Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 9 June 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | June 9, 2014 4:41 am PDT
Rusalka Dvorak Met Opera

Event cinema is used to trade accusation between New York’s Metropolitan opera and London’s Royal Opera House, with the former arguing that it is simply cannibalizing existing audiences, while ROH takes a more constructive view. It is a somewhat unedifying spat, rooted in the Met’s financial problems tied to its complex negotiations with its unions. But the severity of the crisis at the Met, which kick-started the event cinema craze for opera, should not be underestimated.

The Met’s much vaunted innovation of HD live broadcasts to cinemas, pioneered by Gelb and copied by opera companies across the world including the Royal Opera in Covent Garden, is merely entertaining an existing and dwindling audience, he says, rather than creating a new one. “What we’ve basically done is to extend the lifespan of the opera-goer. In the US, 75% of the cinema audience are 65 or over. And 30% are over 75. Those are people who are so old that they can’t go the Met, to the theatre, any more.”

His warning could not be more stark, but his analysis is flatly rejected by Alex Beard, chief executive at the Royal Opera. “I don’t want to get into a slagging match with the Met, but that is just so far from our experience. Opera is on a roll. As long as love, death, longing and despair are part of the life experience, and people want to hear great stories told through music, opera has a vibrant future,” he said.  LINK

 FFA logo

Germany – The German Federal Film Board has announced that it special division will be providing over five million euro to help smaller cinemas in Germany switch to digital.

In their first meeting of 2014, the newly constituted  FFA Cinema Sub-Committee has awarded around 5.35 million euro for the improvement of a total of 162 theaters. Among 146 applications for modernization funding were there the first time, four projects to improve accessibility in theaters. With the entry into force of the new film funding law, the FFA promotes since January 1 this year corresponding projects with a 50 percent subsidy. Overall, the panel received 183 applications.  LINK

Philip Knatchbull Curzon

UK – The Telegraph uses the opening of the Curzon cinema in London’s Victoria to profile the company and its charismatic CEO Philip Knatchbull. The group has raised significant capital to not just expand its cinemas, but to push film distribution using its Curzon Home Cinema platform.

Within three years, Curzon plans to increase its estate from nine cinemas to 25. Canterbury, Colchester and Sheffield are next on the list. According to Knatchbull, however, the cinemas are something of a side-show for Curzon, or a means to an end, in a multi-faceted plan to profit from independent film.

“What people think Curzon is is an art house cinema,” he says. “The main business is actually the acquisition of film rights.”

Curzon executives have just returned from Cannes, where they bought the UK distribution rights to nine films for release over the next year, including Leviathan, an acclaimed Russian drama that has been interpreted as a bitter satire on government corruption under Vladimir Putin. That may not sound like the stuff of box office records, but Knatchbull believes Curzon has developed a new way of making money from foreign and art house films. So much so that the group is currently touting its third and largest off-balance sheet film investment fund, targeting City institutions for the first time.  LINK

CITY AM is reporting that BT is in negotiations to invest GBP 30 million into the venture.

Broadway Cinema Nottingham

UK – Curzon is not the only UK cinema investing in film. While smaller than Curzon’s play, Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema is launching a £100,000 film investment fund.

“Investment is likely to be, where possible, in projects co-financed with other partners and recoupable in line with industry practice. To reflect the uniqueness of Broadway managing a film fund and being a cinema, I expect we’ll be looking to prioritise projects that actively engage audiences from the very start.”

Broadway is one of the leading indie cinemas in the UK, in its 24th year of operation and attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually. It is one of the Film Hub Lead Organisations, partnering with the Cambridge Film Trust, as part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network.  LINK

Event Cinema

Francis Ford Coppola

USA – Francis Ford Coppola, who in the early 1980s set up a company called SLEK (So-Long, Eastman Kodak) is predicting the dawn of ‘live’ cinema.

The man who once talked about filmmaking completely converting to digital more than three decades ago now feels that the next technological wave will involve a kind of live cinema — not unlike what was done with “The Sound of Music” on television recently, but involving the latest screen technology and available on everything from movie screens to mobile devices. “The cinema can be composed for the audience while they’re seeing it,” he said. “Movies no longer have to be set in stone and can be interpreted for an audience.”

The suggestion was that a movie could be customized for its intended viewers, and could be altered at will. “Live cinema could be like live theater,” he said. “Streaming will be broadcasting.”
Coppola also cited narrative as one of the medium’s fastest evolving aspects, citing Sarah Polley’s last film as a director, “Stories We Tell,” as an ingenious way of combining documentary-styled storytelling with narrative fiction.  LINK


Kinley Coca-Cola

India – Cinemas charge more for bottled water than shops? I am shocked — shocked— to find that over-charging is going on here!

The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (DCDRF) here has directed the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd and the Inox Leisure Limited to file replies on a petition seeking action against the cinema hall for charging double the money for a mineral water bottle.

N Murugesan from Madurai, in his petition stated that on March 9, 2014 he along with his family members went to Inox theatre in Vishaal De Mall to watch a Tamil movie.

While so, the petitioner purchased a 1-litre bottle of Kinley water, which was sold to him for `40. On enquiry, the petitioner was informed that the MRP of the water bottle was `40 and the same was quoted on the label of the bottle. The petitioner purchased the same brand water bottle from an outlet outside the theatre and got the receipt for `20.  LINK


India cinema intermission

India – A look at how cinema advertising is growing in India.

Over the past three years, ad revenues have doubled for almost every major theatre chain in India, hitting a total of roughly Rs 250 crore [USD $42 million] in 2010-11. This is over a fifth of what advertisers spent on radio and a third of their online ad spends in the same period. At a 35-40 per cent rise year-on-year, cinema advertising is growing faster than online, radio or overall advertising growth, where the annual growth is about 11 per cent.

The medium continued to hold its ad pie share of 0.5 per cent vis-à-vis year 2010. There are various reasons that are being associated with marketers taking the medium more seriously. The basic reason is the nature of the medium. It catches the audience when it is completely dedicated to the medium. Ad films get screened exactly at the position advertisers want them, be it just before the censor rating certificate or right into the interval. Because of the medium witnessing a number of on-ground activities, it is being noticed that the number of active advertiser screens are also increasing. A lot is happening in Tier II and III cities. They are being seen as emerging markets. Every hall receives a footfall of 6 lakh to 9 lakh in a year. Advertisers can no more afford to avoid this chunk of potential consumers.  LINK

Premium Cinema

Bangkok Embassy cinema

Thailand – The recent army coup in Thailand has not diminished people’s appetite for cinema, even though the 10pm curfew meant that multiplexes had to cancel their last shows.  So it is understandable that there is a lot of interest in the opening of a new luxury screen, where tickets cost 900 Baht (USD $27.75).

A lot of anticipation was built when it was first announced that Central Embassy would include a “luxury” movie theatre complex called Embassy Diplomat Screens. It’s admittedly an unfathomable concept that makes you wonder — how luxurious can a cinema be? Diego Gronda, managing and creative director of Rockwell Group Europe, a globally celebrated design company, said it’s the kind of movie theatre that does not sell movies — it sells the experience.  LINK


Shaghai Film Festival

China – An article about the upcoming Shanghai International Film Festival gives an insight into the complexity of the work for film technicians, now that almost all films arrive on DCP, often having mastered at the last minute and in a hurry. The Danish film “Kvinden i buret” (“The Woman in the Cage”) was faulty and a new hard drive had to be dispatched.

It is reported that more than 300 films screening at this year’s festivals, only 12 are in 35mm film format. Currently digital movie format is not uniform around the world, which means that testing each copy for the transport, upload, and other aspects of the decryption key until the show has brought great difficulties. To this end, the Shanghai film technology factory workers last week began 24 hours work in shifts to ensure that the completion of the secret key, copy, showing technical inspection in the shortest possible time.

Shanghai Film Technology factory director Xu Jing said that at present more than 50 technical staff on technical standards from the factory, the digital copy detection DCP, DCP secret key contact, film copy identification cinema system to detect and technology consulting six areas, film festival screenings security escort. “Our technical team began last week stationed cinema, theater work during the day, night test equipment; copies of the test group 24 hours lianzhouzhuan, received a copy immediately began testing; secret key group due to time differences, working day and night reversed Additionally, the. Technical plant also specially equipped with a group of 20 people and distribution team, unlike the Cannes Film Festival in Shanghai where a small, 35 cinemas across the city every corner, Paopian workload is very large. ”  LINK

Digital Death Watch

Theatre Gwaun

UK – This cinema in Wales has managed to escape closure thanks to public grants.

Film fans in Fishguard will soon be able to see the latest releases as Theatr Gwaun is set to install digital projection equipment.

The new equipment will enable the community venue to show the latest releases, an increased range of specialist films, and tap into other innovations such as live screenings of major events.

The announcement comes after the venue received generous capital grants from the Arts Council of Wales and the European funded Collaborative Communities project, plus extensive fundraising by volunteers. LINK

Cinema Opening/Closing

 Scunthorpe old cinema

UK – Plans are underway to re-open the 230-seat cinema in the town that is the bane of Internet filters.

The Screen, in Church Square, shut in 2004 and then opened as the Base Youth Centre.

The centre will also get a digital editing suite as part of plans put forward by Gravity Red, which runs youth services alongside North Lincolnshire Council.

Marcus Isman, managing director of Gravity Red, said it is hoping to raise £60,000 through grants and a crowd funding project set up by youngsters at the centre.  LINK


The Embassy Wellington

Guardian’s on-going Cine-Files series comes to Wellington’s The Embassy Theatre.


At the Eastern end of Courtenay Place, the heart of Wellington’s entertainment hub. Surrounded by eateries, bars, theatres and rival auditoria – think Leicester Square, but less brash and without the crowds. The area has a typically laid-back, Kiwi vibe (unless Peter Jackson is premiering one of his films, in which case all hell breaks loose). A real mixing pot, you’re just as likely to see the well-heeled supping an aperitif before the opera as you are the trolleybus drivers enjoying a pint after work.


Built in 1924 and restored to its former glories in 2003, The Embassy is, to put it mildly, architecturally indulgent. Mosaic tiled floors extend across the foyers and marble staircases take one up towards the moulded plaster ceiling. Wellington City Council underwrote the refurbishments to the tune of NZ$4.5 million, regaining ownership of the building in the process; it must be noted that they have done a remarkable job in retaining the theatre’s original features and warding off any hint of kitsch.  LINK

Patrick von Sychowski
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