To make a movie based on one of world’s most famous toy brands is to venture into a particularly public arena, where everyone has at least a passing familiarity and expects a certain recognizability. In bringing Barbie to the big screen, director Greta Gerwig and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC therefore had to find the right balance between the authentic and the inventive. Working with an inspired script by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, larger-than-life production design by Sarah Greenwood, and Panavision System 65 large-format spherical optics, Prieto helped realize a world that’s been welcomed by fans and newcomers alike, inviting one and all to participate in the fun and share in the joy. Gerwig has called the look of the film “authentic artificiality.” Here, Pietro speaks about his experiences in Barbieland and beyond.
The Big Picture
This has been a momentous year for digital cinema pioneer Arts Alliance Media. The company celebrated its twentieth year in business and the tenth anniversary of one of its flagship products, the Screenwriter theatre management system that has supported cinema operations through the transition to digital cinema. First launched in 2013, Screenwriter was designed to supersede AAM’s first generation theatre management system that supported exhibitors enrolled in the virtual print fee program as they upgraded to digital cinema equipment. Consequently, Screenwriter embodied an operational restructure, enabling cinemas to centralize their workflows from a single screen instead of traditional, manual methods. The company also launched Screenlighter, a theatre management system designed to solely meet the operational requirements of independent and one-four screen cinemas. But today, the company is thinking only of the future and the ways in which it can help the cinema industry thrive in the months and years ahead. To get a better sense of the company’s plans, I recently spoke via email with David Ong, AAM’s chief commercial officer. One thing he made very clear was the fact that at AAM, people matter most.
What happens to a film when an actor's face is changed? Over the past year, everyone in the film world has started talking about artificial intelligence. Will the technology enable different and better films, or will it just make everyone unemployed? And how does AI affect how directors and actors create their art? In collaboration with SF Studios, Gothenburg Film Studios and The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, Göteborg Film Festival is producing an AI-generated version of Persona, featuring Alma Pöysti in Liv Ullmann's role as Elisabet Vogler.
Last week AMC Theatres announced that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film had officially become a record-breaking movie. The film, which was announced with tickets on sale Thursday morning, shattered the record for single-day advance ticket sales revenue at AMC at $26 million. The previous record of $16.9 million was held by Spider-Man: No Way Home.
"It's an intimate, emotional and immersive psychological drama, as well as spectacular event cinema," says cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema FSF NSC ASC, as he reveals details about capturing Christopher Nolan's nail-biting thriller, Oppenheimer, in Imax (15-perf) format using Kodak 65mm large-format film, including, for the very first time, sections on 65mm black and white shot in Imax. "I am super proud about the result and know it will provoke a lot of interesting discussion and debate," he adds.
PVR-Inox, India’s largest cinema chain, has been implementing impactful marketing tools to promote new films, in this case, a horror film. In a recent initiative, the chain used fear to show what it is like to see a horror film alone, on a big screen, in this case – Insidious: The Red Door.
Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC, is an award-winning Australian cinematographer. His artistic composition together with his flowing, immersive approach to cinematography has made him a go-to director of photography for a number of high-profile directors. His most well-known work includes Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Lion (2016), Rogue One (2016), Vice (2018), Dune (2021), and The Batman (2022). Fraser also returned to the Star Wars franchise with the 2019 television series The Mandalorian. Recently, Fraser shot Dune: Part Two, which will be in theatres in November. He has since joined the jury for the 2023 FilmLight Color Awards. Fraser spoke via email with Digital Cinema Report about his relationship with color and his collaboration with 2022 FilmLiight Color Awards nominee Dave Cole, for their work on the grade of Dune.
Jeff Benson is the co-founder, along with his wife, Jamie, and CEO of Cinergy Entertainment Group. They founded Cinergy in 2009 after selling Movie Tavern, a 15-location, nationwide dine-in cinema chain that they started in 2001. Benson has been an entrepreneur in the movie theatre and family entertainment center businesses now for 25 years now. He originally started out as a CPA with Deloitte back in the early ‘90s. Said Benson, “It’s been a wild and crazy ride over the years, but we have always tried to be a leader utilizing new business models and technologies within established entertainment industries.” For me, something that sets Cinergy apart from its competitors is the fact that in 2019, the Cinergy Entertainment Group was named the Top Family Entertainment Center of the World by the International Association of Parks and Attractions. I recently spoke with Benson via email and our conversation started there.
Brian Schultz is the founder and CEO of Look Cinemas. Schultz established Studio Movie Grill in Dallas in 1993, and the company quickly became one of the nation’s most successful dine-in entertainment venues. What seemed an obscure novelty in the ‘90s quickly became one of the industry’s most popular concepts, but that did not save Studio Movie Grill from the pandemic. In a now all-too-familiar story, the pandemic led to many changes for the company, one of which is that Schultz left in 2020 and decided to start a new venture called Look Cinemas. Using a business model similar to, but more ambitious than Studio Movie Grill, Look Cinemas has opened twelve theatres in under two years, most recently on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the Brutalist VIA building near the Hudson River that was previously occupied by Landmark Theatres. Schultz says, “Ultimately, our purpose is to bring people together. When guests choose Look, we want them to feel like they can escape for a while and share an incredible entertainment experience with the ones they love.” Opening any movie theatre is a serious undertaking but doing it in Manhattan poses challenges that are unlike any place else. I recently spoke with Schultz to learn what obstacles he faced in opening New York City’s newest movie theatre and his vision for the future of not just Look Cinemas but of the exhibition business itself. Here is that conversation.
These have been challenging times for National CineMedia. In January, Cineworld, hurt financially by the pandemic, filed for bankruptcy, and threatened to leave NCM’s advertising network. Then, NCM itself began a comprehensive restructuring effort with the support of its secured lenders, through which all the company’s debt would be converted into equity of the reorganized company. Under that agreement, NCM will assume all its critical contracts upon emergence, ensuring that the company will maintain the largest national cinema advertising network. But there have also been some positive developments for the company. In March, NCM released the first U.S. cinema attention measurement study conducted by the attendance measurement company Lumen in collaboration with Dentsu, the agency leader in attention metrics. The major finding proves that ads played in movie theatres rank number one for consumers’ attention when measured against all other video platforms. Other key findings include a greater attention score, significantly more consumers watching for a longer duration, and a correlation with recall and choice. To get a better picture of the survey’s and NCM’s prospects moving forward, I recently spoke via email with Mike Rosen, the company’s chief revenue officer, who makes clear that he believes NCM has weathered the storm. Here is our conversation.