The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the social justice movement and a pause in filmmaking, has provided the movie industry and audiences alike with the rare opportunity to catch up to the evolution of the moviegoing experience. The industry is at a crossroads, and what is relevant to audiences has changed dramatically over the past several years; this shifting reality accelerated in 2020 and will undoubtedly influence moviegoer behavior and future storytelling. With the abrupt halt to movie production and the extended closure of cinemas, content creators and studios have been gifted the time and opportunity to pivot and ensure what is shown onscreen is reflective of society.
The International Cinema Technology Association, in conjunction Box Office Pro magazine, recently presented a webinar entitled Back to the Future – How Drive-Ins and Pop-Up Cinema Complements the Movie Going Experience in the COVID-19 Aftermath. Moderated by ICTA vice president Frank Tees, the group presented five interviews describing innovative approaches to exhibiting movies outdoors.
Cinema history was made earlier this year when the South Korean black-comedy thriller Parasite became the first subtitled film in 92 years to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Director Bong Joon-ho used his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, where the film also won awards, to champion subtitles and encouraged audiences not to be put off by foreign language films. He said once audiences “overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles” they will be introduced to so many amazing films. He added that we use only one language: “the cinema."
My intimate contact with COVID-19 started last December. Looking back, I remember I was trying to arrange interviews for a new business development director in Beijing. I would fly out for a full day of interviews plus a quarterly business review with our China general manager, Allen Xing. Harkness had been developing a partnership for a high gain silver 3D screen with a premium format cinema brand.
Nigeria’s cinema sector is perhaps the most evolving in the nation’s creative industry, as movie going has become a norm amongst many working-class youths and Millennials in the recent past. In metropolitan cities such as Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, the usual #TGIF aura on Fridays is commonly dominated by scenarios of young corporate workers, couples and students, storming cinemas as soon as the clock ticks to call it a day.
Different trends are emerging and developing when it comes to sustainability in cinema. The European Union is playing a leading role with regulations around eco design and the circular economy; energy efficiency and renewable energy; waste and hazardous substances. The restriction of hazardous substances is one that has a very close link to cinema, given its impact on the production, sales and availability of mercury UHP lamps.
I’ve been thinking for some time now about how to issue a new press release regarding the same old boring story about the never-ending lawsuits taking place between RealD and Volfoni, being totally clear and transparent so that everyone understands my words and the situation without making it too technical or using patent jargon that no one is going to understand. I consider at this stage it is important the communication is clear and straight.
In November, the Digital Cinema Initiative posted two new draft documents towards a high dynamic range specification for cinema titled Direct View Display D-Cinema Addendum and High Dynamic Range D-Cinema Addendum. They represent a major improvement over DCI’s previous draft, which I wrote about last September [DCI Has Lost Its Way https://bit.ly/2Omcnoa]. In contrast, the new documents are well written, detailed, explanatory and responsive. But questions remain and cost matters, leaving plenty of room for improvement.
Keeping projectors and other cinema equipment up and running is a primary concern for exhibitors. If you own a Series 1 or an early Series 2 projector, you may already be facing significant cost of ownership issues, including more frequent breakdowns and longer downtimes. Even worse, manufacturers may no longer support your equipment — or may soon stop supporting it — making replacement parts expensive or even unavailable.
The way it’s supposed to work, a cinema should be able to acquire DCI Compliant equipment with the assurance that first release movies would not be withheld for reason of having the wrong gear. With the recent release of its DCI Memorandum Regarding Direct View Displays, it is no longer clear where DCI is heading.