CineEurope 2015 – Day 1

By Patrick von Sychowski | June 22, 2015 10:37 am PDT

The annual European cinema get together is back for its fifth year in Barcelona. It is a particularly interesting time for the industry as it seems slightly unsure whether to bask in the glow of the great box office year of 2015 (“Jurassic World” is about to cross the $1 billion mark world-wide this weekend) or worry about the storm clouds of declining youth attendance, threats from online film distribution and Brussels bureaucrats meddling with market forces in an effort to create a single European digital market.

What is not disputed is that it looks set to be a blockbuster CineEurope show that grows as it continues to enter new areas. Underpinning it is  the recently signed deal between Prometheus Media Group (PMG) and UNIC that makes CineEurope a partnership of equals between the two and hopefully ensures the events’ continuity and growth.

CineEurope 2015 – Facts & Figures

At a briefing for the press Bob Sunshine confirmed that CineEurope will be staying in Barcelona in 2016 and 2017. He announced that this year has seen 1,350 full advance registrants, making it the biggest show ever. Usually you get another 50-60 who sign up at the show, meaning that it is likely to be over 1,400 full registrants. Add to that hundreds of guests for the trade show and you get somewhere around 3,330 people attending CineEurope 2015.

Another milestone is that 11 companies are showing footage rom their future film slates. As Bob Sunskine said, CineEurope is “Changing from an American show with American footage,” to a more European one. They are delighted to have the likes of Studio Canal and Mister Smith Entertainment, “and for the first time ever we have Europa [Corp]”. The Award winner is Europa and Christoph Lambert will be coming to the show to receive an award. Disney will be showing “Ant Man”, Paramount will be showing “Terminator Genisys”. Five out of the six films shown are in Atmos. (He told us which film is NOT showing in Atmos – which gave the press corps a good laugh – but we promised not to tell. So I won’t). The tradeshow is also a sell-out again.

All the press then had to raise their right hand and pledge not to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or quote in any written form any opinion or view about any of the films or footage show here. So we won’t. Even if we think the film is good. Strictly ‘Verboten’.

This is also the first time an active effort is made to make the show less Anglophonic, with German, French and Spanish translation for the seminars. This may be a worthy attempt but it does not apear to have translated on the ground.  As Bob pointed out, the Monday morning had three full sessions with around 1,500 people attending. Only 16 people picked up headsets. Perhaps the only language for which translation is needed is Russian (Oleg Berezin joked at the ICTA seminar the day before that he is the only Russian who speaks English, so maybe there is some validity).

However, the multi-lingual support seemed to work betterin the afternoon during the opening ceremony, when Spanish and French speakers were able to speak freely in their native language, while behind them there was text in English, Spanish, French and/or German.

Morning Seminars and Odeons Cinema Innovation Lab

The conference kicked off on Monday morning with three session devoted to the issues of social media, audience engagement and interactivity. We will be bringing you reports on each of the session next week when we have had time to proof read and format the real-time typed notes. Sufficient to say that all the session were interesting and relevant, while also demonstrating that UNIC and PMG appreciate the importance that mobile and social already have with regards to the continuity of the theatrical experience.

Perhaps the most interesting announcement came from Ian Shepherd, Group Chief Commercia Officer for the Odeon & UCI Group (which includes Spain’s Cinesa). He revealed that what was previously a pilot scheme is now being turned into an ofical launch of two new Odeon/UCI Innovation Labs in London and Barcelona. As the new kid on the block, Ian did a good job of showing how Odeon/UCI has pushed hard to embrace mobile and online, delivering concerte results that the innovation lab “sandbox” should allow to help further, in terms of harnessing ideai, inovations and proposals from various online companies and ventures.

Ian Shepherd, Group Chief Commercial Officer explained “We initiated a major programme ten months ago to overhaul the technical and digital operations across our Group’s operations in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany. This is giving us new technical services and allowing us to launch new digital and retail services for our guests.

“It is also giving us a fascinating glimpse of the future and the opportunities ahead, and since January we’ve been quietly running a pilot programme to explore new ideas with some of the UK’s most innovative start-ups and innovative tech brains

Hopefully Ian wll come and share the fruits of the labs’ labour at future CineEurope conferences and will be following their work closely.

There were plenty of other announcements and press releases, which we cannot hope to do full justice here, though a quick mention to a handfull.

GDC is unveiling what it terms ‘Total Cinema Solutions”  including “the industry’s first standalone IMB” and an built-in real-time DTS:X immersive audio decoder.

Barco’s presentation (which sadly clashed with the Opening Ceremony) included the announcement of 25 sites for Barco’s Escape tripple-screen PLF concept in time for “Maze Runner 2”, spread across USA, China and Europe (in that other – probably 4 sites for Europe, but looking for more). Some interesting under-the-hood details of financing and distributor-Barco-exhibitor dynamics that we plan to bring you more about in the future.

In other news, Guillermo del toro is the International Filmmaker of tge Year, Imax gets a special CineEurope Innovation Award, Vue’s Tim richards gets an award for humanitrian work, RealD is exclusive 3D provider for Cineeurope and we are not allowed to Tweet, blog or Facebook about the films. Not a word. Zilch. Not even thumbs up or down. Especially not thumbs in any direction. Got it? Good!

CineEurope 2015 Opening Ceremony

Everyone (apart from the three journalists at the Barco event) piled into the CCIB Auditorium for the opening ceremony in the afternoon.

Bob Sunshine walks onto stage. “I was supposed to do the welcome but, my nephew beat me to it, so this is your second welcome,” he tells us. “Everyone is looking for 2015 to hit new records and it is off to a great start.”

We then get the 100 million euro film retrospective. 14 films hit that mark in 2014 – including not one but two French films (“Mon Dieu” and “Lucy”).

Bob is back. “Thank you to Dolby for Atmos instalation. 5 of the 6 Hollywood films playing are in Atmos.  Shout out to Kelonik, QSC, HArkness, Christie, NEC, Barco, Dolby, Andy Peat.”

“Our theme this, as every year, is film,” Bob told us at the press briefing, but then qualified it with the officla theme of the year, which he elaborated on at the Opening Ceremony. “The theme for this year is “partnerships”.” He then gives the dictionary definition. “We aknowedge partnerships between distributors and exhibitors, Coca Cola and the whole cinema industry and between CineEurope and CCIB.”

Bob Sunshine introduces Jordi Sellas (Catalan Government Minister of Culture). “Welcome to Barcelona, the capital of Cataluniya. Cataluniya produces or co-prodices 70 films every year. New tax on telecom companies will help create fund for audio-visual sector. Special fund for cinema sector in Cataluniya to be more competitive. Around 60 different films shot each year in our landscape. Enjoy your stay here and visit more!” [He only left out a shout out for an independent Cataluniya.]

Bob back and announces the new partnership between CineEurope (i.e PMG) and UNIC. “Now a true partnership as a profssional forum. Five years ago 6 studios presented their product. This year 11 distributors will present their product. Long term partnership is beneficial for the industry and it was Jan [Runge] and Phil [Clapp] who made it happen,” Bob aknowledges. He then goes on to say, “We only have one rule: have fun. And maybe second one to please put your phones away and no tweeting ot Facebook discussion about the films we see.”

Richard Patry (FNCF President – France) and Phil Clapp (President UNIC) – Industry Addresses

Delighted to welcome you all again, Phil says. France is seen as cultural epicentre of cinema. (Text behind him in Spanish, German and French). Richard has been instrumental in many industry benefits.

Richard Patry then gives his presentation in French. “Great honour to have been invited to deliver the keynote.” (Pays repsect to Jan, Phil and Jean-Pierre.  Talks about how UNIC has grown in importance as a trade body.) “23% of Europe’s 911 million cinema goers in 2014 were French. 2/3 of all French went to the cinema last year and 49.8% market share for French films. Interested in the development of the European market as a whole. (Producers and distributors’ well being also concerns him.) Piracy and audience decline are causes of concern. Asks for action against piracy at a European Commission level. Defend Euroepan creativity and culture. Audience renewal is important challenge. Talks about the (excellent) French initiatives of 4 euro tickets for children under the age of 14. It was a tremendous succes. 90% of French cinemas supported it. Increaed 17 to 21% the under 14 audience market share. Average ticket price was not affected. Shows three great clips on illegal downloading, four euro tickets and first cinema kiss. “Nothing is better than first kiss in cinema. Social media is the most important revolution. The next four days will be fruitfull and rewarding. I’m inviting you to switch to cinema mode. Enjoy CineEurope 2015!” he concludes.

Each year UNIC honours and outstanding recipient. UNIC Award of Achievement – Ricardo Evole, Yelmo Cines. He gives an acceptance speech in Spanish. (If the rumours we keep hearing are true, then it is an award handed out in the nick of time.)

Phil keynote: Earlier this month UNIC and PGM signed an agreeement for UNIC to be an equal partner in the CineEurope. Thanks Bob & Co. for their trust. UNIC now draws on 36 territories and local organisations. A cinema sector of unparalled diversity and stength. Last year we were experiencing uncertain times. Since then we have seen how strong and resilient the sector is. Fortunes vary across territories but 2015 has gotten off to an exceptionally strong start. The second half of the year looks if anything even better. Also credit to the distributor partners of a diverse slate of films programmed throughout the year.

Home entertainment fares best when it stands on a strong foundation of cinema exhibition. Great films alone are, however, not enough. That is particularly true for the youth audience who have a wide variety of options. Cinema owners have never had to work harder to attract youth to their cinemas. A challenge for us all is to learn lessons from this and to remind the public of the uniqueness of the big screen epxerience.

In closing, return to the diversity of the film slate. The importance of a srong domestic and non-domestic European film slate. Poland, Turkey and France has shown the way. Commission policy makers in Europe seem to have overlooked the importance of cinema in pursuing the development of online [single digital maret] film offerings. Any strategy that serves to lower the perception of value cannot be benefcial to our industry. What we risk losing has never been greater. Interefering with market led practices or nedlessly raising VAT are all issues that UIC will be keep fighting.

With that the Opening Cermony was over and it was time for the Warner Bros product presentation, which I did not attend, to be able to type this.

And if you have read this far, we can now exclusively reveal that Celluloid Junkie (CJ) will have its own table on the Coca Cola stand at the CineEurope trade show for the next three days. Do come and meet us there if you want to hear about the new site that we will shortly be launching and all the exciting things we have planned.

Patrick von Sychowski
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