As the motion picture business slowly but surely rebounds from the worst of the pandemic, there are signs that many exhibitors are rethinking the design and configuration of their theatres. Should they permanently remove some seats in case pandemics prove to be a recurring event? Should they tailor some auditoriums for games or eSports or other specialized content? New-builds and renovations often present different challenges but they all have one thing in common: seats. To understand the current state of seats and cinema design I recently spoke by email with Theresa English, principal at TK Architects International. The company has designed hundreds of cinemas and this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary in business. For English, any conversation about cinema design starts long before the house lights are dimmed, or the first movie ticket is sold. “The focus,” she says, “is on the patron and the seat.”
The Big Picture
Later this week, Cliff Marks is retiring from National CineMedia. His long tenure there dovetails precisely with the adoption of digital cinema technology and he had a hand in many, if not most, of the innovations the new technology has made possible. Marks joined NCM in 2002 as an original member of the company’s leadership team, when it was then the Regal Entertainment Group media subsidiary known as Regal CineMedia Corporation. He was named president of sales and marketing when Regal CineMedia became National CineMedia in 2005 with the addition of AMC and later Cinemark as founding member theatre circuits and was named president of NCM in 2016. Marks was the visionary behind the creation and evolution of NCM’s groundbreaking movie pre-show — the first to combine entertainment content and advertising — turning cinema into not only a powerful sight-sound-and-motion medium, but a key premium video option in today’s fragmented media landscape. Today NCM’s Noovie pre-show is seen by more than 750 million moviegoers a year. Before joining NCM, Marks was a 14-year veteran of ESPN/ABC Sports overseeing its $2 billion sales organization. He currently serves as a director on the executive board of the Screen Advertising World Association and serves on the marketing committee of the International 3D Society. He has also served several terms as president and chairman of the Cinema Advertising Council. I recently interviewed Marks via email about his time at NCM, his plans for the future, and his thoughts on the state of the cinema business. Our conversation started with the earliest days of digital cinema.
Later this week, as executive director of the professional association New York Women in Film & Television, Cynthia López will oversee the 2021 NYWIFT Summit: The Creative Industry Radically Reimagined. López is an award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she implemented strategies to support film and TV production throughout the five boroughs. López is the recipient of many coveted industry awards including: 11 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, three Peabody Awards, and two duPont-Columbia Awards. In addition, she received the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Award for Commitment to Corporate Diversity. Prior to working as Commissioner, López was executive vice president and co-executive producer of the award-winning PBS documentary series American Documentary | POV and was involved in the organization’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. On January 1, 2019, she became executive director of New York Women in Film and Television. López recently agreed to do a Q&A via email; our conversation started with her legacy as an advocate for women and other minorities.
Kino Industries, creator of the interactive CtrlMovie technology that gives film and TV audiences real-time collaborative influence over the direction of a project’s plots and characters, has entered into a creative and co-financing partnership with Rocketman financier Starlings Entertainment. The announcement was made by Kino Industries CEO Chady Eli Mattar, president Scott C. Silver and Starlings Entertainment CEO/executive producer Karine Martin.
In a move that may offer some clues regarding the ways that exhibitors and streaming companies can work together effectively, Cinemark announced today that it will be showing Netflix’s Army of the Dead in both Cinemark XD and digital cinema auditoriums across its domestic circuit beginning May 14. Tickets are on sale now at Cinemark.com and on the Cinemark mobile app to watch the much-anticipated Zack Snyder film in theatres before it is available on Netflix on May 21.
This June 22-27, a consortium of trade associations, movie theatre chains and other cinema-related businesses will launch Cinema Week as a means of celebrating the culture of moviegoing—and supporting the hard-hit exhibition industry. During Cinema Week exhibitors will showcase exclusive in-theatre content and activities, as well as giveaways and special guests, in hopes of reenergizing audiences around the theatrical experience.
March offered two major signs of recovery for the beleaguered cinema business, according to the latest report from Gower Street Analytics, London. Firstly, there was the impressive international opening of Godzilla vs Kong; the first global hit since the pandemic began over a year ago. Secondly, the long-awaited re-opening of cinemas in New York City and Los Angeles helped the U.S. Domestic market to achieve the highest grossing month in a year. With the first challenging quarter of 2021 behind us, wrote Gower Street analyst Thomas Beranek, the recovery of the global theatrical market, while still fragile, looks as promising as it has in months.
The grand opening of Cinemark’s Totem Lake and XD theatre within The Village at Totem Lake in Kirkland, Texas was held last Friday, March 19. “Cinemark is thrilled to be opening a brand-new theatre in The Village at Totem Lake,” said Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi.
Can movies and TV shows be successfully archived on DNA? That question has been raised by an ad hoc working group of the international JPEG Committee. While that and many other questions remain unanswered, one thing is known: researchers recently stored an episode of the German Netflix TV series Biohackers on DNA.
For the past few years, it was a safe bet that the technology priorities for chief technology officers in broadcast and other professional media verticals involved a move to the cloud, however where it fell on the list of priorities varied widely. With so many media and technology professionals “finding the time” to move their infrastructure to the cloud, it was happening on the weekend, in the evenings, during quiet days in the office, and for some, it was little more than a hobby. The pandemic changed priorities heavily by demanding a development that has been a long time coming—a complete move to the cloud.