24 February 2022
As February draws to a close, all of us in the northern hemisphere are looking forward to spring. Meteorological spring starts 1 March, but astronomical spring has to wait until 20 March, which is also the start date for Le Printemps du Cinéma (Springtime for Cinema) in France. The annual festival when all films are just EUR €4 for three days across most cinemas in France is organised by the National Federation of Cinema and encourages people to come to the cinema, as does the Fête du Cinéma during the summer.
Similar cinema festivals take place in Spain (Fiesta del Cine), Italy (Cinemadays) and Switzerland. They typically run for several days during the week and avoid coinciding with the premiere of major local or Hollywood blockbusters. Instead these programs seek to encourage audiences to see a wide variety of recent releases, local or studio-backed, at sometimes less than half the price of a regular cinema ticket. They tend to attract millions and are seen as a good way to foster cinema going, without cannibalising existing cinema revenue.
The United Kingdom had the National Cinema Day back in the 1990s, when you could go to the cinema for GBP £1 (hat tip to Paul F. for the reminder) and in 2021 there was the National Lottery Cinema Weekend (NLCW), when any buyer of a lottery ticket (cost GBP £1.50) could claim a pair of free adult cinema tickets at participating venues. Now Cineworld is launching Cineworld Day on Saturday 26 February when tickets to all of its screenings, including Pictureshouse, IMAX, 4DX, ScreenX and more, will cost just GBP £3 (USD $4 – see story below). When cinemas were reopening in the United States in 2020, AMC offered tickets for 15 cents (USD $0.15) in 100 locations to celebrate its 100th anniversary on 20 August.
These types of events are an excellent way to entice audiences back into cinemas, particularly post-pandemic and while there is still hesitancy amongst a significant proportion of the population about venturing out to in-person gatherings. It will not just show people trailers for the big blockbusters coming this summer, but also that cinemas are clean, safe and even luxurious. It is a particularly affordable outing for families, as well as a chance to catch up on many recent releases, both blockbusters and awards contenders.
We strongly applaud these one-off initiatives of AMC and Cineworld and we would like to see these become regular or annual events. Ideally there should be a nation-wide cinema festival, like in France et al. These are not easy to organise as they require the active involvement of most cinema operators, but also trade bodies, distributors, sponsors and other stakeholders. Countries such as Germany have attempted to pull off such a feat only to stumble. But given the post-pandemic reality that the cinema industry is facing, such events are indeed Springtime for Cinema and those that love films on the big screen.
By the way, Cineworld’s Supercinema PLFs are part of the GBP £3 Cineworld Day promotional offer, so there has never been a cheaper opportunity to catch films in Dolby Atmos. Please click the link to read more belows, because We ?? Sponsor Clicks.
Patrick von Sychowski
, Editor, Celluloid Junkie
Cineworld is launching a GBP £3 (USD $4.08) promotional day on Saturday 26 February in all of its United Kingdom cinemas as part of a wider effort to encourage patrons to return to movie theatres. The offer applies to all films across all of its cinemas, including Picturehouse, as well as premium screens such as IMAX, 4DX, ScreenX and Superscreen PLF. The Cineworld Day is sponsored by Pepsi Max and urges customers to “celebrate the cinema experience and share your love of film with your friends and family.” Cineworld VIP screens can be rented for just GBP £34 that day. Cineworld will also bring back some recent blockbusters, such as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in addition to recent releases such as “Uncharted” and “Death on the Nile,” with trailers for this summer’s big releases playing beforehand
Cineworld also launched a new marketing campaign called “Feel Unlimited” to promote its Unlimited subscription scheme. The spot was created by Twelve Agency and directed by Warren Fu. It comes at the same time as rival Odeon launched its expanded campaign with branding agency Elvis that builds on the “We Make Movies Better” adverts with four brand characters. Both aim to attract audiences back to cinemas ahead of the critical summer season. Unlike Spain, Switzerland and France, the UK does not have an annual cinema festival when most of the countries cinemas sell tickets for just a few euros to promote cinema going. There have been discussions, but in the absence of a concerted UK-wide industry effort, Cineworld is striking out alone.
The announcement brings some much needed good publicity to Cineworld, which has had good results from “No Time to Die” and the new Spider-Man, but seen this overshadowed by a legal case stemming from the abandoned merger with Canada’s Cineplex (a fine is on appeal), as well as a reprieve in repaying ‘disgruntled’ former Regal shareholders. Cineworld has also had to shutter its flagship London multiplex in Greenwich after recent storms destroyed parts of the 02 building in which it is housed. The results of the Cineworld Day will surely be closely watched by other UK cinema operators
China’s Spring Festival saw almost 50 million fewer admissions than last year’s, with decline mainly blamed on higher ticket prices. Total boxoffice for the 2022 Spring Festival was CNY 6.040 billion (USD $955 million), compared to CNY 7.843 billion (USD $1.24 billion) for the same festival last year. The prior year (2020) all cinemas were closed on the eve of the Spring Festival due to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. China Consumers Association has published findings that highlight a consumer backlash against the increased ticket prices during the holiday for films such as “Battle of Lake Changjin, Part II”.
The “Report on Public Opinion Analysis of Consumer Rights Protection during the Spring Festival” found 205,819 instances of negative comments related to cinema on China’s online platforms. Many voiced compalints that this was the most expensive Spring Festival for cinema going. In previous years tickets had been subsidised by ticketing platforms, but these were phased out in favour of dynamic pricing linked to peaks in demand. This has now provoked a backlash:
The structural problems of excess screen and content shortage in the film market, various practical challenges due to the fluctuation of the epidemic and the impact of policies, force theaters to ease the dilemma of tight cash flow by raising ticket prices. It may be understandable from the perspective of short-term stop loss of the industry, but the fact that the number of moviegoers has generally decreased, and the frequency of moviegoing has continued to decline, shows that simply relying on ticket prices is tantamount to exhausting the lake and fishing and drinking to quench thirst.
The average ticket price of a movie on the first day of the festival of this year was CNY 56.1 (USD $8.87), with some cinemas in Beijing charging up to CNY 100 (USD $15.81) per ticket. The price pressure did not just come from exhibitors but also distributors. The minimum release price of all films in the Spring Festival this year rose to CNY 35 (USD $5.53), compared with CNY 30 (USD $4.74) in the same period last year.
As France continues to solidify its rules around exclusive theatrical release windows, streaming services such as Netflix are cutting deals with the French film industry that help influence the process. The streaming giant has reached a three year deal to invest at least EUR €40 million (USD $45 million) in a minimum of 10 French or European movies that will play in French cinemas before moving to the streaming service 15-months later. The rule had been that any title which played in theatres could not be made available via subscription video on demand (SVOD) services for at least 36-months.
There are all sorts of other clauses in the agreement that, for instance, allow Netflix to to premiere select titles online. A diversity clause requires the streamer to commit at least 17% of their investment in local content to movies with budgets below the EUR €4 million (USD $4.5 million) mark.
In December of last year Netflix joined Amazon, Disney+ and Apple TV+ in a pact with France’s Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) broadcasting authority to invest 20% of the annual revenue it earned in the country in French content. This move was instigated by the European Union’s discussions around the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) which is designed to provide a framework for such commercial agreements.
A statement released by Netflix announcing the new deal seems to have been made through clenched teeth, referencing the “unique French cinema ecosystem” while simultaneously campaigning for a an even shorter window than what the company had just negotiated:
“This agreement is a new step towards our virtuous integration in the unique French cinema ecosystem. It reflects both our constructive contribution to the AVMSD negotiation process and our commitment to be part of the French cultural exception. Netflix is now able to offer movies 15 months after their release in theaters. This is a significant improvement for our members who had to wait for 36 months until now. Netflix will however continue to promote an earlier window to better reflect consumers’ actual viewing habits.”
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IMAX saw its fortunes change for the positive in the fourth quarter of 2021, quite literally. The giant screen leader reported a 15% rise in its global box office to USD $277 million, which beat the USD $244 million the company earned in Q4 of 2019, its most profitable year ever. Blockbusters such as “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” “No Time to Die” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” helped IMAX make a profit of USD $10.1 million for the quarter, it’s first profitable one since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
IMAX’s global market share of box office rose to 3% in 2021, an increase from 2.6% in 2019. It’s full-year worldwide box office was USD $638 million, which is a huge 146% year-over-year increase which isn’t shocking since most movie theatres were shut in 2020.
The company also used their earnings call to provide additional details on their plans to diversify into live events. Out of the 1,700 IMAX locations in 85 countries around the world, 79 screens are now setup to show live events. That’s nearly 25,000 seats that can be sold for events, which is slightly more than the capacity of most sports arenas. And in case you’re wondering if IMAX’s move into live events can work, on 22 February the company sold just shy of 18,000 tickets in 60 of its theatres for a livestream of a Kanye West concert taking in USD $313,582. Fans were given two days notice of the event.
New York Times
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