Cinema News Digest – Friday 29 June 2018

By Patrick von Sychowski | June 29, 2018 10:04 am PDT
Alamo Drafthouse screen. (picture: Alamo Drafthouse)

Dear Junkies,

We have come to the half-way point for domestic (US and Chinese) and global box office, with the news being good all around. Ticket sales in North America are up more than 8% with over USD $6 billion ringing up the proverbial tills. The outlook for the rest of the summer – in so far as that concept still hold BO relevance – is positive and there are predictions about the year ending at around USD $11 billion. “Black Panther”, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Incredibles 2” meant that even Disney’s disappointments (“A Wrinkle in Time” and “Solo”) did not spoil the BO party. Not enough for you? NATO tells us that US “domestic box office has posted the first non-holiday back-to-back $400 million weeks (6/15/18, $402,764,687 and 6/22/18, $407,608,418).” This normally only happens around the big Star Wars films and of the eleven USD $400 million weekends to-date, 2018 had four of them.

Meanwhile in China local hits have been keeping the box office going since the record Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year) when “Operation Red Sea” and “Detective Chinatown 2″ ” set the third-party ticketing apps on fire (again, proverbially). Variety tells us that “the first six months of 2018 totaled 31.6 billion yuan ($4.77 billion), with 889 million viewers, up more than 16% from the 27.2 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) recorded in the first half of 2017.” Most of this came from domestic hits, which accounted for 59.6% Four of the top five ‘flat fee’ movie imports were Bollywood productions, with Aamir Khan’s “Secret Superstar” revenue sharer taking CNY 747 million (USD $112.8 million).

It is too soon to tell what the six-month verdict is in Europe or the rest of Asia (BO reporting is more fragmented and piecemeal), but the signs are good there too. So is this where we warn against complacency in US or point to structural long-term challenges in China? No. Let’s bask in the glow of having a healthy and sustainable industry across the globe, fed by some excellent films. Investments in new cinemas or upgrading existing ones is starting to hit critical mass, and while the MoviePass party might be too good to last, it has no doubt helped BO, as well as accelerating the trend of cinema subscription services.

Those that attended CineEurope felt the positive vibe, albeit mixed in with a pre-emptive nostalgia for Twentieth Century Fox. With the Department of Justice now having approved both the AT&T-TimeWarner and Disney-Fox deals, consolidation will be the biggest story of the rest of the year, closely followed by cinema IPOs (CGV Vietnam, Odeon Europe, Vue and others). While Helios + Matheson’s share price has been sinking faster than memory of last year’s “Baywatch” flop, AMC et al have been edging up slowly. We still need to see the improvements in the exhibition industry reflected in the market’s appreciation of the big screen entertainment business.

Regards, Patrick

Alamo trials subscription scheme; Lotte launches Seechu VOD service; Turkish cinema growth; PVR goes big with Samsung Onyx; Mumbai told to cap popcorn price; no buyer for MBO; cinema VAT to drop in Spain; France’s La fête du Cinéma; German cinema online ticket stats; Korean office workers cinema scheme;  Toei VR cinema; Korean peeping Tom and CineEurope video nostalgia. 

Emerging Cinema Markets 2018 - Istanbul 20-22 Nov
Emerging Cinema Markets 2018 – Istanbul 20-22 Nov

USA (TX) – Alamo Drafthouse is dipping its toe into the cinema subscription pool, where MoviePass, AMC, Sinemia and Cineamark are all furiously splashing already. The upmarket chain will test the concept in its Yonkers, NY location from 18 July on an invitation basis to members of its Victory loyalty scheme. Price and details have not been revealed yet and this will no doubt be an A-B test against other similar Alamo benchmarked sites. “We plan to test a variety of models and pricing structures to see what works as a sustainable model,” Alamo said in a statement. This is worrying development for MoviePass and Sinemia, with not just major chains like AMC and Cinemark launching subscription services in US.  Deadline – 25 June 2018

Lotte's Seechu VOD service. (image: Lotte)
Lotte’s Seechu VOD service. (image: Lotte)

Korea (Republic of, South) – Lotte is launching a video-on-demand service called Seechu on 10 July. “‘Sechu’ is a video platform specialized for online and mobile environment with OTT (Over The Top) service. The name contains the meaning of “See” and “Choose” the content you want to see.” Interestingly it bundles access to online content with a cinema ticket purchase. One to watch (no pun intended), as cinemas take on S/VoD operations. 10 Asia (KR) – 28 June 2018

Top domestic Turkish films in 2017. (image: Ministry of Culture Turkey)
Top domestic Turkish films in 2017. (image: Ministry of Culture Turkey)

Turkey – Cinema growth in Turkey continues to power ahead, making it the second most significant growth region in Europe after Russia. The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜ?K) data released for 2017 shows that there was +8.4% new cinemas (2,692 total), +7% total seating capacity (287,214), +23.9% tickets sold (68,482,526 visits) with domestic films up +31.5% and others +15.7, with lots more positive statistics. No coincidence that ECM2018 is taking place in Istanbul in November. Hurriyet Daily News – 26 June 2018

Samsung Onyx screen in Pacific Theater. (photo: Patrick von Sychowski / Celluloid Junkie)
Samsung Onyx screen in Pacific Theater. (photo: Patrick von Sychowski / Celluloid Junkie)

India – PVR has committed to more Samsung Onyx Cinema ED screen than any exhibitor in the world, at least that has been publicly announced. According toGautam Dutta, CEO, PVR, “the first Onyx screen in India will be launched in Delhi and Mumbai at PVR ICON, DLF Promenade, Delhi and PVR Phoenix, Lower Parel, Mumbai, respectively.” PVR has committed to five screen over the next 15-18 months. Rival Inox also plans to install at least two of the Samsung screens in the near future. Moneycontrol – 26 June 2018

India – Proving that socialism is far from dead in the country that sells the most cinema tickets in the world each year, the Bombay Supreme Court asks why the regional government can’t regulat the price of Coke and popcorn in cinemas.

Observing that the prices of such items were often “exorbitant,” a bench of justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai directed the state to see if the Bombay Police Act can be used to regulate prices of eatables being sold in cinema halls.

“The prices of food and beverages sold in multiplexes are exorbitant. Sometimes, some food items are more expensive than even movie tickets,” the bench said. “We understand if the state can’t permit the public to carry food from home. But, then why can’t it step in and regulate the prices of food sold inside the cinema theatres?”

There have been countless litigations for cinemas not selling water a MRP (maximum retail price) or not allowing patrons to bring in food and drink from outside the cinema. Already ticket prices are regulated in several India states, mainly in the south. Meanwhile at a PVR cinema a woman was so badly burnt by scalding hot tea that she passed out and had to be taken to the hospital. This will be a hard fight for cinemas to win. Mumbai Mirror – 28 June 2018

MBO Cinemas lobby. (photo: Mariam el Bacha)

Malaysia – It seems that there are no buyers for Malaysia’s second biggest cinema chain MBO. Private equity firm Navis Capital Partners is looking to sell the cinema, which it bought in 2012, but the asking price appears to be too high. “A fund manager in the private equity industry says the valuation that Navis is looking at is “crazy”.” Allegedly it is 12 times Ebitda. The situation is similar to last year when CJ CGV was said to walk away from negotiations to buy Malaysia’s largest chain GSC as the price was too high. The Edge Markets – 26 June 2018

Cinesa Barcelona. (photo: Patrick von Sychowski / Celluloid Junkie)
Cinesa Barcelona Diagonal del Mar. (photo: Patrick von Sychowski / Celluloid Junkie)

Spain – VAT (sales tax) for cinema tickets in Spain will be reduced from 21% to 10% after the proposal received final approval of the budgets by the Congress of Deputies. “The reduction will take effect as soon as the public accounts are published in the Official State Gazette.” VAT was increased from 8% to 21% in 2012 for all cultural events. It was reduced in 2014 for arts (museums etc.) and in 2017 for live events (opera and bull fights!), leaving cinemas as the last one to pay the higher rates. The move means Sweden has Europe’s highest cinema VAT at 24%. El Paise (ES) – 28 June 2018

Audrey Lamy, Jonathan Cohen, Anne Depetrini, Cedric Klapisch, Ana Girardot and Monsieur Octopus, sponsors of the Film Festival. (photo: P LE FLOCH / SIPA_
Audrey Lamy, Jonathan Cohen, Anne Depetrini, Cedric Klapisch, Ana Girardot and Monsieur Octopus, sponsors of the Film Festival. (photo: P LE FLOCH / SIPA_

France – Summer means La fête du Cinéma, when any film can be watched for just four euro between 1-4 July. 3.2 million tickets were sold at last year’s event and 94 million since it was launched in 1985. There will also be  cine-concerts and masterclasses, a giant screen erected at the Champs-Elysées and an auction of cinema objects at the Hôtel Drouot for the benefit of Dream of Cinema, which organises screenings in hospitals. (FR) – 27 June 2018

Half of German "Jigsaw" viewers bought ticket online. (image: Studiocanal)
Half of German “Jigsaw” viewers bought ticket online. (image: Studiocanal)

Germany – Federal film body FFA has released statistics about online cinema ticket sales in Germany, which finds that they went up from 16% in 2016 to 18% in 2017. However, som tickets were higher than other, with the top films in terms of online share being “Jigsaw” (50%), “Star Wars: the Last Jedi” (34%) and “John Wick: Chapter 2” (33%). Stats came from the 89.3 million tickets sold for the Top 75 films last year. Also breakdowns of the most popular films by age, gender, average price and more. “Blade Runner 2049” had the most single viewers (25%) while “Paddington 2” was the film groups of four or more were most likely to watch (38%). Blickpunkt: Film (DE) – 27 June 2018

CGV 52-hour work week cinema scheme. (image: CGV)
CGV 52-hour work week cinema scheme. (image: CGV)

Korea (Republic of, South) – CGV is launching a raft of discount schemes, some aimed at helping to improve work-life balanced, including the first one tied to the theme of the ’52-hour work week program’.

The ‘Calligraphy Adaptation Project’, which runs from July 2 to August 30, is an event that discounts a regular 2D movie starting every month from 7 pm to 8:59 pm every 2,000 won [USD $1.80]. You can download the discount coupon from CGV homepage and mobile app event page. Coupons can be downloaded up to 4 coupons per CJ ONE ID.

There is also a 50% discount for the salad bar at the Cine de Chef and more. Hope it gets Korean workers to leave the office earlier and enjoy cinema. Gimhaenews (KR) – 28 June 2018


Toei VR will show "Evangelion: Another Impact" and two more film. (image: Toei)
Toei VR will show “Evangelion: Another Impact” and two more film. (image: Toei)

Japan – Toei will start showing VR movies from 2 July at at the Shinjuku Wald 9 multiplex in Tokyo. Initially it will offer three short films of around 30 minutes long, including “Evangelion: Another Impact” (2015) by animation director Hideaki Anno. “The project is a joint venture of Toei, computer manufacturer Vaio and audio-visual communications company Craftar, who said they were looking for people to produce content and videos for the initiative.” Tickets will cost  1,500 yen (USD $13.60). LAHT – 28 June 2018

Law & Order

Korean peeping tom cross dresser. (photo: HuffPo)
Korean peeping tom cross dresser. (photo: HuffPo)

Korea (Republic of, South) – A man has been arrested for allegedly setting up a camera to film women in a cinema toilet. “At 11:47 am on the 13th, a movie theater employee in Daejeon, Yongjeon-do reported to the police that a man seemed to be in the ladies’ room, and a police officer dispatched him to arrest a 29-year-old man.” From the photos it ooks like he was dressing like a woman. HuffPost (KR) – 29 June 2018


Are you missing CineEurope already? Fear not, as you can now re-live the memories in this video that captures all the fun and action from what was truly a vintage year. Looking forwards to seeing you back there in 2019.

Patrick von Sychowski
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