Nobody thinks that cinema concessions are cheap, but few of us would physically attack a multiplex staff over the price of popcorn. But that is what has now happened in India, where what was previously a fight in court over the price of F&B in cinemas has escalated into violence in multiplexes. Last week thugs from nationalist party MNS assaulted staff at a PVR Icon multiplex in Pune in the state of Maharashtra, after an argument about the price of food and drinks.
According to DNA India “After the video of MNS workers including the former party corporator Kishor Shinde thrashing multiplex staff went viral on social media, Pune police registered a case against the party workers at Chatuhshrungi police station.” Five men were remanded but the thug/politician was soon released on bail. Bombay High Court recently told the state government to intervene and cap the prices of F&B items in cinemas, so the MNS (a marginal party that never found a populist issue it wasn’t prepared to latch onto to win votes) saw a chance to make headlines.
Sadly violence, threats, vandalism, abuse and general hooliganism is more common in Indian cinemas than most people realise. Multiplexes often don’t report it to avoid bad publicity, but is increasingly leading to self-censorship and de-programming of films with ‘controversial’ historical topics or links to Pakistan. What is particularly worrying is some 30 people are estimated to have been killed by mobs in India this past year following the spreading of false rumours on WhatsApp messenger groups. Imagine a ‘Pizzagate’ scenario involving an Indian multiplex and the lives of staff and cinema goers could be at risk.
Indians are passionate about cinema and more tickets are sold there each year there than in any other country. Unfortunately that passion has a dark side too. It is the responsibility of politicians and courts not to fan the flames of controversy with incendiary (verbal) attacks on cinemas, while police must do their jobs and protect cinemas from goons and troublemakers. However, Indian cinemas may also have to review their policy of stopping people bringing their own snacks and drinks to screenings, just as cinemas in Europe and North America have quietly done. Nobody’s life should be at stake over the price of popcorn.
Cineplex and Uber deliver popcorn to your door; Vue buys small chains in Ireland & Poland; second Saudi Vox cinema; record US Q2 BO; UGC Cine Cité Les Halles world’s top cinema; Event Cinema strike resolved; Reading opposed Brisbane skate park cinema; Vegemite popcorn.
Canada – Canada’s Cineplex has launched delivery of cinema snacks to your front door in partnership with UberEats from its 60 theatres across the country. “Cineplex has a long history of investing in innovation, and today we are extending that approach beyond the walls of our theaters and into our guests’ living rooms,” Cineplex president and CEO Ellis Jacob said in a statement. A similar service was first launched in Korea by CGV in partnership with FoodFly last September. THR – 28 June 2018
Ireland/Poland – Vue International has acquired Irish chain Showtime Cinemas and Poland’s Cinema3D, adding 16 sites to its portfolio. “Since January 2011, Poland’s Cinema 3D has opened 11 sites with 49 screens and has a further three sites with 20 screens in development.” Showtime has just two sites. Vue has presence in both countries and the question is whether this represents consolidation in core markets or a failure to grow in new market. Vue has been silent about any developments in Saudi Arabia, for example. Variety – 3 July 2018
Saudi Arabia – Majid Al Futtaim has revelaed plans for its second major Saudi multiplex, located in the Riyadh Front (Wajehat Al-Riyadh) lifestyle development. CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, Cameron Mitchell is quoted as saying: “This second location for VOX Cinemas and Magic Planet in Riyadh will be a flagship, as we continue to roll out our ambitious expansion plan for the kingdom.” The Vox-branded cinema will include a Max PLF screen, Kids and luxury cinema concept Theatre by Rhodes, opening in early 2019. Arabian Business – 3 July 2018
USA – It’s been a record quarter at the North American box office. “The record-setting second quarter was not only the largest second quarter of all time, but with an estimated $3.33 billion, it was also the largest of any individual quarter in box office history, blowing by the previous record of $3.09 billion set in the second quarter of 2015,” AMC trumpeted in a press release. Driven by super heroes (both live action and animated ones) as well as dinos. The only worry is that the year might have peaked early and the the third quarter will struggle to match the previous dizzying heights, as Forbes’ Scott Mendelson argues that “only Ant-Man and the Wasp and Mission: Impossible Fallout have a shot of topping the “disappointing” over/under $210m gross of Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Still, reason enough to celebrate this 4th of July. Forbes – 2 July 2018
France – The world’s most popular cinema is located in Paris. In 2017 UGC Cine Cité Les Halles sold 3.2 million tickets for 492 films from 85 different countries across 70,000 screenings. The multiplex has 27 auditoriums and at the time of writing 43 films were showing. The data comes from comScore. Capital.fr (FR) – 1 July 2018
Spain – According to consumer website FACUA the cheapest cinema tickets in Spain are to be found in Melilla (5 euros) and the most expensive in Madrid (9.74 euros), with Barcelona close second (9.50 euro). All prices are set to drop when VAT on tickets goes from 21% to 10%. No word on whether the Cinesa multiplex in Diagonal del Mar is still the country’s most expensive cinema. El Diary Vasco (ES) – 3 July 2018
New Zealand – Event Cinema and Unite Union have come to an agreement to end industrial action, relating to wages and working conditions. “Event Cinemas general manager Carmen Switzer wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the negotiations but said all staff should be pleased with an increase in wages and improvements in working conditions.” Staff will be entitled to a four to six per cent pay increase after the first year. Stuff.co.nz – 2 July 2018
Australia – Reading Cinemas International is allegedly trying to stop the opening of small family cinema in Brisbane’s old Red Hill skate arena. “Reading’s plans to protest the concept by Peter and Stephen Sourris – who have redeveloped the New Farm Twin and Irish Club boutique cinemas – has angered Red Hill and Paddington residents.” Reading operates the nearby Newmarket cinema as well as multiplexes in Harbourtown, Bundaberg and Townsville. Reading has refused to comment on the legal challenge. SMH – 29 June 2018
Australia – Ending with a positive popcorn story, though one with a very distinctive aftertaste. Village Cinemas and Event Cinemas have launched a brand new Vegemite flavour for Chef’s Gourmet Premium Popcorn. “Matt Gray, marketing manager at Vegemite, said: “We are ‘mitey’ excited to be partnering with our good friends at Village Cinemas and Event Cinemas to deliver an Aussie take on a cinema classic.” For best results – mix them with butter popcorn. B&T Magazine – 2 July 2018