Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 5 May 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | May 5, 2014 5:03 am PDT
Astor Film Lounge

We don’t normally start with a non-English article (though Google/Chrome will easily translate it for you). But this is a good overview of how German exhibition is dealing with a contracting demand: 20 million fewer cinemas goers went to see a film in 2013 compared to 2003 and some 200 net cinema screen closed in that time. However, revenue has increased due to higher ticket prices and most of the screens closed were small single-screens, while the multiplexes are weathering the decline. But cinemas like the Astor Film Lounge in Berlin are going all-out for luxury.

The light in the hall of Cologne Residenz-Kinos is already dimmed, in a few minutes the film starts. Most visitors sit in wide leather armchairs, folded back with the backrest. With outstretched feet on the stools they listen quieter lounge music. “Your Mai-Tai,” a waitress says suddenly appears, smiles and places the cocktail on the arm of the chair. “Any other wish,” she asks – and then the surprise of the evening. “Popcorn isn’t something we sell.”

The concept of Residenz-Kinos cinema is anti-popcorn. The prototype of the cinema snacks does not fit in with what Andreas Lühnstroth imagines for his movie theater. Too sticky, too stinky, too ordinary to him is the popcorn. “Many of our guests want something else,” he says.

The Residenz-Kinos is one of four Astor Film Lounge in Germany belonging to premium entertainment. The company specializes in luxury cinemas. The offer guests additional services – from the welcome drink at the bar on particularly comfortable cinema seat to the operation of place. And this service has its price.  LINK


Beacon Cinema

Bringing your own food into the cinemas, remains a highly charged issue, at least in the US. It can often lead to unpleasant altercations.

From time to time, outraged patrons have vented their spleen, complaining of searches and seizures at the Pittsfield movie house. In his letter, Karel Rose, a New York City college professor who lives part time in Lenox, complained of what felt like a “personal assault” during a recent Saturday Met Opera in HD screening.

“An arrogant assistant manager who shall remain nameless patrolled the aisles searching for any food that was brought into the theater, either in our hands, pockets or handbags. … Next to me was a woman, in her 80s, taking the last bite out of her sandwich. He demanded what was left, and trembling, she gave it to him.”

As Rose told it, “this self-appointed policeman saw a pear in my handbag and insisted that I give it to him. I explained that I would not eat it. He continued to harass me and others in the room.”  LINK

It is a complex issue with no clear villains (cinemas staff have had allergic reactions to patrons bringing in nuts) and small cinemas in particular rely on food and beverage sales.

Cineplex Toronto

Canada: One way to discourage food ‘contraband’ is to offer more luxurious F&B options. As Cineplex will be doing soon at this site in Downtown Toronto.

A glass of wine with your movie, perhaps? Or maybe a delicious flatbread pizza while you relax in your comfy movie seat?

The choice is yours beginning Friday, May 9, when Cineplex brings its popular VIP Cinema concept to Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP.

Cineplex VIP Cinemas presented by Scotiabank are a premium entertainment experience, offering adults-only refinement, comfy reserved seating; licenced auditoriums; a licenced lounge; premium in-seat service; a VIP menu of specialty appetizers and entrees; and much more.  LINK



China: Barco has signed a major projector deal in China.

Evergrande Real Estate Group (3333.HK), one of the ten largest real estate developers in mainland China, is expanding its business to the cinema industry. In an initial phase, the Evergrande Cinema Line is building 77 cinema complexes in residential neighborhoods across the country, five of which are already operational. To equip the theaters with the latest digital cinema projection technology, Evergrande is teaming up with digital cinema leader Barco, who will provide over 500 of its 2K digital projectors, including the DP2K-32B and DP2K-20C units.

Evergrande Cinema Line Management Co., Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Evergrande Real Estate Group specialized in cinema investment, operation, and management. Relying on the Group’s commercial and residential developments and urban complex projects, the company is constructing first-class, fully digital cinema complexes across 22 provinces, autonomous regions and direct-controlled municipalities in China. Five theaters have already gone into service. Evergrande Cinema Line plans to build another 30 theaters with more than 210 screens in 2014, toward a total of more than 150 theaters and 1,100 screens by the end of 2016.  LINK

New Excelcior cinema

India: Taxes and multiplexes are to be blamed for the declining fortunes of India’s single-screen cinemas, such as Mumbai’s Liberty, which stopped showing films in 2012. Yet archaic laws mean that many are not allowed to shut.

“With the advent of multiplexes and because of taxation … it has become unviable,” says Nazir Hoosein, 73, the owner of Liberty. His late father, Habib Hoosein, had built the cinema. Single-screen cinemas “are closing down left, right and centre”, he says. “The writing is on the wall. We’ll be all right because we’re changing direction.” Mr Hoosein is passionate about the preservation of the historic venue and he has changed tack to host film festivals, plays and stand-up comedy acts, which he believes will “eventually” make it profitable again.  LINK

Yet the economic slowdown has not affected spending at multiplexes, say the group president of the PVR multiplex chain, where customers are prepared to pay for and expect convenience.

The discretionary spend on the entertainment side has not reduced in spite of the slowdown — in fact it has increased. To some extent, if they are gloomy, if someone has not made as much money, they end up seeing another movie just to come out of that gloom. On the other side of the slowdown, yes it has affected us. While potentially we could have done about 200 screens per annum, we are just able to do about 80 or 90 screens per annum. This is because the people who are creating this retail infrastructure, the shopping centre developers, they have been hit by the slowdown, due to which they are unable to get money and take forward their construction in the designated time that they were supposed to do it.  LINK


ABC Brussels porn cinema

Belgium: The former ABC porn cinema in Brussels has been rescued thanks to the on-line donations (thanks to any of you readers who contributed). It will now be a European art-house cinemas, with a slight erotic flair.

L’ex-cinéma pornographique ABC a été sauvé grâce à la campagne de dons lancée par des membres du cinéma Nova, de Marcel/Offscreen et de La retine de plateau et aux plus de 450 donateurs qui se sont mobilisés.

La fondation privée CineAct a annoncé, dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi, que les dons récoltés sont suffisants pour sauver “L’ABC cinéma spectacle”, situé boulevard Adolphe Max, à proximité de la place Rogier, à Bruxelles. Plus de 450 donateurs ont participé à l’appel à soutien, qui a permis de collecter la somme de 58.000 euros.  LINK

Event Cinema

World Movies Secret Cinema

Australia: The “postponed” Secret Cinema event scheduled for April in Sydney has now been officially cancelled. Sounds like they had something very special planned for an abandoned part of Sydney Central Station.

World Movies Secret Cinema was to be held on Platform 26/27 – a heritage listed space that exists below Sydney’s Central Station, initially built to house the Maroubra train line. The abandoned platform and unfinished train tracks were built in 1947 with construction ceasing in the 1960’s, leaving the space incomplete, and to date it has never been used.

As a heritage-listed site, Platform 26/27 has presented World Movies Secret Cinema with numerous challenges to ensure a large-scale event could be held in the untouched space. Our event organisers have been working closely with relevant authorities to meet the unforeseen requirements that resulted in the postponement of the event.  LINK

Pop-up Cinema

Drive-in cinema china

China: Who would have guessed that drive-in cinemas would become popular in China. But then again, they are a great way to show off your four wheels. And for those that don’t have cars, there are tents and cabins to rent.

In China, drive-in cinema in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and other places are now “everywhere”, having now become an indispensable mode of entertainment in Aijuyizu Changsha. During spring and early summer, choose a holiday, choose a good weather, and your car to go the theater to see a movie with these cars now!

This is the largest movie theater in Hunan Province, with the country’s largest outdoor giant screen, and is currently the most luxurious in Hunan projection equipment. Southern suburbs car screen theater occupies 8,000 square meters and can accommodate hundreds of cars. Terraced viewing venues, plus dual screen dual projection equipment, regardless of where the audience’s car is parked at the venue its positions are likely to enjoy the giant screen blockbusters in the car. In addition to the giant screen outside the viewing field, the southern suburbs of the car is also equipped with two screen theater people, four people, eight small boxes, and can accommodate 10-16 people.

Cambridge Film Festival outdoors

UK: An interesting list of floating or waterborne cinemas across the UK this summer.

There’s no cinema in St Albans (yet) but it has a film festival this weekend, with screenings in interesting locations including the cathedral, the medieval clock tower and, excitingly, the new swimming pool. At 1.30pm on 3 May, children can watch Japanese anime classic Ponyo during their swim (one adult and one child £12, stalbansfilmfestival.com), and at 7pm, brave adults can watch Jaws from the water (£10, including a drink at the bar afterwards).

This swim-along cinema concept, which was pioneered by Bramley Baths in Leeds last year, is one of a growing band of watery pop-ups. At Brockwell Lido in south London in July, film fans can watch Captain Phillips from a dinghy. Sadly, the boating tickets have already sold out, but you can still watch poolside (£13.50, 24 July, thelunacinema.com).  LINK

Outdoor cinema Quad Derby

UK: More signs that summer is just around the corner in the UK.

Quad’s Summer Nights Film Festival is back and the 2014 event will present a selection of classic and contemporary films at locations throughout the area in July, August and September.

Presented on a giant screen by Quad, the Derby-based centre for art and film, Summer Nights offers the chance to enjoy the great outdoors for a unique cinematic experience.  LINK

Health & Safety

Edwards Cinema the MArketplace

USA (CA): It seems that Edwards Cinema in Bakersfield is in compliance with all fire regulations, but good that alert patrons keep an eye out for these things.

I have noticed that every time I leave Edwards Cinemas in The Marketplace, only one of the exit doors is unlocked, although they are double doors. This would be a safety issue if the theaters needed to be evacuated. So I am wondering, is this legal?    — Marcia Hirst

I’m not sure when you regularly leave the cinema, but on April 28 the building was in compliance with city regulations. After The Bakersfield Californian asked fire department officials about the doors that afternoon, Howard Wines, the Bakersfield Fire Department fire prevention director, went and examined the doors exiting the lobby.  LINK


DCM logo

UK: The head of cinema advertising agency DCM talks about how to engage audiences by combining cinema with digital and mobile, using their new app and interesting campaigns.

Cinema, Rees added, “is a very modern, agile, digital environment” thanks to new technological developments. “Brands are gradually waking up to that opportunity,” he continued.

Nor are these developments restricted to the auditorium alone, as the foyer has become increasingly digitised, and consumers can get trailers for new films by scanning posters there.

“Rather than having a cluttered foyer, which it might have been historically, we’re now looking at how the consumer engages throughout the whole of the cinema experience,” said Rees.  LINK

Digital Death Watch

Dead drive-in cinemas

USA (RI): Last year there were only 357 drive-in cinemas left in the US. Many gorgeous but sad photos of what is lost. The smartphone trumps the car when it comes to films these days.

There are many reasons for the demise of these white elephants. Rising cost of real estate, big box cinemas, video rentals, DVDs, weather factors, and general smoldering of the love affair with automobiles. The outdoor drive-ins are not all gone, however retreating they may be. Rhode Island has one lone survivor — the Rustic Drive-In, a three-screen theater on Route 146.

There is another obstacle that may snuff the last flicker of the projector bulbs of the remaining drive-ins. Digital projection. This advance in cinema presentation comes with severe repercussions to the small movie houses as well as the drive-ins. Expensive new digital projectors will be required to show movies that will be distributed on hard drives rather than the traditional reels of film. The projectors are pricey and will surely tip the financial balance sheets of these theaters.  LINK

Small German cinema

Germany: With many single-screen cinemas in Germany being family-run, the choice of digital-or-die is a particularly difficult one, like for these two.

Petra Löw ist quasi ein alter Hase im Kinogeschäft: Ihre Familie betreibt seit 1950, also seit 64 Jahren, die Gröbenlichtspiele in Gröbenzell. Die 52-Jährige hat den Betrieb 2007 von ihrem Vater Ludwig Mair übernommen. Schwester Susanne Mair betreibt in Fürstenfeldbruck das „Scala“. Das Lichtspielhaus hat Susanne Mayr vor über einem Jahr aufgegeben, weil sich ein Umrüsten auf die digitale Technik am Standort an der Maisacher Straße nicht gelohnt hätte.

In den Gröbenlichtspielen dagegen ist das digitale Zeitalter bereits 2010 angebrochen. „Zum 60-jährigen Bestehen habe ich dort umgerüstet.“ Die Filmstation in Gilching war noch ein Jahr früher dran. Im klimatisierten Gröbenzeller Vorführraum steht jetzt ein Digitalprojektor statt eines 35-Millimeter-Filmprojektors. „Die Klimaanlage war ein absolutes Muss, auch der Kinosaal wurde renoviert und klimatisiert“, berichtet Petra Löw.  LINK

Lorne Art Deco cinema

Australia: A gorgeous art-deco cinema building is for sale in Australia for AUS $2 million (USD $1.85 million), but looks like it will need an upgrade in seating. And projection, I would guess.

LORNE’S landmark Art Deco theatre is on the market for the first time in decades and is ­expected to bring more than $2 million.

The cinema, where generations of residents and visitors have been entertained, could close as the lease is due to finish in 2016.

Surf Coast Shire Mayor Rose Hodge said residents had approached her to ask if the shire could afford to buy the historic building.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Curzon Victoria

UK: This article almost deserves to be under its own ‘Design’ category. Art-house chain Curzon is opening its latest cinema across four floors in the London district of Victoria with a strong Bauhaus inspiration.

Cinema brand Curzon currently has eight UK complexes – five of which are in London. It has invested £3 million on the Victoria site, which will feature a ‘cultural hub’, café, lounge and library.

According to Curzon, the interior concepts is ‘state-of-the-art yet classic’, with interior designs inspired by the Curzon’s branding. The look draws on the heritage of the Curzon’s word mark, which uses 1927 typeface Futura, referencing the Bauhaus design style. Other influences include the work of designer Eileen Grey.  LINK

Marcus Cinema Palace Theatre Sun Prairie

USA (WI): A new Marcus cinema is opening in Wisconsin, with groundbreaking taking place next week.

Marcus Theatres plans to break ground for its new Sun Prairie Palace Cinema at Prairie Lakes on Wednesday, May 14 beginning at 3 p.m.

The new cinema will be located at Legacy Way and Hoepker Road, between Costco and Target in the Prairie Lakes Retail Development.  LINK

Toulous cinema

France: A cinematic fixture of Toulouse will soon be no more.

Rotting on foot since 1998, the former cinema Boulevard Carnot is terminally ill. Demolition is almost complete. The future of the site is still uncertain.

The show is painful to see. Behind a facade maintained by structures of steel, the New Cinema is no more than rubble after sixteen years of slow agony. Early June 1998, the aging complex closed its doors while multiplexes began their march towards success and Labège Blagnac. With only 135,000 entries in 1997 (score that achieves little ABC today), the property Pathé cinema lost a lot of money …  LINK


Pop-up cinema in MOCA

Los Angeles is getting a strange pop-up cinema at the MOCA to showcase the work of Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli and including such talent as Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Eva Mendes and Gore Vidal.

Vezzoli’s long working fixation with cinema is now getting a major spotlight in Los Angeles with “Cinema Vezzoli,” an exhibit that transforms the Museum of Contemporary Art Grand Avenue into a movie theater that will play his peculiar short films made from 1999 to 2009, complete with theater seats sourced from a defunct Miami cinema. Other elements include a box office with movie posters of unmade films, a roomful of the faces of Luchino Visconti stars embroidered with tears, and other pieces Vezzoli has made about film history over the years.  LINK

Patrick von Sychowski
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