Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 26 May 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | May 26, 2014 6:05 am PDT
Monkey King

China is setting a new box office record with ferocious speed that helps cement the view that it will overtake even the US in the foreseeable future as the world’s biggest cinema market.

In the first five months of 2014, Chinese box office hit 10.2B yuan, or about $1.63B, with local movies dominating the market at 56% through May 21. Watchdog SAPPRFT released the figures today via state news agency Xinhua. Those numbers have led analysts to predict total 2014 box office could top out at a staggering 28B yuan, or around $4.49B. That would rep a 24.7% change from 2013 which ended with $3.6B. I say staggering because the numbers really do look wild, but a 24.7% increase would be slightly lower than the 27.5% jump from 2012 to 2013.

But number crunching is not straightforward in terms of calculating when China might eclipse the US.

It’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison with 2013 based on the figures released today given that last year the authority provided half-year numbers in July. However, it’s worth noting that it took six months in 2013 for box office to cross the 10B yuan mark. This year, it was less than five. In the first six months of 2013, Chinese films also ruled the box office at about 61%, grossing $1.1B in the semester which had total takings of $1.79B. This was a reversal from the whole of 2012 when, much to the chagrin of SAPPRFT (then SARFT), market share had fallen to under 50% for the first time in four years.  LINK


But all is not well in the Middle Kingdom’s exhibition industry as yet more cinemas are suspended for box office fraud. Far from just being a case of greed, for some cinemas this is the only way to stay in business in a fiercely competitive market.

Seven Chinese cinemas have been banned from screening new movies due to cheating on box office figures, two Chinese film associations announced on Monday.

The cinemas were found to have used a “dual software system” to sell film tickets without registering the real box office gains to a uniform system, according to a statement issued by the China Film Producers’ Association and the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association.

Such conduct supposedly aims to avoid lawfully sharing box office earnings with filmmakers and other relevant parties.  LINK


Curzon staff

UK – While Ritzy’s staff in Brixton strike for a London Living Wage, they are by no means the only unionised cinema workers, as this interview with two staff from Curzon reveals.

Jessica: And by February 2013 the whole of Soho cinema had joined up – that’s 20 cinema workers in total! Then we had to start making friends at the other venues. We already had people we kind of trusted, so we used them to get in touch with other people and it kind of snowballed. Adam- Because some people only had tiny shifts, literally only several hours a week or so or had other jobs so were in other unions. They didn’t want to join the union, but they did want to show their support. Bectu took a great initiative of starting a petition of the workers in support of the living wage and restoring the concessionary rates for customers (cheaper tickets for OAP’s, students, disabled and unemployed people). That petition quickly got 150 people signing it! That’s 70 percent of the workforce!  LINK

Bronx cinemas closing

USA (NY) – There are fewer and fewer movie going options for the inhabitants of the Bronx.

If the Bronx were a city, it would rank about sixth in population in the United States, its 1.4 million inhabitants making it near the same size as Philadelphia, Phoenix or San Antonio. But one glaring difference is especially relevant with the arrival of Memorial Day, the semiofficial start of the summer movie season: Film lovers there have to plan more and travel farther to see their favorite blockbuster.

Philadelphia provides its residents with seven theaters and 50 screens, Phoenix offers nine theaters and over 120 screens, and San Antonio lights up 19 theaters with over 200 screens.

The Bronx, by contrast, is down to two theaters and 23 screens.  LINK

Premium Cinema

Lounge Kino Citydomes

Germany – Building a cinema in a round room with a pillar in the middle might not seem like the most sane of ideas, but that’s what these Germans have managed.

In a round cellar space is exactly where you do not build a cinema , especially when a column is perched in the middle: these were the initial concerns of the cinema operators in the City Cathedral , as her plans for a lounge – cinema solidified . But now there are no more plans , but reality : Cinema 5 is welcoming and chic, spacious and cozy alike.

However, to operate a ” cinema ” ” is what freaks ,” said Thomas Negele , CEO of Germany’s largest cinema association ” HDF cinema ” and together with Alfred Speiser General Manager of the City Cathedral : “Who does cinema, is not quite right in the head” . And cinema to make 5, he called even a ” crazy idea”. In which this success , however – with great diligence work of many regional craft company – now led , was the occasion for a celebration.

Yesterday, the new hall was opened , and the initial skeptics have long since fallen silent. Cinema 5 invites the other hand to stretch her ??legs wide , to eat , to drink , to relax and enjoy good conversation.  LINK

Event Cinema

Lili Service Kino

Germany – Details about the World Cup screening in cinemas have been sketchy, but some cinema like this one in Germany have started to advertise the upcoming screenings.

For all football fans , where the screen for the games of the German national may not be large enough, the Lili- service cinema offers a special feature . All matches with German participation, and the semi-finals , the third place play- off and the final will be shown on the big screen …

The latest image and cinema technology conveys the impression of sitting in the stadium in Brazil, so the announcement says. In hot weather, the cinema hall is air-conditioned. To enjoy the football games in the land of samba football provides the cinema the complete program with fresh popcorn, nachos, and now also the Wild Hauser Banana beer.  LINK

CineStar logo

Germany – Somebody slightly larger who has announced similar plans in Germany’s CineStar, which previously also screened the Bundesliga.

When on 12th of June the round leather ball rolls in Brazil, the enthusiasm for football will be huge again in Germany. Whether Jogi Löw on the sidelines or the German team during the attack on the opponent’s goal : What could be better than to watch the games of the World Cup in a large circle on a big screen in perfect digital image projection and outstanding sound quality ?

In many Cinestars football fans will have the opportunity at all German group matches close to the action to be. Completely independent of the weather , they can share the excitement here and make the live broadcasts in the cinema at a very special fan parties. Another advantage is that you avoid trouble with the neighbors because of nighttime sleep disturbance , because actually many games will kick off at 22.00 clock only German local time. “Football is one of the most important experiences in common . All the better if it can be so up close and experience in such outstanding picture and sound quality like in the movies , “says Oliver Fock , Managing CineStar.  LINK



UK (Scotland) – The pro- and anti-independence for Scotland campaigns cannot advertise on television, so cinema has become their new battle ground. Some have already had enough.

Over the last few weeks ­Scotland’s cinemas have shown a series of adverts making sometimes dubious claims for one or other side of the independence referendum debate.

So divisive are some of the spots that at least one major venue, Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT), has banned them.

However, after a flurry of complaints, Britain’s advertising watchdog has said it can do nothing to judge the accuracy of political clips force-fed to audiences as they wait the main attraction.  LINK


Jens Heinze UCI

Germany – A change of guard at UCI Germany, where Jens Heinze replaces Ralf Schilling as CEO from June 1st.

After the personal message of incumbent CEO Ralf Schilling UCI has now officially unveiled his successor. The 45-year-old takes over Jens Heinze the tasks of the managing director on 1 June this year. Heinze has  worked at UCI since 1992, his career in the chain started in Leipzig UCI cinema. In 1997, he opened as a theater director, the UCI cinema world Elbepark in Dresden. Since 1998 he is Operations Director at Bochum headquarters of the company.  LINK (subscription)



Germany – There are 1.4 million blind/visually impaired or deaf/hard of hearing people in Germany for whom a cinema visit is a challenge. But two new audio-description apps called Greta and Starks are looking to change that.

Here is where the apps and Greta Starks come into play. In future they should allow access to the movie experience for blind and deaf people at any time and in any cinema. While Greta headphones delivers film descriptions, Starks subtitled movie directly on the smartphone.

The initiative to develop the apps came from the filmmaker Seneit Debese. In 2011 she filmed a documentary about the blind runner Kidisti Weldemichael. Here, she realized how unattractive is the cinema for people with visual impairment. She decided to change that. 2012, plans were since the beginning of 2014 Greta and Starks can be downloaded for free in the App Store and Google Play. “With Greta Greta Garbo meant” explains Debese the naming, “and Starks is simply their strong companion.”  LINK

Law & Order

Lansing Mall Regal Cinema

USA (NY) – No details of what the fight was over and whether it was film or even cell phone related. The cinema is brand new and only opened last year.

The Tompkins County sheriff’s office is investigating a movie theater stabbing. It happened at the Regal Cinema in Lansing.

Deputies were called to the theater for a fight just after seven Thursday night. They eventually found a victim inside one of the theaters with numerous stab wounds.

Witnesses said two men were involved but the description of the suspects was limited. However, deputies believe one of the suspects may have also been injured.  LINK

Digital Death Watch

Salem Twin Cinema

USA (OH) – It feels like we will soon have to change the name of this category to ‘Digital Resuscitation Watch’.

A local family is investing in Salem with a complete overhaul of the former Salem Twin Cinema.

The family of Natalee and Jock Buta wanted to bring movies back to Salem and provide families and kids with a safe place to see movies but with the latest video and audio technology.

The upgrades include state-of-the-art equipment, wider seats and “rumble seats” and amenities for handicapped viewers.

The theater is located in the Salem Plaza and was closed by the former owners last fall, citing the prohibitive cost to upgrade to digital equipment.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Swinouscie kino nowe

Poland – The Polish port city of Swinoujscie near the German border is set to get a four-screen cinema in the Galeria Swinoujscie mall. No word on who will operate it.

– It seems to me that the gallery will be set permanently as a place where we do shopping conveniently, as there is a large parking lot. In this center, nothing is as good complement, as the film – says one of the mall’s investors Marcin Wozniak.

Previously there was in Swinoujscie a Cinema Club. The last screening the townsfolk viewed was in 2005. Today, the site of the former cinema is a chapel.  LINK

Ahrensburg kino

Germany – More details on the plans for a cinema in Ahrensburg.

The plan is ambitious, of this they are certain: Mathias Kemme and Christof glasses want to open a cinema in Ahrensburg with up to six screens and 800 seats. With connected gastronomy with outdoor seating. Around 1.5 million Euros is what the CEO of K-Motion GmbH has invested in equipment and the latest digital technology when it is rebuilt on the old hippodrome. They want to create about 30 jobs. From politics and the administration there was mostly positive signals, says Mathias Kemme, who lives in Hamburg, Marienthal and operates in the north of the Republic 14Lichtspielhäuser. They evaluate your chances so positive, says Christof glasses from Sasel that they want to enter into a lease with a term of “at least 15, more like 20 years.”  LINK

St Helier Jersey cinema Odeon

UK (Jersey) – A cinema that was built not long after the German occupation of the island of Jersey ended looks set to get Grade I listing, protecting it for the future.

A former cinema building in St Helier could get special protection after being described as having “national significance” to Jersey and the UK.

The 1952 Odeon building was one of the earliest post war cinemas built in the British Isles.

It could have its status upgraded to a “Grade One” listing, the same as 800-year-old Mont Orgueil Castle.  LINK

Kim Sing Theatre for sale

USA (CA) – Fancy a piece of cinema history from the son of a matinee idol? You’re in luck if you have a few million dollars to spare.

Willard Ford, son of the “Indiana Jones” actor Harrison Ford, is reportedly selling the unique Kim Sing Cinema theater in Chinatown, Los Angeles, for $4.5 million.

Ford purchased the Kim Sing building at Figueroa Street in downtown L.A. in 1999. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the space was originally built as a theater in 1926. When Ford purchased the place, he worked extensively with XTen architects to create a unique space, adding an internal courtyard right in the center of the home and creating a three-tier floor to replace the slope of the theater seating.  LINK

Embassey Cinema

USA (MA) – Landmark Theaters’ Embassy Cinema is staying put, despite the building changing ownership.

The owners of the Embassy Cinema on Pine Street have sold the building to a New York-based group, but the site will remain a movie theater, according to a representative for the sellers.

Ship To Shore LLC sold the property, at 14-26 Pine St., to Katz Properties for $3.1 million. The deal closed May 16.

“It’s going to remain in operation [as a cinema],” said Justin Smith, associate director of the Capital Markets Group at Cushman & Wakefield in Boston, which represented the seller and secured the buyer for the deal. “It’s not a redevelopment project.”  LINK

Southwater Telford

UK – July 14th is the date for the opening of the first part of a £250 million shopping and leisure centre in Telford that will include an 11-screen multiplex with an Imax courtesy of Cineworld.

The Southwater One centre in Telford will house the town centre library and other services.

It has been described by Telford and Wrekin Council as the town’s “flagship community building”.

Later in the summer restaurants, bars, a multiplex cinema and a hotel will open nearby as part of the wider Southwater development.  LINK


Vietnam cinema

The vanishing world of Southeast Asia’s single-screen cinemas is being captured before it is completely lost by an intrepid American photographer, as part of his “The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project

Across Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, the standalone cinema, with its one or two screens, once occupied a place of privilege in cities and villages that were oriented around lively town centers, where residents mostly walked or biked to their business, shopping and entertainment. With the arrival of cars, motorbikes and middle-class lifestyles, many of these midcentury architectural gems have been demolished or abandoned in favor of the air-conditioned mall-based movieplex, with all its contemporary comforts and technological enhancements.

Phil Jablon, an American sustainable development researcher and photographer, has spent the past four years attempting to document, and hopefully preserve, as many Southeast Asian standalone cinemas as possible before they’re lost to time.  LINK

Laos Cinema

Patrick von Sychowski
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