiles off the roof of the former Odeon cinema in Bradford:

Police have cordoned roads off by the former Odeon cinema in Bradford tonight after a man got on to the roof and started hurling tiles on to the street below.

Officers were called to the scene at about 9.30pm when the man was spotted on the roof.  LINK


USA: Trailers are the second most deciding source of influence, with film reviews first and social media a a narrow third, according to research by Nielsen.

The Nielsen company announced Monday that their annual American Moviegoing report revealed that 80 percent of moviegoers refer to movie reviews at least some of the time when deciding what to see. The survey found that 40 percent say they value social media recommendations.

About equally reliable to moviegoers are movie trailers, which 44 percent of those polled said they trust as a source of information on a film.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Lotte Asia's biggest multiplex

Korea (South): Asia’s biggest multiplex is about to rise, not in China, but in South Korea. It will have Dolby Atmos and Christie Quad 4K:

Leading Korean cinema circuit Lotte Cinema has embarked on its most ambitious project to date: the Lotte Cinema World Tower in Seoul, which will be the largest multiplex in Asia with 21 auditoriums and 4,600 seats. Located in the highest landmark in Korea, Lotte World Mall, the Lotte Cinema World Tower is scheduled to open by summer 2014.

Lotte Cinema World Tower is distinguished by its large-scale facilities and many specialized auditoriums based on the concept of “Art Movie City.” Each auditorium, housed on separate floors, will have its own unique concept and interior design.  LINK

Odeon Dublin cinema for sale

Ireland: It seems that Odeon is divesting itself of one of its properties in the Republic.

ONE of the best known cinemas in Dublin has gone on sale with a price tag in excess of euro 3.5 million.

The Odeon Stillorgan is being offered for sale as an investment through property consultants, Savills.

Stillorgan was home to Ireland’s first Ormonde Cinema, which opened in 1954.  LINK

New Empire cinema Mumbai

India: New Empire, one of the loveliest cinema in Mumbai has shut, a victim of high ticket taxes, a preference for multiplexes and heritage indifference.

The 1,000-seater theatre was made in the then-prevalent Art Deco style of architecture, and was one of Mumbai’s oldest single-screen cinema halls. Regal opened in 1933, Metro in 1938, Liberty in 1949, while New Empire originally opened in 1908 as a live theatre where you could even watch plays. It was renovated later in the Art Deco style in 1937.

Fritz von Drieberg of John Roberts and Company designed the theatre. “The original structure was made in the Baroque style by architect Arthur Payne with the interiors done by O’Connor and Gerard. It was the first theatre in Asia to have a cantilevered balcony. It opened with a grand performance by Batliwala and Company,” says Baghdadi.  LINK

Amusing in a sad way that one of the last (*the* last?) film to screen at New Empire, judging from the photo, was 300: Rise of An Empire.

India.com belatedly publishes the article Single Screens vs Multiplexes: Three reasons why single screens are better. Too late in this instance.

Cinema in Chad

Chad: Cinemas in sub-Saharan Africa have never had it easy (South Africa excepted), so the story of the re-birth of this cinema in Chad is particularly encouraging.

In 2010, Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival with his feature A Screaming Man. By achieving international recognition for his country of birth, Haroun woke up the Chadian government, who invested heavily into the rehabilitation of N’Djamena’s oldest cinema, Le Normandie.

Built in the 1950s by a Syrian-Lebanese family, Le Normandie was the only covered cinema in Chad. Closed in 1981, it reopened on 8 January 2011 with Haroun’s A Screaming Man. Run by another Chadian filmmaker, Issa Serge Coelho (Daresalam, N’Djamena City), Le Normandie now has a 12m screen, 440 seats and is equipped with Dolby Digital sound, and 35mm and HD projectors.   LINK

San Jose Century 21 dome cinema

USA (CA): It is the end of the reel for one of California’s most visually remarkable cinemas.

San Jose’s iconic Century Domes on Winchester Blvd. are showing their last movies.

Century 21 was built in 1964 with Century 22 and 23 following soon after.

They were the first of the Century Theater domes that were built in several major cities in the western U.S. They’re also the last ones still showing movies.  LINK


UK: The citizens Grimsby have reasons to cheer; a major multiplex is soon coming to town (no word on operator yet):

AN eight to ten-screen multiplex cinema and five restaurants are set to move into Grimsby town centre, in a £12-million development.

Construction is expected to begin within 12 months and take about a year to complete.  LINK

Oldham Odeon

UK: The Grade II listed Town Hall in Manchester Oldham is set to be transformed into a swanky Odeon cinema:

The council has been in discussion with Europe’s largest cinema chain for months. The deal will see a new seven-screen 805 cinema built into the Grade II listed building.

It is hoped the development will bring the Victorian building which has been derelict for years back to its former glory – retaining the columned facade and other heritage elements like the Egyptian Room and court rooms.

The building will also house six new restaurants, a branded cafe franchise, and a glazed ‘light box’ extension opening up on a new public square.  LINK

UK: Councillors in Bishop Auckland (a northern UK town, not a clergyman) seem opposed to an out-of-town shopping centre and cinema, more for what the shops will do to the city centre than the cinema:

PLANS for a cinema complex on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland are being recommended for refusal due to fears it would further damage the town centre.

Durham County Council’s planning committee will determine the outline application for a six-screen cinema with shops, restaurants and other leisure facilities on a former tip and brickyard at their meeting next week.  LINK

Over a thousand people have signed a petition welcoming the cinema in the face of the local politicians’ opposition.

Artist impression of Futurist cinema in Liverpool

UK: People in Liverpool are fighting to save a historic local cinema, which appears to have been given the thumbs-down by the mayor.

Campaigners fighting to save a derelict cinema have called for an urgent meeting with the Mayor of Liverpool  – after he claimed the building would be too expensive to save.

Mayor Joe Anderson told the ECHO earlier this week that the historic Futurist cinema on Lime Street would not be part of a regeneration masterplan for the area.  LINK

New Zealand: One of the things that impressed me flying back from Hong Kong was that the airport had an Imax cinema. It seems that Christ Church airport will soon get one too. Just don’t expect to see The Hobbit in it.

Christchurch Airport’s new terminal, officially open a year, is set to expand with both extra shops and a new cinema.

A smaller cinema for 50 patrons will be part of a wider retail offering planned to open early next year.

Initially the cinema would show a shorter tourism-based film of about 15 minutes to provide airport users a view of the highlights of the South Island, said airport chief commercial officer Blair Forgie.  LINK

India: South Chennai (old Madras) in India looks set to get an Imax screen. Given price regulations in the state of Tamil-Nadu, it will probably be the world’s cheapest Imax, if given the go-ahead.

SPI Cinemas has received government clearance to launch its multiplex, Luxe, at Phoenix Mall in Velachery, where it has 11 screens.

Though the cinema has received clearance at this moment only for regular screens, SPI Cinemas is also hoping to get clearance to convert one of the screens into IMAX format. The group is currently hiring staff for the multiplex and the launch date is expected to be announced shortly.  LINK

India: Meanwhile fellow Indian multiplex operator PVR is continuing its expansion drive.

PVR Ltd has opened another Multiplex at “Surya Treasure Island Mall”, Surya Vihar, Nehru Nagar, Bhilai, in the State of Chhattisgarh.

The Four Screens Multiplex comprises of 798 seats. The multiplex has become operational from March 28, 2014.

With the opening of this multiplex, the total screens count has gone upto 421 screens at 97 locations across 41 cities in 14 states and 1 Union Territory.  LINK

Dundee Wellgate Light Cinema

UK: The operator of the new cinema in Dundee Wellgate promises to blow new life into the city centre.

Light Cinemas has been announced as the operator of the new 65,000 square-foot leisure complex at the Wellgate Centre, revealed in The Courier last July.

The company has agreed a new long-term lease on the 900-seat, eight-screen cinema which will sit alongside a range of family restaurants, cafes and leisure outlets.

Light Cinemas is an independent digital cinema operator that aims to offer a new approach to going to the movies.  LINK

The Station community cinema in Richmond

UK: A small community cinema in the northern UK council of Richmondshire face a threat from a newly approved multiplex. It does loke cute.

TRUSTEES of a charity-run cinema have rejected a developer’s offer of compensation in an ongoing row over the creation of a new multiplex cinema.

The Station Cinema, Richmond, has been offered £75,000 by CatterickGarrison town centre developers Lingfield, to have been paid if an amended planning bid is accepted by Richmondshire District Council next week.

Permission for a five screen cinema at the town centre development was granted by Richmondshire District Council last May.  LINK

Manly cinema

Australia: No, not a cinema for macho men watching action films, but a local theatre in in the town of Manly, Australia.

Manly Cinemas is looking for new, bigger premises, six months after its doors closed.

The business stopped trading last September.

On the Save Manly Cinemas Facebook page, set up by loyal fans, owner Graeme Edwards wrote that he was searching for bigger premises elsewhere in Manly.  LINK


Studio 28 demolition
Studio 28 is soon no more

We knew that it was coming, but the end is still sad. Wrecking machines moved in to demolish the exterior of Wisconsin’s Studio 28 on 25 March, the same day that CinemaCon 2014 formally opened. What had once been the world’s largest multiplex, and still holds the single-day attendance record of any cinema, was about to be no more. Some employees even came and took a brick from the rubble as a keepsake. R.I.P. LINK

Patrick von Sychowski
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