Much has been written, broadcast, and talked about regarding the fate of cinemas throughout 2020. As the CEO of a global cinema technology company, I stand at the crossroads of talking with exhibitors, technologists, leaders, and creatives across geographies. This mosaic of viewpoints provides a unique perspective into our industry-specific challenges, opportunities, and possibilities for the road ahead. When you start to connect the dots in our industry, three drivers have significant potential to shape cinema in 2021.
In the MovieLabs white paper The Evolution of Media Creation, we outlined a vision for implementing true cloud-native production workflows. In that vision media production moves outside of the security perimeters that protect individual facilities such as post-production and VFX companies and becomes a virtualized security system to protect all of those involved in production workflows. These workflows transcend organizations, and simply stated, protecting them requires a new approach to security.
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.
Resiliency is not a new term for the cinema industry. The industry has faced adversity in the past but economically has always survived. Cinemas are no longer just a place to go and watch a movie. They are entertainment destinations catering to increasingly diverse patron expectations.
In an open letter to the motion picture industry today CMX Cinemas’ chief financial officer Luis Castelazo called upon the studios to recognize the challenges that exhibitors are currently facing and to treat them as the important partners they are. Here is his letter in its entirety:
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.