Replacing the world’s 35mm projectors with digital ones was the beginning of the digital cinema era, not the end. Now, with the end of the virtual print fee deals in sight, exhibitors are exploring what new technologies they can use to manage theatres, excite moviegoers and grow revenue. As was the case last year, the major technology topics of CinemaCon 2016 were laser projection, theatre sound, and immersive cinema. Leading exhibitors understand that their future success demands that they rethink virtually every aspect of their businesses, and that they must transform their movie theatres into entertainment centers designed to serve their specific communities. The best of them are making great strides to that end and CinemaCon 2016 brimmed with their energy.
The Big Picture
Event cinema will take center stage at CinemaCon April 12th at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas when Fathom Events honors BBC Worldwide North America with its Excellence in Event Cinema Award. The award is for their record-breaking success in global event cinema, featuring the Doctor Who series. The award will be presented by Fathom Events CEO, John Rubey, and accepted by BBC Worldwide executive vice president of franchise and digital enterprises, Soumya Sriraman.
One of the hottest topics in Hollywood these days is Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s proposal called Screening Room. When I think of a screening room it looks something like the photograph that’s next to this paragraph. Apparently, when Parker thinks of a screening room, it’s basically my living room with a set-top box in it that I buy from him for $150. With that box I can then pay him $50 to save myself the trouble of driving to the theatre to see a first-run movie. The studios and most film directors are opposed. But a handful of directors and one exhibitor, AMC, reportedly support the idea. Many questions have been raised about the idea but mine is this: why not Netflix?
As tent pole movies and opening weekend box office results increasingly dominate the motion picture business, understanding just who pays to see those movies has never been more important. In a whitepaper released this week, Movio chief executive and co-founder Will Palmer said the realities of a tent pole audience can be quite different from conventional wisdom. In Breaking the Blockbuster Code: Audience Evolution Patterns Revealed, Movio’s data scientists challenged the Hollywood film marketing community to re-think who makes up the opening weekend of a blockbuster film.
Traveling the world filming a documentary about his former acting students, retired professor John Henry discovers that one of them, Marita Gomsrud, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving only a postcard from Salzburg with the words: "Remember our games of hide and seek." Now the film goes from documentary to documystery, as someone else is also searching for Marita, a man from her shaded past who will stop at nothing to find her.
For film producers, an Academy Award can be worth much more than its weight in gold. Based on box office sales over the past five years, winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture averaged $10.3 million in additional box office sales following their victory. In comparison, nominated films that failed to win the Oscar generated an average of $3.9 million in box office receipts following the awards, which is $6.4 million less than their winning counterparts. However, studios, producers and actors need not walk away with any Oscar hardware to achieve massive financial success. While they may not always secure the Oscar, films with relatively smaller budgets benefit from higher profit margins upon nomination. After Room was nominated for Best Picture in the 88th Academy Awards, the number of theaters screening the movie more than quadrupled, increasing from 198 theaters prior to its nomination to 862 after the announcement.
Fandango has acquired Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes, including the professional movie critic rating tool, the Tomatometer, from Warner Bros. Entertainment. The addition of Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes, along with Fandango’s recent acquisition of on-demand video service, M-Go, will expand the company’s theatrical ticketing business and create the industry’s premier digital network for all things movies.
Along with being one of the most hotly anticipated movies of 2016, The Revenant is also highly likely to carry away a clutch of major prizes during awards season. In addition to key nominations for best film and best acting in a motion picture, the movie has also secured nominations for best cinematography. Little wonder. The work of Mexican DP Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki AMC ASC – working in horrendous cold and using only natural light – has been lauded by the critics as the “consummate cinematic experience.”
It’s an understatement to call Cooke Optics’ chairman and owner Les Zellan a digital cinema pioneer. In 2000 when he first introduced the idea of metadata technology in lens manufacturing, only a small number of people believed that digital cinema technology would ever truly replace film as Hollywood’s production medium of choice. At the time, the American Society of Cinematographers was actively campaigning against the idea of replacing film projectors with what were derisively called video projectors. Much has changed, of course, but Zellan still talks in the wary manner of pioneers who understand that, even though they’ve overcome some challenges, there are still more to face.
Iris, Archimedia’s suite of software applications designed to speed file workflow, can now play Interoperable Master Format complex files. These files are rapidly becoming a preferred format for motion pictures because they dramatically reduce the number of file versions film studios need to send out. Archimedia CEO Mark Gray said, “We are proud to introduce an upgrade to Iris that makes it the world’s first software media player for IMF complex files. Now that IMF is gaining traction in the OTT and video on demand television markets its use is sure to increase.”