Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 1 April 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | April 1, 2014 3:59 am PDT
Muppets most wanted

Celluloid Junkie can exclusively reveal that Christie Digital is planning to counter Barco’s tri-screen ‘Escape’ system, launched at CinemaCon, by resurrecting the ‘Polyvision‘ triptych format invented in the 1920s that predates Cinerama.

Though not formally announced yet, we understand that Christie’s Polyvision 2.0 will be used at NAB next week to show a digitally restored version of Abel Gance’s silent masterpiece Napoleon, which first used the format in 1927 for the film’s final battle sequence (see video above).

Speaking off the record, my source at Christie tells me that:

This will be the ultimate immersive experience that will even leave Occulus in the dust. We’ve had tremendous interest already and fully expect Christie-Polyvision to overtake IMAX installations by this summer, when Napoleon will be re-released on a wide scale. We see the film as having the combined appeal of The Artist, Avatar and The Hobbit – not least given its five-and-a half-hour running time and unique digital 0.0 sound mix.

Combined with the digital Polyvision 2.0 launch, Christie is expected to name the Honorary Academy Award recipient, film historian and archivist Kevin Brownlow as the company’s in-house ‘Retrologist’. My source tell me that Brownlow will dig through film archives and museums to uncover more cinema technologies of the past for the future.

We understand that the development came after a protracted internal battle in Christie between those who favoured the digital triptych solution and others who favoured an Imax-size quad-screen solution, which would have been used to show Mike Figgis’ film Timecode (2000) all-year round. Mark this historic date in your calendar!

Digital Cinema

Malaysia: No joke this one; a judge in Malaysia has given the go ahead for Malaysian cinema operators to challenge the ban from local film body to charge local film producers virtual print fees (VPFs). This has been going on since 2 October last year and creates a problematic precedent given Hollywood studios’ most favoured nation (MFN) clauses in most VPF agreements.

The High Court(Appellate and Special Powers) granted leave to the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors(Mafe) to proceed with judicial review against the National Film Development Corporation(Finas) over Finas’ decision to prohibit Mafe from imposing virtual print fee(VPF) on local film producers.

Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof made the ruling while in chambers today. She made no order to cost and fixed April 15 for case management.  LINK


UK – Tomorrow (2 April) is World Autism Day and Vue Worcester and Bolton are two of (hopefully) many cinema that will celebrate it by hosting a special autism-friendly screening of Muppets Most Wanted with dim lights, low sound and no adverts.

Robert Wilkins, general manager at Vue Worcester, said: “At Vue Worcester we are dedicated to providing all our customers with the best cinematic experience possible.

“We are therefore delighted to be bringing The Muppets Most Wanted autism friendly screening to our customers to mark World Autism Awareness Day and aim to provide cinema goers with an enjoyable experience specifically tailored to their needs.”  LINK1 and LINK2



UK: The head of UK’s largest cinema advertiser DCM talks about how ads can and should be as good as the films they precede, giving lots of examples of innovative campaigns.

For it to work, the content has to be of the highest quality and there is nowhere more exposed than the big screen where work is played to the same technical excellence as movies that cost $1.3 million a minute to make.

A great example of a brand setting new standards in content marketing is Bombay Sapphire, which recently held an ‘Imagination Series’ competition in partnership with Oscar-winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher. Entrants were encouraged to imagine their own film based on a short script stripped of any stage direction, five of which were then chosen and produced with the winners also being screened at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.  LINK

UK: DCM has also launched an automated advertising system in 150 cinema locations (subscription required for full article). Not sure if this is news.

Digital Cinema Media said it has launched new advertising software called DCM Cinematic across the 150 movie theatres it services across the nation.  LINK


India: PVR may be getting more attention, but Inox is also forging ahead with new multiplexes in India.

INOX Leisure Limited has informed the Exchange that the Commercial Operation of the Company”s new Multiplex Cinema Theatre situated at First Floor, Central Cinemas, Laxmindra Nagar, Udupi Main Road, Manipal – 576104, Karnataka, having 3 Screens and 489 seats commenced from March 31, 2014.INOX is now present in 43 cities with 79 multiplexes, 310 and 83,810 seats.  LINK

Large Format

NEw York philharmonics

USA: Who on earth decided to schedule the  Giant Screen Cinema Association’s Film Expo (March 24-25) the same week as CinemaCon (March 24-27)?? For those of you who didn’t make it to the latter event in Austin, TX, there is an excellent report on it (and SXSW) by David Keene. Well worth reading for more than just Large Format news and updates as it touches of HFR and event cinema.

IMAX film is the holy grail of cinema if you love the highest resolution, most lush, most detailed images in all their big-screen glory. It’s not all film (celluloid) today, but it’s the last bastion of celluloid. And if you love “1570” (15-perf/70mm film-based format), enjoy it while you can. Last October IMAX announced that it accelerating the transition to digital in its theaters. There are now only about 170 film-based theaters in the Imax network worldwide. About 20 of those are commercial movie theaters that concentrate on showing mainstream Hollywood movies. That leaves about 150 IMAX theaters that are associated with institutions, mainly museums.

Imax typically spends between $30,000 to $50,000 per movie per theater when it distributes film prints, a math that is self-dooming in today’s world. Also last October IMAX reported total global box-office of $132.5 million in the third quarter, down 23 percent from the same period in 2012. But the movie Gravity, which was not provided to IMAX theaters on 1570, but only on DCP. generated almost $1 million at Lincoln Square in New York City and another $1 million between the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and the Metreon in San Francisco– all theaters that had just been converted from 1570 to digital. Interestingly, IMAX generated more than 22% of Gravity’s domestic box-office gross despite accounting for fewer than 4% of the screens showing the film.  LINK


New Zealand: A letter to the editor of the Otago Daily Times.

I took a group of children to see Mr Peabody and Sherman at the Rialto Cinema on Saturday afternoon. The foyer was busy with parents and children of all ages, sitting in the foyer, waiting to go into the theatre.

Meanwhile, several large TV screens around the foyer showed trailers for upcoming movies. During the 15 minutes that we waited I saw blood-splattered killings, a field strewn with corpses, a naked couple rolling about, the ‘F word’ subtitled several times in foreign language films and generally unsuitable images for children to be exposed to.  LINK

The cinema responded that, “we make sure no restricted trailers are included on the loop which we update every quarter.”

Event Cinema

Secret Cinema Grand Budapest hotel

UK: Screen Daily looks at the success of Secret Cinemas’ The Grand Budapest Hotel pre-release and screenings and what’s in store for the future.

Speaking about its decision to work with the event cinema outfit, Kate Gardiner, head of Fox Searchlight UK, says: “Secret Cinema’s pre-release screenings generated buzz and positive word-of-mouth for the film prior to the nationwide release. As Secret Cinema typically work with classic/cult films, the partnership positioned The Grand Budapest Hotel as a very special film in advance of its nationwide release.”

Described by Gardiner as a “very unique billboard” for the film, the location transformed by Secret Cinema into the film’s eponymous hotel was one Riggall was familiar with, having been used in Secret Cinema’s run of The Third Man. So what came first, the location or the film?  LINK

Vatican: The beatification ceremony of John Paul II will be captured in 3D and 4K Ultra-HD and transmitted to television and cinemas across the world.

The 3D production will be produced by Sky Italia and U.K. facility company Telegenic. Six stereo pairs of HD cameras and three additional HDCam cameras converted on the fly will be deployed.

Sky Italia, Sky Deutchland and BSkyB will broadcast the event — the first time a Papal event has been transmitted live in stereo 3D. A number of cinemas in Europe will also take the live 3D feed in conjunction with Italian live to cinema company Nexo Digital, with some North American cinemas taking a delayed 3D recorded feed.  LINK


India: After yesterday’s controversy in Spain on dubbing films, the practice finds some outspoken opponents in south Indian states:

The pride of this country in variety of roles Prakash Raj came very clear on remake and dubbing at the ‘Oggarane’ Kannada film audio launch at Gold Finch Hotel in Bangalore on Saturday night.

I do not accept dubbing culture. It is a hindrance to cultural mood of any state. We have different culture in different parts of country. When there are enough of original films and remake films there is no need for dubbing opines Prakash Raj strongly. This has been a big support to the majority of people in Kannada cinema and television industry.  LINK

Rumble Seats/7D

7D cinema in Kenya

Kenya: It seems that 3D is just 4D’s-too-few for this, billed as ‘The Top Rated Cinema in East Africa’:

The seats at the theater are 6 Degree of Freedom or DOF, which allows up and down, front and back, left and right movement in sync with the onscreen activity. The experience also includes a wide variety of environmental effects including, smoke, fog, thunder, storm, wind, rain, snow and more, depending upon the film’s story line.  LINK


Marcus Theatre Grand

USA (NE): Councilors in Lincoln are set to repeal a 1949 city ordinance that restricts alcohol sales in places that allow minors after 9pm, opening the door for Marcus cinemas to open a cinema bar.

The council’s Internal Liquor Committee has no objections to the repeal, said Council Chairman Carl Eskridge after the meeting. The committee is looking at other options, but Eskridge said he didn’t know if they would come up with a replacement ordinance.

The city could limit the rule to bars only, or make the curfew later.  LINK


New Zealand: Drive-in cinema is coming to Peter Jackson’s home town. Amazingly it will NOT be showing Grease. (Also, isn’t summer in New Zealand winter weather?)

Firefly Cinemas launched Wellington’s first drive-in cinema this summer. To see the end of their season off with a bang, they are showing Back To The Future One & Two back-to back on April the 13th, at Trentham Racecourse.

To celebrate the end of their 16-movie season, they have arranged for two DeLorean DMC-12’s to come along for the big night. Not only will customers be parking around these vehicles made famous by Back To The Future, but they are auctioning off the only car park right in between the two DeLorean’s.  LINK


UK: The Brixton Ritzy has banned the April edition of the local paper, for carrying front-page news about the labour dispute in the cinema.

The film theatre’s manager, Rob Belfield, removed all copies of the newspaper from the foyer on Friday, because of a front page article about the campaign for a ‘living wage’ for staff at the Picturehouse Cinemas-owned theatre.

A ballot of BECTU union members over strike action closes today (Monday). It was triggered when bosses at Picturehouse Cinemas refused a pay increase for all staff in line with the London Living Wage (LLW), currently £8.80 per hour.

Belfield told the Blog that he and his head office felt it was unsuitable to have copies of the newspaper on display while there was an ongoing industrial dispute with his employees.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Compact cinema

USA (VA): One of the world’s smallest cinemas (20 seats) now also holds a record for one of the fastest closures.

Compact Cinema, a small independent theater in 16 West Marketplace, closed on Saturday after less than a month of business. Owner Ben Bristoll said there were not enough customers to sustain his business model for the theater, which mostly showed hard-to-find documentaries at a reduced rate.

He said he is still leasing the space for several more weeks and may have a sporadic movie showings, but it will not have the weekly scheduled shows.  LINK

Hats off though to Ben Bristoll for trying. There are plenty of empty shopfronts in the US that could do worse than to have a micro cinema.


 UK: Vue and Savoy Cinemas have both set their sights on Corby, with the latter due to face the local council today.

One of two rival cinema schemes in Corby will be in the spotlight next month when the company behind the project seeks planning permission from the borough council.

The proposals from Helical bar, owners of Corby town centre, include an eight-screen cinema, five restaurants, a store, gym, two new lifts connecting Market Walk to the ground level, a car repairs and MOT centre and a 515-space car park.  LINK

Crouch End cinema

UK: North London gets its own trendy cinema in Crouch End.

Everyone has been raving about the Olympic Studios in Barnes, now it’s our turn in North London.

I finally had time yesterday to make a trek to the new Arthouse Crouch End, just a few minutes walk from my doorstep in the former Music Palace (aka Salvation Army Hall) building. After a few delays, it opened on March 21; the wait was worth it for this area’s only cinema. It’s a gorgeous space, with a cool cafe at the entrance with a well stocked bar, and gourmet provisions like smoked salmon bagels, Portuguese custard tarts, polenta cakes, and sausage rolls. (If that sounds too fancy, popcorn prices started, miraculously, at just £1.25. That’s what I call neighborhood friendly.)  LINK

Prabhat cinema

India: After yesterday’s news of the closure of Mumbai’s gorgeous New Empire picture palace, the Indian press is going all sentimental about single-screen cinemas.

Multiplexes rule the present, but the old-world charm of single-screen theatres is here to stay. Anjali Shetty and Ishani Bose speak to theatre owners on what gets them going, and the mantra of surviving the rat race…  LINK

Somebody better put together a coffee table book of photographs of them before they are all gone.

April 1st News

UK: A ‘grotty’ former ABC cinema is said to have cost Tunbridge Wells its Royal prefix. We expect the crisis to be resolved by April 2nd.

Although the process could take up to 18 months, the Courier understands there has already been a meeting between Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Buckingham Palace aides.

The move is likely to cause outrage in Royal Tunbridge Wells which is proud of its royal title, given in 1909 by King Edward VII.

It is understood on the visit of Prince Charles to Yalding last month members of his staff along with local dignitaries were driven past the derelict cinema on Mount Pleasant and Church Road.  LINK

UK: File this story about the Brixton Ritxy cinema to be converted to a Little Waitrose supermarket under What Day Is It?

Waitrose spokesperson, Joe King, said: “Brixton is a buzzing, vibrant part of south London that is a venerable melting pot of culture, and it is fast becoming a real foodie haven.

“Not long ago this site was home to a dusty old cinema, with nothing but movies and bar snacks for all the community, but it will now be utterly transformed. It’ll be an attractive, high quality development that sets a high standard for other developers. We hope it will attract the kind of wealthy people who can afford to live in Brixton now.”  LINK

Pip the Dog

UK: Trained mobile phone dog sniffer to be deployed in Leiston cinema. (If only).

Pip, who played Toto in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Pantomime’, has decided to put her nose to the floor to help prevent the use of mobile phones and other electrical gadgets during films as a fully trained ‘sniffer dog’.

Having recently taken off her acting hat, Pip decided that crime prevention was the way forward and enrolled in an intensive mobile phone training course especially for theatres and cinemas.

Pip now has her best nose forward to detect people using their mobile phones or other electrical gadgets such as iPads to ensure cinema-goers enjoy a show without being disturbed by the sound of mobile phones.  LINK


Soviet Panoramam Cinema

OK, so Escape/Cinerama/Polyvision are not exactly new concepts. But did you know that there is still a cinema in Russia that shows completely immersive films?

A vintage Soviet panoramic cinema is found to be still working in Moscow. Here comes a  story of the place as it been told by Irina M. currently working on spot. The facility that being built in 1959 included twenty two cinema projectors and twenty two screens running simultaneously. Nine speakers were installed in the floor to create a surround sound. Back in 1959. The movies have been created with a special rig of synchronously working cameras placed in circle. I personally recall the nowadays google maps camera rigs which are placed on cars. As Irina says, the setup could be placed on top of the car, boat or even moving train and could be controlled remotely.  LINK

The article has some amazing pictures of a super cool vintage technology. Maybe Sony might be interested.

Soviet panorama cinema

Soviet Panorama Cinema control

Soviet Panorama Cinema projector

Soviet Panorama Cinema film

Patrick von Sychowski
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