Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 11 April 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | April 11, 2014 4:29 am PDT
Benjamin Zeccola Palace Cinemas

A row has broken out in Australia about the high price of cinema tickets (which we have written about before) and its relation to, or supposed-justification for, film piracy. Quoted in the Brisbane Times,

The chief executive of Palace Cinemas, Benjamin Zeccola, said cinemas were just trying to stay in business by increasing the top ticket price to $20.

“If you took away screen advertising, we wouldn’t have a cinema that survived,” he said. “If you took away the bars, we wouldn’t have a cinema that survived.”
Jamie and Cersei Lannister.

Mr Zeccola, whose chain fully or jointly operates 22 upmarket cinemas around the country, is upset at widespread claims that the cost of movie-going excuses illegal downloading.

Highlighting Australia’s high labour costs, Zeccola points out that Palace staff are paid AUS $25.60 (USD $24.10) per hour, compared to AUS $15  (USD 14.12) for London staff  (just don’t tell him London’s Ritzy staff are going on strike today over low wages).

Dumaresq Street Cinema in Campbelltown

Locations is probably the second highest expense, as this family-run cinema in a suburb of Sydney makes a virtue of its cheap tickets (all shows are AUS $6 – USD $5.65) and affordable concessions:

Forget spending hundreds on an evening at the movies – a trip to Dumaresq Street Cinema in Campbelltown would rarely cost a family of four more than $30.

A serving of popcorn will set you back just $1.50 at the family-run cinema, as will a small drink.

In fact, the three-cinema premises has only ever raised its prices twice since it was taken over by the Moore family in 1992 – once with the introduction of GST and again in recent years, when all tickets – adult, child and otherwise – were set at $6 for any session.  LINK



Indonesia: South Korean multiplex major CJ CGV has strengthened its minority stake in Indonesia’s second largest cinema operator, confirming the country’s significant growth cinema potential.

South Korea’s largest cinema chain CJ CGV has advanced into the Indonesian market following China, Vietnam and the United States, the company said Friday.

CJ CGV said it took over a 14.75 percent stake in Indonesia’s theater chain Blitzmegaplex after it was listed on the local stock exchange on Thursday.

Blitzmegaplex opened its first location in Bandung in 2006 and has continued to expand each year, now running 11 theaters with a total of 86 screens in six cities around the country.  LINK

Meanwhile Blitzmegaplex has announced that it will use the proceeds from its recent IPO to open three more multiplexes this year.

The cinemas would be built in Yogyakarta; Bandung, West Java, and Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, costing around US$2 million for each cinema, Graha Layar Prima’s marketing director, Ferdiana Yulia Sunardi, said on Thursday.

“Since becoming a public company, we will be more aggressive in our expansion plans, starting this year,” Yulia said during a press conference.  LINK

Reuters informs us that “PT Graha Layar Prima, the operator of movie theatre chain Blitzmegaplex, plans to develop 30 new cinema complexes by 2017, with a total investment of up to $60 million, said CEO Bernard Kentz Sondakh.”

Golden Village Gold Class

Singapore: FilmBizAsia has an interview with the CEO of Golden Village Multiplex, Singapore’s largest multiplex chain. Clara Cheo talks about innovations and challenges over the past few years.

To wow the audience, GV keeps itself at the forefront of equipment and technology. In 2012, the 602-seat GVmax hall at its flagship GV Vivocity became the first in Southeast Asia equipped with Dolby Atmos, the large cinema audio installation with 67 speakers. The same year also saw the chain as one of the firsts in Southeast Asia to go fully digital.

“It took us a few years to get there. The challenges are tremendous – we had to deal with running parallel systems, 35mm and digital, before eventually switching over to full digital. We also took the opportunity to equip our site managers with new skills such as handling the digital projection system,” said Cheo. Moonrise Kingdom (2012), released on 2 Aug 2012, was its last title out on 35 mm print.  LINK

Having one of the highest cinema attendances in the world (4.5 visits per inhabitant per year), it is noteworthy that 3D takings in Singapore have dropped from 50% to 10%-15% for films released in the format. Lots of other interesting information about my local movie chain.


XpanD: The 3D eyewear company has appointed a new manager for Brazil:

XPAND 3D today announced the appointment of Jorge Dantas to the position of Senior Vice President for Americas and Country Manager for Brazil . In his new role, Dantas will be responsible for overseeing XPAND’s new businesses development, sales and strategic deployment.

Dantas joins XPAND from Japanese Group, NEC, where he served for 15 years on management positions, most recently as Department Manager, catering digital cinema and digital signage solutions. Prior to that Dantas was a regional manager for Latin America and Caribbean for cloud computing and IT platform business.  LINK

Event Cinema

World Movies Secret Cinema

Australia: World Movies Secret Cinema had to cancel/postpone the screening for this evening at the last moment.

Spokesman Michael Morcos told Mumbrella the event was not cancelled but postponed, and said it is not due to the wet weather Sydney has experienced this week but rather due to an unforeseen issue with the “untouched” nature of the secret location of the event.

“It is with absolute regret that World Movies Secret Cinema is postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. It is our commitment to bring our guests the most cutting-edge, ground-breaking movie experience, but sadly we cannot proceed with the screenings as scheduled at this time,” he said.  LINK

Scottish football in cinemas

UK (Scotland): Not a first, as Aberdeen FC’s first league cup final in 14 years was shown at the Belmont Cinema back in March, as we reported here.

Although 5,000 loyal fans will make the pilgrimage to Ibrox on Sunday, those who cannot will still be able to enjoy the game day atmosphere.

In what is believed to be a first for Scottish cinemas, Perth Playhouse will be screening the match live. More than 100 supporters will be given the opportunity to cheer on their team from the comfort of the theatre.

They will still be able to partake of the traditional half-time pie, with a savoury snack from Simon Howie included in the ticket price.  LINK


Hull City of Culture 2017

UK (Hull): The European City of Culture 2017 will have to pay GBP £200,000 to three re-located projectionists it no longer employs.

The Hull Council workers transferred to Reel Cinema when the council switched venues for screening independent and foreign films from the central library five years ago.

Faced with having to make £48m cuts in the next two years, the council is now terminating its contract with Reel Cinema.  LINK

Apparently Reel Cinema attracts audiences of just nine people for the average screening. Go cul-CHA!


USA (FL): This columnist obviously didn’t get John Fithian’s memo about a night out at the movies being good value for money. She devotes a whole long column to complaining about the cost of EVERYTHING in the cinemas.

It’s no wonder there’s an ATM right next to the candy counter. I feel for guys out on a date. I suspect one can apply for a loan as they wait, and ensuring proper credit, be able to buy snacks for their date once approved.

As we entered the theater, again I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth the large family nearby us could afford tickets for all and snacks too. Maybe they had just won the lottery or had a windfall inheritance. Our money nerd status was clear because I couldn’t help but think that all they had spent would be lost in the next two hours, money which probably took days to earn. It was more than I could bear. LINK

(I’m reminded about the old jewish joke: “Old Man 1, ‘The food in this place is terrible.’ Old Man 2, ‘Yes, and such small portions too.’)

Digital Death Watch

Track Cinema located in the Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius.

USA (NY): This family business spent USD $300,000 to equip a four-screen cinema in upstate New York with digital projectors, surround sound and new seats.

The M&Ms, Skittles and Whoppers are stacked in the candy case, most of the new seats are installed and there is just some painting to do to ready Track Cinema for its grand opening in the Fingerlakes Mall.

Noon on Monday will be the first time in almost two years that a movie has played in the four-theater complex that anchors the mall located on Routes 5 and 20 just west of Auburn. The previous owners closed the venue in September 2012.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Inverness shopping centre

UK (Scotland): Inverness already has a Vue multiplex at Inverness Retail Park and an Eden Court cinema on the riverside, but apparently there is room for more.

The owners of the biggest shopping centre in the Highlands plan to extend the site to include an eight-screen cinema and restaurants.

F&C Reit has proposed adding a new level to the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness and extending it into Falcon Square.

Oasis Centre UAE

UAE (Dubai): Tough choices in the UAE; including a cinema in an existing mall will mean having to sacrifice parking space capacity.

UAE-based Landmark Group is mulling the inclusion of cinemas in its community mall Oasis Centre, as it eyes major expansion for the concept across the GCC, the mall’s director has said.

“Oasis Centre will largely remain a neighbourhood mall,” Neelesh Bhatnagar, director of Oasis Centre, told Gulf Business. “We do have a reasonable amount of children’s entertainment, but the only thing missing is cinemas. We will see [in the future]… if the building or the area we inherit for an Oasis Centre permits us to bring cinemas, we may consider it,” he said.  LINK

Eltham cinema greenwich

UK: Approval has been granted for the building of a cinema in London’s suburb Eltham.

A six-screen cinema complex is on the way to Eltham after a planning board approved outline proposals.

The 900-seat complex will take the place of Poundland on the high street – previously bought by Greenwich Council for the development.

Under the plans, the basement and first floor will each house three cinema screens, while there will be two restaurants on the ground floor.  LINK

Bay View Avalon Theatre new marquee

USA (WI): Good to see cinemas putting their best facade forward.

The Avalon Theater’s renovations underway in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood will include a new marquee, which a city panel is to review next week.

The new sign is designed to pay homage to the atmospheric movie theaters of the 1920s, according to the proposal filed by building owner Lee Barczak with the city Historic Preservation Commission. Any exterior changes to the historic building, 2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., require commission approval.

“A theater this large and prominent was meant to have a sign of this size and design,” said a city staff report recommending approval.  LINK

Sunnyside cinema in Queens sign destroyed

USA (NY): Looks like this cinema will also need a new sign. Unless it is demolished. Comments below the article diverge widely on whether to keep this cinema in Queens, New York,  open.

The building manager Michael Christopher said that a truck hit the sign while it was traveling along Queens Blvd. Another man said later today that a truck backed into the sign.

However, there was no sign of a truck on the scene.

Workers from the Department of Buildings were on their way to the theater to determine whether the sign should be destroyed.  LINK


Smello-o-vision machine

How many of you have seen the actual Smell-O-Vision, nevermind experienced it? Behold it above in all its 1950s retro-futuristic glory.

Tested.com does a great overview of ‘The Low-Budget Movie Gimmicks of Cinema Past‘:

And even in the case of 3D, it was a cheaper technology because it was trying to give audiences something spectacular that was much less expensive than Cinerama widescreen, which required major reworking of theaters to support. With other gimmicks that followed, a lot of filmmakers have tried to bring audiences into theaters for cut-rate prices, and many of these innovations are amusing to look back on today. Here are some of my favorites.

The original version of 4D was first called “glorious Smell-O-Vision,” and it was used back in 1960 in the movie The Scent of Mystery. The technology was first developed by Mike Todd, a famous impresario who was married to Elizabeth Taylor. Todd produced the film Around the World in 80 Days, and he also developed the Todd A-O widescreen process, which was a variation on Cinerama with some of the bugs ironed out. Todd died in a plane crash in 1958, and his son, Mike Todd Jr., finished up his father’s work with Smell-O-Vision, and finally brought it to the big screen with Scent of Mystery.

Several other examples are examined, including one of my favourites below. Not sure why it didn’t take off – the technology was much cheaper than 3D.

Duo-Vision Wicked-Wicked

Patrick von Sychowski
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