CineEurope Grows With Confidence

By Patrick von Sychowski | June 20, 2014 5:19 am PDT

The third annual CineEurope in Barcelona conclude yesterday on a strong and confidant note, with a clear voice and profile as the must-attend trade show for the Euro-Asia/EMEA cinema exhibition industry.

UNIC’s member territories represent almost 30 per cent of global box office. In some of the praise for China and rising Asian markets by the Hollywood studios (even at this show!) it is easy to overlook that this sometimes messy and fragmented part of the world still account for nearly a third of what a film earns across all cinemas. Unic is not about to let you forget.

The organisation has reasons to be proud of its stewardship of CineEurope (and the Sunshines/Prometheus for its management). Speaking at a press conference Unic’s President and CEOs Phil Clapp and Jan Runge, together with Jaime Tarrazon (Head of Spain’s Cinema Federation) outlined the growth and new milestones for the trade show event on the last day of the show.

Commenting on the convention, Phil Clapp said:

“We are delighted with the success of this year’s CineEurope. As our involvement in the event has grown in recent years, so we have managed to further increase the attractiveness of CineEurope. Alongside the vital continued commitment of our studio partners and key sponsors, we have also this year added several great European film companies to the screening schedule and increased the amount of conference sessions available to visitors. CineEurope now increasingly reflects the diversity of European cinema and we look forward to continue to develop the show together with our partners PGM in the coming years.”

There were several notable achievements. The show was expanded from 3.5 to full 4 days (though the last afternoon was quiet and dinner rushed for the sake of a World Cup match – so more like 3.75 days) and attendance was up by 5%. This might not seem like a record, but at a time of consolidation for both exhibitors and technology companies, this small growth should not be under-estimated.

There was also the launch of the CineEurope Focus sessions. These mini panels were held in a four-wall area on the trade show floor. The restriction of the 60-only seats made it an ‘arrive early’ event and there were more than a few frustrated attendees standing outside straining to hear. But the format of just 30 minutes and only two panelists meant that discussions were focused and content-rich. (See our previous posts from two of the four sessions).

Next year Jan Runge promised that they would look at expanding the seating capacity (joking that they might increase it by removing seats and making it more standing-room only), but overall they were happy with the results.

The other achievement was not just getting a full house of Hollywood studio participation, but also receive the support of local distributors like UniFrance and eOne coming to show their product reel of upcoming releases. The StudioCanal presentation was particularly well received, but even US studios like Universal emphasised their local Spanish, Italian and German box office successes. A very European feel overall.

However, in terms of the full length film shown there were few attendees who had heaps of praise for many, or even any, of the films screened. It is an open secret that studios don’t need to screen Avengers to secure bookings from exhibitors, so the films they screen tend to more often be harder sells, particular for the European market. (Embargo rules prevent us from singling out particular maligned big screen offerings at this year’s show.)

The trade show was busy with several new and interesting companies. It was also most likely the last CineEurope for Doremi, before it gets absorbed into Dolby, but which was still flying its flag proudly (and its bags will soon be collectors’ items). There were lots of celebrity look-alikes: Marilyn at Unique Digital’s stand, not one but two Audrey Hepburns at Osram’s stand and a cheery Groucho Marx drifting around in general. Plus the strange white man from Sony that nobody could figure out.

The Event Cinema Association had a good hospitality lounge upstairs, which also hosted both Barco (and Audience Entertainment) and Philips. They definitely helped put event cinema (alternative content) on the CineEurope map, as well as through the excellent event cinema Focus panel with Patricia Wheatley (British Museum) and Graham Spurling (Film@Cinema) which we didn’t review as I arrived five minutes after the start.

Unic also commented on the joining of Cineplexx to the organisation with seven territories presence in addition to its home in Austria. Unic now has members in 33 countries and there was attendance from almost 70 countries, including Asia and the Middle East. CineEurope is truly becoming a “destination convention.” Runge and Clapp also emphasised bringing new companies to the trade show and it was the first time I had seen not one but several Chinese companies represented on the floor.

The inclusion of social media major like Facebook, Google and PayPal on Monday (before I arrived) was highlighted as a means of addressing the demographics challenge. I would personally also like to single out the Coca-Cola seminars as very good and important.

The question was raised about the show possibly moving east but Clapp slapped down the suggestion, pointing out that they had settled in well in Barcelona, delegates liked it and also pointing out the challenges in making a convention centre for for purpose.

This also highlights the only small dark cloud of the week (other than the World Cup getting in the way of things, as football tends to do every couple of years for CineEurope), which was the Dolby Atmos demo of the Warner Bros screening.

I did not attend it, so I am hesitant to write about it. But so many people whose judgment I respect brought it up that it would be negligent to ignore it. People didn’t have kind things to say about it and some went so far as to say that it set back the cause of immersive audio.

Whether it was the venue or the sound mix or a combination of factors, audiences came away from it underwhelmed, complaining of a bombardment of noise. Barco’s Claypool came to the defence of Dolby at the panel session and said that the auditorium was a challenging venue and that they would not have wanted to attempt it for Auro.

But this is a relatively small issue [unless you are Dolby, from whom we would welcome a comment] for what was overall a very good show.

There was also the Policy briefing from Unic. This touched on the recent European elections and the need to engage with policy makers on several issues. There was a good discussion with the assembled members of the press corps and the feeling was that we will be back to a bigger and even more improved CineEurope in 2015. Without football – and shame on the England team for losing when the Awards Night Dinner was pushed forward specifically to accommodate them. (I have a feeling Katzenberg will be supporting Barca.)

Patrick von Sychowski
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