Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 29 October 2014

By | October 29, 2014 2:48 am PDT

“Psst, wanna buy a cinema?” That seems to be the not-so-subtle message from Regal, the largest cinema chain in the United States, which unexpectedly put a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front door. Speculations immediately focused on Alibab’s Jack Ma, though my gut instinct is that he won’t be following in the footsteps of Wanda/AMC, primarily because his background is not real-estate and there are no obvious Chinese-US synergies to be had from such a deal. A sovereign wealth fund if not VC outfit is more likely to be checking Regal’s numbers right now. Variety covers all the other angles.

Regal CEO Amy Miles was tight-lipped about the issue on an earnings call Monday with analysts and media, only offering that the company’s board felt it was “an opportune time to conduct a thorough review of our options.” But in an interview with Variety for a lengthy profile earlier this month, Miles may have inadvertently explained why Regal shifted from bidder to acquisition target.

“We’re all excited about the years 2015, 2016 and I’m going to be aggressive and say even 2017,” she told Variety at the time. “I think that (in the) environment of very healthy strong box office, it’s a natural time to think, ‘OK that might be a good time for an individual to exit.’ Value maximization happens in that environment.”  LINK

Dolby Doremi Logo

The European commission has give its go-ahead to the Dolby-Doremi merger. The approval was expected but was most likely sitting in the IN tray of some EU bureaucrat away on holiday, or it might have gone through earlier.

Dolby Laboratories (DLB.N) on Monday received EU clearance for its acquisition of digital cinema technology group Doremi, the European Commission said.

The Commission, which acts as the competition watchdog in the 28-member bloc, said that while there was overlap between the two companies in the digital cinema servers business, the merger did not distort the market.

“The proposed transaction would not lead to any anti-competitive effects because of the presence of alternative suppliers, the fast-moving nature of the market and the ease of switching for customers,” the Commission said in a statement on Monday.  LINK

Business

AMC Wanda

The poor third quarter (i.e. summer) with a 15% fall in admissions that prompted the talk of the Regal sale also haunts the US cinema major that already has a Chinese owner: AMC.

The country’s second-largest theater chain saw net income fall 78% to $7.4 million for the three months ending in September, compared to $33.5 million in the year ago period. Earnings per share also fell sharply, dropping from 44 cents to 8 cents.

Revenues for the theater chain were more stable, topping out at $633.9 million, an 8.9% drop from the $696 million in revenues the company reported during the same quarter in 2013. The company’s sales were bolstered by higher ticket prices which rose 5.3% to $9.48.

Revenues fell just shy of Wall Street’s projections, while earnings were in line with expectations.  LINK

CEO Gary Lopex put a positive spin on the companies initiatives in the concession and re-seating focus.

“Our initiatives are delivering innovation, additional revenue opportunities, improved profit flow-through and better-than-industry results. There is no better evidence than the 10.3% increase in food and beverage revenues per patron during the quarter. In addition, we are energized by the continued year-over-year increases in our reseated theatres. This portion of our fleet, now 48 theatres strong, experienced an impressive 14.3% year-on-year improvement in admissions revenues per screen during the September quarter of 2014, compared to an industry decline of 12.6%.”

Celebration Cinema seats

USA (FL) – It is not just AMC that believes in the mantra that “less-is-more” when it comes to seating. Celebration Cinemas also has a re-seating scheme underway – and they promise that they will not put up ticket prices once it is complete.

Gone are the days of packing as many people as possible into a theater for a night at the movies, at least at one Lansing multiplex.

Celebration Cinema in south Lansing is tearing out about 4,000 existing seats at its 20-screen theater on Edgewood Boulevard and replacing them with about 1,600 automatically reclining seats.

Moviegoers, with the click of a button, will be able to settle in for the show in their perfect movie-watching positions. The chair’s arms also can be lifted, creating a makeshift loveseat.  LINK

PVR Gold Class Ajay Bijli

India – An excellent in-depth article in Forbed India about PVR and the company’s founder.

In many ways, 47-year-old Bijli has built PVR along the same exacting lines. Obsessed with creating a brand and not just a chain of multiplexes, the entrepreneur oversees every detail of his expanding empire. Nothing is deemed insignificant: Employees say he accords the same attention to the cleanliness of washrooms that he does to the installation of the latest technology in his multiplexes.

There have been occasions when he has spent Rs 10 crore to set up a single screen, though the average expenditure is Rs 4 crore per screen. (Two years ago, that was 50 percent more than the industry average, though competitors are catching up to PVR’s standards and updating their technology.) But Bijli always had faith in his brand’s growing equity, and was confident enough to compensate the cost with ticket rates that none of his competitors would dare to demand. (They still don’t.) For instance, a ticket at the Vasant Kunj, Delhi, Directors Cut cinema—PVR’s top product which offers plush seats, dine-in facilities and other amenities—can cost Rs 1,400, about four times that of a regular ticket. Bijli has been taking such risks in other ways too: For instance, he opened an 11-screen multiplex in Bangalore in 2003 when even five-screen multiplexes were rare.

In the process, he has turned the single-screen side business, Priya Cinema, that his father had bought in the 1970s into a Rs 1,500-crore [USD $245 million] operation.  LINK

South Korea Roaring Currents

Korea (South) – With two sea-based domestic hit films riding high this summer in South Korea, focus is directed to the fact that both films came from vertically integrated distributors/exhibitors accused of locking out films from smaller independent distributors. “The Admiral: Roaring Currents,” by CJ E&M is the sister company is CGV, while “The Pirates,” came from distributor/exhibitor Lotte Entertainment.

An exhibition professional who asked to remain anonymous is still bitter about vertical integration and this summer’s trend. “If we had multiplexes, our film would’ve continued on longer. There was no chance to get more people in by word of mouth. By the time word got around, it was off the screens.”

But Yoon In-ho, head of PR at CJ’s film division, is quick to stress that CJ and CGV are two entirely separate subsidiaries. “If vertical integration was key to blockbuster success, all CJ films should do well. But that’s not the case,” says Yoon.  LINK

EMD cinema Walthamstow London

UK – The Guardian looks at urban gentrification and the resurgence of neighbourhood picture palaces in London and beyond. Nothing new here if you’ve been following CJ regularly, but pulling together the trends in an interesting way.

Local cinemas are all the rage. In London there has been a resurgence of small picturehouses led by local residents, mostly in districts like Deptford where property prices have spiralled upwards. After a campaign supported by director Mike Figgis, planning permission was granted in July for a new one-screen cinema in Kentish Town on the site of a 1920s technical college; it will be the first since the Venus, the last of the area’s eight cinemas, closed in 1975.

In Walthamstow, residents have been fighting for five years to prevent the former Granada cinema – which shut in 2003 after more than 70 years in business – from being converted into a church. They’ve now teamed up with Soho theatre to raise the £8m needed to make it an all-purpose arts venue – which would bring Waltham Forest, the capital’s other cinema-less borough along with Lewisham, back in the game. Outside of London, Whiteladies Picture House in Bristol, located in affluent Clifton but derelict since 2001, is the subject of a similar campaign.  LINK

Motion Pictures Solutions

UK – With the Ymagis-dcinex deal now a fait accompli local and regional vendors are having to up their game and form new strategic partnerships to compete better. Hence this deal by MPS for German-speaking territories.

Content services company Motion Picture Solutions (MPS) has appointed technical services company zweiB as its Territory Partner in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GAS).

The new appointment will see zweiB selling MPS’ suite of server-grade hardware products including LANsat, their professional solution combining live events, electronic delivery and industry leading TMS providers Arts Alliance Media’s Screenwriter software.

As part of the agreement, zweiB will also become MPS’ territory partner offering Digital Cinema Content Services to distributor clients, allowing for a more cost-effective method of content delivery.  LINK

Technology

UniqueDigitallogo

Norway – Unique Digital is building digital cinema software with public funding and is not shy talking about it either.

Unique Digital has received support from The Greater Manchester Loan Fund to support a new product to distribute movies to cinemas via broadband.

Based in Dublin, but with its software development team working out of Manchester, the cash will enable it to roll out its MovieTransit product nationwide.

“Unique’s innovative online technology will completely transform the means by which movies and advertising content is delivered to cinemas across the UK and Ireland,” said David Wright, investment manager at Maven, which looks after the fund.  LINK

Arts Alliance Media Logo

Turkey – Mars Cinema Group has picked Arts Alliance Media’s suite of digital cinema software solutions for its multiplexes.

Turkey’s leading cinema chain owner Mars Cinema Group, the fastest growing exhibitor in Turkey, has selected Arts Alliance Media’s (AAM) full cinema software suite to power all of their Cinemaximum screens.

The AAM solution comprises the entire end-to-end suite of software products and covers cinema operations (from screen and equipment monitoring to comprehensive content management), financial and operational reporting, and advertising. The package includes the Screenwriter Theatre Management System (TMS); the Producer enterprise content, KDM and pre-show management system; VPF financial software Auditor; and AdFuser, AAM’s flagship campaign advertising management system.  LINK

Cineplanet Peru

Peru – Barco is expanding in Latin America, specifically in Peru and Chile, following a three-way deal between Barco, regional integrator Bardan exhibitor and Cineplanet.

Barco, the global leader in digital cinema projection, in collaboration with Bardan Cinema, a full-service distributor and digital cinema integrator serving Latin America, have elevated the entertainment quality of Cineplanet’s 200+ movie theaters and are moving forward by outfitting numerous new theaters.

Cineplanet has proven itself to be one of the most enlightened and progressive players in the Latin American market, constantly dedicating themselves to enhancing the experience they provide their moviegoing clientele. They have modernized their theaters with premium amenities and the best 3D technology to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated audience.  LINK

Harkness Screens

UK – Harkness has launched the latest iteration of its popular Clarus cinema screens for 2D and 3D.

Harkness Screens the world’s leading screen technology company and thought-leader in on-screen brightness has launched a new higher gain version of its 4th generation 2D and 3D screen surface, Clarus XC.

Shipping in late 2014, the new Clarus XC 270 screen surface benefits from d-smooth coating technology which has specific properties more commonly seen in white screens. This technology enables Clarus XC screens to benefit from significantly improved light distribution compared to traditional 3D silver screens. Through this, visible hot-spotting is reduced and uniformity is greatly increased, making compliance with 2D industry standards more easily achievable.  LINK

Law & Order

Filmcity PvS

India – We missed this story earlier but it is too horrific and sad not to be highlighted. As earlier, this is South India where films are not so much entertainment but religion and emotions run high, though this is no excuse for this barbaric behaviour.

A quarrel over movie tickets led to the killing of a security guard at a multiplex here on Monday. Satyaprakash, 50, security guard at PVS film city at RP Mall, was beaten up by two youths who had a tiff with the reservation counter clerk at the theatre. Satyaprakash tried to intervene and pacify the youths, when they turned on him and thrashed him.

Satyaprakash, hailing from Kozhikode, collapsed after the assault and he was rushed to a private hospital where he was declared brought dead. His body was shifted to Kozhikode Medical College Hospital for post-mortem.

Reservation counter clerk Vipin, who was also assaulted, was admitted to hospital with serious injuries.  UphaarLINK

Health & Safety

Uphaar cinema fire India

Tampering with fire & safety regulations should only be done with the uttermost care, particularly in a country which has suffered such appealing cinema fires in the past like the Uphaar tragedy in 1997 when 59 people died (some pictured above). In fact a small fire broke out in the abandoned cinema building only last week – though nobody was injured.

Since cinema hall operations have got digitised with the emergence of multiplexes, cineplex owners have approached the Delhi Government to ease some of the operational norms including those of fire safety.

The current rules under the Cinematograph Act mandate the authorities to have operators seated permanently through the show in the Green Room from where the movies are played. The rules require the operators to be trained in fire fighting apart from being certified in handling electrical equipments, officials said.  LINK

Cinema Opening/Closings

Macy's UAE Abu Dhabi

U.A.E. – The first overseas Macy’s store will include a 20-screen multiplex. Though not much more details about it in the article.

Macy’s first overseas store will open not in Canada or Europe, but on an island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The iconic American retailer announced today that the first Macy’s store outside the U.S. and the second Bloomingdale’s global store will anchor a “super-regional shopping destination” called Al Maryah Central on Al Maryah Island. The project is scheduled to open in spring 2018.  LINK

Forum Group Bhubaneswar

India – An eight-screen multiplex is coming up in the Odisa capital.

Kolkata-based Real estate developer Forum Group to set up 8 Screen Multiplex Cinema in Bhubaneswar at cost of Rs. 500 crore.    The Upcoming Shopping Mall of Forum Group Kolkata at the Rasulgarh Square (Old Hotel Safari International Campus),Bhubaneswar henceforth will be known as Esplanade By Forum, Bhubaneswar Instead Of Forum Safari, Bhubaneswar. And Instead Of 4 Screen Multiplex, It Will Have 8 Screen Multiplex Cinema. LINK

Dreamland cinema

UK – Work has begun to restore the Dreamland cinema and amusement park in Margate, Kent, though not clear if the cinema will be re-opened as such.

The work will include the first stage in the refurbishment of the lower level of the main cinema building to facilitate the opening of the Park. The contract will also enable the stabilisation and future protection of the Grade II Listed menagerie cages.

Dreamland is considered to be the oldest-surviving amusement park in Great Britain. It was closed in 2006 and the site was earmarked for a housing development. After a six-year campaign the save the attraction as part of England’s seaside heritage, the newly formed Dreamland Trust secured £12m public funding to restore Dreamland, including its Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway, Grade II*-listed cinema complex and Grade II-listed menagerie cages.  LINK

Burgess Hill Cinema Orion

UK – The plans for a shopping centre with an eight-screen multiplex should hopefully not spell the end of the Orion cinema in Burgess Hill in Sussex.

Lee Allwood, who runs the Orion in the building owned by Mid Sussex District Council, said: “At Orion, we welcome change and improvements to Burgess Hill town centre. However, I am disappointed that, whenever mention is made of a possible new multiplex cinema, there is an assumption that this spells the end of the road for the Orion Cinema. This does not have to be the case by any means.

“I believe passionately that the Orion cinema has a healthy future. With careful programming and expansion of services we aim to offer sensible competition offering the people of Burgess Hill and Mid-Sussex a very high level of comfort and technical presentation at prices significantly below those charged by large cinema chains.”  LINK

Finally

Early cinema etiquette cards

Singapore, where I live, is not know for littering, so this letter complaining about litter in the cinema came as a surprise to me. But it gives me the perfect excuse to showcase these amazing and genuine cinema etiquette slide cards from the early days of cinema more than a century ago.

Early theaters—especially nickelodeons—were places where women and men mixed much more freely than had been Victorian custom. Cinema scholar Kate Fortmueller writes: “Many of the concerns about the nickelodeon as a rowdy space emerged from the presence of women.” Some of the slides here show how that concern manifested in a fear for women’s safety, or for their delicate sensibilities; the fact that audiences were a mix of classes and races exacerbated those fears. But female cinema-goers were just as likely to be seen as a problem, given their supposed propensity for wearing big hats and chatting.

Not everyone found the raucous environment of early cinema objectionable. Author W.W. Winters, in his article “With the Picture Fans”—published in The Nickelodeon in 1910 and posted online as part of the site Picturegoing (which collects historical eyewitness accounts from cinema-goers)—speaks from the perspective of an onlooker who found the social mixing and chaos of the nickelodeon invigorating.

“Somehow you all enter into the spirit of the thing. Armed with a few stray nickels, a bag of peanuts, a good supply of patience and good humor, and oh! what a time we did have! You all know that line from Kipling, “The colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady are sisters under the skin.” Isn’t it so? Don’t you slip away from yourself, lose your reticence, reserve, pride, and a few other things?”  LINK

Early cinema etiquette cards

Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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