Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 27 October 2014

By Patrick von Sychowski | October 27, 2014 4:33 am PDT

Regal lawsuit

Regal has escaped a major anti-trust lawsuit brought on by a small chain complaining about unfair film booking practices that favour larger cinema chains. Major implications in an age when 35mm scarcity is no longer a reason for denying smaller chains film “prints”. This is bad news for Look Cinema and other small exhibitors.

On Thursday, just a few days after The Wall Street Journal revealed that the DOJ was asking questions about these types of arrangements, a federal judge in California dismissed a lawsuit brought by Starlight Cinemas, the owner of a few independent movie theaters in California, against exhibition giant Regal Entertainment Group.

According to the lawsuit, filed in June, Starlight operates a state-of-the-art 15-screen movie theater in Corona, Calif., but has been suffering because Regal has been having more success licensing the blockbuster films from the likes of Sony and Universal. Regal operates an upscale 18-screen theater in Corona, but is advantaged by the fact that it controls approximately 575 theaters and 7,631 screens. So if studios wish to effectuate a “wide release,” they need cooperation from the likes of Regal. But according to the allegations, Regal demands exclusivity for that privilege.  LINK

Brixton Ritzy

UK – It proved a short-lived victory for the staff of the Brixton Ritzy cinema (owned by Picturehouse/Cineworld), who won the right to a Living Wage, only now to be told that a quarter of them will be laid off.

Picturehouse Cinemas said that the cost of increasing basic wages at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to £8.80 an hour would be absorbed by reducing the number of staff by at least 20, with a redundancy programme starting next month.

Two management posts will be axed along with eight supervisors, three technical staff and other front-of-house workers from its workforce of 93.

BECTU, the union that represents cinema staff, today described the move which follows a year of strikes and negotiations as a “kick in the teeth”.  LINK

Le Majestic cinema fire

France – A fire broke out over the weekend at Le Majestic cinema in Paris. Fortunately nobody was injured.

A particularly impressive sequence awaited sixty spectators in the multiplex Majestic, on Saturday night around 19:30pm. Firefighters Compiegne Estrées-Saint-Denis and Verberie intervened to stop the fire sign light film, billowing high flames. The public had to be evacuated and secured the parking lot. The film show was suspended. After checking the electrical grid, projections resumed.

“It was impressive, going out, feel and see smoke. We especially were surprised to be evacuated during the session, “says Valerie, a Noyonnaise who had taken her two children to see Ninja Turtle II. She continues: “A siren sounded, the lights came on and a voice asked us to leave peacefully. I thought it was a false alarm, until I feel the smoke. My seven year old son was scared, he wanted to be taken to arms. ”  LINK

Cyprus – Nobody hurt but this abandoned cinema in Nicosia is no more.

The Acropol cinema in Nicosia was burned to the ground on Sunday, with the fire department laying the blame on kids seen regularly around the place.

According to the fire department, the fire was first spotted at around 11pm on Saturday night. Five fire department trucks were dispatched to deal with it, finally putting it out in the early hours of Sunday.

The cinema was completely destroyed.  LINK



Canada – Imax’s quarterly earnings is up on the back of a strong performing *international* summer box office slate.

The giant-screen exhibitor posted earnings of $5.3 million, up from $1.6 million in the year-ago period, on revenue growth of 28 percent to $60.7 million.

Imax delivered $169 million in global box office in the third quarter, up 28 percent from a year earlier, helped by global blockbuster releases like Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers 4.

The average global digital re-mastering box office per screen was $227,900, compared to $207,500 in the same period of 2013. And production and digital re-mastering revenue came to $18.4 million, compared to $14.5 million last year.  LINK

Happy New Year

India – The reviled Entertainment Tax could be amended to help single screen cinemas in the Indian state of Uthar Pradesh (UP).

Some of these cinemas, however, may bounce back to life, courtesy an initiative by the state entertainment tax department in which single screen cinemas would be revived as cineplexes. “A proposal to this effect is awaiting chief minister’s approval,” said entertainment tax commissioner SP Pandey. “The idea is to increase entertainment tax (ET) revenue by reviving the defunct halls and helping medium entrepreneurs establish themselves,” he said.

Though the government is not looking at abolishing entertainment tax for single screen theatres the way governments in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Jammu Kashmir have done, it proposes a midway out so that revenue keeps streaming in. “The entertainment tax revenue target for the current year is Rs 460 crore of which at least 70 crore would come from the single screen cinemas. This means that we cannot afford to abolish entertainment tax from them,” an officer in the entertainment tax department said.  LINK

Health & Safety

Ice ice baby

UK (Scotland) – Showcase and Vue are two of the cinemas in Scotland that were found to have dangerous levels of bacteria in the ice that goes into the sodas. Very disturbing finding and one we will be following.

An undercover probe took samples from several cinemas and tested them for levels of bacteria.

Five out of the eight venues tested failed stringent safety tests.

Experts blamed poor hygiene and warned that dirty ice served in drinks could cause film-lovers illness.

Environmental Health consultant Sarah Daniels, of the UK-wide RedCat Partnership, said: “People don’t treat ice like food but we should. It’s an afterthought in food safety but it’s very dangerous and more safety checks should be in place to ensure it’s of good quality.  LINK

Sri Lanka cinema

Sri Lanka – It seems that sanitary conditions left something to be desired in many of the cinemas in Sri Lanka’s capital.

Improvements have been made to cinema halls in Colombo following inspections conducted by Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) in August, says CMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni. He added that the 3D cinema halls have been given more time to purchase cleaning machines for the 3D glasses.

When contacted by The Nation, Majestic Cinema of Ceylon Theatres confirmed that a 3D glass cleaner has been in use since the beginning of the month. The spokesperson said the machine had to be repaired but they had purchased the required equipment from Singapore and ensured the CMC regulations were now being followed.  LINK


Cinepolis sushi martini

USA (CA) – The Orange County Register looks at what local cinemas are doing to counter flatlined admissions, including martinis, sushi and ‘ninja’ waiter service in the local Cinepolis.

Movie theater revenue grew just 0.5 percent from 2009 to 2014, despite a slew of seasonal blockbusters. An IBISWorld report estimates the industry will grow a mere 1.4 percent from 2014 to 2019.

Theater owners are jumping on one solid growth avenue – food and beverage sales – which have risen during the past five years and account for 28.7 percent of industry revenue, according to IBISWorld. LINK

Micon Downtown Cinema

USA (WI) – This Wisconsin cinema is pinning hope to liquor licence to help offset the expense of upgrading to digital.

The Eau Claire City Council will consider a proposal Tuesday to give a beer and wine license to theater owners Mike and Connie Olson.

Mike Olson said he would close the theater for about a month to renovate the building.

“Our plan is to take out seats and put in some tables,” he said. “It’s not our plan to turn the theater into a bar. We want to keep the nostalgia. This is a very old building.”  LINK



Romania – Share Dimension has launched its Cinema Intelligence service (not to be confused with the former Screen Digest service of the same name).

Newly Released Cinema Intelligence by Share Dimension helps cinemas predict movie box office and achieve better profitability
Share Dimension, a leader in software development of business intelligence and predictive analytics applications for the cinema industry, is announcing the release of their ground breaking product, Cinema Intelligence, globally and is promoting their suite of solutions in the US at the upcoming ShowEast 2014 in Florida.

Cinema Intelligence is the first big data analytics product of its kind aimed at motion picture exhibitors. The user friendly web based suite of solutions offer a collection of modules aimed at cinema exhibitors and is designed to allow management of the complete lifetime of a movie in a theatre environment.  LINK


USA – Yet another stab at interactive story telling in cinemas – this one using a smartphone app.

It was just a couple weeks ago that we brought you the first images from Voyeur, an intriguing experiment in interactive cinema from director Isaac Cravit and CineApp. What is it? Remember those old Choose Your Own Adventure books? It’s basically that, but in visual form and delivered as an app for Android devices.

In VOYEUR, a young woman named Ash wakes up trapped in an abandoned orphanage with a madman on the loose. Only a stranger can help her survive and that that stranger is YOU! Unless?you become the accomplice that guides the killer to his prey. In this mobile interactive experience, the viewer becomes part of the story, communicating with characters and ultimately determining their fate.  LINK

Switzerland cinema

Switzerland – Another attempt at combining social media and cinema going. Gokino.ch has apparently signed up four cinemas with a total of 15 screens in Switzerland already.

On Gokino.ch film fans can organize film screenings with the movies of their choice. Cinema-on-Demand called in the technical jargon, analogue already available for video-on-demand services, the television and Internet users. The service can be used from now on in the cities of Zurich and Geneva. In Zurich, a total of 15 rooms in four different theaters available. Involved are the new cinema Houdini at the Baden Street, the cinema Riffraff and arthouse cinemas Picadilly and Movie.

The operation of Gokino has parallels with crowdfunding platforms: To conduct a film show, the initiator must recruit within 10 days, a minimum number of supporters who buy a ticket. The available presentation dates will be set by the cinema. Most are off-peak hours in the early afternoon or late at night – when the rooms are usually empty. The tickets cost 10 to 18 francs – depending on the room and time of day.  LINK

Sri Lanka minister

Sri Lanka – All of the cinemas in Sri Lanaka are due to complete digitisation within less than six months, following a government initiative.

Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella, at a recently held meeting with film producers and directors said that a policy decision has been taken to digitize all local cinema halls and the digitization process will be completed by March 31, 2015.
Already around 20 cinema halls have been digitized and three distribution circuits of the cinema industry have agreed to finalise the digitization process by March 31, 2015 after discussing with cinema hall owners for which the Ministry has provided a format.

The ministry plans to reduce the 10 percent distribution charge to 7.5 percent and allocate 2.5 percent out of this percentage for the welfare of people who engage in the local cinema industry.  LINK

Dolby Doremi Logo

France – Doremi has launched what they are calling a cost-effective Theatre Management System.

Doremi Labs introduces its TMS3, a Theater Management System that provides a comprehensive user interface and offers support for installation on any platform allowing for lower cost of ownership.

The hardware independent application can be installed on any PC-based hardware that meets the minimum performance requirements, and provides a centralized high performance library that will serve any multiplex configuration from 3 to 32 screens using a highly intuitive interface specifically designed for non-IT users.  LINK

Law & Order


India – Separatists in India’s north-east are doing their bit for their local language film business – by forcing Assamese cinema owners to screen a local film that hasn’t been doing well at the box office.

Avijit Asom, chairman of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) faction opposed to peace talks with the government, issued a statement in this regard to the media Sunday.

He advised businessmen or groups who own cinema halls in Assam to facilitate shows of each Assamese movie at least for one week in each of the cinema halls in the state.

The ULFA leader was reacting to media reports that the recently released Assamese movie “Shringkhol” did not get a good response from cinema hall owners.  LINK


Brynmawr cinema of the year

The accolade of Cinema of the Year has gone to a 120 year old picture house in Wales.

Bynmawr cinema in Blaenau Gwent, which is in the town’s market hall, picked up the accolade at the 2014 Screen Awards in London.

Manager Ralph Price said: “We were up against cinemas from all over the UK.

“Most of the others were posh multi-screen venues showing arty films and serving organic tofu. We show blockbusters and have salt and vinegar crisps.”  LINK

Frankfurt cinema team

Germany – An award as well to this cinema club team in Frankfurt.

In the cozy café, next to the autumn bouquet is the gold-defying remote-gazers. The new trophy of the Hessian Film and Cinema Prize, the four from Frankfurt cinema seh’n time on October 10, scored in the Alte Oper. This year there were 12,000 euros and a special commendation of the jury in the category of commercial cinema. As a “commercial cinema” but does not affect the club cinema times seh’n, founded 30 years ago. And no one is rich with him. Beatrix Loew, one of the seven club members, the Hans Bornemann has convinced 30 years ago from the fact that Frankfurt need a cinema with claim has always worked in the cinema and in the associated Coffee Shop – hired for the first time since this spring.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Mega-Ace cinema Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma) – Once one of the most closed countries in the world, even cinemas are now flourishing in Myanmar.

The city is up one cinema. If you visited the old two-storey Mya Yanadar Cinema in Thaketa township last year, all you would have seen is a faded building with its door boarded over and nailed shut. Until recently, it had been closed since the 1980s.

Now the theatre is open, with the smell of freshly popped popcorn filling the air.

“It is a long time the old cinema has been closed,” said U Aung Thu, administrative manager of Royal Ace Mega Company Ltd, the new owner which also operates the Aung Tha Pyay cinema in Nay Pyi Taw. “Now we’ve renovated it in a modern style and to the international standard.”  LINK

Cineworld Eastbourne

UK – Cineworld is moving its multiplex in Eastbourne – aiming to be seamless in the transition. More on the details of this deal also here.

Cineworld revealed this week it would be pulling out of Sovereign Harbour to move to the heart of Eastbourne to take up pride of place in the new extension at the Arndale Centre.

The move into a brand new purpose-built digital cinema will take place in late 2017 or early 2018, once the Arndale extension is completed.

Cineworld says it hopes to continue operating from its current site in the Sovereign Harbour Retail Park and is aiming for a seamless transition into its new home.  LINK

Whiteladies Rd Everyman ABC Bristol

UK – While approval for the Whiteladies Rd ABC cinema to be re-opened is stuck in the local council, Everyman has released the drawings of what the refurbished cinema would look like.

A spokesperson for the company said Everyman has continued to work on its designs for the building despite the delays.

The spokesperson said: “Despite the judicial review, the Everyman Design team has been working hard to develop the layout for the cinema.

“They are artist’s impressions so the final look may vary slightly but the designs will still give people an idea of what the finished cinema will look like.”  LINK

Uckfield Picture House

UK – Uckfield’s unusual independent cinema is getting a half a million GDP pound upgrade.

Kevin Markwick, owner of the Uckfield Picture House, said improvement work is well ahead, but is set to halt over the busy Christmas and New Year period, starting again in January. The cinema will not close.

Alterations include moving the entrance to Screen One, a bigger screen and raising the floor which will be ‘stepped’. Fewer seats should also give more legroom.  LINK

Marine Ice cinema

UK – I’m obviously not the only one incensed by the closure of the Marine Ice in north London’s Chalk Farm after 80 years. The developers are now promising to sell the ice creams in the cinema and to name the venue after the gelatto maker.

The three-screen basement cinema is part of a major redevelopment of the former home of iconic restaurant and ice cream factory Marine Ices.

The plans by developer London and Regional Properties would also see the construction of 19 upper floor flats and a new ground floor restaurant.

It comes after the long-running Marine Ices store moved out of its home of more than 80 years and opened a new parlour 300 yards away in Chalk Farm Road.

Calling the complex Marine Ices Cinema, the developers say they hope to return the much-loved ice cream to its former home by selling it in the new restaurant and cinema.  LINK


Kings Theatre Brooklyn

One of the most glorious cinemas ever opened in the US is set to re-open next year in Brooklyn after a USD $90 million refurbishment. Though I suspect it will not be showing movies. But it is still spectacular.

Shuttered for almost 40 years, the ornamental façade of the Kings Theatre—towering over the storefronts along Brooklyn, New York’s busy Flatbush Avenue—stood as a sad reminder of the area’s decline, beginning in the 1970s, from a once glorious past. Now its decorative terracotta panels and sculptural flourishes are a sign of progress as the theater prepares to reopen in January 2015.

The façade, however, does not come close to equaling the splendor of the newly restored interiors. Opened in 1929 as one of five Loew’s Wonder Theatres constructed in New York and New Jersey, it was designed by Chicago architecture firm Rapp & Rapp as an entertainment palace where films and vaudeville acts were presented amidst a sumptuous backdrop inspired by the Palace of Versailles.  LINK

Patrick von Sychowski
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