China Cinema Digest – Thursday 3 September 2015

By | September 2, 2015 11:34 pm PST

Wanda Cinema Line has signed a major deal with Christie Digital to deploy the latter’s projectors and audio solutions in its cinemas. The deal covers Christie’s 2K and 4K digital cinema projectors, Christie 6P laser projectors and Christie Vive Audio solutions, which will be installed across 1,500-plus Wanda screens over next 3 years. Christie will also build more customer service centres in China to support the deployment – a market in which it has traditionally trailed Barco. (Wanda’s Hoyts is also with Christie but AMC is in the Sony 4K camp.) Press Release – 28 August 2015

Alibaba Pictures logo

The fact that third-party platforms will not refund tickets bought through them has long been a major complaint amongst Chinese cinema goers. Now Ali Pictures Software has become the first to offer full refunds on cinema tickets between 24 hours and three hours before the start of the film’s showing. The system has been introduced in Guangdong at the first ‘smart cinema’ in Beijing Financial Street, where users can buy the tickets online or through a machine in the lobby and scan the code on the ticket or smartphone to enter the cinema. Alibaba entered the cinema software market with its USD $314 million acquisition of Yueke in April this year. Beijing Daily – Sun Yu – 1 September 2015

THX China

As reported here last week, THX has pacted with the Film Technology and Quality Inspection Centre (part of state regulator SAPPRFT) to come up with quality standards and services for china’s exhibition industry, which will include training courses for cinema staff. The flipped of China’s rapid cinema growth has been a severe shortage of qualified cinema staff, which can lead to poor presentation and also to box office fraud. The article acknowledges that the pace of growth is slowing. Variety – Patrick Frater – 1 September 2015

Mtime logo

Wanda Cinemas has acquired a 20% stake in online ticketing, review and merchandising platform Mtime. The two companies previously signed a co-build merchandising stores back in July. NYT profiled Mtime last month in how the online platform is becoming increasingly important to Hollywood studios for their China strategy. Time claims 160 million monthly users and the deal with Wanda will give the platform more physical presence for O2O (online-to-offline) transactions. THR – Patrick Brzeski – 1 September 2015

Cat's Eye Network Logo

There are conflicting reports about Wanda blocking the Cat’s Eye cinema ticket e-commerce platform. What is clear, though, is the growing role and even threat that third-party mobile ticketing platforms such as Cat pose to Chinese exhibitors. It is estimated that ticket sales through mobile platforms now account for 60% of all tickets, rising to 70% during holidays (when special promotions are launched), of which Wanda’s own accounts for 30%, Cat’s Eye 30%, QQ for 14%-15%, Guevara less than 10% and Taoboa and others are around 3%-5%, with Toabao pumping a lot on money into growing its market share recently. Titanium Media – Li On – 1 September 2015

China online ticketing

More data from EntGroup about the growing importance of third-party ticketing platforms, not just for the sale of tickets – an estimated 64% of tickets sold this summer came through mobile apps – but also for branding and marketing the movies. With a total of 107 films released in China this summer, having a marketing profile becomes increasingly important to attract viewers. Yi Yan – Fu Yalong – 2 September 2015

Chinese exhibitors are reporting a strong first half of 2015, with all the major exhibitors increasing screen-count and box office. “Information from Analysys claims the average annual frequency of movie-going among Chinese increased from 3.9 in 2011 to 6.4 in 2014.” This may be true for urban audiences in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, but not for the country as a whole, given that 830 million tickets were sold last year (i.e. fewer than the number of Chinese people). Ecns.cn – Si Huan – 1 September 2015

China box office August 2015

As of August 31, China’s annual box office total was CNY ¥29.342 billion (USD $4.61 billion), compared with same period last year (CNY ¥19.85 billion, or USD $3.12 billion), which represents an increase of 48%. April and July months represented the greatest year-on-year growth, while August was more muted. Yi Yan – 2 September 2015

 Orange Sky Golden Harvest

However, it is not all good for pan-Asian exhibitors. Orange Sky Golden Harvest reported revenue increase of 31% to  HK$ 675 million (USD $87.1 million), but profit fell to HK$3 million (USD $390,000), compared to HK$12 million (USD $1.55 million) for the same period last year. Business was up in Taiwan and Hong Kong, but flat in Singapore, while its Mainland China operation increased losses from from HK$3.80 million (USD $490,000) to HK$24.1 million (USD $3.11 million). Variety – Patrick Frater – 31 August 2015

A Tale of Three Cities poster

Prominent Chinese directors have accused cinemas of box office fraud in terms of under-reporting BO takings for their films. Huayi Brothers CEO Chupin took to micro-blogs to accuse cinemas of operating ‘dual systems’ in terms of BO reporting for the company’s latest release “A Tale of Three Cities”. Zhang Hongsen, deputy director of the Film Bureau was forced to make a statement that anyone caught doing this will be punished, as SAPPRFT has repeatedly done in the past – but without the problem going away. Some cinemas are said to be getting more sophisticated in terms of using “back doors” such as charging CNY ¥60 (USD $9.43) for a film+popcorn+soda combo, instead of the concessions sold at CNY ¥10 (USD $1.57 each) each. The cinema then pockets the CNY ¥10 difference between the tickets CNY ¥30 and CNY ¥40 face-value price. Here is another article alleging fraud, this one for “Vampire Killers”. Yicai.com – Tianjiao – 30 August 2015

A rare case where a consumer has won a legal battle over taking outside food into a cinema. Ms Shao wanted to take a bag of potato chips into a screening and was stopped. Law enforcement officers has announced that under “Consumer Protection Law” Article IX and Article XXVI she is entitled to do so. Not the biggest threat Chinese cinemas face, but definitely an issue that won’t seem to go away. North Sea Evening News – Tan Huayi – 28 August 2015

Shunglao Cinema

Shonglao box office. (photo: People’s Daily)

A long article looking at how Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities and towns that previously did not have cinemas are screening up. Shangluo City only get its first (digital) cinema in 2012, having previously relied on temporary outdoor screenings. It now has 12. People’s Daily – Jiang Feng – 28 August 2015

Technology

CIAS was promoting its Future Cinema 2.0 solution for ticketing and POS at the recent BIRTV2015. Not sure if this is an article or press release. Caijing.com.cn – 28 August 2015

Chen Xing Technologies

Chen Xing Technology press conference in Beijing

Chen Xing Techonlogy is offering a 33% discount on its AQ33 CS server and TMS Internet + Micro self-ticketing system. The company claims to have sold more than 1,000 servers, built over 2,000 digital screens, have signed over 400 theatres, covering 30 provinces and autonomous regions and municipalities, as well as launched its flagship product “Cinelab laser DMR”. ZOL.com – Pengwen Juan – 26 August 2015

ALPD is trying to throw of the shackles of China’s dependence on Western technology for digital cinema. “In the xenon lamp era, China’s projection technology has never been able to break the Western monopoly. In 2014 the manufacturers of laser technologies come on stream and enter the market.” But they still used a Barco DP2K 20C laser projection platform for the ALPD®2 square lumen digital video player. Sohu Entertainment – Ha Mai & Wen Li – 26 August 2015

Cinema Opening/Closings

UME Nanbing cinema

UME is opening a new cinema next year in Nankin. The multiplex will have 16 auditoriums, feature a China Film Giant Screen (CFGS) PLF, a 4D auditorium, a VIP auditorium, couples and a business auditorium, with a total capacity of 1,600. IN addition there will be a Chongqing old classic bookstore with a total area of 1,200 square meters. Chongqing Evening News – 30 August 2015

Finally

More China cinema infographics madness. 

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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