Weekly Cinema Digest – Friday 4 December 2015

By Patrick von Sychowski | December 4, 2015 4:11 pm PST

Sweden – A Swedish cinema chain has stopped accepting cash payments in all of its venues after disturbances involving gangs of youth. Björnbiografer AB no longer accept cash for its cinemas in Falun, Gagnef, Ludvika, Rättvik, Sandviken, Tierp and Vansbro. In one incident between SEK 2,000 and 3,000 (USD $235-$352) was stolen by a gang of youths. IN another incident 50 to 100 people entered the cinema and demanded to watch a movie for free and also wanted free popcorn. The article indicates that the youth were of immigrant origin. DT (SE) – 30 November 2015

RealD Glasses

USA (CA) – RealD has filed a SEC form that reveals that the company had 71 companies expressing an interest to buy it, 36 signing a non-disclosure, but only one strategic buyer and four financial ones submitting a non-binding initial indication of interest. What spooked the others? Deadline quotes B. Riley analyst Eric Wold that “it appears that most of the bidders were scared off by something they learned “that was not available to those outside the company.”” This could indicate that the three major Us cinema chains might not renew or push for significantly lower terms, or that China is losing steam. It also can’t help that RealD lost patent fights in China and Russia. Deadline – 30 November 2015

Star Wars Cineplexx

Germany – The delay in selling tickets for “Star Wars 7” while it was negotiating terms with Disney has not negatively affected Cinemaxx’s ticket sales. The exhibitor reported pre-selling more than 40,000 tickets in less than 24 hours after they were made available. Press Release (DE) – 25 November 2015

Belgium – Cinema trade body UNIC has issued a call for open standards in the cinema technology community. The press release is not aimed at one particular company or group, but rather at the bewildering and incompatible array new technologies and formats (Dolby Cinema, 4DX, Imax, etc.) that are rolling out. This is a particular issue in Europe where a small installation base means that DCPs might not be made available to support said technologies in all markets. “Unfortunately, some of our members find themselves increasingly confronted with situations where they are not able to show a film in the best possible quality – as permitted by the equipment available in their cinemas. Issues around cinema standards often contribute to this problem.” Worth reading. Press Release – 25 November 2015

Secret Cinema
“The whole point of the doomsday machine…is lost if you keep it a secret!”

UK – Tickets for the new Secret Cinema event go on sale today, together with a sister-event in Moscow. The film has not been revealed, but there is speculation that it could be “Dr Strangelove: or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned to Love the Bomb.” Evening Standard – 3 December 2015

Germany – Tobia Hackle, the co-owner of the troubled Babylon cinema in Berlin, has been removed from office by his partner. Hackle had filed for insolvency without his partners knowledge. The cinema is subject to a major labour dispute and attracted controversy with its use of Nazi iconography. Blickpunkt:Film (DE, paywall) – 27 November 2015

Blue code Cineplexx
No cash? No problem. With Blue Code in Cineplex. (photo: Secure Payment Technology)

Austria – Cineplexx is extending the Blue Code smartphone payment system to all of its 19 cinema sites in Austria, as well as associated cinemas such as Artis International, Actors Studio und Urania Kino in Vienna. The technology works on smartphones and even Apple Watch and generates a bar-code that can be scanned. The app and technology was developed by Innsbruck-based Secure Payment Technology and is already used by several retail chains, as well as Cinplexx competitor Hollywood Megaplex. Kurier – 24 November 2015

Major cineplex logo

Thailand – Major Cineplex plans to open 100 new cinemas in 2016 in an effort to grow revenue by 10-15%. This is separate from growth efforts in neighbouring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam that are funded in partnership with local investors. Major Cineplex typically opens 30 cinemas in a year but credits a strong lineup of local and Hollywood films with the need to accelerate deployment, with THB 1.2 billion (USD $33 million) earmarked for the expansion. Bangkok Post – 28 November 2015

Cineplex Baunatal

Germany – Cineplex Deutschland grew by 38 screens in the past year, with new cinema builds planned for the new year. The business, which acts as an association for many cinemas that pool booking, purchasing and other services, claims that 2015 will be a record year and that the outlook is also good. Blickpunkt:Film (DE, paywall) – 25 November 2015

PVR Cinema

India – Competition watchdog CCI has sent PVR a letter asking it to publish details of its proposed INR 5 billion (USD $74.9 million) acquisition of DT Cinemas within ten days. Under Section 29 (2) of the Competition Act, 2002 the CCI can request such information where there is “prima facie of the opinion that the combination has, or is likely to have, an appreciable adverse effect on competition.” PVR claims it will add 23 screens in this fiscal year, taking its national total to 500, with a target of 1,000 “quickly.” But in Chennai the licence to open its completed multiplex has been pending for two years.  Financial Express – 3 December 2015

France – Cinema going has recovered in France after the terrorist attacks in Paris, reports Telerama.fr, though Paris was (understandably) slowest to return to normal. Eric Marti, CEO of Ciné, is quoted as saying:

On 11 November (1.2 million admissions in France and 334,485 entries on Paris-O for this one day), attendance rose slightly in Paris-Outside (+3.3 % compared to the previous week) and increased significantly over France (+ 24% compared to the previous week). On Wednesday, November 18th also saw attendance drop on Paris-Periphery (-21% compared to the equivalent Wednesday in 2014), especially in the outskirts of Paris.

Telerama.fr – 25 November 2015

Law & Order

Enrique Gonzales Macho
Film Association President Enrique González Macho (photo: EFE/Kiko Huesca)

Spain – The scandal in Spain of distributors allegedly falsifying box office data to increase the public funding for their films keeps growing. There is now a court case underway in Madrid. The Secretary of State for culture, Jose Maria Lasalle, has been forced to defend the wider Spanish film and cinema industry. González Macho, President of the Academy of Film and also head of Alta Classics and Alta Films, has been charged for allegedly falsifying information to obtain a grant of more than €730,000 for the film “Pink and Black” from 2009. Other distributors are also charged. El Periodico (ES) – 26 November 2015


Dominican Republic – Two robbers tried to steal valuables from patrons watching “Spectre” in the VIP room of a cinema in the Blue Square Mall. Fortunately a cinema security guard marshalled his inner Bond and foiled the assailants, now one of whom was captured by security and on the phone camera of one of the patrons. El Nuevo Diario (ES) – 28 November 2015

UK – A 44-year old man has been arrested in connection with a sexual assault in a Bath Odeon cinema. A woman in her 30s, was one of 14 people attending a late-night showing of action film “Hitman: Agent 47” at the Odeon in Bath, Somerset. Western Daily Press – 28 December 2015

Health & Safety

UK – The owner of The Rex Cinema in Berkhamstead has been fined for exposing workers and the public to asbestos danger. James Hannaway was fined GBP £11,660 for ordering demolition of the derelict 10-screen cinema in St Albans without conducting a check for asbestos. Hemeltoday – 4 December 2015



Japan – Toho Cinemas has signed a record deal with Imax for ten new large format screens. Too opened its first and only Imax this past April in its Shinjuku multiplex in Tokyo. Imax and Toho Co. have also agreed to release the Japanese films“Attack on Titan” parts one and two in Imax. Variety – 30 November 2015 

Event Cinema

Winter's Tale
Dame Judy Dench keeps BO tills ringing. (photo: KBTC)

UK – Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” became the one-day top-grossing screening in the UK Box Office Charts when it grossed GBP £1.1 million in cinemas around the country. The event was beamed out to 520 cinemas across the UK and 1,300 cinemas world-wide. BritishTheatre.com – 28 December 2015

Cinema Opening/Closings

Alamo Drafthouse Omaha Star Wars
Will Trekkies be welcome? (photo: Alamo Drafthouse)

USA (NE) – Alamo Drafthouse has opened its first cinema in the Midwest with a Star Wars-themed cinema in Omaha. “The original idea for a Star Wars-themed cinema wasn’t planned to coincide with Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, a spokesperson from Alamo Drafthouse’s Omaha team said this will be “a permanent installation and will be the destination to see all of the new Star Wars films”.”  The Telegraph – 2 December 2015

Bradford The Light
Bradford sees The Light (picture: artist’s impression)

UK – The Light has been selected as the operator of the cinema that will be built as part of the extension of the Broadway shopping centre in Bradford. This will be the first “luxury cinema” to open in Yorkshire. The Broadway’s extension will include a 6-screen, 780-seat cinema and also four restaurants, in total adding 35,000 sq ft to the existing complex. The Telegraph and Argus – 24 November 2015

Cineworld Hinckley
Cineworld Hinckley (picture: BBC)

UK – Cineworld has opened its latest cinema in Hinckley. The town has been without a cinema since the MGM Canon closed in 1993. BBC – 2 December 2015

The Parly 2 cinema that closed in 2014 (photo: LP / Stephanie Wiele)
The Parly 2 cinema that closed in 2014 (photo: LP / Stephanie Wiele)

France – La Commission nationale d’équipement cinématographique (CNEC) has approved a 12-screen multiplex for Le Chesney near Paris. The decision is a victory for Philippe Brillault, the mayor of Chesnay after the County Commission (Commission départementale) rejected the project last September. The local Parly 2 cinema closed in July 2014. The decision means that plans for a 9-screen cinema in Versailles by CGR is also likely to go ahead and be ready by the end of 2017. Le Parisien – 27 November 2015

ExCentric Montreal
Montreal’s ExCentris in happier times (photo: ICI Radio Canada)

Canada – The Excentris cinema in Montreal has suspended its programming and announced that it is filing “a notice of intention to make a proposal to its creditors.” The CEO, Hélène Blanchet, said in a statement that cinema was a victim of “the concentration of distribution and dissemination of films in this country,” i.e. Canada, and that “To maintain its business, Excentris would have needed only four more blockbusters this year, as was the case in 2013 and 2014.” [Sad news about what is one of my favourite cinemas in the whole world.] ICI Radio Canada – 24 November 2015


Kino Pionier Stettin
Kino Pionier Szczecin (photo: Spigel / Matthias Kneip)

Poland – Yes another cinema lays claim to the title “Oldest Cinema in the World”, this one in Polish Szczecin (formerly Sttetin), operational since 1907. Previously it claimed to have opened in 1909, but after a Danish cinema came forward to claim that it was older, it dug deeper and found documents proving that it actually opened in 1907. It was variously known as Helios-Welt-Kino-Theater, Welt-Lichtspiele, Kino Odra and Kino Pionier. Spiegel – 29 November 2015

Patrick von Sychowski
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