Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 8 April 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | April 8, 2014 3:14 am PDT
Imax China

Imax is to sell 20% of its China business to two Chinese-based entities in return for USD $80 million and a firmer foot hold in the world’s soon-to-be largest cinema market.

IMAX Chief Executive Richard Gelfond said in an interview that investment fund China Media Capital and private-equity firm FountainVest Partners would pay $40 million each for 10% stakes by early 2015. He said the deal gives IMAX local partners who will open up expansion opportunities in one of its most important markets.

The investors will shepherd a public offering of shares of the China operation, IMAX China Holding Inc., in the next five years, Mr. Gelfond said. IMAX China will be paying IMAX Corp. an ongoing trademark and licensing fee for the right to use the IMAX trademark in China, a spokeswoman said. IMAX China is aiming to list in Hong Kong but will be positioning itself to list on other China exchanges, such as in Shanghai, in case that doesn’t work out or a better opportunity arises on the mainland, a spokeswoman said.  LINK

Not only will this allow for expansion in China, but Imax must also be hoping to neutralise the nascent threat from CFGS – though this is not mentioned in the above article.


Barco laser projection

USA (LV): Lasers are coming! This follow-up article from David Keene provides excellent insights from the pre-NAB Cinema Summit on what is happening on the laser front.

The first shots were fired on Saturday, in the session “Laser Illuminated Projectors: What’s New and When Will They Arrive? Bill Beck, President of BTM Consulting moderated panelists Pete Ludé, CTO of Mission Rock Digital; Goran Stojmenovik , Product Manager Laser Projection, Barco; Richard McPherson of NEC Display Solutions; and Don Shaw, Senior Director of Product Management for Entertainment Solutions at Christie.

The panel was straight forward– not your typical panel involving a lot of speculation and vague talk of coming solutions. It was three major projector manufactures explaining their new Laser projectors. And surprisingly, this was not a “me too” exercise: each company is launching a very different kind of Laser projector and/or 3D solution into the market this spring.  LINK

You Will Be Amazed To Find Out What The Differences Between The Different Laser Projector Solutions Are!


PVR Cinema

India: Art-house cinema is a tough proposition in India, but is being tried in a private-events context with the launch of PVR Screening Room series, starting with The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The idea behind the elite film club is to “showcase hidden gems, films that wouldn’t otherwise come to India, nothing too arty”, said Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director of PVR Ltd. “A lot of my friends who are discerning movie-goers have always wanted a club or an activity like this, where people get to watch a film, talk about it afterwards, and socialize,” added Bijli, who founded the company with his brother, Sanjeev, in 1995, and set up India’s first multiplex in Delhi’s Saket neighbourhood.

PVR Screening Room is modelled on similar black-tie and red-carpet film events around the world. For now, the showcasing will be restricted to Mumbai and Delhi, and the fortunate few on PVR’s guest list. Although the subsequent titles have not yet been finalized, they are likely to include movies that have been shown at prestigious film festivals, but are deemed too box-office unfriendly to be released here. The films will be shown uncut, since the event is private and non-commercial. LINK

PVR previously tried a four-walling art-house series concept five years ago in partnership with NDTV Lumiere with mixed results. (Ask me about their onlines questions forum.)


Brooklyn Heights Cinema

USA (NY): The Brooklyn Heights cinema has succeeded with its campaign to raise enough money to go digital – but will they get to keep their lease?

Donations have poured in over the past six weeks, surpassing the $30,000 goal a week ago and cresting $32,000 as the campaign neared its midnight cutoff on Monday.

“We’re just thrilled people came through,” Lowy said. “It really is astounding we got there and exceeded the goal.”

The two-screen theater has been a mainstay for 44 years in Brooklyn Heights. Lowy took it over in 2011 after the previous owner was busted for bilking investors out of more than $500,000.  LINK

Digital Death Watch

Regal Cinema Australia

Australia: An entrepreneurial small cinema operator in Newcastle’s Birmingham Garden is now playing Hindi films in his cinema.

So whilst working on the Regal restoration I was thinking, who else could the Regal reach out too? We have ever-growing diverse cultural communities in our midst here in Newcastle. How can we invite them into the community of the Regal cinema?

Three weeks ago I met Dr Vikrant Kishore who works at the University of Newcastle in Media Production and Communication. Vikrant’s research areas are among other things Bollywood and Indian cinema and folk dance culture. It was a perfect fit and we started collaborating immediately.

Vikrant told me Bollywood films currently attract larger audiences than Hollywood films in the international arena.

Many people in the Newcastle Indian community will travel to Sydney to see the opening of a Bollywood film. That’s a long way to go to see a film.  LINK


Semaphore Odeon cinema Adelaide

Australia: Another example of Cinema Can-Do Down Under. This cinema operator is building a fourth screen in a space he didn’t even know he had!

THE owners of Semaphore Odeon Star Cinemas are planning a $2 million upgrade at the same time as the west’s only other small cinema faces the bulldozer because of low patronage.

Owners Terry and Jacky Proud have lodged plans with Port Adelaid Enfield Council to build a fourth screen on the Semphore Rd site, in a bid to capitalise on strong patronage from locals and northern suburbs residents travelling down the Port River Expressway.

Two four-storey apartments are also planned at the back of the site.   LINK

UFO moviez

India: A look at how e-cinema is saving cinemas in parts of India, with some unexpected benefits. This one south-east of Hyderabad.

Far-off places
“We are now able to screen films on time through digital technology. The problem of bringing the reel from far-off places on two-wheelers and getting stuck in traffic are also solved,” says Ramakrishna theatre manager Venkateswara Rao alias Nani.

Making the job easy
The new technology has made the task of projector operators easy. “We are now relaxed with the latest technology. With old projectors, we used to face health problems,” says Ch. Hanumanthu, a projector operator.  LINK

He does not elaborate what sort of health problems.


Tanzania: Conflicting but troubling reports about the impact and (mis)use of cinemas (often just video halls) in one African country.

Despite the fact that cinemas were used to provide education especially health tips to rural community back in the 1990s, the business has sharply changed.
With a growing movement of rural cinema, such a business has gone beyond providing films locally.

Chanika one of the twenty five wards in Ilala district, Dar es Salaam represent thousands of rural communities with cinema hall at least at every busy centre.
Residents are now admitting that such centre (cinema) has contributed a lot to cultural change amongst their children.

Sadly, a resident, Hamis Jumanne a father of three says some children have so far dropped school because of cinema.  LINK

More worrying, there are accusations of sexual abuse having taken place in some of these cinemas.

Large Format

The Netherlands: This year’s European get-together for large-format film makers has been announced:

Euromax (euromax.org), the European Association for giant screen, specialty and institutional documentary films, has announced its 2014 annual meeting, which will be held at Omniversum, Den Haag (The Netherlands), May 21-24. This year’s industry event will be hosted in parallel to the European Network of Science Centers and Museums (ECSITE) annual conference (ecsite.eu) in collaboration with the International Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA).

An exciting film program accompanies the 2014 event, including eighteen new documentary films, available from leading distribution companies, most premiering for the very first time in Europe. LINK

Sathyam Luxe logo

India: Imax and Luxe together in the same multiplex? I guess someone at Sathyam didn’t get the memo that Luxe is RealD’s premium large format cinema brand.

What’s so special on April 14? If your answer is Tamil New Year’s Day, then you are partly right. Another exciting news that is on your way is that Sathyam Luxe in Phoenix Market City will be open to the public from April 14. Luxe Cinemas has 10 high-end screens along with one 1 IMAX screen. However, we have not heard about the IMAX screen opening yet. The theatre will be open with all the new releases for the season.

SPI Cinemas announced this news via twitter and the post read, “#Luxe @SPIcinemas high-end 10-screen multiplex opening on #April14, with all new releases.”  LINK


Australia/UK: A cleaver cinema advertising stunt from British Airway, connecting families in the UK and Oz.

Three years ago Esme’s family emigrated to start a new life in Australia, where Esme “loves everything” and has just one thing missing from her life. Her grandparents.

British Airways filmed Esme’s “amazing life” in Sydney and then tracked down her grandparents and invited them to the cinema one evening, where they were surprised with a film made just for them by their granddaughter and given free tickets to Australia.  LINK


USA (TX): One of the first customer’s of Christie’s new sound solution has been announced.

Christie®, a dominant brand in the digital cinema projection market, today announced that Cinemark Theatres has installed the Christie Vive Audio™ cinema sound system in its state-of-the-art Cinemark XD: Extreme Digital Cinema auditorium at the Cinemark StarCreek 16 in Allen, Texas.

The 282-seat premium auditorium, which includes Auro 11.1 by Barco audio platform, features a huge, wall-to-wall screen and plush seating for maximum comfort; and now, Christie’s leading-edge immersive line array technology that makes every seat the best seat in the house.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

USA (TX): A major cinema plan has been revealed for downtown Dallas, as part of the previously announced Victory Park office development.

Even bigger news is the plan for a 59,000 square foot cinema in the proposed building. That would be about 75 percent larger than the Angelika theater at Dallas’ Mockingbird Station.

A movie theater- along with a grocery store – is one of the retail features Dallas residents most often mention as what they want in the downtown area.

Having a cinema at Victory Park would help bring visitors to the project on the northwest corner of downtown.  LINK

Reghal cinema

UK: This lovely little art-deco former cinema will at least have its facade restored, even if it won’t be used for screenings.

Total Security Services (TSS) and Loughton-based architecture firm, Clear Architects, have invited the public to the event on April 16, between 4pm and 7pm, at the foyer to The Regal in Hale End, Highams Park.

The Highams-Park based security firm plans to demolish the boarded-up former Shelz restaurant, adjacent to The Regal, and erect a four-storey office space, as well as restore the original facade of The Regal.  LINK

Bedford Riverside North redevelopment

UK: Bedford is to get its second major cinema – a Vue – as part of Riverside North redevelopment.

A SEVEN screen Vue cinema, a Chimichanga and Zizis are just some of the restaurants which are set to come to Riverside North according to developers.

A string of major entertainment, hotel and restaurant operators have committed to opening in the complex along the River Great Ouse in Bedford town centre as part of the new Riverside North development.  LINK

USA (KY): Malco has completed renovation work on its recently acquired cinema in Kentucky.

Malco Theaters said the Winchester, Ky., cinema renovation has been completed.

Memphis-based Malco Theatres, which opened in 1915, recently acquired the cinema. The company operates 330 screens at 32 Mid-South locations, and bowling centers in Louisiana.

Malco also recently opened the Olive Branch Cinema in Olive Branch, Miss., and renovated Ridgeway Cinema Grill in Memphis and Forest Hill Cinema in Germantown.

New theaters are slated to open in Gonzales, La.; Millington, Tenn.; and Jackson, Tenn., the company says.  LINK

Ispwich Odeon

UK: Could Cineworld and Vue be about to go head-to-head in Ipswich? Or is Vue looking to ditch its planned Buttermarket mall plans? Plot thickens surrounding sale of an old Odeon cinema.

The Odeon building was sold at auction in early February for £530,000 – but the identity of the new owner has remained a mystery and the ownership of the building has still not been recorded by the Land Registry.

However property experts in the town understand that its new owner is connected to a growing cinema chain in the country.

And now there are fears that the purchase could lead to Vue pulling out of the deal which would have seen the Buttermarket Centre converted into a major leisure venue.  LINK

You Couldn’t Make It Up

Exeter Vue Noah flooding

The first screening of Noah had to be cancelled in Vue’s Exeter cinema – because of flooding.

Those wanting to attend the first viewing of the latest blockbuster at Vue cinema in Exeter on Friday could have been forgiven for thinking they got a little closer to the action than anticipated.

Staff discovered the excess water when they arrived for work just after 7am. The venue had to close to the public until 2pm – meaning the first showing of Noah at 12.15pm had to be cancelled.

The scale of water may not have been as biblical as it was on the big screen – and it is unclear if any animals had to be rescued from the confines of the cinema – – but the irony wasn’t lost on cinema-goers.  LINK


Highland Theatre St Paul

A long and loving article details what became of the small and single-screen cinemas in St Paul (MN) after they stopped being cinemas. Just two remain in their original avatar.

Silent theaters, one-room movie houses and vaudeville stages once dotted St. Paul’s neighborhoods, drawing residents from across the city. In fact, they still do.

The uses are mostly different, but in many cases, the boxy, two-story buildings that were home to Charlie Chaplin-like live routines or early black-and-white “talkies” remain intact, at least on the outside. A few still host movies or live performances, and ongoing campaigns seek to revive and reinvent the old Orpheum Theater in downtown St. Paul and the Victoria Theater on University Avenue as performance halls.

But most of St. Paul’s surviving theaters have wandered into a new century under far different auspices. Built in 1930, the Capitol Theater at 1077 Payne Ave. now houses ABC Mental Health Therapy, a nonprofit provider of individual and group therapy that moved in four years ago.

“As you walk in, pretty much everything is on the first floor, except you can go up these small metal steps to the projection room,” said ABC Director Dane Jorento, in a recent interview.  LINK

Patrick von Sychowski
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