CJ Cinema Digest – Friday 21 October 2016

By and Patrick von Sychowski | October 21, 2016 12:33 am PDT

Great & Unwatchable Billy Lynn, AMC $1.4bn new debt, Helios expansion, THX sold (again), Indian cinema growth, UFO’s theatres, Indian cinema violence threat and paraplegic attack, Unique’s Rosetta Live, Cinépolis <3 4DX, Picturehouse’s Goleby out, Schulman goes DTS:X with GDC, The Lot in San Ramon, Alamo in Brooklyn, Odeon Oldham Old Town Hall, Marlow Pop Up cinema, France’s second business cinema expanded, Odeon Newcastle to be demolished and London’s last sex cinema closed (again).

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USA (NY) – Is Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” a brave experiment that doesn’t quite pay off? That seems to be the somewhat consensus from the critics who got a first glimpse at the full film at a specially equipped cinema at the New York Film Festival. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, however, does not spare the adjectives:

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” has the potential to be a revolutionary film. It opens the door to a new way for movies to be shot, a new way for them to look and feel, a new way for them to be experienced. (This may not happen — in fact, it surely won’t — for a while, but record this moment: It all started here.)

and is generally positive. But Brent Lang, Senior Film and Media Reporter for the same publication calls it “an Important Mess,” even “a beautiful mess,” while THR’s David Rooney concludes that the film is an “absorbing character study, even if it’s ultimately not one that justifies its much-vaunted technological advances.” Meanwhile Slate’s headline shouts: “It Looked Great. It Was Unwatchable.” (sub-heading: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk shows the promise and failure of high-frame-rate cinema.’) While Village Voice’s @BilgeEbiri tweets, “I’m sorry. I tried to keep an open mind. But High Frame Rate is a fucking crime against cinema.” But kudos to Ang Lee nonetheless for pushing the boundaries of film making, nonetheless.

Taking Stock in AMC-Carmike Merger

USA (KA) – AMC has issued USD $1.4 billion in Senior Subordinated Notes (a fancy term for a loan that is harder to collect in case of bankruptcy or liquidation) to fund the acquisition of Odeon & UCI and Carmike. What, did you think they were going to pay for their cinema shopping spree in cash? Or in Chinese yuan? Press Release – 20 October 2016

Helios kino

Poland – Having just opened a cinema in Poznan, Helios is rapidly expanding, with four new multiplexes due to be opened this year in Poznan, Przemysl, Gdansk and Tomasz Mazowiecki. The exhibitor will also open multiplexes in the next years across a number of cities:

2017 – Warsaw’s Blue City (eight screens, 1,500 seats), Wolominie, Krolnie and Stalowa Woli (each four screens with 600-700 seats);

2018 – Libero mall in Katowicach (eight screens, 1,400 seats), Forum Gdansk mall (nine screens, 1,300 seats in 4K and 3D by DepthQ, and Dolby Atmos), making it its third multiplex in Gdank,

2021 – Galeria Piaseczno (eight screes, 1,400 seats).

Helios currently has 37 cinemas with 206 screens and 43,000 seats, primarily targeting small to medium sized cities, making it the largest operator in Poland. Money.pl (PL) – 18 October 2016

THX logo

USA (CA) – Certification company THX has been acquired by gaming accessory maker Razer from Creative Labs on undisclosed terms. The former Lucasfilm company will focus on new areas such as virtual reality (VR) headset, while continuing to target growth markets such as China. THX also continues to circle the cinema space, but gaming is obviously a bigger market. DealStreetAsia – 18 October 2016

Cinema Auditorium in India

India – Ratings agency ICRA predicts that India could have 3,000 multiplex screens by 2019, compared to 2,200 today. The majority of new screens are expected in Tier II and III cities. PVR, Inox, Carnival and Cinepolis currently control about 70% of all multiplex screens in India. Screen growth rate was 13.5% CAGR between 2009 and 2016. There is no word, though, on the rate of closures of single screens, which is a drag on total screen count. Money Control – 28 September 2016

UFO Moviez

India – E-cinema operator UFO Moviez plans to launch an exhibition arm called Nova Cinema, targeting 20 screens in non-urban areas of Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat. The operation will be run on a franchise model. “We already have expertise in the digital cinema distribution business. Film exhibition is a natural progression. We are targeting close to 2,000 screens by 2020,” says Vishnu Patel, CEO, Special Projects UFO Moviez. That would mean opening roughly 40 screens per month or more than one per day. Pinch of salt with the popcorn, please. Hindu Business Line – 28 September 2016

Law & Order

India – A Mumbai-based extremist party has threatened violence against cinemas screening a film with a Pakistani actor. Maharashtra Navnirman Sen (MNS) issued veiled threats against cinemas showing Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, telling them, “remember how expensive your glass walls are!” Fighting in Kashmir has led to Pakistan banning the screening of Bollywood films and Pakistani actors being banned from appearing in Bollywood films. The police have promised to protect cinemas, ho hum. Hindustan Times – 18 October 2016

Indian patriot Salil Chaturvedi. (photo: Karan Bhagat blog)

Indian patriot Salil Chaturvedi. (photo: Karan Bhagat blog)

India – A wheelchair-bound man was attacked in a cinema for sitting during the national anthem at a multiplex in Panaji. 48-year old Salil Chaturvedi has represented India twice at the Wheelchair Tennis Tournaments in Australia and Japan in the mid 1990s. Mr Chaturvedi has not returned to the cinema since the incident. The Indian Express – 20 October 2016

India – Fire safety norms are not being observed in these six Bhubaneswar cinemas. Sadly a tragedy waiting to happen. Times of India – 20 October 2016

Event Cinema

Unique Digita Rosetta Live interface

Norway – At last week’s Event Cinema Association (ECA) Stockholm conference Unique Digital launched its Rosetta Live the amongst other things allows for streaming of live events to cinemas over broadband instead of satellite. ECA’s Melissa Cogavin interviews Unique’s Eyvind Ljungqvist about this and more.

ECA: What’s the difference between the RosettaLive, which has been on the market for some time now, and your new product?

EL: We first launched RosettaLive in Norway close to 1,5 years ago, and we’ve seen the strengths of the model. We’ve used the experience from this launch to develop new software and hardware before re-launching worldwide. We’ve completely re-imagined the solution, including everything that worked well and removing what isn’t needed.

We are currently making last preparations for delivery to market.

The product is now going live for all of Unique’s territories outside Norway too. ECA Blog – October 2016


4DX motion seat

Mexico – Cinépolis is adding more 4DX auditoriums. The immersive seating format will expand to a further 12 installations by the end of 2017 across Latin America, India, US and Spain. Five of these will open before the end of this year in Mexico, Spain, Chile and US, of which one will be in Carlsbad, CA and one in Pice Rivera, Los Angeles County. Cinépolis currently has 49 4DX auditoriums in 10 countries. Hollywood Reporter – 20 October 2016


Lyn Goleby Picturehouse Cinemas

Lyn Goleby, Picturehouse Cinemas

UK – Picturehouse’s Lyn Goleby is stepping down four years after the arthouse chain was acquire for GBP £47.3 million by Cineworld. ScreenDaily calls it an “amiable break” and Goleby had successes such as the opening of Picturehouse Central in London, but also issues such as sabo disputes at the Brixton Ritzy. Cineworld COO Renana Teperberg wll replace Goleby on an interim basis. ScreenDaily – 14 October 2016


GDC logo

USA (TX) – Schulman Film Alley in Weatherford, Texas has becomes the first cinema in the USA to install GDC’s DTS:X immersive sound-enabled integrated media block (IMB) and 16-channel cine sound processor. Using the GDC SX-4000 Standalone IMB and XSP-1000 Cinema Processor is said to enable the Schulman complex to install immersive sound in all eight dine-in auditoriums in the future. Press Release – 19 October 2016

Cinema Opening/Closing

The Lot's new cinema - just 80 seats on average per screen. (image: artist's impression)

The Lot’s new cinema – just 80 seats on average per screen. (image: artist’s impression)

USA (CA) – The Lot will open a 10-screen, 800 seat luxury cinema, restaurant, bar and cafe in San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch in the second half of 2018. the 42,000-square foot luxury entertainment centre The Lot City will offer meals throughout the day, in-seat dining and leather recliners. The Lot operates two similar cinema in San Diego. “The Lot is different than your typical theater operator,” says Sunset Development’s Jeff Dodd, “They take a holistic view on creating a gathering spot for the community.” BizJournal – 17 October 2016

Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn. (photo: Alamo Drafthouse)

Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn. (photo: Alamo Drafthouse)

USA (NY) – Alamo Drafthouse will open its first cinema in New York city on 28 October when City Point theatre in Brooklyn opens. The seven-screen cinema opens four years after Alamo first tried to launch in the NYC market in Upper Westside, but scrapped those plans in 2013. It already operates a cinema in the New York suburb of Yonkers. All screens have 4K Sony projector and one is also equipped with 35mm projection. New York Times – 18 October 2016

India – Inox has won the right to operate Kolkatta’s iconic Metro cinema. The dilapidated art deco cinema was opened in 1935 by MGM to screen its films. The cinema will be re-developed as a multi-use retail destination as well as a multiplex. Re-opening is expected in november of 2017. Times of India – 27 September 2016

Odeon Oldham Old Town Hall. (photo: Place North West)

Odeon Oldham Old Town Hall. (photo: Place North West)

UK – Oldham’s Old Town Hall will re-open as a seven-screen Odeon cinema this Friday, following a GBP £37 million renovation. It will also feature restaurants and have translucent glass light box that shows off the Grade II listed building that was named as one of the ‘Top Ten most endangered buildings’ in the UK by the Victorian Society in 2009. Place North West – 18 October 2016

Pop Up Picturehouse coming in December. (photo: Maidenhead Advertiser)

Pop Up Picturehouse coming in December. (photo: Maidenhead Advertiser)

UK – Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge will open a pop-up cinema in Marlow. The old Assembly Room cafe in Market Square will transform into a picture house for the duration of December. The Pop Up Picture House will screen classic, cult and Christmas favourites, as well as serving fine food and drink. Maidenhead Advertiser  18 October 2016

Cinema La Strada - now even bigger. (photo: Patrice Lapoire)

Cinema La Strada – now even bigger. (photo: Patrice Lapoire)

France – The La Strada cinema in Mouans-Sartoux on the French Riviera is expanding with two new auditoriums, following a six month and €2.4 million refurbishment. The new screens have 205 and 102 plus red seats each and new gray carpet. The cinema is the second busiest in France (after les Halles in Paris) with 310,000 spectators per year. 10% of chairs in all auditoriums are now ‘duo chairs’, there is a new entrance for improved customer flow and a better concessions counter. The aim is 320,000 to 350,000 visitors per year.  Nice Matin (FR) – 19 October 2016

Odeon Newcastle, set to be demolished. (photo: ITV Tyne Tee)

Odeon Newcastle, set to be demolished. (photo: ITV Tyne Tee)

UK – The former Odeon cinema in Newcastle is set to be demolished,, despite attempts by campaigners to overturn the local council’s decision. The cinema began its life as The Paramount in 1931 and was then bought out by Odeon in 1939. Following the opening of The Gate multiplex (now run by Empire) the cinema closed in 2002. ITV – 19 October 2016


New Cross porn cinema

“Is that a truncheon in your pocket, or are you here to close the cinema?” (photo: @Tannershill)

UK – London’s last porn cinema has shot, only ten days after re-openng at a new premise. Called The Office the porn cinema had moved from New Cross to Limehouse, but the landlord discovered that it was not just screening X-rated films, but that the audience members engaged in sexual activities in the auditorium.

We haven’t granted a licence for this business, nor have we received an application.

In Tower Hamlets, we expect all businesses to operate responsibly and will crack down without hesitation if we find that is not happening.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets council is quoted as saying. Evening Standard – 25 September 2016

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.
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