Technology fails. Anyone reading this article knows that even better than I do. That’s been a fact of life in the motion picture business from the earliest days. Film jammed in cameras and projectors, light bulbs burned out unexpectedly, and sound systems malfunctioned for no apparent reason. In each case, the people involved addressed the problem and moved on. Thankfully, technology today is more robust and reliable than ever before and when something goes wrong it’s often easier to fix than ever before. But technology isn’t always the issue. Increasingly in today’s competitive entertainment environment, the important issue is customer relations.
The Big Picture
Each year, Digital Cinema Report presents the Catalyst Award to the best new technology introduced at CinemaCon, the annual convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners. At this year’s show, held April 23-26 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, people from more than seventy countries gathered to discuss the latest issues, trends and technologies in motion picture distribution and exhibition. One technology trend stood out. For many reasons, until now, event cinema has been an exhibition afterthought. That changed this year. This year three of the seven Catalyst Award winners were specifically designed to facilitate event cinema. Event cinema is on the rise.
The motion picture industry convenes April 22-26 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas for the sixth edition of CinemaCon. Vegas has always struck me as the perfect place for the National Association of Theatre Owners to holds its annual convention because the movie business itself is a gamble: for every movie that wins big there are too many others that don’t. Meanwhile, in a world of ever-increasing competition, exhibitors have to find enough steady customers to maintain and, ideally, grow their business. Then there is technology. Today most of the movie theatres in the world operate on a digital platform, which means that a Pandora’s box of technology enhancements are there for the taking. There are a wide range of choices that can boost movie theatre attendance, productivity and profitability. But which ones are right for your theatre? Choosing the right technology and, paying for it, is the challenge. Success requires understanding the opportunities.
Moviehouse and Eatery, a Texas exhibitor whose theatres feature wall-to-wall screens, plush recliners and a full-service kitchen and bar with a chef-prepared menu, had a challenge: they wanted to build a social media presence to harness their existing clients’ experience and leverage the engagement to further their overall marketing efforts. In May 2015 M&E engaged Social Flash Media, a local Austin, Texas company to dramatically improve their social presence by way of their existing clientele. SFM has created what the company says is the first unattended marketing social photo station powering a diverse social marketing pipeline.
Screen actors convey emotion in several ways: their voices, their eyes and the subtle color changes of their facial skin. But what if – as in the case of Gary Oldman’s Oscar-winning performance in Darkest Hour – much of their face is covered in silicone? That was one of the key questions Peter Doyle, supervising colorist at Technicolor, addressed when he collaborated on the film’s palette.
Digital Cinema Report recently teamed up with global cinema software leader Arts Alliance Media to ask exhibitors around the world how they see their businesses evolving over the next five years. We especially wanted to know their thoughts on technology, both what they’re using today and what they plan to use in the future. I sat down with John Aalbers, CEO of AAM to discuss the survey results.
This past July, Ray Nutt succeeded John Rubey at Fathom Events becoming the company’s second CEO in its four-year history. While many things at Fathom remain the same, there have already been some changes under Nutt. Among them, the fact that the company has started releasing its revenue figures on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, what those numbers show is that event cinema is big business and that, as the dominant company in the market, Fathom is a force to be reckoned with.
For a company that’s relatively new to the professional cinema business, Samsung has had an impressive year and there are no signs it’s slowing down. In March at CinemaCon 2017 in Las Vegas, and working with GDC Technology, the company created a major stir by unveiling its prototype LED Cinema Screen. Two months later it finalized its $8 billion acquisition of audio giant Harman International, including, importantly here, the JBL cinema group. Following that, and in short order, the company received DCI-compliance certification for its LED screen technology and installed its first commercial cinema screen in South Korea. A few weeks ago, Samsung installed a second LED screen in the same South Korean theatre. In just seven months Samsung has seriously disrupted the professional cinema market.
What are exhibitors’ technology needs and concerns today? And how might they change in the coming years? To answer these questions, global cinema software leader Arts Alliance Media and Digital Cinema Report are teaming up to find out what you think.
Netflix this week committed to streaming its movies in both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision high-dynamic range formats. It is the first global on-demand service to commit to combining both formats. Okja, the critically praised Netflix Original Film, is the first film available in both formats. Additional Dolby-supported titles are coming soon, and the catalog will continue to grow. Okja will be released to select movie theatres this week as well. Netflix has raised the stakes again.