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Studio moves forthing victory Generation magpie Planning It's the reel The lobby business 2019's highest fliers CT interviews What the technologies rise Andrew of the The new Cripps, Century Fox's "rented experience" means looking20th to unlock profits advocate change for cinema exhibitors before theforauditorium
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today's cinema How fizz We Coca-Cola's reveal the brightest developers arecore captured the of and the best inhelping cinema: to save thebusiness high street the movie CTC's 2019 Award winners
20/11/2018 10:03 21/11/2019 14:42 12:11 22/05/2019
ÂŠ2019 QSC, LLC all rights reserved. QSC, Q-SYS and the QSC logo are registered trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.
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c o n t e n t s c i n e m a t e c h n o l o g y > Vo l . 3 2 n o . 4 > 1 2 / 1 9
The latest from around the world of cinema exhibition Cinema Tech Community’s regular quarterly update
15 21 27 30 36 42
Streaming platforms hit the big time: so what of cinema? Crispin Lilly on the ties that bind all of Everyman’s sites EDCF’s year is a busy one. David Hancock explains The lobby as a destination in its own right? Here’s how Jim Slater on the role of 5G in cinema: does it have one? Why music is the growth sector in event cinema
MANAGING EDITOR: ALASTAIR BALMAIN Motion Picture Solutions Ltd, 9-11 North End Rd, London W14 8ST T: +44 (0)20 3026 1368 E: email@example.com ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID E: firstname.lastname@example.org
48 52 56 58 62 66 76 84 86
Julian Pinn on a way ahead for audio standardisation RealD: bringing real depth to 3D cinema presentation Harkness — celebrating 90 years in the screen trade
How and why loudspeaker response varies in real rooms The Picture House: a gem at the heart of Sussex life Ant snacks…? The countries that do cinema differently
EVENTS Boutique cinema: how do integrators give best advice? The ICO: global training for
Event cinema professionals headed to Amsterdam for
the successful ECA annual conference
OPINION The CTC Awards 2019: we present the brightest and
the best in the cinema business
COMMISSIONING EDITOR: PETER KNIGHT E: email@example.com ADVERTISING: BOB CAVANAGH T: +351 282 997 050 M: +351 962 415 172 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why streaming is looking like the expensive option
SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed to IMIS Members and to selected members of the wider industry internationally. For subscription details and to read the magazine online, head to www.cinematech.today
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In the cinema lobby: do customers linger or leg it? In this issue, CT explores new lobby technologies that encourage customer dwell time. As Alastair Balmain argues, it’s all for nothing if the ambience is wrong when you first walk in.
www.cinematech.today www.cinematech.today T g gm m a gaagzai nz ei nf eo r f o c irn e O . 4> > 0 1 26//1 189 T hh ee l leeaaddi ni n cm i nae m a i n d u s ti n r yd upsrt or y fep s sr ioof e n sasliso n>a lVs O> LV.O3 L2 . 3N1 ON. 2
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The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals > VOL.32
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Netflix & cinema Enter the 5Gclass DCP Premium
Could the streaming Can the super-fast Everyman's CEO giant andthe exhibitors infrastructure transform reveals chain's be the of friends? thewinning waybest weformula send films?
Studio moves forthing victory Generation magpie Planning It's the reel The lobby business 2019's highest fliers CT interviews What the technologies rise Andrew of the The new Cripps, Century Fox's "rented experience" means looking20th to unlock profits advocate change for cinema exhibitors before theforauditorium
ith all due deference and
the importance of scene-setting and selling the whole
apologies to those of CT’s readers
cinema experience, not just the content on Screen 1. Martin Dew’s excellent appraisal of technologies that
refinement of the projected image
are finding their way into the lobby (see page 30) lifts the lid
and the clarity of pin-sharp audio,
on how exhibitors are increasingly turning on to the true
speaking as a member of the buying public, for me the best
value to be created in the first place audiences walk in to.
litmus test of a good cinema doesn’t actually take place in
Making a trip to the cinema about more than just the movie
the auditorium. It’s in the lobby before I head to the screens.
is nothing new — ask Crispin Lilly (page 21) or Kevin Markwick
How does a cinema make me feel as I walk through its door?
(page 62). Both of these operators have, in their own way,
I don’t live in a metropolitan area, so without a bit of a
really nailed the “cinema as destination” concept. Their
trek I don’t really benefit from shiny flagship cinemas that
customers go because the setting they offer delivers
grace urban centres. Consequently, my local cinemas are
something more, it’s not just a place to catch a film and
best described as second division, not premier league.
whizz home after. It’s an important distinction. Guess which
They’re honest and not especially showy places, but even
of my four local sites I do my best to avoid at all costs?
among the small selection of four that I visit most regularly,
Turning back to technological matters, I trust you enjoy
one leaves me profoundly underwhelmed by its functional
this issue — there’s plenty in here to consider — but if you’re
greyness when I walk in, two put on a passable performance,
left craving more, I can wholeheartedly recommend a new
while the fourth actually lifts my heart, making me feel
book recently published by my predecessor, Jim Slater, and
excited about the forthcoming feature. It also happens to
his fellow CT contributor Grant Lobban. “All Shapes and
be the smallest of the four by a good margin.
Sizes” is a tour de force on the subject of film and television
Don’t worry. This isn’t a “small is good, big is bad” argument (though Karen Pitman makes a solid case for smaller, independent venues on page 76). No, this is about
20/11/2018 10:03 21/11/2019 14:42 12:11 22/05/2019
technology. Find out more about it on page 12. Finally, let me take the opportunity to wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2020.
1 Martin Dew
2 Peter Knight
3 Patrick von Sychowski
Formerly at Lucasfilm THX, on p.30, Martin discovers the technologies — VR and more — enhancing the lobby
A technical ambassador for digital cinema, on p.21 Peter interviews Crispin Lilly about Everyman’s ethos
Editor of Celluloid Junkie, on p.15, Patrick looks at the impact of the new breed of streaming platforms
Produced in partnership with:
today's cinema How fizz We Coca-Cola's reveal the brightest developers arecore captured the of and the best inhelping cinema: to save thebusiness high street the movie CTC's 2019 Award winners
001_DEC18_COVER.indd 11 1 000_DEC19_COVER.indd 001_COVER_JUNE19.indd
whose lives are dedicated to the
Writing in this issue of CT
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AAM and MPS to provide global content e-delivery ARTS ALLIANCE MEDIA (AAM) and Motion Picture Solutions (MPS) announced last month that they have signed a strategic co-operation agreement which sees AAM collaborating with MPS and its invested partner Gofilex on a global cinema content e-delivery solution. MPS has more than 15 years’ experience delivering content localisation, mastering, distribution and key generation services on behalf of major studios and distributors, while AAM — the global leader in cinema software solutions — has been supporting digital cinema technology and driving innovation
in automation and centralisation of theatre operations for the past 16 years. Together, AAM and MPS can leverage their existing relationships within distribution, as well as their global base of installed sites, to offer exhibitors an efficient, cost-effective, content
Netherlands-based Gofilex. “Our goal has always been to bring efficiency and value to a logistically diverse sector,” commented Matt Aspray, CEO of MPS, “Working in collaboration with incumbent distribution partners in various local markets, we have already seen the benefits of utilising
Gofilex AAM and MPS: Powering delivery to exhibition
Our agreement with AAM
exhibitors need to make truly dynamic content delivery to screens a reality.” “Connecting
data points along the path of a feature film’s release is essential at a time when the distributor/ exhibitor relationship needs to be closer than ever,”
international at AAM’s parent company Luxin
Cinema for All launches mycommunitycinema.org.uk CINEMA FOR ALL, the for
Rio, “Together, MPS, Gofilex and AAM are
uniquely positioned to drive this.”
launched mycommunitycinema.org.uk — a new
AAM will, with support from MPS and
space for community cinemas to host online profiles,
Gofilex, integrate into its world-class Theatre
upload information about their groups, upload their
Management System, Screenwriter, Gofilex’s
upcoming screenings, and connect with the wider
secure, e-delivery software, offering a turn-key
community cinema sector. The website has been
solution for receipt of content. Working together,
developed from the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema site.
these connected parties will roll out globally
Although this project came to an end, the BFI asked
leveraging AAM’s existing estate, and expanding
Cinema For All to take over the management of the
their collective global reach to over 35 countries.
website and continue its work in hosting community cinema profiles and screenings information.
1 2 / 1 9
Christie delivers RGB laser in Moscow’s Magic Cinema
NEWS IN BRIEF
> UNIC voices support for NATO’s technology evaluation program The International Union of Cinemas
representing cinema operators and their national associations across 38 European territories, in October voiced its support
Moscow’s newly opened Magic
“From the very beginning, we set a
Cinema complex is now home to
high bar for every element of the
Christie RGB RealLaser technology.
experience from the most modern
The four-screen site has two new VIP
projection to the atmosphere in every
theatres with 54 seats, with the other
area,” noted Olga Kochkina, Magic
two theatres housing 78 seats each.
Cinema’s director. “As far as the
All four of these are equipped with
equipment was concerned, we had a
Christie projectors, with the company’s
plan of action mapped out as far back
CP4325-RGB 4K projectors in the VIP
as KinoExpo in St. Petersburg, where,
operators should take the lead
screens and the others housing Solaria
thanks to Asia Cinema, we were
introduced to Christie’s products.”
Setting the standards high: RGB laser brings a premium experience to Moscow
for the recently announced the US-based
that lays out aspects of its digital
role in future industry efforts related to cinema technology. With VPF funding support soon ending, new approaches are needed to enable ongoing
Dinner and a movie with Ferco Seating
renewal of digital equipment industry-wide. As the pace of
FROM POPCORN TO signature
innovation quickens, exhibitors
cocktails, burgers and fries; what
should be taking the lead in
audiences are now eating in front of
evaluating future technologies
the big screen is changing rapidly.
for their screening rooms. This
“Dinner and movie” used to mean two
process should involve a range
different and distinct locations, but
of stakeholders (film-makers,
cinema seating specialist Ferco is in the
vanguard of change, announcing that
its entire premium range of cinema
seating can now be paired with
streamlines the dine-in experience
integrated swivel tables and cup
further with the option of call-button
holders to meet the needs of the latest
food order systems, integrated wireless
in-theatre dining concepts. Ferco’s
or USB charging ports. Seats are
developments in technology
Premium range of seating and electric
recliners can now be paired a range of
at-seat eating accessories, in a variety of
reclining and twin ‘love seat’ options.
009_DEC19_NEWS.indd 9 1 008_DEC19_NEWS.indd
Charge your, phone, order a drink, catch a movie — the latest in luxury seating from Ferco
the distributors, manufacturers and service providers). UNIC, says this is the only route to ensure a fair, sensible approach to the evaluation of digital equipment
1 2 / 1 9
14:45 22/11/2019 11:02
N E W S R E E L
CinemaNext launches first Illucity-branded VR corner at Belgium’s Kinepolis Liège IN MID-OCTOBER, CINEMA Next announced the successful installation of its first Illucity Corner virtual reality
setup to boost on-site traffic and increase ancillary revenues. The
Illucity: boosting on-site traffic and making the lobby an integral part of the destination
stems from good relationships both have always held with
(VR) solution for cinema exhibitors at
includes installation, staff training,
Belgium’s Kinepolis Liège cinema. The
content management, promotional
suppliers,” explained Omnex
opening comes one year after the
support and on-site and remote
MD Simon Tandy, adding “This
launch of the Illucity adventure park in
acquisition lets us expand our
Paris, the first VR Location Based
throughout the life cycle of the
geographic reach and support
Entertainment (LBE) centre of its kind
product“We’re always looking for new
structure, greatly enhancing
The Illucity Corner offer consists
the services we can offer
differentiated experience, so we are
Omnex’s new and existing
equipment and content designed to
excited to be hosting the first Illucity
Corner at Kinepolis Liège,” said Stijn
““Like us, the Omnex team
immersive experiences in a VR arcade
Vanspauwen, from Kinepolis Belgium.
is driven by a desire to deliver
their exhibitor customers and
the best service. Given its energetic, focused approach, Omnex is a natural home for our engineers,” noted Darren
Omnex acquires AAM’s UK Cinema Services specialist engineering
1 2 / 1 9
Untitled-3 1 008_DEC19_NEWS.indd 10
THE UK’S LEADING specialist
and service levels, and cements
Briggs, head of UK Cinema
cinema engineering provider
Omnex’s position as foremost
Services. In recent months,
Omnex last month announced
provider of installation, supply
Omnex has been involved in a
its acquisition of Arts Alliance
and maintenance services for
number of technical firsts in
Media’s engineering division,
cinema technologies in the UK
the UK and Ireland, notably
UK Cinema Services.
the installation of the first
The acquisition unites two
“A significant factor in the
Barco Series 4 projectors in
respected engineering teams,
offering Omnex and UK Cinema
the UK and the first installation
known for their technical skills
Services traditionally provided
of Dolby’s new CP950.
14:22 22/11/2019 11:02
GDC, Christie and Huaxia team up for “Gemini Man” in 120fps HFR Los Angeles
THREE-TIME ACADEMY Award-winning filmmaker Ang
stretched technological boundaries, produced in 4K
Cinionic transforms flagship Boston site for National Amusements
resolution, 3D, and shot at a frame rate of 120 fps.
A renovated all-laser venue
Lee’s anticipated film “Gemini Man”, released by Paramount Pictures, premiered in October at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, showcasing a film that
Cinity, the new HFR cinema projection system
and the first location in Boston,
developed by Christie for Huaxia Film Distribution,
US, for “Showcase XPlus – CGS
delivered the latest advances in HFR screening and
RealLaser illumination technology for the film. Christie’s
strategic partnership with Huaxia Film Distribution and
Legacy Place is a premium
GDC Technology resulted in development of the Cinity
large format entertainment
Cinema System based around dual CP4450-RGB HFR
experience being transformed
projectors. For the premiere, the Cinity cinema system
by Cinionic in a strategic
was configured to produce a brightness up to 28ftL using
Christie’s laser optical system technology, delivering 3D
Cinionic will be creating
4K resolution at 120fps for each eye. “We’re proud to have shown this film in 4K, 3D, and at
120fps using Cinity — a bold specification that exceeds all
entertainment destination, the
DCI-compliant presentation systems,” noted Kyle Davies,
first all-Barco laser projector
president of domestic distribution for Paramount.
multiplex in the US for National Amusements. “We continue
with National Amusements on
CJ 4DPLEX and Flexound opened Asia’s first Flexound Augmented Audio theatre at CJ
this new venture and to be supporting their investment in the next generation of cinema,
KOREAN MOVIEGOERS CAN now
in-seat technology that improves the
as we move from xenon to
enjoy Flexound Augmented Audio
clarity of dialogue and lower-pitched
laser,” commented Cinionic’s
immersion thanks to CJ CGV, which
tone in a theatre. It also requires no
CEO, Wim Buyens.
selected the technology for its new
wearable accessories. The seats for CJ
The renovated site features
CGV’s Gold Class Wangsimni were
the suite of Cinionic laser
theatre. Reopened after refurbishment
in the summer, it is the second screen
Seating, which has gained Flexound
worldwide to feature Flexound audio
certification for three of its models.
enhancements in every seat. The first has been serving customers in Finland since February. CJ 4DPLEX, known for its 4DX and
In-seat audio immersion, courtesy of Flexound
solutions, with all-new Barco Series 4 laser projection with Alchemy Media Servers and XPlus
powered by CGS. “Partnering with Cinionic is enables
ScreenX systems, developed this new
collaboration between CJ CGV and
said Jon Kidder, director of
Flexound. The two companies are in
cinema technology, National
talks to expand the collaboration in
Amusements, “Our promise to
more CJ CGV theatres, as well as
the movie-goer is to showcase
incorporating Flexound Augmented
the movies we screen in the
Audio with 4DX and ScreenX systems.
best way possible.”
Flexound Augmented Audio is an www.cinematech.today
1 2 / 1 9
N E W S R E E L
Unilumin collaborates with Barco on LED displays
Cineworld goes all RGB Laser in Eastbourne CINEWORLD EASTBOURNE
CHINESE LED DISPLAY manufacturer
The companies believe the collaboration
Unilumin has recently announced a strategic
will enhance Barco’s opportunity to increase
collaboration with Barco, tapping into each
its global competitiveness. Making the most
other’s complementary competences.
HAS become Europe’s first
Through leveraging Barco’s technical
intelligent manufacturing and narrow pixel
all-RGB laser cineplex after
advantages in image and video processing
pitch technology, Unilumin and Barco will be
opting for Christie RealLaser
and LED solutions, Unilumin has found new
co-operating on joint development of DCI-
ways to broaden its business in the market of
spec LED display solutions tailored to the
professional LED displays.
professional cinema market.
The UK cinema’s eight auditoriums have all been fitted with Christie’s CP2315RGB and CP2320-RGB models —
cinematic performance to the
All Shapes and Sizes — the perfect Christmas read!
site. Christie RGB laser systems
REGULAR READERS OF CT will recognise two familiar
have also been installed at a
names behind a recently published book on the history of
brace of other UK Cineworld-
film in cinema and television. Former Managing Editor, Jim
Slater, and cinema enthusiast and historian Grant Lobban
“We’re delighted to offer
have put together a technical book “All Shapes and Sizes”
our customers a fantastic
which promises to delight all avid film-focused readers
visual cinematic experience
from the student seeking knowledge of film restoration to
with RealLaser technology,
the film enthusiast wanting to know more.
which has become known for
Highly readable and extensively illustrated, the book
its excellent performance and
explains different technologies involved in a manner that is
accessible whilst also giving sufficient detail to satisfy expert
Enikov, head of technical for
and enthusiast alike. Priced at £24.99, “All Shapes and Sizes”
Cineworld. “We aim to provide
is available online at Amazon or direct from jim.slater@
the best place to watch a
slaterelectronics.com or +44 (0)1980 610544.
movie, and by investing in the high-performance technology, we feel we are continuing to deliver on this goal.”
QSC announces DCI compliance for CMS-5000 cinema
Christie CP2315-RGB and
QSC HAS ANNOUNCED THAT ITS CMS-5000 media server has met all requirements of the Digital
CP2320-RGB models provide
Cinema System Specification Version 1.2, published by DCI. This certification validates that the
company’s next-generation cinema media server can reliably play controlled digital content in theatres
innovations in RGB pure laser technology
globally, reproducing high-quality images and sound as well as securing the content against piracy.
“DCI compliance means QSC has taken a significant step towards the secure presentation of digital
ownership the company say is
cinema content,” says Barry Ferrell, vice president of cinema product development and strategy.
comparable to xenon models.
“Achieving DCI compliance assures that the CMS-5000 is a trusted part of the digital cinema ecosystem
Featuring CineLife electronics
worldwide. This certification provides a strong foundation for sale of the CMS-5000, the first QSC-
and RealLaser illumination,
branded cinema server and the only server with native Q-SYS network compatibility.”
the models both excel in image
lifetime and overall cost. Their all-in-one form doesn’t need external chillers or parts for installation into any booth.
1 2 / 1 9
Fully DCICompliant: the new CMS-5000
N E W S R E E L :
C T C
U P D A T E
2019 IS NEARLY OVER and we’re all still here, writes CTC
past few months we’ve sent members of the CTC team to
president Richard Mitchell. Despite prophets of doom saying
various events and run training courses throughout Europe
this would be the year that streaming killed cinema, it
(even as far north as the Arctic circle), to Asia and Latin
hasn’t. In fact, quite the opposite — and as we head into
America sharing our knowledge and expertise of all things
the Chistmas season with a tranche of great releases, the
cinema technology (from projection to event cinema,
predictions couldn’t be further from the truth. Ultimately,
marketing, esports, AR and VR and how these relate to the
trying to compare cinema and streaming is impossible, the
movie-going experience). Behind all we do is a passion for
two are unsurprisingly completely different. Of course there’s
ensuring that cinema-goers have the best experience and
a generation that’s growing up with streaming as a default
that future generations grow up knowing that cinema is the
entertainment medium and there is a convenience about
only place to see movies designed for the big screen.
watching a movie at home, however watching a theatrically
A Special Thank You
released movie in a cinema environment with the technology the film-maker intended it to be shown on is the purest and best way to see that movie.
Join our cause
Finally, as we grow the presence of CTC throughout the world there is a need
Rather than focus directly on technology in our cinemas
Behind everything we do
to acknowledge a member of our
— something it could be argued the consumer doesn’t really
at the Cinema Technology
team who has decided the time is right
understand thanks to the bombardment of acronyms in the
Community is a passion for
to take a well-earned retirement. Our
home cinema/consumer electronics market — there has to
ensuring that moviegoers —
truly wonderful director and secretary
be a bigger focus on educating the consumer about the
in fact cinema-goers — have
Denis Kelly has been a part of CTC in its
quality and diversity of the experiences we can provide and
the best experience that it
various guises for more than 40 years
the role technology plays in these.
is possible to achieve. If you
never shying away from responsibility
Education remains a central part of CTC’s vision to help
share that ambition, you can
and always rolling his sleeves up. Over
cinemas create better outcomes for movie-goers and that
please join our community
the past two and half years as president,
starts with knowledge sharing-within our industry. Over the
today by heading over to our
I have sought Denis’s counsel regularly
and he has personally provided me with a level of unwavering support,
CTC EXECUTIVE TEAM Richard Mitchell (President), Graham Lodge (Vice President), Denis Kelly (Secretary), Mike Bradbury, Sandie Caffelle, Michael Denner, Danny Jeremiah, Peter Knight, Sarah Lewthwaite, Adam MacDonald, Suhaila Mahmoud, Saul Mahoney Andre Mort, David Norris, Alessandra Pavan Bernacchi, Kevin Phelan, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Jim Slater, Simon Tandy, Patrick von Sychowski, Paul Willmott.
CTC ADVISORY COUNCIL Tom Bert (Barco), Mark Christiansen (Paramount Pictures), Laurence Claydon (Consultant), Brian Claypool (Christie Digital), Theresa English (TK Architects), Nicolas Hamon (Kinepolis), Roland Jones (Vue International), Dominic Simmons (BFI), Russell Smith (Motion Picture Solutions), Sriram Sistla (Harman India), Debbie Stanford Kristiansen (Novo Cinemas), Alexey Vinokurov (RealD)
encouragement, mentoring, guidance and
wonderful sense of humour. Denis is about as irreplaceable as it gets — and the entire CTC team wishes to thank him and wish him the very best in his well-earned retirement. 1 2 / 1 9
Film services since 1938. This is how we connect.
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STREAMING PAST A CINEMA NEAR YOU? The battle for overall supremacy in the streaming wars has ramped up a gear — and a new impact on cinema releasing is likely to be felt in the exhibition community. Patrick von Sychowski looks at what the proliferation of platforms means for the movies.
HE RECENT LAUNCH of streaming platforms to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime throws the question of release windows and content owners’ relations with theatres into focus once again. Less than a year after the “Roma”
controversy, an even bigger fight blew up with the release of Martin Scorsese’s $160m gangster epic “The Irishman”. With the start of Disney+, Apple TV+, NBC-Universal’s Peacock, a souped-up HBO/Warner service, as well as UK’s BritBox, Jio’s First Day-First Show in India and other local competitors, comes an increased spend on original content.
Your film’s not on the list… you’re not coming in.
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While much of the content on these new sites’ roster
“Irishman” not welcome in cinemas
is episodic TV, these platforms are also keen on feature
Netflix’s big awards gamble is Martin Scorsese’s three-
films, which is where the conflict with cinemas rears its
and-a-half-hour return to the gangster genre. As you can
head again over the length, if any, of release windows.
understand, the streamer is looking to get returns for its
After the release of “Star Wars: the Last Skywalker” this
investment, but any hopes that it could recoup that in box
Christmas, the next in the saga will be “The Mandalorian”,
office and not just subscribers were dashed early on. In
released on Disney+ with no (announced) plans for any
the UK, Cineworld, Odeon and Vue all made it clear that
cinema outing. TV releases have crossed over for big-
they would not show it without a standard release
screen engagements, whether ABC’s Marvel series the
window. On the other side of the Atlantic, Regal (owned
“Inhumans” or the “Friends” re-release. This feeds into the
by Cineworld), AMC and Cinemark similarly shut the door.
growing ‘event cinema’ niche that cinemas have come to
Netflix has instead re-doubled its strategy of ‘four
rely on for a significant proportion of revenue — 2%-3% for
walling’ the release by having its films screened in smaller
regular sites, but as much as large double-digit figures for
circuit cinemas where it has rented auditoriums and is
some arthouse cinemas. Included in this are re-releases,
consequently also not obliged to
such as “The Matrix” 20th anniversary earlier this year.
share the box office numbers with
This theatre of war sees conflicting allegiances, with
Comscore and others. It is employing
Netflix now being a member of the MPAA, Hollywood
a similar strategy for its other end-of-
studios are pulling old titles from theatrical availability
year prestige titles, such as Steven
even as cinemas are refusing to screen new films without
Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat” and
guaranteed release windows. Cinemas are thus turning
Eddie Murphy’s “Dolemite Is My
their backs on new films, even as they decry not being
Name.” Netflix has saved the biggest
able to play decade old films. Where is this all headed?
‘four walling’ for “The Irishman”.
“Parasite” avoids “Roma” lock-out In the shadow of “The Irishman” controversy, this year’s leading Best Foreign Language Film awards contender narrowly avoided a “Roma”-style fate at the UK box office thanks to a single tweet. Though “Roma” won several BAFTA and Academy Awards, it lost out on the Best Picture Oscar, partly due to it being accused of not having a “meaningful release” in cinemas, as stipulated by the rule of the film awards academies. Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” was awarded the Palm D’Or in Cannes and is predicted to win the accolades for Best Foreign Language Film as well as possibly being nominated in other categories. It was purchased for UK distribution by Curzon’s sister-company Artificial Eye, for an undisclosed sum. Curzon Artificial Eye titles, such as “Cold War” are typically released day-and-date in both cinemas (its own and others) as well as on the Curzon Home TVoD platform. Yet as of March this year Cineworld-owned Picturehouse announced a change of policy that it would not show films that did not adhere to traditional release windows. A distributor from another company suggested Curzon could not afford to lose Picturehouse given what it had paid for “Parasite”, as streaming revenue would be unlikely to make up for the significant portion of arthouse screens such a release could net. With no release date given for “Parasite” in the UK, even after it had already been released in several European territories, the resolution arrived on 9 October in the form of a tweet from Curzon CEO Phillip Knatchbull: “We always judge a film on its own merits before deciding on a release strategy. As a Palme d’Or winner and Oscar Best Picture contender, ‘Parasite’ is an exceptional international foreign language film which we believe can compete on a wider level with any film in the marketplace.” This meant “Parasite” would get a 16-week theatrical release. Knatcbull saw major “multiplex potential” for the title and the distributor would put significant P&A spend behind it. The home release would have to wait until after the awards season.
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Netflix rented Broadway’s Belasco Theatre for a onemonth engagement of the film from 1 November to 1 December. In true Broadway fashion the film is having eight screenings per week, from Tuesday through Sunday, with additional matinee performances on weekends. The
experience at the historic Belasco Theatre is incredibly
exciting. Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber, and their team at
The Irishman reportedly cost Netflix $160m
picture a special event for audiences and I’m thankful for
Netflix have continued to find creative ways to make this their innovation and commitment,” Scorsese is quoted as
1,016-seat theatre that was opened in 1907 was equipped
saying. It is no coincidence that Martin Scorsese’s home
with special projection and sound equipment for this
town was selected for this engagement, as it is also home
limited engagement. Tickets are $15 and no doubt sold
to many Academy, BAFTA and various guild voters. In
fast to those that couldn’t wait to stream the film from 27
some ways it also completes the circle for cinema as in
November. “The opportunity to recreate that singular
the pre-sound days there was a mad scramble to find
large enough venues for major blockbusters like D.W. Disney has generally allowed old titles to be re-released every 10 years
Platforms are keen on feature films, which is where the conflict with cinemas rears its head again over the length of release windows
Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” (193 minutes, compared to 209 minutes for “The Irishman”). Meanwhile negotiations
“‘Citizen Kane’ was screened in tents after it was locked out of theatres due to pressure from the Hearst empire”
are ongoing in LA for Netflix to acquire, invest in or upgrade the world-famous Egyptian Theatre own
cinema, instead of renting it or using other non-conventional cinema venues such as The Hollywood American Legion Post 43 Theatre on North Highland Ave. As “Deadline” notes, “A film historian like Scorsese appreciates the irony of returning to exhibition’s roots just as the viewing experience keeps evolving.” It was also the case that Orson Wells toured and screened his “Citizen Kane” in tents across the US when the film found itself locked out by the major theatres after pressure from the Hearst organisation. It seems that Netflix and Scorsese are thus in good historical company.
The ‘horror’ of Disney ‘vaulting’ Fox As we all know, Disney has for years been locking up its princesses in a vault and now they are joined by the likes of Anastasia, Princess Poppy and Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden, as well as “The Princess Bride” and “The Prince and the Showgirl”. These are just some of the 20th Century Fox titles and characters that have become subject to Disney’s practice of ‘vaulting’ films. For years, Disney has been guarding its animated library by only allowing old titles to be re-released in cinema and on home video roughly every 10 years for a limited time. This way, new generations were introduced to the Disney magic of “Cinderella” and “Snow White”, without saturating the market. Far from just a corporate policy, it was highlighted to consumers in adverts notifying people which films were about to “go back into the Disney www.cinematech.today
1 2 / 1 9
Vault”, in words often spoken by noted voiceover actor
Can Streamers and Cinemas Be Friends?
Mark Elliot. This practice of releasing two to three movies
Will new streaming operators force Netflix to reconsider
per year from its catalogue of 34 feature animations and
its strategy, given that it faces a three-front war for new
sequels came to an end in August 2019, with the Disney+
subscribers, archive content and talent to produce more?
service launching in November, meaning that the Disney
It will be undercut by the likes of Disney+ which will charge
vault had effectively come to an end for home releases.
as little as $5/£5 to win new subscribers even if it is making
On the cinema side, however, Disney has no plans to
a loss. It will lose popular content such as all Disney titles.
make its animated back catalogue of classics available for
Meanwhile Apple is luring talent such as Steven Spielberg
theatrical re-release, not least as it is busy creating live-
and Reese Witherspoon to create new shows for it.
action remakes of films like “Jungle Book” and “Dumbo”.
With Netflix now a member of the MPAA, there are
So, consumers subscribing to Disney+ can rejoice at
hopes it may start acting more like a traditional studio.
replacing their entire VHS/DVD collection with instant
With cinema content being re-defined by the increasing
access to the animated classics, though it means that said
importance of live events and re-releases, to cater to
titles will not be available on Netflix, YouTube or even on
changing audience preferences in an experience-oriented
Disney channels. But what about theatrical re-releases?
economy. A recent study by UNIC and Coca-Cola found
The 20th Century Fox catalogue that was the main
that one of the top preferences for Millennials would be to
reason for Disney to buy the studio contains several ever-
watch the latest major TV shows in cinemas with friends.
greens that are frequently shown in cinemas, including “Alien”/”Aliens”, “Fight Club”, “The Sound of Music”, “The Princess Bride” and Christmas favourites such as “Home Alone” and “Die Hard” (which is a Christmas movie, end of discussion!). The reaction to the ‘vaulting’ has been strong and
Watershed (see panel, right). Equally worrying is the impact on the
“Consumers can rejoice at replacing their entire DVD collection with instant access to classics on Disney+”
A View from the top Tara Judah, critic and programmer, Cinema Rediscovered, Watershed Bristol I genuinely think it’s appalling to ‘vault’ titles from public exhibition. Repertory programming is tough enough, what with rights issues and increasing screening fees - especially DCPs, which, on the whole, are more expensive to screen than 35mm prints, despite the industry’s promises otherwise back in 2011/2012 - taking an entire library out of circulation is unfair and hugely damaging for indie cinemas that rely on popular rep content to pay their bills. What’s worse is that you just know that the studios’ motivation is to create scarcity so that they can then
popularity of recent musicals that has seen Fox films such
control the re-releases around anniversaries and home entertainment
as “The Greatest Showman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”
plans, which is an assault on curation in my opinion.
play and return to cinemas more than a year after their initial release, with 12 months being the cut-off date for Disney’s cinema ‘vault’. The one exception is the perennial
The nature of cinema is thus changing and content,
midnight cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”,
including films, becomes more fluid in where and how it
which will continue to be allowed to be shown in cinemas,
is consumed. Given the collapse of physical home media
with toast, squirt guns, fishnets, dress up and all.
(VHS/DVD retail and rental) and the fact that streaming
It may thus be a small consolation that the most
has not yet replaced this in value, there seems little to be
famous cinematic drag queen of all time (sorry Priscilla),
gained by doing away with the theatrical window of
Rocky Horror’s Frank-N-Furter, will continue to strut his
exclusivity. Instead we’re likely to see more experimentation
stuff on the silver screen, even while the rest of Fox’s
with distribution platforms and special releases, even as
royalty remain locked away in Uncle Walt’s vault next to
content owners become more controlling of when and
his own frozen remains.
how they release certain titles. There is no law that states
[Just kidding. Contrary to urban legends, Walt Disney
Netflix et al cannot be friends with cinemas and work
was not actually cryogenically frozen but is buried in
together. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings doesn’t view cinemas
Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, close to
as competition — instead he identifies the video game
Hollywood. Disney on Ice is thus a myth — unless you
Fortnite and sleep as two keys challengers. It remains to
mean the skating show.]
be seen if the new batch of streamers will change that.
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I N T E R V I E W
Everyman’s main man Everyman is a tour de force in the UK’s cinema sector. Peter Knight discovered there is a unifying thread that runs through its sites and, in an exclusive interview with CT, CEO Crispin Lilly reveals how that is achieved.
Fact File Crispin Lilly, Chief
VERYMAN CINEMAS IS A name
sites as there are none close to where I live. So a friendly
familiar cinemagoers in the UK — in
challenge was laid down — visit three specific Everyman
spite of its proletarian moniker, the
Cinemas and he’d answer my questions! This seemed a good
brand is, to many, the epitome of the
way to experience for myself exactly what Everyman Cinemas
premium cinema experience.
are all about, so over the past few months, I visited three
Established back in 2000 when
the original 1930s Everyman Cinema in Hampstead was
bought by Daniel Broch, the chain now encompasses over
separate sites (see panel below), plus a bonus one for good measure to get a feel for the ‘Everyman Experience’.
30 sites, with more than 100 screens. The chain has continued
The driving force
to grow at a pace, with the majority of its sites in London.
Crispin Lilly celebrated being with the company for five years
After 22 years in
Everyman is expanding with new cinemas across the UK,
last month, so it seemed like an appropriate time to get his
though — in Bristol, Newcastle and Manchester to name a
view on the state of affairs — and the original concept for this
working for MGM,
few places. I wanted to understand what makes Everyman
article was to explore how Everyman converts and re-uses
Virgin, UGC and
Cinemas such a powerful brand in the exhibition industry
many old cinemas but, as is so often the case, things ended
and an interview with CEO Crispin Lilly laid out the facts.
up going in a different direction…
Cineworld, Crispin Lilly joined Everyman as CEO five years ago.
We began by talking about technology, evidently. The
advent of digital cinema and the ability to put projectors in
Over a drink at CineEurope 2019 this June, I admitted to
boothless pods in the auditorium ceiling has clearly allowed
Crispin that I had never had the opportunity to visit one of his
cinemas and screens to be built in a way not possible with
Different venues, one underlying ethos Everyman Gerrards Cross was my first port
It was a delight to visit the four sites, each
of the world behind. The presentation of
of call. With a new screen recently added,
with its own character, but also very much
the movies was noteable. Ads and trailers
it is now a three-screen site. Next was
an Everyman venue. My expectations were
have been carefully controlled so that the
Everyman at Crystal Palace that opened in
high given my perception of the brand,
volume levels are consistent, and the pre-
2018 after a complete refit, then the
and in each site, every member of staff was
roll seemed to merge seamlessly with the
Everyman at Muswell Hill, before finally
smiling and helpful and I felt they wanted
feature. A nice touch is that the Everyman
going to Everyman Kings Cross, a cinema
to be there. They were knowledgeable too.
logo sits on screen for a minute or so before
that is both modern and unusual in that it
the certificate of the feature appears.
is located in the entrance to an office block
None of the auditoria is a ‘black box’ but
within a newly developed area, just a short
each has a finish to it. There was a real buzz
If Everyman build a site on my doorstep, I’ll
walk from the new Google HQ.
in the buildings and I felt I’d left the cares
definitely adopt it as my local!
1 2 / 1 9
I N T E R V I E W
Consistent audio levels When visiting the sites, I noticed
and will adjust the SPL for each
would actually be possible to put in a DCI projector and
how the audio levels felt normalised
screen to different levels which can
make it a screen. It only has 30 seats, but it also gets the most
between ads, trailers and features
change during the show. We have a
unsolicited positive feedback of all the screens.”
so that there was no perceptible
good relationship with DCM who
Thanks to technology, managers can now have a smaller
difference. I asked how this was
communicate sound levels really
office than previously, with just servers and a desk. A laptop
achieved. Nick Davey, Everyman’s
well. Having our people in screens
allows them to work in the bar and restaurant areas, where
technical manager, supplied the
trained to be aware of presentation
they can interact with customers. The ability to use remote
answer: “To start, we regularly check
helps and staff are encouraged to
connectivity is a bonus. The chain used to have a remote
our sound EQ and SPL levels at the
feedback to us on playback. Having
tablet system with separate PDQ system, but this wasn’t
standard 85db at 7.0 on the fader.
a manager in screenings ensures
sufficiently reliable, so they have just updated to a Vista Serve
We have a pretty uniform set-up
the experience is as good as it can
system, that uses an iPad with a PDQ on the back. In the past
which helps, but all auditoria are
be. You never always get it right, but
four months, with the new system the Everyman team has
different which can make it harder
it makes my life easier when you see
seen a turnaround, with staff now relishing their contact with
when it comes to the felt experience.
how much importance the Ops
customers. The upshot has also been an increase in sales.
The cinemas test content in advance
team puts on feedback and service.”
Everyman is trialling a new trailer scheduling programme — they don’t have any movie posters, so they advertise
celluloid and its requirement for projection rooms, but how else has technology benefitted the Everyman experience? For a start, digital projectors have created considerable flexibility in the programming. “At King’s Cross, when we arrived Screen 3 was meant to be a private hire room — a screen on the wall with an HD projector,” explained Crispin, “but it was suggested that it 2 2
1 2 / 1 9
A former Odeon site, the Gerrards Cross cinema typifies the luxury setting that defines the Everyman experience
forthcoming shows to the audience. As such, the pre-show is really important — Everyman audiences tend to arrive early for food and a drink, then slowly drift into the auditorium. The trailer scheduling is about reducing the workload managers have. With fewer things on their list, the more time they can have out looking after customers. Crispin talked about the long relationship Everyman has www.cinematech.today
“Each venue should be individual to the community it serves and the building it is in. Each site is given the care it demands”
had with Sony. The company uses its projectors in many of its
who walks each of the towns looking for potential sites,” said
auditoria because of the picture quality and contrast ratio
Crispin, noting how things have changed recently: “Equally
they provide, together with their 4K capability, but they are
these days developers and others will make a direct approach
large machines and in some screens a smaller projector is
to see if Everyman wants to be part of a development
needed. Consequently, they now also have a number of NEC
because they see the potential. With the Kings Cross cinema,
projectors. These tend to be 3D compatible.
it is part of a brilliant community. Cinemas don’t pay a high
Design and feel
rent, so they have to bring something else to the party. Often it is part of the ‘place making’ — they bring something
While each Everyman cinema is unique, there is a cohesive
different to the area. Three screens is the minimum, with four
feeling tying it in with the rest, whether it is an old art deco
screens being the sweet spot and two if there is a really
building, a new build or something between the two. I asked
specific reason. Cardiff has ended up being a five-screen site
Crispin about this consistency and how it is achieved.
because of the way the building has been carved up.
“It’s brilliant how you describe this as it’s exactly what we
Although there is the cost of an extra projector, it is not much
aim for,” he explained. “Each venue should be individual to
of an increase to the overall project cost, and it ensures that
the community it serves and the building it’s in. We use
the most efficient use of the space is achieved.”
strong design partners with whom we have a long-term relationship. We ensure that even though we may open six or
Premium by definition?
seven venues a year, each site is treated individually and is
The topic of Premium Large Format cinema (PLF) and 3D
given the care and time it demands. If anyone ever uses the
naturally cropped. Everyman only has one Dolby Atmos
phrase “cookie cutter” with Everyman, then we’ve failed.”
screen and I observed that while the chain does not have a
And how does Everyman find the different spaces that they are located in? “We have a list of different locations and towns that we’d like to be in and we have a property specialist www.cinematech.today
Muswell Hill’s Everyman is a Grade II* listed building and was short-listed for the Planning Awards in 2017 thanks to the company’s sensitive approach to its refurbishment
PLF concept, that presumably is because the whole of Everyman is premium in its own right. “We have one Dolby Atmos in Harrogate, but it is difficult 1 2 / 1 9
I N T E R V I E W
to justify the cost when customers don’t notice it,” responded Crispin in a rather matter-of-fact way, “Customers don’t visit Everyman because of technology. It is secondary. We don’t
wide variety of locations and councils, I wondered what
like to charge more for technology or for providing a great technical experience, it should just be what is delivered for all customers. There is at least one 3D screen on each site, even
would change. His answer fired back: “Consistency! Every local authority has different planners who range from the
though we don’t programme much in it. The average ticket price is higher than most — we don’t discount tickets anyway,
aspect of the UK’s planning laws and licensing laws Crispin
dogmatic and uncooperative through to the brilliant and innovative. Reviewing and looking at new technology, and being prepared to test something requires the latter, but
even when something proposed in another authority area,
so the prices sometimes during the day might be higher, but
Gerrards Cross in
has been approved, signed off and proven to be effective, a
at weekends prices are comparable with other chains.”
separate authority may refuse to consider it if it’s not written
first opened in
in stone somewhere (which can take decades). This is
1925 and is the
infuriating and can be the difference between opening in a
My presumption has always been that Event Cinema is a
oldest such site in
town or not. It’s mad. The more complicated buildings are
natural fit with Everyman cinemas and its audiences, but I
hard work, but more fun. Unfortunately, we occasionally walk
wondered how the chain copes with Event Cinema
away from a deal because it just can’t work and involves too
screenings where it is not directly in control of the content
over from Odeon
A natural space for event cinema
and has to rely on others so intrinsically. “Yes, our customers love the streams and they are pretty
in 2015. I visited
much cost for either the landlord/developer or Everyman.” While Everyman is known for taking on old cinemas and
on a summer
refurbishing them into modern luxurious spaces, they also
evening, and it
take on sites with other, former uses, repurposing them into
Crispin, “But Event Cinema is important to Everyman, with
was a great first
a cinema. This is the case with the newly opened cinema in
7-8% of box office coming from this area [the average is
the Manchester Studios, which used to house the Granada
3-4%]. ‘Fleabag’ encores are still doing really well several
televsion company. It is more efficient
weeks after they were first broadcast. Distributors are more
and the friendly
to reuse buildings and can be quicker.
flexible than they were and it means that sometimes we’re
staff, to the food
The time taken from signing of the
able to take a chance on a feature, keeping it on longer or in
and experience in
contract to opening is greatly reduced.
forgiving of issues, so long as they aren’t constant,” noted
smaller screens, allowing audiences to seek it out.”
The challenge of unique venues Evidently, the feel of the cinema within Everyman’s buildings is an important element of the experience. I talked to Crispin about my thoughts on each of the different sites that I had
Dating from 1934, the auditorium in Muswell Hill has an art deco flair
the auditorium itself — a screen complete with tabs and masking.
been challenged to visit. I mentioned the difficulty of installing projector pods in Muswell Hill, specifically the
Reopened in 2018
constraints of working in listed buildings [ED: architecturally
as an Everyman
significant buildings with planning restrictions in the UK]?
Crispin was adamant: “Cost and effective communications
closed as a
are the challenges! We have to work closely with planners
cinema for years,
and convince them of our integrity (which is getting easier
this site fits a new
with the evidence now of the likes of our Crystal Palace and
cinema in an old
Muswell Hill sites). We love and want to do things properly
art deco building.
and sympathetically, but there has to be commercial realism
The moment you
— you need at least three screens for a modern cinema to be
walk in, it feels
truly viable, and if the incremental cost of doing up a listed
historic, yet does
building is too high, it simply won’t make sense. We work
not feel old either.
with our planning advisors (FirstPlan) who are excellent at
The bar area was
steering a course between our business needs and the demands of a listed site (and those who defend them).” Planning constraints extend to elements such as fire exit signs, and the glass in the auditorium. Working across such a 2 4
1 2 / 1 9
a great place to hang out in while waiting to watch a film.
Most such repurposed sites have tabs and masking in all their screens — Crispin dislikes floating screens and
thinks that the scope picture should always be bigger than a flat image — and there are only a few auditoria
where they aren’t present. That is generally where a compromise on screen size would be the result. So, why invest in an old building
A new-build in an office, this is one of the more
when it must be cheaper to build new?
Do the local community and audiences
for a cinema. It is
appreciate and notice the difference?
accessed via the
“The bottom line is that they offer great
space and are in the heart of the high
door in the
street,” explained Crispin, “It would be
reception area. It
an interesting dilemma if we had two opportunities in the
is a three-screen
our new-builds or our conversions of
same town, in equally strong locations, because the
venue, over three
non-cinema space — as with our
commercials on a new build would certainly be more
floors (screen 1 is
Broadgate opening last month.”
As at King’s Cross, a big factor in the experience is the bar’s atmosphere
attractive. It hasn’t happened yet, but it would be nice to
accessed via the
think that in such an instance there would be local authority
ground floor, with
support available to contribute to the preservation of the
the bar and two
While Crispin has been CEO, Everyman has expanded rapidly.
heritage of an old building and to de-risk it. There is no doubt
What of international moves, perhaps in emerging markets?
that unlocking old cinemas creates a particularly special
on a mezzanine
Could we see Everyman in Dubai? “International expansion is
Everyman, but we’re equally as proud and successful with
level. Screen 3 has
definitely on our radar, with our first site in Dublin signed —
just 30 seats but
but we’re cautious and not complacent about how well the
concept will work abroad. There are many other territories
(and many closer to home than the UAE!) that we believe
would support our model but there’s also a lot of untapped
Overseas expansion? Rivals at home?
potential here in the UK, too,” noted Crispin. In the UK, we have seen recent openings of premium cinemas, such as Empire’s Tivoli concept in Bath. I wondered
Muswell Hill was a
whether Everyman felt its space was under threat. Crispin
bonus visit for me,
was adamant: “The more the merrier in our view,” he said,
as it has links to
generously, “There’s plenty of market out there to tap into
and I think even those that are more closely emulating us all
have a slightly different skew. Any investment in cinema is a
which was based
good news story and it will inevitably keep us on our toes
there for years.
which is the benefit of competition. Who knows, one day it
This site won the CTC Award for Screen of the Year
Defining the sector
in 2017. A couple
Crispin’s passion for what he and Everyman do is infectious,
of its screens in
but Everyman is by no means the only cinema business
the balcony area
creating a luxury experience. They are helping to define this
are floating to
area though and I enjoyed my visits. I will tick different ones
off the list as opportunity arises. Although there isn’t an
with the fabric of
Everyman very close to me, perhaps when I next move I’ll
the original site.
would be lovely to plagiarise someone else’s idea!”
make it one of my key search criteria! 1 2 / 1 9
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A year in the Life of Established to enlighten the industry as it transitioned to digital, the EDCF still has a vital role to play — its president David Hancock projects some light on the wide breadth of its current activities.
HEN THE EUROPEAN DIGITAL Cinema Forum (EDCF) was created in 2001, digital cinema was more a dream than a reality. It was the future and the thinking and organisation of the EDCF reflected the views and concerns that
were present at that time. The initiative was mainly the result of public film agencies’ concern over a lack of understanding of the coming digital technology. As we approach the end of 2019, the cinema world is fundamentally different. Digital cinema is a reality. The EDCF’s membership has changed as has its role; we are no longer required to provide basic education and information
about the technology and business issues of digital cinema. Over the years, we have produced a number of milestone industry reports, such as those on mastering, production, 3D and film festivals (the latter by our longest-standing board member Angelo d’Alessio). We aim to help our members and, by extension, the industry as a forum for debate, an objective and impartial voice and space in which to address challenges and opportunities we face as well as a source of information and expertise. Once digital conversion had been achieved, we had a long and open discussion in the EDCF board about whether we still had a role. As volunteers, there seemed little point carrying on if there was no need for us. However, as the rate of questions posed to us and within the industry showed no
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signs of slowing, and as technology was creating new challenges and opportunities, if anything, we felt there was greater need for an impartial source of information and facilitator for discussion. Our output has moved to organising specific topic information reports (such as our recent “Buyers Guide
targeted and identified issues (such as the
industry forums that address areas of potential
benefit from collaboration and open discussion (via our Problem Resolution Forum and our Annual Convention). One of our core strengths is that EDCF is member-driven. We represent a wide variety of industry participants, from film agencies to individuals, from film studios (for example, Universal’s SVP of Theatrical Operations, Dave Hodgkinson, is an EDCF board member) to manufacturers, from labs (Steve Llamb of Deluxe is our newest board recruit) to trade associations and professional technology bodies (Hans-Nicholas Locher of the
The audience can relax — the EDCF is taking care of the issues arising behind the scenes!
eminent group to guide us. This broad base of professionals and the personal interests of our membership ensure the concerns of members reflect the concerns of the industry.
Commission Supérieure Technique de l’Image et Du Son
A partnership approach
(CST) is a board member). We are lucky to have such an
Partnerships are important to us. We have good links with all the major industry bodies and organisations arounds the cinema world. We have a close and constructive relationship
Strengthening the leadership
with the exhibition sector through our link with UNIC, which sits on our board in the form of Guillaume Branders, as well as the manufacturers of technology through the ICTA, who
Those familiar with the EDCF will know that our long-time colleagues Dave
also has a member on our board (Jan Runge). Historically, we
Monk and John Graham both retired a year ago, leaving big holes in our
have also had the distributors’ association FIAD on the board.
organisation. We have been busy filling those gaps and making sure we can
We have ties to the UK’s CTC, and share some active members
carry on effectively with our work. From June this year, the general secretary of
in common such as Celluloid Junkie’s Patrick von Sychowski.
EDCF is Juergen Burghardt (email@example.com) of FKTG Media in Germany (a
In the US, we have close ties to the ISDCF and SMPTE with a
subsidiary of the FKTG, which brings together companies in film and TV
crossover of members and interests, and have a longstanding
technology). This relationship has begun well with a successful EDCF seminar
relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
at IBC under our belt. We also appointed a new vice-president, Cathy Huis in
Sciences. We collaborate with the Event Cinema Association
t’veld Esser, from Gofilex, and a treasurer, Tammo Buhren from ZweiB, to
(ECA) and have recently undertaken a joint survey with ECA
strengthen our management structure and support the role of the president
and UNIC on technology issues which was presented at the
(firstname.lastname@example.org). On the digital front, we are modernising our website and
ECA Conference in Amsterdam in October (see pages 80-81).
branding as well as our ability to communicate with our members and the
The EDCF also has a strong relationship with IBC.
industry in general. This is being managed by Jack Watts, a previous board member, now operating as a consultant under the name Trench Digital.
Our recent seminar at IBC went off well. This event is a cornerstone of our year, bringing together high-level speakers from all over Europe and the US to discuss a wide-ranging cross section of the industry’s interests. This year, topics
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in our sector to determine if they were really problems, and if 98% of countries that are almost fully compatible with SMPTEDCPs, including UK, Ireland and the Netherlands
industry communication, KDMs, immersive audio bitstream,
President IHS Markit, UK
Cathy Huis in t’ veld Esser Vice President Gofilex, Netherlands
9 9 nations are currently represented on the EDCF board — UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Belgium, USA and France, giving a truly international perspective.
people to engage was heartening and we came away with a list of solvable problems and action points in the areas of
At CineEurope, EDCF held its first Problem Resolution Forum, with more than 30 invitees attending to discuss various live issues
so, what could be done about them. The willingness of
Tammo Buhren Treasurer ZweiB, Germany
Venice film Festival, Italy
Jerry Axelsson, Swedish Film Institute, Sweden
Neva Film, Russia
and laser and xenon safety information. An ongoing element of EDCF’s work is the integration of the SMPTE-DCP into the distribution workflow. With a web portal up and running (www.smptedcp.com) and well into the thirties for the number of meetings held on this subject, EDCF has taken the lead within Europe and it forms a core part of our work. There are several countries that are almost fully compatible (98% of sites) with SMPTE-DCPs, including UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. Many more are well over 50% ready, but there is still work to be done. Of the thousands of visits to the site, over half are there to download the test package but 14% are there to find out what SMPTE-DCP is, suggesting work isn’t complete yet. Challenges we still face include audio routing, device identity and ingest behaviour. Our ambitious Best Practice Guide, chaired by board member Julian Pinn, and with contributions from a range of members (such as Tom Bert of Barco; Rolf Gjestland from
spanned from blockchain to laser projection, from SMPTE-
Film and Kino and Matt Jahans of Harkness Screens) is
DCP to sustainability in cinemas with detours via the work of
coming along well. The work is split broadly into image and
audio accessibility technology, the work of the Academy, HDR and distribution of local content in Sweden. Following the annual UNIC Cinema Days in October, in which we play an engaged and valuable role, our annual work programme is usually set at our Annual Convention in late November, last year held at the Swedish Film Institute thanks to our Board member Jerry Axelsson of the SFI. Previous conventions have been hosted by ARRI in Munich and Barco in Kortrijk, Belgium). The day-long programme of workshops and plenary sessions focuses on defining the pressing knowledge gaps and outlining EDCF’s most effective areas of input.
Touring La-la-land, solving problems Another key event is the EDCF LA Tour that we conduct each year before Cinemacon. Now well over 15 years old, the premise is that we take interested European cinema professionals around cinema companies and sites in LA. We tour film studios, technology manufacturers, mastering and
Universal Studios, UK
Matt Jahans Harkness Screens, UK
– Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema, USA
sound, and then sub-divided into distinct topic areas. With one module written, and three others close to fruition, we are almost ready to begin publishing it for the industry’s benefit. The last item on our agenda for the year was our 4th Annual Convention that took place at the end of November at Cineplexx Wienerberg in Vienna, with great thanks to our hosts at Cineplexx. We had a packed agenda, including a visit around the cinema, focused and themed working groups,
plenary sessions (subjects included immersive sound open
issues; HFR; exhibitor technology testing under the NATO
Julian Pinn Ltd., UK
Patrick von Sychowski
Celluloid Junkie, UK
standards; blockchain; sustainability, event cinema tech proposal; 4D in cinemas and more) and a broad-based industry discussion that all make this a must-attend for EDCF members. We look forward to this event all year and to laying out the resulting work plan for the year ahead. Overall, the EDCF has a wide variety of interests and value areas for members and the industry and is in good shape as an organisation to grow alongside the technology aspects of
distribution companies, new tech spaces and outstanding
the film industry. Replacement of digital cinema equipment
cinemas and venues. Its success means we may need to
has begun, and with the addition of laser and LED to the
move to members only in the future!
technology options as well as new formats and premium
At CineEurope this year, we held our first Problem
technology, the cinema world can be a complex place. The
Resolution Forum (an idea put forward by board member
EDCF is there to help you make sense of this new world.
Oleg Berezin from Neva Film) in which we invited over 30
David Hancock is research director, cinema at IHS Markit
people from different parts of the industry to discuss issues
(now part of Informa Tech) and president of the EDCF.
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Lobbying for business 3 0
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With exhibitors looking to transform cinema lobbies into monetised entertainment and leisure destinations in their own right, Martin Dew investigates this new paradigm and speaks to some of the companies leading the charge www.cinematech.today
HE LUXURY SEATING and premium large format auditorium revolutions defined the industry lexicon until as recently as last year, and we now face the very real prospect of cinema lobbies becoming the focus of investment for a swathe of exhibitors around the globe. The new lingo being adopted in the tradeshow aisles is suddenly dominated by slogans such as ‘location-based entertainment’ (LBE) and ‘cinema entertainment centre’ (CEC). It’s worth asking whether the old business model for cinema exhibition is being replaced by a newer, more dynamic way of engaging an audience, based on the its buying habits, and even the way it moves around and responds to a retail or entertainment space. Are we, for example, witnessing a blurring of the lines between what we always believed constituted a conventional cinema auditorium, and an experience we might be more likely to stumble upon in a theme park? Or is the tentpole comic book movie itself about to morph into an e-sports VR interactive gaming extravaganza? Virtuous circles of marketing initiatives from studios and beverage companies could be the key to pulling a punter into an auditorium in one instant, and in the next moment, back into a lobby or other space to build on the previous experience — with the exhibitor all the while increasing footfall and keeping a captive audience. One of the extraordinary by-products of this new era is the resurgence of gaming arcades, which are now also chief components of several enterprising exhibitors’ offerings. There are a number of industry service providers and suppliers cottoning onto these trends and channelling their expertise into helping exhibition clients explore new revenue opportunities, and sometimes not in the most obvious places…
OuiMarket4U Heather Blair has run her own California-based
consultancy — OuiMarket4U — since 2001 and
cinemas right now because they are seeing
believes the exhibition industry is undergoing
success,” Blair tells CT with confidence. “They’re
some radical changes. She has worked closely
hiring consultants and they’re all curious about
with both MediaMation and Argentinian
e-sports. They’re looking for a higher ticket
LUMMA 4D E-Motion — companies formerly
program for something that you absolutely
rooted in theme park-based attractions — and
unequivocally cannot get in your own home.”
introduced them to the world of cinema
She says that the long-range goal is to get
exhibition. As well as inviting 170 cinema
e-sports events into cinemas and that the
companies to join her own related think tank,
interest is growing on a daily basis. Several US
she hosted a workshop for 10 chains at Studio
exhibitors have their eyes trained on what US
Movie Grill in Arlington, Texas, in November
companies like Cinergy Entertainment Group
before marching them all off to the gala event
(true pioneers of the cinema entertainment
of the Esports Awards for a serious chinwag.
centre concept) are doing, and they’re even
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sending out secret shoppers to get the scoop.
traction in the Middle East and Asia. She’s
“(Exhibitors) are saying the movie part of their
working with a company in Abu Dhabi which is
offering is only 20–30% of the value of their
seeking approval for an AI character to greet
customers as they walk through the door. In
“Exhibitors don’t have a strategy, so they’re
Malaysia, Blair has a customer who wants
looking to see who’s doing something different
visitors to download an app while in the lobby
and see if they can apply that to their cinema.”
and engage directly with movie posters to view
Blair also notes that outside the US, she has
trailers, and book tickets instantaneously.
a host of clients who are talking about putting
“Do you remember when AMC came out
facial recognition technology into their cinema
with the luxury seat — everyone turned their
lobbies so they can “understand who someone
noses up. Now everybody is doing luxury seats.”
is” when they enter the space. Although such
Blair believes that exhibitors will experience a
‘lobby activations’ are not widespread stateside
similar shift in attitudes as they develop lobbies
due to market maturity, they are gaining
for attractions and interactive entertainment.
With the prospect of virtual reality experiences starting to assert themselves in the lobby space, a few companies have entered the
CinemaNext has built bespoke iterations of its Illucity VR brand for several cinemas
Meanwhile, in the South of France, newcomer Onirix has created a 360˚ VR Rotary Chair designed specifically for use in cinemas and museums. But
fray with their own offerings.
CEO Yohan Bouché came at the
CinemaNext (the exhibition services arm of Ymagis
industry from a somewhat different
Group) has developed its ILLUCITY Corner concept for
perspective, intending to give VR
arena games and virtual rides. The company believes
content creators and distributors an
the system is an attractive proposition for exhibitors
outlet for their work, so that the public
with its focus on games and set-pieces for all ages, as
could get a chance to experience
well as ease of installation and modular construction.
what was out there.
With proof of concept at the Paris-La Villette VR
Yohan places emphasis on the
adventure park opened last year, CinemaNext created
comfort of the chair, its lack of physical
a bespoke iteration of ILLUCITY for
restriction, ability for a player to look in
cinemas, with attractions open at Kinepolis Liège, Belgium, and Tanweer’s
The typical cost for a VR experience averages €1 per minute to play
any direction and for the content to be the highest quality available, certainly in terms of resolution. (The
Athens. Consumer prices for an
company is already pushing for
experience range from €3 to €10 (at an average of €1
content creators to lens their work
per minute) per player. CinemaNext is convinced
with the new Insta360 TITAN which
options like VR attractions in lobbies will represent a
can, as the name implies, shoot within
significant stake in defining the future of cinemas as
a 360˚ VR orb, delivering 11K resolution
imagery.) Onirix has been screening
Ymagis’s communications manager Alexandra Body told us, “We believe that over the next few years
content incorporating both documentaries and fiction, at up to — but not limited to — a running time of 15 minutes per experience.
cinemas will feature more and more entertainment
Yohan doesn’t underestimate the power of cross-promoting content with
activities in their lobbies. Indeed, it is important for
the likes of Disney, Paramount, Universal and Marvel, and the imperative to
cinemas to evolve with the times to meet their guests.”
screen “known IP.” Yohan’s plan is to create experiences for the public which they will never forget. “We worked at Cannes this year in partnership with Marche du Film where we announced a new experience called Everest VR,”
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Pinnacle says Yohan. “People were clinging to the headrests and the armrests. I loved it!”
New Jersey-based Pinnacle Entertainment Group is a
When considering the ever-looser boundary between a classic auditorium
consultancy outfit which also understands the need to
and a lobby-based entertainment space, Yohan is acutely aware of that
hand-hold new clients when building out a cinema
potential. His company has created a ‘synchronous mode’ where more than
lobby environment. CEO George McAuliffe likes to get
one (and perhaps many) viewers or players can enjoy a shared experience: “We
involved early in a project, in what he calls the “space-
figured out that a lot of people were going to venues to enjoy an experience as
claiming” stage, sitting by an owner’s side as the look
a group, so we decided to develop a social mode, where users can enjoy an
and feel of an entertainment space is developed.
experience together. That means it is synchronised between all the chairs in a
Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary,
room with the same sounds and images playing at every station. People can
Pinnacle’s core expertise is in the development of family
communicate with each other using their microphone and headset. They can
entertainment centres (FECs), a sector that is currently
talk and express emotion while the experience is being played.”
enjoying burgeoning growth again stateside. Formerly
Yohan believes that prices shouldn’t top €5 to €10 for a 15-minute VR
of Edison Entertainment, McAuliffe set up his own
experience, which he says is “…not much if they remember it for the rest of their
consultancy and, managing to land Disney as his first
lives.” He also sees the business sense in exhibitors exploiting their square
account, was charged with lending direction to the
footage, acknowledging that operators are “ready to try new solutions to
build-out of indoor theme parks, DisneyQuest and
monetise their space.” With screening durations shorter than conventional
ESPN Zone. The company now has upwards of 250
movies, and with several customers enjoying an experience within an hour,
clients, with bowling alleys and arcade developments
price-per-minute revenues could be higher than those in a regular auditorium.
defining much of their output. With a growing number
of cinema exhibitor clients joining his portfolio too, McAuliffe sees a clear picture emerging. The family component of entertainment centres
Although identifying the right equipment or entertainment modules for a
is possibly more applicable today than it’s ever been.
lobby or ancillary space are critical to the overall experience, there is also
McAuliffe is astounded that so many games are being
undoubtedly a science applied to the respective architecture and floorplans.
played by three generations at once, with laser tag still
UK-based Martek has been providing exquisitely-designed, contemporary
one of the leading attractions. He admits that he
lobbies for such high-profile clients as Odeon and Cineworld since the 1990s,
recently travelled to a venue where “people with white
and now boasts some 65–70 operators on its roster. Although mainly attending
hair like mine” were picking up their infra-red beam
to UK customers, its reach includes projects in Europe and the Middle East.
shooters and entering into battle. Additionally, bowling
Marketing director Kirsty Carnell tells CT that the focus of the company’s work is in the planning of the areas “…in which a customer will exchange money
is proving consistently strong in the US, while also accelerating in Europe.
with the operator to buy goods.” Although this predominantly means
McAuliffe believes there’s a phenomenon at play in
concessions areas, Martek also advises new exhibitor clients to source third
the world of cinema exhibition, what he calls “the old
party partners for F&B opportunities, such as branded coffee outlets like Costa.
model versus the new.” In the US, cinemas typically
The company’s years of expertise mean that it is savvy to the pitfalls of not
had a few games in the lobby “over there in the corner
engaging fully with customers when they enter the space. “What doesn’t work
somewhere” which many considered an afterthought.
and what we’ve seen not work,” says Carnell, “is where an operator confuses a
He feels the purpose was to attract pocket spending
customer in what they’re selling by either offering too much in terms of F&B or
from customers on their way in and out of the site, but
not having clear messaging.” She continues to emphasize that cinemagoers
that this was incidental to the theatre experience itself.
don’t want to queue for long and do want to make purchasing decisions
“So, that’s kind of the old model which worked well for
quickly. A lobby itself should be “a really attractive space” to encourage
many and continues to,” McAuliffe tells CT. “But we’re
customers to spend time both before and after a scheduled film showing.
seeing it on a much larger scale now where there’s a
Although Martek has had fewer calls to build specific VR or gaming areas
new model in play. That’s where they’re plugging in
at UK sites, Carnell realises “the lobby is more of an entertainment destination
significant arcades that have the power to attract
now, and that is felt in the UK through technology and the way lobbies are
people on their own.”
presented.” She particularly notes a rapid increase in demand for LED screens
The cinema business model is challenging, suggests
and eye-catching, moving content as punters approach concessions areas.
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McAuliffe. There is competition for people’s time and their entertainment dollar, and the cost of producing major movies directly affects cinema economics. “If I were in the cinema business, and if what I read is true, I’d be looking for other sources of income,” he says. US-based Cinergy Entertainment Group’s adoption of combined cinema entertainment centres is the
Exhibitors think movies represent 20–30% of the value of their entertainment property, according to Heather Blair
business model that grabs his attention the most. The typical cinema is a “big box” consuming large parking areas which are only being utilised for limited time periods during the week. If other entertainment business units are deployed, an operator can start to
Martek has been providing contemporary lobbies for high-profile clients since the early 1990s, and now serves 65–70 operators
leverage its real estate. Another compelling factor for cinema operators is McAuliffe’s belief that the movie-going audience is already “qualified” (as in the marketing term) for family entertainment experiences. If a message goes out to 10m people, say, only a small percentage of the recipients will be qualified. When entertainment assets are put in front of cinema traffic, many customers will combine a visit and extend their time on the property. That might include customers who show up at 8pm for a 9:30pm showing to eat and play games beforehand, while others will come to the location on separate occasions for birthdays and special occasions. While Pinnacle helps clients select the right mix of in-lobby attractions and extends beneficial national pricing deals, the company stops short of pulling in third-party partners for food and beverage provision, such as restaurant chains and coffee houses. “We are firm believers that you can’t be an expert in everything!” McAuliffe also offers some sound advice to those operators starting out on their journey to develop entertainment centres and expand their horizons: “Of the
entertainment attractions to their core business — whether that’s a cinema, a bowling center, or a
restaurant — the most successful ones are those that
We may be on the cusp of a small revolution in the exhibition industry,
have integrated it into their brand and their experience.”
possibly seeing the cinema complex shift into something not instantly
He reiterates the point about the new model and the
recognisable today. Cinemas have rightfully been the purveyors of themed
need to get away from the idea of an attraction being
content for years, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time before traditional
“somewhere over there in the corner.” He stresses that
sites transform into attraction-based venues, offering far more to customers
the most successful businesses aren’t just offering
than previously thought imaginable. The cinema lobby is a natural
arcades but are bringing in multiple attractions. When
contender for exponentially-growing monetisation opportunities, and it
the concept of a family entertainment centre combines
seems clear that the operators who can respond to — and keep up with —
many elements “…the numbers go up.”
the trends will reap the available rewards.
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ON AVERAGE A CINEMA POS IS INSTALLED FOR OVER 15 YEARS
“WE TRUST THEM BRENDAN LEADEN, MOVIE HOUSE CINEMAS
“THOROUGHLY RECOMMENDED” ROBERT HENDERSON,
Produced by JACRO
Years in Cinema
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In the previous issue of CT, we focused on the introduction of 5G to Norway’s cinema industry. Here, Jim Slater takes a deeper dive into the technologies behind the next generation of wireless communications. Do they really address our industry’s changing needs?
G IS THE FORTHCOMING generation of mobile technology. It is expected to deliver faster and better mobile broadband, and to enable more revolutionary uses in sectors such as manufacturing, transport and
healthcare. How will it impact on our media industries and will 5G technology provide improved facilities for the cinema industry? In the last issue of Cinema Technology, Patrick explained how our Norwegian cinema colleagues have already begun trialling 5G in cinemas, but we mustn’t get carried away with our technogical enthusiasm. It is sobering to remember just how far ahead of the world the Nordic cinema industry can be — they were using broadband distribution for about a decade before it became the norm in other countries. The rest of us continued to send DCPs on hard drives in vans. During 2018, 5G made its first tentative steps into the US with Verizon providing 5G home internet services in a handful of cities. Together with AT&T they are now offering mobile 5G services to considerable populations. 5G rollout plans vary tremendously around the world, and the second half of 2019 has seen a start in the United Kingdom, where communications technologies are fairly strongly regulated, so it is interesting to look at how the rollout is likely to proceed. Ofcom is the UK’s communications regulator. Among other things, it regulates the TV, radio and video-ondemand sectors. In 2018, Ofcom produced a discussion document “Enabling 5G in the UK” (available for download from ofcom.org.uk) which provides a good deal of the basic information about this new technology, and enables those of us involved in the media industries to consider and speculate on how our businesses might be affected. Much of the information here is gleaned from that Ofcom document. The UK’s well-established 3G networks don’t have the capacity to cope with modern mobile working demands, including video, but the 4G networks that have so far been rolled out to around 95% of the UK landmass have higher base speeds and more than enough capacity for core services, such as e-mail and web browsing. 1 2 / 1 9
Radio wave behaviour
Whatever ‘generation’ we consider, the rules of
5G is available in a pre-standard form this year, with a wider rollout expected
physics relating to radio transmission apply.
in 2020. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is working on
The higher the frequency of the radio waves, the
benchmark 5G standards for future mobile broadband — the International
more like rays of light they behave — buildings can
Mobile Communications IMT-2020 standard. IMT-2020 is intended to develop
cause shadow areas, making reception impossible.
the vision of ‘IMT for 2020 and beyond’ and it should be finalised in 2020.
Lower frequencies travel further (giving a greater
According to IMT-2020 specifications 5G networks should theoretically
coverage area). They penetrate buildings more
be able to achieve data rates of 20Gb/s. The so-called “user-experienced data
effectively and are less obstructed by topography,
rate” is likely to be nearer a few hundred 100Mb/s in the early years.
but as available bandwidth is necessarily less, the amount of data these signals can carry is less.
5G networks will need to provide enhanced throughput and massive fast connectivity with improved spectral efficiency, so new modulation and
As examples, the ‘700MHz band’ now cleared of
multiple access schemes are being developed to meet the many different
UHF TV signals to allow future 5G coverage ranges
demands 5G systems will need to address. Getting a vending machine to
from 790-862 MHz. The maximum available
contact its supplier to demand replacement supplies will need different
bandwidth is 72MHz. Another higher-frequency
modulation systems than those required for sending DCPs to a cinema!
band proposed for 5G (3.4-3.8GHz) gives 400MHz.
Much as SMPTE carries out standardisation work in our industry, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) unites telecommunications standard
The wider the available bandwidth, the greater
development organisations and provides its membership with a stable
the amount of digital data that can be carried in it.
environment to produce specifications that define technologies on which
Low-frequency spectrum will support improved
5G will depend. In 2018 it completed “3GPP Release 15”, the first full set of 5G
coverage and user experience. Ofcom is expected
standards. It is readying 3GPP submissions towards IMT-2020.
to auction the 700MHz band in spring 2020, and is currently consulting on proposals for coverage obligations that could be attached to that process. Mid-frequency spectrum will meet the capacity demand for mobile services, including 5G.
bands. Since high frequencies don’t travel far and are
The 3.4-3.8GHz band has been identified as the
easily obstructed, it will be necessary to have thousands
primary band for 5G in Europe as it offers increased
of small transmitter sites in built-up areas to provide
capacity for mobile broadband over wide areas.
coverage. High frequency base stations could be mounted on lamp posts or fixed to buildings — large
The auction for 190MHz of the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz
masts aren’t needed. Such base stations could also be
5G bands was completed by Ofcom in A2018, and
installed in offices to provide good indoor coverage.
Ofcom will auction the 3.6-3.8GHz band in 2020.
The 5G networks are not going to be a monolithic
High-frequency (mm Wave) spectrum has not yet
network entity and will be built around a combination
been used to deliver mobile services, and is likely
of technologies designed to support a variety of
to be used to support new 5G applications, in
applications such as the ‘Internet of Thing s’ (IoT), where
particular those that require high capacity and
machines talk to other machines, connected wearables,
low latency. Latency is time between a command
augmented reality and immersive gaming. For example,
and its corresponding action — 5G will make this
5G will provide ultra-high-speed links for HD video
delay unnoticeable, vital in applications such as in
streaming as well as low data rate speeds for sensor
self-driving cars where any delay is unthinkable.
networks, so that automated vending machines could
Operators will likely use the lower frequencies
call for re-filling as needed and cars could ‘talk’ to each
to provide more extensive coverage in rural areas
other and the road traffic network to reduce congestion.
(meaning highest data rates won’t be available
‘Low’ and ‘mid’ frequencies shown in the diagram
there), but in cities — where there will be huge
overleaf will be 5G frequencies used in the near future.
demands for data — they will use higher frequency
26GHz and higher are in the hands of the experimenters.
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T I M E L I N E : G E N E R A T I O N S
The 8K implications
OF MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
pixels of 4K: 8K resolution equates to 7,680 × 4,320, or 33
Possible media industry applications Data rates that 5G promises are more than adequate for most forms of video (HD content works well at a few tens of megabits per second). Whilst it could be
8K images have 16x the pixels of HD and four times the million pixels (33,117,600), compared with 3,840 × 2,160
(8,294,400 pixels). Although it is early days, 8K TV
ANALOGUE VOICE CALLS
8K content is starting to become available. Japanese
aiming to carry the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the
screens are available from several manufacturers, and broadcaster NHK broadcasts 8K on a permanent basis, Paralympic Games live in 8K. NHK’s 8K broadcasts are
extremely convenient to be able to send ‘rushes’ directly
available on a special satellite channel between 10am
from the camera head to the production house, 5G will
and 10pm daily. They are accompanied by 22.2 multi-
ostensibly provide little more than what existing and
channel sound, and broadcast at frame rates of 59.94,
proven systems can do for HD pictures — but if the
60 and 120P.
technology can be shown to work consistently and
Naturally, CT readers will be fascinated to hear that
reliably, the convenience factor for TV companies could
Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was used to
in fact be the key to the adoption of 5G in this area. If news-gatherers and outside broadcast crews could avoid the logistical complications of having to employ
equipment, then direct-streaming from the camera to studio centre via a 5G link could be the obvious solution. Various video link products using 4G links are already available from companies, including JVC’s Connected
1990s: 2G DIGITAL VOICE CALLS TEXT MESSAGING BASIC DATA SERVICES
launch the world’s first super-high definition 8K TV channel, NHK having arranged for Warner Bros. to scan the original film negatives in 8K. Currently, NHK is showing only a limited number of programs in 8K, which are shown repeatedly. For those not covered by the Japanese satellite footprints, several 8K streaming channels are available over the internet. YouTube can now stream 8K content, but it requires a broadband
Cam, so the move to 5G should be straightforward.
speed of around 50 Megabits per second, so 5G is likely
Those with practical experience of the difficulties faced
to be essential for mobile users. Google has uploaded a
when jostling shoulder-to-shoulder with other camera
few 8K videos, including a clip entitled ‘Ghost Town’
operators will know that there can be other problems
shot on Red EPIC Dragon 6K cameras. Vimeo also has a
apart from ensuring you have a good clean radio link
number of 8K video clips available on line.
with no interference from the camera a few feet away when trying to get those all-important celebrity shots.
Virtual and augmented reality needs Another area where 5G may come into its own in the media sector, however, is in the worlds of virtual and augmented reality. Those who have already tried the existing solutions will know that there is a real need for
Should all this 8K content gain traction in the
2000s: 3G MOBILE BROADBAND INTRODUCTION OF THE SMARTPHONE
very high resolution video.
market, then there is no doubt that 5G communications will become essential. Although 8K on a phone handset screen seems a ridiculous idea, maybe phones driving VR displays will need to be 8K-capable, and one good thing about the mobile phone market (from the manufacturers’ view at least) is that people change their phones regularly — so it will be no great problem to change to a 5G-capable
Current display (and transmission) technologies
device. Even if VR doesn’t become ubiquitous, there is
find it difficult or impossible to fill the VR user’s entire
little doubt that camera resolutions will continue to
field of view with high-resolution (perhaps 4K) images.
increase, so with more and more pixels in use, and
Products such as Google’s ‘daydream’ VR headsets are promising to use 5G-type communications to allow VR headset wearers to share experiences on large screens, without interconnecting wires. The Pimax VR headset (pimaxvr.com) moves video resolution forward, with 4K per eye, totalling a massive 16.6 million pixels. That will require wireless data rates only possible with 5G if the
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1 2 / 1 9
Minutes, in theory, is the time it could take for a 200Gb DCP delivery to cinemas via 5G
16 8K images have 16x the pixels of HD content, which means a big rise in data
T HE PLANNED FREQUENCY BANDS FOR 5G LOW
Preparing for 2020 auction
3.4-3.6 3.6-3.8 3.8-4.2 GHz GHz GHz
Auction process underway
Preparing Potential for for 2020 increased auction sharing
Test and innovation licences available
Plan for licence exempt use
remote video processing becoming more popular, the
effects be on other hopeful users of the data from a 5G
demand for 5G will grow. Yet another warning, though — it
public cell, whilst the cinema gobbled up the bandwidth,
is still early days for 5G, with coverage only available in parts
albeit only for a short period?
of a few major towns, and towards the end of 2019 there are few 5G-capable phones available.
Cinema exhibition and 5G For the cinema exhibition industry similar thoughts apply. An example of what will be possible can be gained from a Huawei estimate that the download time for an 8Gb HD movie will be just six seconds, compared
In fact, the 5G engineering planners have anticipated such problems and one of the most innovative aspects of
“Do cinemas demand such fast delivery and would they be prepared to pay for it over existing systems?”
with seven minutes over 4G and over an hour with 3G.
the 5G architecture will be network slicing, which will enable telecoms operators to allocate portions of their networks for specific customer use cases whether for machine-to-machine IoT communications or for more data-intensive uses such as media delivery. Each user can be provided with a unique set of optimised resources and network topology allowing them to have Service Level Agreements relating to aspects such as connectivity, speed, and capacity, to suit the needs of any particular application. And hasn’t all this come about too late to affect most
This would indicate that a 200GB DCP — typical for a
cinemas, when most will have already made arrangements
standard 2K movie these days — could be delivered to a
to use wired or fibre broadband signals or specialist satellite
cinema in around 3 minutes. That’s quite an advance over
services (including highly targeted ka-band services using
current practices, where several hours are usually needed,
small dishes) which are readily available, and which will be
and this could potentially provide enormous flexibility for
at least as robust and reliable as anything 5G can offer?
last-minute changes of programming. 5G Could also be
Although Ivar Hastvedt of Norway Odeon Kino told CT
useful for carrying extra DCP ‘Version’ information such as
that 5G can provide faster speeds than fibre, as an
subtitled or Audio Described versions which can be late
experienced engineer I doubt this (fibre capabilities are
arriving at cinemas. It would take only seconds to add the
constantly improving) and anyone who suffers the vagaries
extra information to the Original Version files.
of mobile phone connections (includng broadcasters like
But just how practical is it to transmit DCPs to cinemas,
the BBC who take every technical precaution but still suffer
and why would you want to?
frequent ‘lost lines’ when interviewing people over mobile
Do cinemas actually demand such fast delivery, and
links) must understand that a fixed fibre connection is likely
would they be prepared to pay for it when cost-effective
to be significantly more robust and reliable than any radio
delivery systems are already in place?
link, especially one using millimetere wave frequencies.
A city centre cinema would be likely to have access to
So, with most cinemas already having access to fast-
the wide bandwidth 5G signals, which could come from a
enough delivery services, it’s hard to make a case for DCP
base station on a nearby lamp post, but this could lead to
distribution to cinemas as a ‘killer app’ for 5G — but it would
bandwidth-sharing issues. Unless a dedicated 5G base
be interesting to hear the opinions of other knowledgeable
station had been installed for the cinema, what would the
distribution expert readers of Cinema Technology.
1 2 / 1 9
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22/11/2019 15:09 09:40 18/11/2019
“ I F M US IC B E TH E FOOD OF LOVE , PL AY ON ” The rise, rise and rise of music in event cinema Words: Melissa Cogavin
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N THE 15 YEARS OR so since event
this model has been adapted well for ballet and theatre too.
cinema crept quietly onto our screens,
Music events tried to emulate this — but no mechanism
music has been a constant, occasionally
existed to market ‘an artist a month’ and it was fraught with
fluctuating, highlight on the calendar.
difficulty. Labels at this point were risk-averse, having lost
Today’s steady stream of diverse and
considerable face and money in the mid-1990s; the industry
was in a slump after dismissing downloads as a viable
documentaries, live broadcasts, Q&As and artist-produced
business, only to see piracy strip its profits in the Napster
films show just how far the medium has developed and the
debacle. Steve Jobs’ iTunes was the miracle cure the music
industry has progressed. It also demonstrates that confidence
industry needed, and it came along just in time. Cinema was
is soaring and just how joined-up the thinking has become.
far from its focus — and far from digital either, at the time.
The evolution has not been totally smooth however; its
Event cinema distributor Musicscreen was awake to the
trajectory has been characterised by ups and downs and
opportunity of cross-pollination back in 2013, announcing
most recently, a welcome and record-breaking resurgence.
ambitious plans to produce music events in cinema on a
What has happened to enable acts as diverse as BTS,
regular basis, but the stars were so far from alignment at this
Coldplay, Take That, André Rieu and Cliff Richard — as well as
early stage that despite a lot of cheerleading from the
a slew of other releases — achieve comfortable box office
industry, it didn’t take off. It was years ahead of its time.
returns over the past 18 months? What does it tell us about
Something like the Motown stable of artists might have been
the music industry’s attitude to event cinema releases?
a good fit for this model — uniquely promoted en masse by
It’s easy to forget that this accidental sector appeared
label exec Berry Gordy — but Motown aside, artists signed to
unplanned in the mid-2000s, a solution to falling revenues at
the same labels are generally competitors with significant
the Met Opera. Harnessing the arrival of satellite distribution.
branding and little inclination to promote each other. A
It was cutting edge. The Met Opera’s season of events is a
name over the door for a collective of artists in the
large part of why it was so successful from the outset, and
mid-2000s just didn’t exist. Joe Evea of CinEvents
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agrees. “With music, there was a huge focus on a specific strand of cinemagoers with opera and the arts — and it was successful. In addition, music never got there because there wasn’t sufficient consistent content in the market regularly.” The exception,of course, is the phenomenon that is André Rieu, who has captured the imagination of adoring fans and turned gaudily into box office gold year after year, breaking records repeatedly; Take That comes a close second, but only because they haven’t been doing it so long. Models like this are the holy grail of music in event cinema terms.
to see them live. Or, put another way, exciting enough to
2.7m In the last quarter of 2018, BTS, Muse, Coldplay, Take That, Westlife and Cliff Richard contributed to a combined box office admissions of more than 2.7m
want to see them in concert but not challenged to the point that you’re subjected to a load of unfamiliar music. Basically, the halcyon space between Fleetwood Mac and Taylor Swift, which isn’t as broad as you might think — and that only covers American rock/pop. There are countless more genres over dozens of markets exporting music internationally. There is a science to it, and yet no formula. As a result of this balancing act a number of distributors crashed and burned as the box office didn’t match up to their numbers, their marketing spend ate up any profit and
Travers of CinemaLive explained that Gary Barlow’s first
engagement from the labels, distracted by an album launch
question as a tour begins the planning stages is ‘Is it going to
and a world tour, didn’t happen as expected. Unrealistic
be in cinemas?’ “When they talk about a tour, Gary always
minimum guarantees were a feature at the time; great for
asks that question. He believes in it, he wants it anyway, and
the artists but incredibly risky for the distribution middlemen.
the fans love it,” John smiled. Such enthusiasm was rare. Music and cinema industries have seldom had much crossover, so a programme of education into what was possible was essential to inform labels about the benefit of theatrical releases. At the start few in distribution had music industry expertise, or vice versa. Few labels or artists understood what was necessary in terms of promotional support, and the most memorable gestures came from two artists who actually found fame in the same band: Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow. This duos instinctive, highly entertaining, unscripted pieces to camera during the live gig, aimed at cinemas watching, are reminiscent of the northern working men’s clubs they cut their teeth in as young men — and were exactly what’s required to make an outing in cinemas work well.
They’re not laughing now…
The key here is the artist driving a theatrical release. John
Melanie Martinez: an example of an artist made famous by YouTube (8.75m followers with little radio play)
These mishaps affected confidence from investors to exhibitors, leading to a plateauing for several years. Those surviving distributors continued to produce successful events, notably Eagle Rock, CinEvents and More2Screen, whose model of vintage, back catalogue content and new documentaries with live Q&A and new content saw some excellent admission figures and won various awards and accolades, but none saw the record breakers from 2013-15. Then, in the last quarter of 2018, BTS, Muse, Coldplay, Take That, Westlife and Cliff Richard all happened. The combined admissions alone are over 2.7million worldwide. The biggest impact on the rise of music in event cinema has been the power of social media. In the past, the allure of an artist was their remoteness; the more mysterious, the more mythical and legendary they became. An album here, a tour there, a slot on Wogan, that was about it. Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna were experts at drip feeding their fans
With no track record and every event a one-off, music in event cinema was a continual experiment. Graham Spurling of the Movies@ chain in Ireland said, “In the beginning
Is event cinema now driving studio content?
people sniggered a bit because it was so new. But I always grabbed music events with both hands, if it worked it
Mark Walukevich at Showcase Cinemas, and John Rubey, independent
worked, if it didn’t, then chalk it up to experience. I was always
producer of event cinema content both told me that the past 18 months’
waiting for the product to get better, and it has.”
successful box office had much to do with the output of the studios, whether
It has become clear over time that there is a tightrope to
intentionally or otherwise. “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Rocketman” and
be walked between current, highly successful artists and
“Yesterday” were ideal vehicles to trailer music events ahead of the show and
those who might be politely termed ‘heritage acts’. They
did much to spread the word to exactly the right demographic.
need to be mainstream enough to have sold a good number
We could be seeing much more of this synergy in future as clearly
of albums and have several hundred thousand Facebook
everybody wins. Veteran exhibitor Kevin Markwick at the Picture House in
followers, but not so over-exposed they are on the radio every
Uckfield has a theory that the success of music in event cinema has had a
15 minutes, thus eliminating the need to leave the sofa at all.
direct impact on the kind of studio content being produced, so it is no
Ideally, acts need to be touring bands but not touring so
surprise that “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman” have emerged now.
frequently that a cinema release might cannibalise their
“People think it’s all about mainstream content influencing event cinema but
market. They need to be sufficiently established so you know
it strikes me it’s the other way around now,” he added.
a good number of songs but fresh enough to make you want 4 4
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It is perhaps no coincidence that the current 1990s revival is being driven by decision makers in the media now in their mid- to late-40s and nostalgic for their youth. “Nostalgia is big,” Claypool agreed. “Going back in time, the throwback culture, we are seeing music is working again in cinemas. There is a huge fan base from a consumer perspective, the spending power massive.” That would explain the success of Take That, Westlife, Roger Waters and Metallica certainly, and going back a little further, Cliff Richard, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, perhaps getting on in years and less inclined to take on a 60-date world tour, much like their fans. It also explains why Kanye West, Taylor Swift etc. haven’t yet taken the plunge. Joe Evea felt that some younger artists have avoided an event cinema release even though their appeal is broad enough because they feel the sense of scarcity is more important to their brand, that they would rather fill stadiums exclusively and indefinitely. “Some modern artists can be very unrealistic about their value,” he added.
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with nonsensical tidbits which ended up on the pages of teen magazines and eventually tacked onto bedroom walls the world over. Not so in 2019. Alison Deboo of Event Cinemas
Challenges and opportunities
in Australia told me that event cinema “offers fans an intimate or personal experience, something that was not available
It is clear that the cinemas who work hard at eventising reap the benefits.
previously beyond just buying the album online.”
Even those who refused to do anything did well when Melanie Martinez
Bethany Claypool from Fathom Events explained that
fanatics banged down their door, which Saxon found amazing. Imagine
“Millenials — who are now 30+, by the way, not kids any longer
what would be possible with a bit of outreach, he told me. Social media’s
— have grown up with transparency their entire life. The
connection to the artist plays into this. Closed Facebook groups are common
notion of a star is very different as a result. Social media feeds
among K-Pop fanbases, and once let in, Grand Cinema Digiplex in Bucharest
fans hungry for detail; the more the artist gives the more the
soon earned the trust of the fans and sold 1,000 tickets in a day from a single
fans want. Event cinema feeds into that.” This is music to the
post in a closed Facebook Group. The sector’s stability now has come from a
ears of label executives.
buoyant music industry and plenty of case studies over the past 15 years, he
Many artists are still bypassing cinema for the lure of Netflix. The appeal of selling their content to streaming
told me. The best practice available means there is calculated risk to be taken, and if you want to push boundaries there are still lots to prove.
services is obvious for this generation now, but it could well be within 5-10 years that Beyonce’s fans are happier choosing
Marc Allenby, CEO at Trafalgar Releasing, says there is no room for
the multiplex over the stadium for all kinds of accessibility
complacency if the industry is to remain relevant; more content is being
and budgetary factors.
produced by the artists themselves, so it’s becoming more rich and diverse.
Evan Saxon of Abramorama sees a generation gap
The key is to celebrate that diversity while mitigating the risk, spreading it
emerging and he’s probably right. Responsible for the
out across multiple platforms, something that Peter Worsley also champions.
worldwide smash feature K-12 by the American musician
“It’s about a mixed economy,” he says. “A hybrid theatrical release, pay TV,
Melanie Martinez, the film is an example of an artist made
digital platforms, potentially some level of home entertainment — a box set
famous by YouTube (8.75m followers) with no radio play
for example, but everything needs to be an event, whether it’s DVD, TV,
whatsoever. Considering its selective release in the US a few
theatrical or special packaging.” Regular content, a fanatical fanbase,
months ago, her average box office was three times higher
exhibitor outreach, engaged labels/artists and opportunities to trailer
per screen than Metallica, taking anyone over 35 by complete
content to a targeted audience is the ideal. Labels are now ‘content
surprise. Melanie Martinez is an online phenomenon like BTS.
companies’ and cinemas ‘entertainment centres’. This is all encouraging. In
“What is interesting is that this is an artist who does not have
2019 expectations across the supply chain are being better managed;
any radio play and only two cinema execs had ever heard of
smarter choices are being made.
her… and that’s because they have young daughters,” he said. Martinez is a filmmaker more than a recording artist; so
Challenges still remain. Tempting bands away from the easy win of Netflix, a
much of her output is on YouTube that the visual is a vital
continued education process in conversations with the music industry is
element (in contrast to the music video model which is in
another. Daren Miller of Fathom Events said, “Music licensing still persists as
decline). Martinez has two more films in the pipeline. As a
a substantive obstacle, depending on the ownership of rights, catalogue
result of this shift record labels are increasingly thinking of
and publishing.” Lead times need work too, Claypool told me. There is often
themselves as content companies.
still not enough time to market the content to produce the best box office
Peter Worsley of Eagle Rock, part of Universal Music, has
outcomes. Allenby believes growth in music demonstrates a democratisation
a compelling perspective as the company straddles both
of the film-making process; lower barrier to entry making more diverse,
event cinema and a huge music label. “Event cinema is
challenging content possible: “Cinemas should embrace that process.”
becoming more important as we go on,” he told me. “For bigger projects we can’t rely so much on the other markets
Alison Deboo agrees. What will the future look like? “Immersive! I believe
like DVD anymore, so we are implementing a hybrid model
music content is only going to thrive as consumers come to realise they’re
of traditional and event cinema release depending on the
getting the best possible sound and visual experience. With technological
market.” He cited an example of a recent Miles Davis
advances we are closer than ever before to our music idols and I look
documentary, ‘Birth Of The Cool’, distributed by Abramorama
forward to a future, which is already underway, where we’re screening live in
in the US. In some indie cinemas the film was released in a
real time and having interactive conversations — all from the comfort of
traditional style over a number weeks, in other markets as a
my local cinema seat.”
one-night-only release. This evolution of the one-night only model will ensure event cinema endures as a concept. 4 6
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K A E R B L O U D N E S S
IBC SION of D CF S ES tly n e u q T THE E e as subs d n a er — b 2013 Decem d in CT e ss e sh li n b d u u p le ‘Lo my artic I — ’ 2013 in a cinem in a m s e e issu ow cin d on h to presente starting s s wa der n u ly loudnes e ing larg d in after be 0s. I note ue again s is y n rl a a 200 e e / and m s o 0 c n e 9 o b te 19 creati by the la contentked a in m rl e control te in that c ic and in if c le e ic in sp rt a d e e the follow uire quit strictly tion req r e ta b fo n e d s to e re is s p orm re optim s and n the tracks a f d o n u standard s o s feature at movie s and p. order th hallenge c ustic setu o ic c if c -a e o tr sp c le ement e e g th cinema ed arran d k e in is rl g rd te a this in stand departin re from erience p f x o e s e Departu s c audien ding lo — inclu in the s. t e n u s te is in g results tor’s settin e direc other up ators from th ility and ib tent-cre n ig o ll c te d in n e a u s g a lo dia cinem sults in It also re 4 8
1 2 / 1 9
n of adoptio other’s h ean c a m e y ce in picall onfiden s. This ty ack rm b y o n la losing c p d n dards a standard n e ta rs th s to d e a s n tho nd to fi ntent cre emas te , and co ck it a e b c y u la d that cin p d re ce the loud an to redu level too inemas c t c e p ex mix. choice tend to se their a small d increa offered ra e rietary p level an lm eing pro of the fi ajority b Cinema ice of m o h e c th ll , d a sma formats n d a , n The u ls o o . s y of globall ty contr ht quali ameras nt c te n e o v c ti with tig a up the n d ne g d u e o n s s e e l p p a o optic ty of ty ital has the varie n to dig d y o n b a ti si y d n e tl a tr nif ican exhibit hain sig that are om supply c ontent c arture fr p f e o d s e e th rc s u s o a s rm h o and nd n wn , as dards a has gro n s s ta a rd s a m e a w cin cinem trend to portant er sult is a w re lo e h , T the im . ty ed quali mention lower at the hitherto range, ic laints th p m a m n o y c d in r is no e e s a w ri lo d a t. Cinem bility, an too quie r o d predicta u lo ce is too experien st. e b s it t longer a
I K A NG At the EDCF’s technical session at IBC 2019, Julia n Pinn gave an update on a recently issued RFP from the Audio Engineering Society’s Technical Committee. It seeks a way forward on the subject of Audio for Cinemas, Cinema Loudness – Control and Conformance. Here, Julia n explains the issue cinemas face and outlines the scope of the work.
E H T
R E I R R BA
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L O U D N E S S
Considerations — is a level a “target”?
highest quality audience experience from all the existing
Cinema is the wide and varied set of many genres of
high dynamic range sound systems that are already
content that each sit naturally in their sound space from
standard in the majority of the world’s cinemas.
quiet dialogue movies to powerful action movies. My strong opinion is that we should not set a maximum level for
Problem definition and goal
feature films because this will likely also become the target
There exists a set of international standards and industry
or minimum level. It will be hard to police and, moreover, it
norms that enable post-production sound studios world-
is not appropriate for all movies to be the same loudness
wide to produce motion-picture content in the same — or
similar — electro-acoustic setup as the world’s cinemas,
A solution should rather help cinemas identify how
should they too aspire to meet those same standards.
loud a particular DCP is so that cinemas can have
Controlled and often proprietary workflow channels and
confidence, based on the genre of the movie and its
formats to produce motion-picture content have enabled a
loudness index, to play it at reference fader 7 — or not.
good level of adoption of these standards for content
Communicating a standardised loudness index value of the movie, and perhaps in the DCP’s metadata, is also in the interest of the content-creator because it increases the chance that the cinema will adopt reference level for all but
the loudest or unrated DCPs rather than blindly expecting reference fader 7 to mean ‘loud’. Nicely mixed-by-ear
In October this year, the actor Hugh
content that is not too loud at reference fader 7 unlocks the
Grant added his weight to the argument that cinema screenings are frequently too loud for their
Request For Proposals (RFP) September 2019
audiences when he headed on to Twitter to complain to Vue Cinemas, after watching “Joker” at his local
ABOUT AES TC-AC
cinema, in Fulham, London.
Established in 1948, the Audio Engineering Society (AES) draws its membership from
“Am I old or is the cinema MUCH
engineers, scientists, other individuals with an
TOO LOUD? Unendurable. Pointless”
interest or involvement in the professional audio
complained the star of numerous
industry. The membership largely comprises
theatrical releases, adding: “Fulham Broadway. Saturday night. Screen 7.
engineers developing devices or products for
Joker. But joke was on us.”
audio, and those working in audio content production.
Grant’s complaint was picked up by numerous national news outlets, and
audiologists, academics, and people in other
lead to a host of responses online in support of his complaint, with one
disciplines related to audio. The AES is the only
Twitter user replying bluntly: “Far too loud. I don’t go any more.”
exclusively to audio technology. The Society develops, reviews and publishes engineering standards for the audio and related media industries, and produces the AES Conventions,
production, post-production, and re-production. TC-AC
which are held twice a year alternating between
aims to work in harmony with other established
Europe and the US. The AES and individual
motion-picture engineering societies, international
regional or national sections also hold AES
standards organisations, and related trade bodies to
Conferences on different topics during the year.
further the art and science of cinema audio through the
Technical Committee — Audio for Cinema (TC-
AC) is co-chaired by Julian Pinn and Julius
education, and proposal-setting.
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More information: http://www.aes.org.
creation and for theatres. However, and in particular,
communication and the promotion of harmony with
because of a shift towards open-standards and therefore
related industry deliverable specifications such as for
less proprietary control, the prevalence of content creators
and cinemas to deviate from these standards is increasing. The result is an experience for the cinemagoers where the levels between elements of the show are not so consistent nor is the ability for cinema operators to be confident in adopting the standards for fear of receiving
arguably, too loud for such standards. The goal is to provide a more consistent,
experience for all elements of the in-
“The goal is to provide a more consistent audio experience for all elements of the in-theatre show”
Framework and RFP guidance Consider metrics. Consider method to compare metrics together with human response surveys. Consider maximum requirement versus informative communication. Consider referencing existing work. Consider electric (file-based etc)
theatre show that respects the artistic intent and also the
measurement versus acoustic
replay reference level standard and related standards; i.e.
for cinema operators to be confident in selection of
Consider workflow integration and faster-
reference replay fader level.
The scope of the request…
Consider immersive audio formats.
AES TC-AC requests project-proposals, solution-proposals,
Consider existing B-Chain standards and
or offers of collaboration/liaison from the wider industry
recommendations that define the
that aim to address or that aim to further the progress to
electroacoustic match between post-
addressing the problem as defined above in order that TC-
production and exhibition, such as:
AC may consider the most suitable and viable next steps
• SMPTE ST202, SMPTE RP200, SMPTE
that are also in keeping with the wishes of the industry.
ST2095-1, SMPTE RP2096-1 and -2, etc;
Such next steps could be for AES
• ISO 22234, ISO 2969, ISO 21727, etc;
TC-AC to co-ordinate research on
* The Leq(m)-based recommendations from
the evaluation of new and existing
TASA (US Trailers) and SAWA (Global
metrics, methods of measurement
including ease of integration with
Consider existing post-production file
formats, distribution and exhibition formats
such as DCP. Consider exhibition community needs. DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS 1st March 2020 emailed to Julian Pinn via email@example.com (TC-AC Chair) for committee review, evaluation, responseformulation, and project-initiation.
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R E A L D
A DEEPER VIEWING EXPERIENCE
One of the pioneers of 3D digital cinema, today RealD’s technology has a place in theatres, in the home and on the go. Peter Knight explores a company that adds real depth to the viewing experience.
EALD TRACES ITS roots to
Little” in 100 3D screens. The company expanded
2003. a time when digital
— 2009 was significant as it marked not only the
projectors were relatively
millionth 3D customer but also the release of
“Avatar” in 5,000 RealD-enabled screens globally,
Founded by Michael Lewis
at the time one of the largest ever 3D releases.
and Joshua Greer, in 2005,
RealD is a leading global licensor of 3D and
RealD acquired Stereo Graphics Corporation,
other visual technologies.
one of the largest providers of 3D technologies
digital 3D cinema and today has the world’s
— that year saw the release of Disney’s “Chicken
largest 3D cinema platform. RealD’s extensive
RealD launches LUXE and RealD Cinema formats, more than 100 LUXE or RealD Cinemas are in operation globally
RealD launches Ultimate Screen technology; premium screen technology for 2D and 3D. OVer 200 screens are installed, 100 on order
RealD eclipses 30,000 installed screens using its technology worldwide
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industry-defining intellectual property portfolio is used in applications and products that enable a premium viewing
RealD originally created the ‘Z Screen’ 3D filter, one of the most popular 3D
experience in the theatre, the home and on mobile devices.
systems installed in many screens. It requires a polarised screen, such as a silver,
Released this April, “Avengers: Endgame” went on to
precision white or Ultimate Screen. The original RealD ‘Z Screen’ polarises light
smash box office records in various markets. Worldwide, it
and has a controller to synchronise the Z screen to left and right eye images.
set the record for highest-grossing film of all time and the
Glasses are passive, with a filter for each eye. The subsequent RealD XL system
fastest cumulative grosses through $2.5billion. It was also
works on the same principles but uses mirrors to make use of the light that
the highest-grossing film released in 3D, with the highest-
would otherwise be wasted, making it more suitable for use on larger screens.
ever 3D opening weekend gross of $540 million.
The chequered history of 3D
REALD ULTIMATE SCREEN — The RealD Ultimate Screen™ is a sophisticated, scientifically engineered screen
3D films have existed in some form for over a century, but
that delivers incredible images in 2D and 3D formats. RealD
were relegated to a niche in the cinema business because
called it “Ultimate Screen” because it delivers the ultimate
of costly hardware and processes required to produce and
experience for moviegoers. Designed to be more light
display a 3D film, and a lack of a standardised formats.
efficient, have a wider viewing angle, higher stereo contrast,
Nonetheless, 3D featured prominently in 1950s America,
provide a more uniform image, reduce or remove the
and enjoyed a worldwide resurgence in the 1980s and
hotspot, truly replicate colours and is cleanable.
1990s, driven by IMAX and Disney-themed venues. 3D films became increasingly successful in the 2000s, peaking with
XL — The RealD XL Cinema System is the ultimate 3D
the success of 3D presentations of “Avatar” in December
Cinema Solution for DLP Cinema Projectors. XL maximises
2009, after which 3D films again decreased in popularity.
user viewing experiences in larger-than-life formats. There
Accordingly, the mission when RealD was founded in
are two versions of this range — the XL and XLW.
2003 was to create a technology that gives directors and visual artists the ability to reimagine what was thought
U3D — RealD’s newest 3D cinema technology is a triple
possible on screen and immerse audiences in extraordinary
beam system designed to be its most light efficient product
new worlds more deeply than ever before. Over the past
yet. With a wider throw ratio, from 1.0, for auditoria that
decade, Cameron, Cuarón, Favreau, Martin Scorsese, Ridley
require it, whilst having higher ANSI and Stereo Contrast
Scott, Ang Lee and many others reimagined the cinematic
ratios. The U3D comes with built in motorisation.
experience, and audiences took note. All of the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time have been released in 3D.
TRUEMOTION — RealD TrueMotion™ post-production
However, 3D cannot be an afterthought. As productions
software uses a “synthetic shutter” allowing creative control
are carefully crafted from beginning to end, 3D needs to be
of the look of motion. TrueMotion™ adjusts sharpness,
imagined from the start and be a part of the creative
judder and motion blur to replicate what the eye sees or to
process from capture to delivery. 3D films need to be made
create any motion look desired in all output frame rates.
properly and with purpose, thoughtfully marketed and always presented with technical excellence in theatres.
TRUEIMAGE — Another proprietary post-production
RealD realises that one bad experience in 3D could
software, TrueImage™ utilises cloud-based technology to
affect a moviegoer’s preferences for life. This is especially
run on a vast number of CPU cores at once. It removes grain
challenging because not all 3D is created equal. As a science
from images, which can make the 3D illusion difficult for
and technology company, RealD is constantly researching
the brain to process.
and developing new technology to make the experience
RECENT 3D FILM MILESTONES 2013
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is released with more than 50 minutes of RealD TrueImage optimised film in the 3D version
Gravity nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year
Blade Runner 2049 — receives the Award for Best Cinematography
Coco wins Academy Award for Best Animated Feature
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Award for Best Animated Film
Gemini Man shot natively in 3D HFR, with RealD TrueImage
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R E A L D
better. This includes the glasses, the screen, the projector and every aspect of presentation. Today’s audience is savvy and values stellar presentation. Competition in the cinema now comes from the ways
A View from the top Michael Lewis, founder, RealD
audiences consume entertainment. We need to remind a new generation that the collective experience of seeing a
The 3D format has been through many changes. The modern form started
film with optimum visuals is second to none. And we need
with the advent of “Chicken Little” and removed the need to have two
to dazzle them with the best experience imaginable. For
projectors running side-by-side in sync. RealD was at the forefront of the
many, 3D remains a fantastic differentiator from what’s at
latest wave, producing the first systems used in cinemas, but a lot has
home or on their mobile phone.
changed since. Systems are more light efficient now, the glasses lighter and they have higher stereo contrast ratios, however there are limits to what we can do as a supplier. The 3D system and glasses are a vital but
small part of the cinema eco system that helps provide that premium 3D experience. A raft of other factors impact how much a consumer enjoys a movie in 3D. These factors fall into two camps. First is the technological infrastructure in the auditoria, second is the content quality. The cinema itself can have a massive influence, be that through the type of projector, the age of the bulb, the porthole glass — not only how thick it is, but whether it’s been cleaned recently — the layout of the screen, the screen itself… I could go on. One of our key strategies is to work with our partners in exhibition on technical delivery — helping in ways we can to ensure the 3D experience justifies the ticket premium. We constantly work on projects and initiatives — for example, our U3D is the latest 3D system from our tech gurus in Colorado. It uses a triple beam system to ensure the exhibitor gets the best picture from their projector. We also have the Ultimate Screen, which we believe is the best screen for 2D and 3D presentation. Almost a decade ago, we looked at the full technological chain and realised that screens were a limiting factor. Silver screens do a great job, but they can be improved. They manufacturing process has changed little in nearly a century — spraying a piece of vinyl or canvas with silver paint. Whilst the materials and techniques have improved dramatically, there are inherent problems with painting a surface which the Ultimate Screen eliminates. Think of it like a car. If you spend thousands on a new engine, but you don’t upgrade the gearbox to cope, you’re not going to get the optimum performance. That shiny new projector is the engine, the screen is the gearbox — they are interdependent. The Ultimate Screen has been around for a couple of years now with over 200 installed worldwide and another 100 on order. In EMEA, there are Ultimate Screens in many premium venues in countries including Germany, France, Norway, the Netherlands and the UAE, with more added all the time. Other initiatives we work with across the globe help keep standards high. We have Luxe in a number of markets — our own brand PLF — and more recently we have launched RealD Cinema, currently in Asia and North America. Between the two brands we have around 100 screens in operation, with a number confirmed to follow. In China, they have the 6fL project, which aims to guarantee that the screen has a high light level in 3D. On “Alita: Battle Angel”, 20th Century Fox took steps to demand a minimum 4.5fL in North America. As result, several cinemas weren’t able to show the film. In Europe, the studio wrote to cinemas write asking them to play the film at a minimum 4.5fL in 3D. That brings us to the content. There are two types of 3D — native and post conversion. The former is rarely used, except for a few exceptions like “Gemini Man” and “Alita”. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. We work with stereo supervisors like Chris Parks at Vision3, who has worked on movies like “Gravity” and “Fantastic Beasts”. The level of skill, artistry and execution is breath-taking, and the result is 3D content that delivers a director’s vision perfectly. The real issue is the time and budget given to that conversion. If a studio invests in the conversion, and the director considers 3D as part of the film-making process, it will have fantastic results. It’s also crucial that the talent — be that directors, actors or even the studio itself — include the 3D message in their marketing. They need to let the consumer know why this is a movie that must be seen in 3D. RealD is part of this content improvement journey. We have TrueImage™ and TrueMotion™ which have been used by directors such as Peter Jackson and Ang Lee. TrueImage™ clears up artefacts inherent in capture — they look like dust on screen — and if they differ in the left eye and right eye image, can make the 3D effect harder for the brain to process, which contributes to eye fatigue. The process looks at each pixel, forward in time and backward to determine what it should be, rather than what it is. This is a complex algorithm needing incredible processing power. The first time we ran it on a feature, it actually slowed down one of the wellknown cloud-based processors to such a degree that they called, asked what we were doing and could we inform them before doing it again! The results are spectacular though and worth the effort. We use a clip from the first “Hobbit” in demos — it shows Gandalf smoking
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a pipe. Only after the process are you able to see that there is smoke dancing in and out of his beard. TrueMotion™ is about replicating real life on screen. We see strange effects on screen that you wouldn’t see if walking down the street. One such is the wagon wheel effect, when a wheel or a propeller on a plane appears to spin backwards. Caused by the camera shutter, this is eliminated by our software. We’re venturing into new territory on content and technology. Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is exclusively available in high frame rate 3D. Paramount is even calling it 3D+. I’ve seen the results and it is astounding. The action is so clear and the HFR really adds to the experience. The other factor impacting the quality is that most of those presentations will be seen using a laser projector. Combining HFR and laser is a game changer. Laser projectors are great for 3D, and our equipment is already optimised. With a consistently
3 D FAC TS THE UK’S 3D MARKET
Thirty-seven 3D films were released in 2017, generating £88million (to 18 February 2018) from 3D screenings. This is down from 46 releases grossing £93million in 2016, but it is still greater than the 34 films released in 2015. The combined gross from 3D screenings in 2017 accounted for 6% of total box office receipts compared with 8% (£106million) in 2016. All but one of the 37 3D films was released in both 3D and 2D formats. (Data for 3D IMAX screenings and revenues are not disaggregated from 3D totals — Source comScore)
AMOUNT OF UK 3D RELEASES 15-17
37 46 34 I N N O V AT I V E R E A L D : T H E F A C T S RealD is an innovator and licensor of stereoscopic (3D) and other visual technologies for use in the cinema and on consumer electronic devices.
bright light source, it feels like the technology is finally getting to the point where the experience lives up to the promise initially offered. Our challenge is to let consumers know this is the next wave, and when they try it again, they won’t be disappointed.
the financial benefits of 3D and put wonder into the customer’s experience. “Avatar” did that, but we all lost focus and, as Katzenberg said at CineEurope a few years ago, we “gimmicked it… instantly, we lost good will”. I’d add that the whole industry played a part. 3D is an experience that cannot be replicated in the home, and our research shows it’s a product that young consumers really enjoy. In markets such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, 3D % figures are still high, relative to the UK, Italy or Spain. The consumers are not that different from each other in those markets. The main difference is that countries still enjoying strong 3D numbers are reaping the rewards of support for the format. If we let the 3D business slip away, then we lose the opportunity to offer variety, a format you cannot replicate elsewhere, as well as significant financial benefits of increased ticket prices and eyewear sales. As an industry, we would have collective responsibility for letting that happen.
RealD has the world’s largest 3D cinema platform with over 30,000 screens in 75 countries. Since 2005, over 2 billion people have enjoyed blockbuster movies in RealD 3D cinemas.
UK 3D RELEASES IN 2017
£18m 59% “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” had the highest 3D takings (£18 million)
“Once Upon a Time” (which does not appear in the top 10) generated the highest proportion of total gross from 3D screenings (59%)
18% Excluding “Once Upon a Time”, the median takings for 3D films in 2017 as a % of total gross was 18%, up from 16% in 2016.
P O P U L A R I T Y O F 3 D F I L M S (UK)
We at RealD must continually remind the industry of
The popularity of 3D films has been on a downtrend from a high point in 2010, when the overall box office gross generated by 3D screenings was £242 million.
24% ... which is 24% of the total box office — and the median share for 3D screenings as a percentage of the total gross for films released in both formats was 71%.
71% 1 2 / 1 9
Harkness Screens is celebrating 90 years in the business thanks to the company’s knack for identifying technology trends. CT caught up with CEO, Mark Ashcroft, to learn about its past, present and future.
TARTING OUT IN GLASGOW in 1929, Harkness Screens have been installed in cinemas worldwide over its 90-year history — and the company’s anniversary celebrations have not gone unnoticed. With a new website and brand identity,
Harkness is facing the future boldly, but what of its roots? Very much the year cinema went global, 1929 also saw the first Academy Awards and the first modern sound and colour film, created by Warner Bros. Added to this, the Eastman Kodak Company introduced its first motion picture film and, finally, Walt Disney Productions was formed. It was also the year a master draper decided it was time to change career. Andrew Harkness and his 18-year-old son, Tom, began laundering cinema screens, before moving from Glasgow to the lots of Borehamwood Studios to manufacture screens. A draper from the age of 15 in 1890, Andrew’s understanding of fabrics was very different to that of someone who had worked in cinema the entirety of their professional life. At the time, the quality of a screen would dissipate quickly due to having bright light projected on it consistently. Added 5 6
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Other sectors Beyond cinema, Harkness has a strong presence in the events sector, providing screens like the Clarus for exhibitions across the world. “The key for people at events is to give their presentation often in a fairly small space. The Clarus brings clarity and a screen everyone can read, meaning a better experience for presenter and audience.” says David Harrison.
to this, the screens were washed, which dulled picture clarity. Thanks to his fabric knowledge, Harkness found a solution, but after establishing his company, just two years later Andrew passed away, leaving the business to Tom — just 20 at the time. Under Tom, Harkness established its reputation for forward thinking and development of new screen technologies. Identifying PVC (polyvinyl chloride) as a successor to fabric, Tom realised plastic had similar properties to fabric and was more durable, but needed development. One of the key problems was welding edges without leaving visible creases. Eventually, developing the Tearseal method, these new PVC screens became a success. Over time, Harkness began developing the screens, one of the key innovations being the addition of small perforations. As a result, speakers could be placed behind, creating a more natural audio experience. In 1952, a change in ownership saw Harkness join the cinema juggernaut that was the Rank Organisation. Harkness was later incorporated into Rank Audio Visual in 1960, alongside Odeon and Pathé at Elstree Studios. Some years later Harkness developed its first coated screen, recognising the need for exhibitors to have brighter, www.cinematech.today
more vivid presentations. With limited power available to put
d-smooth coating technology, the Clarus XC has similar
light on screen, coated screens boosted performance. As a
qualities to white screens. Due to the quality of the coating,
result, the Perlux screen was developed. Capable of brighter,
Clarus XC is the best prepared screen for laser projection.
more true-to-life presentation, Perlux set Harkness apart.
Harkness’s second screen brand is the Perlux HiWhite.
Identifying that the next ‘big thing’ in cinema would be
Introduced to the market in 2018, the HiWhite has the leading
3D projection, Harkness began development of a coating that
white-gain projection surface. A premium surface for 2D
would later become the world’s leading polarised silver screen
projection, the HiWhite is the whitest-ever gain screen with
brand, the Spectral. The company began to establish facilities
increased uniformity, Perlux is capable of high performance
abroad; acquiring French business Demospec in 1999 and
when being used with laser projectors. Perhaps Harkness’s
creating manufacturing centres in the US, China and India. It
most unique screen available on the market, HiWhite assists in
has continued with a mission of innovation, imagination and
the reduction of digital cinema costs through the use of
technology. creating the Digital Screen Modeller app in 2013,
smaller xenon lamps and reducing power consumption. This
the app made it easier for engineers and architects to enhance and optimise the screen and its geometry. In 2019 Harkness announced that with ProAV, they would be trialling an online store for customers to purchase screens.
Reaching a whole new audience
Past/present/future services “In my opinion, the introduction of the Digital Screen Modeller
As part its 90th anniversary, the company has launched a new website
was a major introduction to the industry. Getting a room, or
(harkness-screens.com) and redesigned its brand identity. CEO Mark Ashcroft,
space, ready for projection is something that could have taken
believes that the new logo’s full spectrum colour-way better represents the
hours. With the app, it’s mere minutes,” says vice president of
company he is charged with driving forward. “Harkness has been able to bring
technology, Matt Jahans, adding, “In 2013, not nearly as many
people films in full, vibrant colour for virtually all of our 90 years and the new
people used apps as they do today, so it was difficult to
logo reflects this. When you look at our old logo, it was a little understated in
explain. Now everyone quickly grasps how it can be valuable.”
comparison to the work we do. Our screens enhance the colour of what is being
“At Harkness, we seem to have made a habit of predicting
projected onto them — and by having a logo that portrays the spectrum, that
what the next step may be” says CEO Mark Ashcroft, “For Tom
embodies us.” A complete rebrand has also seen an entirely new website layout,
Harkness it was PVC and right now we firmly believe that laser
as well as social media accounts getting a makeover. Harkness hopes that as a
projection is the way that the industry is heading. This is
result, it will attract people outside of the industry too. Posting unique content
obviously not a big secret in the industry and in October our
on the site and social media, it aims to attract a variety of potential customers.
senior vice president for new business, Tony Dilley, sat on a
Followed by thousands, Harkness has a worldwide audience due to facilities in
panel at ExpoCine19 discussing the logistics of laser projection
India, China, France and the US, with its screens in over 130 countries.
and how a screen is vital to projection. In recent years, Harkness has strived to shrink its carbon footprint, reducing volatile organic compounds emissions by 94%. It has also switched to water-based screen surfaces and
results in less frequent lamp replacements, saving cinemas
sends all its scrap PVC back to the original manufacturer to
money in the long term. Due to Perlux’s unique properties, it
recycle. In the next 12 months Harkness hopes to install solar
alleviates visual speckles on-screen from laser projectors.
power at each of its plants. “Environmental stability is an
Recommended by projector manufacturers, the HiWhite is
important topics in the company. Moving to water-based
perhaps the leading screen in the industry. The third brand
screen surfaces was a huge step for us in reducing emissions.
that the cinema industry know and trust is Spectral, the
It hasn’t reduced the quality of the screens one bit,” explains
polarised silver screen that has served the 3D market for years.
chief technology officer David Harrison.
Due to its standing in the industry, Harkness’s screens can
Harkness has three recognised screen brands found in
regularly be seen at the key industry events. Main sponsors at
cinemas. The first, Clarus XC. came as a result of significant
CineEurope, CinemaCon and CineAsia, screens produced by
work by the R&D team, creating the most immersive screen
Harkness can be found on the main stage as well as in the
possible. Working effectively with both 2D and 3D systems,
exhibition centre. “I was at CinemaCon earlier this year,” says
the Clarus XC creates an intense viewing experience, designed
Mark Ashcroft, “and it was amazing to see the world’s biggest
to engage viewers with visibly richer colours on-screen, all
acting names not just on our screens, but looking up at them
with a stronger, better-defined picture. With fourth generation
when presenting their upcoming films to the world.”
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Sounds arrive at different times, from different directions The first thing to consider is how we measure sound. In cinema, we typically use a real time analyser (RTA). Most technicians have adopted the four-
d un o s
nt? fere f i d so
standard practice for several decades. The RTA creates a spatially averaged measurement of more than one microphone location in the room. But what are we actually measuring with the RTA? All of the content arriving at that microphone, from all directions, with no regard to time of arrival. It’s not really measuring direct sound from the speaker. It is simply measuring all of the energy arriving at that microphone, at that time. You may get some of the direct sound, but you also get many different time arrivals bouncing off of walls, floor, ceiling, furnishing and other surfaces, each with its own absorptive, diffusive, and reflective characteristics. Many researchers, notably Dr Floyd Toole and Dr Sean Olive formerly of the National Research Council of Canada, have done a great job relating objective measurements to subjective sound quality, helping us understand how to measure a speaker and how to make it “sound good”. But what do we hear
red acoustic re easu spo m ns ilar es m i s of y te r e n v
microphone multiplexer technique —
with the human ear? Unlike an ordinary microphone, our ears can distinguish
r o o m s w ith
direction and time of arrival. When we sit listening in the theatre, we can focus on and localise where that sound is coming from. We know it’s coming from that loudspeaker from the screen. There are reflections and reverberation and echoes you hear in the room, but the ear does a good job of ignoring a lot of that. But if we expect to measure the system with a device that doesn’t care about direction or time of arrival and get consistent results from room to room — it’s just not going to happen. Words: Barry Ferrell, Senior Vice President/Cinema, QSC, LLC
If the frequency (or the spectral) content) of those reflections varies
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significantly from that of the direct sound, and we then measure and tune and adjust the system with an RTA, inevitably what we hear and what we
Direct, on-axis flat frequency response of a loudspeaker
measure will differ. We need a speaker
When evaluating speakers, some rely on published
that’s going to provide smooth, even
data and specs. Often, they look for a “flat” frequency
coverage, not only on-axis, but also as
response chart. While it’s necessary for a speaker to
we move off-axis from the loudspeaker.
have flat on-axis frequency response, it’s certainly not
What affects sound quality? First is
sufficient for good response in the actual room. We need to know more about that particular
the subjective hearing ability of the
speaker — more than is often revealed in the specifications. We need to know how the coverage
listener. There’s a lot of speaker-related
angle varies with frequency. If a speaker is covering a wide angle, it’s putting a lot of energy into
factors. Does it have a ‘flat’ frequency
the room. If it’s covering a very narrow angle, it’s putting a very small amount of energy into the
response? If it’s a 2-way (or 3-way/4-way
room. So even if it’s “flat” on-axis, the RTA will show peaks and dips based on changes in coverage
speaker, are the different sections “time
angle of the loudspeaker throughout the frequency response. Most cinema technicians react to
aligned” so their energy reaches the
these peaks and dips by making (often drastic) equalisation adjustments. What does that do?
listener at approximately the same
That distorts the previously “flat” direct sound arriving from the speaker, and makes the problem
time? Are the levels matched at the
— and sound — worse. What does a speaker actually do? With a direct radiating loudspeaker (like
crossover points? What about distortion
a woofer) with no waveguide or horn in front, the coverage angle naturally narrows as it goes up
— how well does the signal going into
in frequency, because the wavelength of the sound is getting shorter, and the speaker is able to
the speaker match the one coming
control more precisely that sound and make it go in a much narrower direction.
out? Does it have a uniform coverage angle, or “directivity”, with frequency? There are room-related issues, too. We all know how to build good rooms — and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. We need adequate room absorption and good proportions, like
Polar representation of loudspeaker dispersion at high and low frequencies
Example of a loudspeaker polar plot
avoiding square rooms where length and width are equal. When you build a
If we looked at a representation
room with equal proportions, there will
of the coverage pattern of that
be room modes (resonances) occuring
loudspeaker (below), we would
at the same frequency. They will sum
see that — at high frequencies
together and create cancellations. So
(represented by the green line) —
the RTA shows peaks and dips (which
it would be very narrow. The
have nothing to do with loudspeakers
sound would appear to drop off
This is all well and good, but what do
themselves) in the frequency response.
very quickly as you get off-axis.
you do with the information? How do
Another issue is speaker placement
Low frequencies (represented by
you learn about a particular speaker
and aiming. Loudspeakers must be
the red line) would be very wide.
you may be investigating? Many audio
able to create the sense that the sound
At low frequencies, a loudspeaker
companies publish “polar plots”. Each
and image appear to originate from
is almost omnidirectional. If we
line represents the coverage of that
the image on the screen; this is known
want “constant directivity”, the
speaker at a different frequency range.
as “localisation”. And, they must be
only way to get close to that is
At higher frequencies, you may see
aimed so that the loudspeakers project
really by adding a horn or a
controlled coverage; at low frequencies
their acoustical energy to where the
it inevitably becomes virtually omni-
listeners are — not at ceilings or walls.
directional — there is almost as much
We also need to address diffraction
sound pressure level at the back of the
and reflection from room surfaces. At a
loudspeaker as there is from the front.
minimum, you must treat side walls
There’s not that much we can do with
nearest the screen; that’s where some
this data. It tells us intuitively what a
of the most damaging reflections (to
speaker is doing, but there are other
dialogue intelligibility) come from.
ways we can look at that.
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Spectrograph representing SPL
Spectrograph of a real loudspeaker
Spectrograph of a poorly-controlled loudspeaker
In the graph of a real two-way
A spectrograph uses the different
loudspeaker (Fig. 7 below), mid to
With this as the “ideal”, let’s consider
high frequencies are very close to
the other extreme: a poorly controlled
parallel. This is how a “well-
two-way loudspeaker. Figure 8 shows
behaved” loudspeaker would look
a real loudspeaker that has a poorly
like in the real world. Remember,
designed crossover; it doesn’t have a
the extent to which you can
good match between the woofer and
maintain that coverage in the low
the high-frequency tweeter. You can
frequencies is dependent upon
see there is a tremendous gap where
the physical size of the speaker.
coverage narrows. What’s happened is
colours to represent different SPL
the woofer is being asked to reproduce
levels, showing frequency along the
frequencies higher than its natural
bottom of this chart on the X-axis,
ability to control the pattern, so the
and coverage angle along the side
coverage gets very narrow. Above the
or the Y-axis. Along the centre line is
crossover frequency, the horn is too
directly on-axis of the direct sound
small to maintain the pattern control
of the loudspeaker, and as you go
at the transition frequency, and then
the coverage angle gets very wide
coverage increasingly off-axis. Figure 5 above is the theoretical
again in the higher frequencies. This causes a significant loss of energy in
spectrograph of a “piston”-type driver, which moves air by the mechanical
the mid-range, which will appear as a
motion of a piston (a voice coil in a magnetic field) attached to a cone or
dip on the RTA. Many technicians will
At the low frequencies, this very broad high SPL red level
attempt to address this with an
(indicated by the red region) is the loudest SPL, indicating the essentially
equalisation boost which results in a
omnidirectional characteristic at low frequencies.
big peak in the direct field of the
All conventional loudspeakers behave this way; the difference among
loudspeaker. Remember, this is a
loudspeaker types is how quickly (at which frequency) it begins to narrow. A
speaker that measured flat on-axis,
larger diameter loudspeaker will narrow at a lower frequency, and a smaller
but it’s not really going to sound very
loudspeaker will narrow at a higher frequency. At the highest frequencies to
good everywhere in the room.
the right, radiation (or coverage) gets very narrow, which is also called “beaming”.
In order to quantify all of this, it’s helpful to use a measure called the Directivity Index (DI). The best way to
Spectrograph of an ideal loudspeaker
conceptualise DI is to imagine a point source, which is a theoretical sound source that’s a “point” in space radiating
If we could make a perfect loudspeaker, what
directions. If we use a waveguide
would this spectrograph look like? The ideal
would be a loudspeaker that had exactly the
loudspeakers to narrow that coverage
same coverage angle at every frequency, represented by Fig. 6. It’s the same loudness at every frequency until you reach the limits of the coverage (60 degrees in this case) and then there’s no sound. As you might expect, this doesn’t exist in the real world. It’s just not possible, according to the laws of physics. What we can do is build a loudspeaker that has pretty good coverage in the mid to high frequencies with uniform transition to the wider coverage of the woofers.
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angle, then we can increase the amount of energy delivered to a much smaller
increases the sound level in that area
Matching coverage pattern in the crossover region is critical
by a certain number of decibels at a
With directivity, size matters. A designer’s job is to
given distance, and that amount is the
ensure they select the right audio components to
Directivity Index. It’s how much louder
cover the widest possible frequency range, and to
the speaker is for that same amount
do this with good directivity match at the crossover
of acoustic energy compared to an
points — this means horns about the same size as
omnidirectional point source. It turns
the woofer. Large compression drivers run down to
out that the directivity index of a
a lower crossover frequency, depending on size
typical horn-loaded loudspeaker is
(and coverage pattern) of the woofer. If the design
between 8 to 10dB. A 10dB increase
results in peaks and dips in the DI, you’ll see peaks
is perceived as twice as loud, so we
and dips on the RTA — that cannot be corrected
can use a horn to make a quantity of
with equalisation. It won’t sound right.
acoustic energy produce 10x more acoustic power, which sounds twice as loud — just by confining that energy
“The bottom line? In-situ equalisation of poorly designed loudspeakers will never result in good sound”
Ideal target directivity index for a screen channel loudspeaker in full space (4pi)
The ideal target DI for a screen channel speaker shows constant directivity down to about 500Hz, then gradually (naturally) widens at the lowest frequencies (Fig. 10 below). A directivity index of 0dB is omnidirectional. Why is DI so important? When a loudspeaker produces wide coverage, it puts more energy into the room, when it’s narrow it puts less energy into the room. Peaks and dips in the directivity index are actually reflected in what you measure. An inverted graph of the DI would show a good approximation of how that speaker would measure in a real room at low to mid frequencies. At the highest frequencies, we run into atmospheric absorption and other factors. Unavoidably, a speaker with an erratic DI or poor on-axis response is going to sound bad compared to a well-
to a smaller section of the room. “Constant directivity” means that
behaved one. Flat on-axis response is not by itself an indication of a well-behaved speaker. Finally,
we’re going to cover as wide an area
that erratic DI or poor coverage angle can’t be fixed by DSP or equalisation. It’s an inherent part of the
as possible for as much of the
acoustic design. This does not mean it is impossible to design a speaker that performs well in real
frequency range as possible.
rooms. If you were to overlay an actual measurement of a high-quality screen channel loudspeaker
practice, the goal is to try to cover as
onto Fig.10, they’d line up fairly well. Many manufacturers make well-behaved screen channel
much of the audience with the same
loudspeakers for a reasonable price — it requires attention to detail. In the real world, this speaker will
frequency response at all listening
require little equalisation, because when we put it behind a typical perforated screen, that flat on-
positions. But it’s only really practical
axis frequency response is going to translate fairly naturally to the target X-curve. Good on-axis
at mid to high frequencies.
frequency response is necessary but not sufficient for good sound. Speakers with constant directivity
example, a 30-inch wide horn from a
at high frequencies and smooth transitions from LF to HF horns will be easier to equalise, resulting in
cinema screen channel loudspeaker is
better sound. A few visible clues that might indicate potentially good directivity is when the HF horn
good down to about 500 to 600 Hz. A
is nearly as large as the woofer, and a large HF driver
allows the crossover point to be low in frequency,
surround speaker with a 15-inch horn
preventing beaming of the woofers at the crossover.
will maintain coverage down to about
The bottom line? In-situ equalisation of a poorly
1 kHz; a smaller 12-inch horn will
designed speaker will never result in good sound, no
maintain wide coverage down to
matter how perfect the RTA. And your ears will know it.
about 1.5 kHz. But a tiny little 8-inch speaker and a corresponding horn of that same size will probably only maintain pattern control down to about 2.5kHz or 3kHz. www.cinematech.today
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L O C A T I O N
Simply the best
Find us here Picture House, Uckfield A three-screen cinema with
Uckfield’s Picture House Cinema & Restaurant won “Cinema of the Year” at the 2018 Screen Awards and is an exemplar of the real value that cinema can bring to a locality. Mark Trompeteler headed to the thriving town in South East England to investigate.
N THE HEART OF EAST Sussex lies the
film went badly that week, he saw the direct effect on what
small town of Uckfield. With the south
went on the dinner table at home. For him programming is
coast, the local Sussex countryside and
key and he doesn’t understand why some cinema owners
good links to London, the town is
get others to programme their cinema — he and his team do
thriving. Prominently sited on the high
that, and he regards it as one of the joys of cinema ownership.
street is the independently owned
The local demographic tends towards the mature and
Picture House Cinema with its accompanying restaurant
Kevin describes what he offers as “upmarket mainstream”,
dates back to
directly opposite. This cinema is proudly independent and its
programming the main commercial releases alongside their
owner Kevin Markwick has developed the business to reach
curated programme of classics and a significant amount of
out more at
outstanding standards of cinema exhibition excellence —
live event and cultural cinema — a staggering 25% of the
achieving numerous local business, national and European
total number of screenings. Digital cinema can bring the
cinema industry awards. And woe betide you should you
output of the world’s big city cultural venues to small towns
make the mistake of confusing it with the Picturehouse
and his audience love that. All this is integrated to their
chain in Kevin’s presence.
restaurant which includes such ticket and F&B packages as
Know your audience
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“Movie Meal Deal” and “Cream Tea Classics”, all bookable online.
Kevin learned about the need to programme for your
DCP delivery is facilitated by MPS’s LANsat and Unique
audience as he grew up. The son of the cinema’s owner, if a
Digital’s MovieTransit with live event broadcasts available in www.cinematech.today
Independence, constant investment, development and updating The striking exterior of the building, built in 1916, harks back to its original purpose as a Garrison Theatre which entertained the troops stationed at nearby Maresfield Park Camp during the First World War. It became a fulltime cinema in 1920 and was purchased by Kevin Markwick’s father Roy in 1964. Originally, with a single screen, stalls and balcony, it had 500 seats. This was reduced to 310 seats in 1967 to provide legroom and comfort. The cinema re-opened in March 1979 after conversion into a twin. The former stalls, now Screen 1, were turned around to face the front of the building with projection from the former proscenium arch position. Upstairs the original projection position and seat direction of the balcony were retained to form Sceen 2. A brilliantly designed extension was completed in 2000 which wrapped around the original building adding corridor and storage space on both sides, an office, and a sideways Screen 3. In 2010, all three screens converted to digital at the same time. In 2015 a total refurbishment of the cinema interior took place alongside the acquisition of a substantial restaurant on the other side of the high street. In 2018, refurbishment of the restaurant and its kitchen and the introduction of a £120,000 integrated website, which helps drive the success operation, were completed.
all three screens. Hard of hearing facilities are also available in all three screens. The Rosetta Bridge TMS is used. Servicing for the cinema technology is carried out by Omnex. The Sony 4K projectors were acquired from CinemaNext and are still under guarantee — that, together with the improved lamp life of the new generation of light sources, is saving on servicing costs. The cinema does not screen any content in
Above: Winner of the 2018 Screen Awards cinema of the year, the Picture House collects accolades from all quarters for its focus on a quality experience
has a high proportion of 30+ females and can promote some content more effectively to that demographic perhaps than by other means. A membership scheme for the cinema has been a significant factor in growing the audience. Currently, the cinema has approximately 2,000 members who pay an annual subscription. The cinema sends out member-specific material as well as a general weekly newsletter to 9,000 email addresses. Last year saw 150,000 attendances, a significant amount of which not only purchased F&B at the
Know your audience
cinema, but also used the restaurant opposite.
Promotion of the programme and growth of the audience is achieved by a variety of techniques including data analytics. The team is very active at marketing, using attractively designed brochures, in-venue advertisements, weekly emails and social media. Kevin knows that his Facebook following
Below: Posters of classic feature films line the corridors — this is a safe haven for committed cinephiles
Reaching the audience online is important and the cinema’s website is easy to navigate and not too wordy. There are simple, attractive offers listed on the site, such as “Movie Meal Deal” (two courses and a film for £23.95) and “Theatre Meal Deal” (two courses and an event cinema show for £35).
BASIC SCREEN SPECS SCREEN & SIZE
10m Scope 5.2m Scope 4.7m Scope
115 75 99
Sony SRX - R510P 4K 7.1Bi Amp Sony SRX - R510P 4K 7.1 QSC Amp Sony SRX - R510P 4K 7.1 QSC Amp
Christie Vive Speaker JBL Speakers QSC Speakers
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L O C A T I O N
What exactly makes this cinema so special? I had the real pleasure of spending a morning with Kevin and looking around the cinema and restaurant and being able to have a good long conversation with him. What struck me was how in a subtle, understated way the whole operation of his business, every aspect of it, exudes a real love for cinema. His team strives to give customers the best possible experience. The attention to detail in all aspects of the operation is impressive. If his father laid down the foundations for an operation that exudes a love for cinema and a great entertainment experience, then Kevin has certainly updated that and ensured it all now operates within effective and profitable business practices. So how can I break down what makes this example of cinema exhibition so special. I’d put it into four distinct categories…
Great cinema ambience and attention to detail driving growth and loyalty
A great food and drink experience driving audience and income
Programming for audience enjoyment, satisfaction and loyalty
Up until recent times my experience of
Snacks, drinks and confectionery are allowed
During my visit I spoke with a couple of
multiplexes has been watching a film in
into these three mini-cinemas and the idea
members of staff, customers and even
an oblong box, which had little character,
that comfortable upholstered traditional tip-
one or two people in the street, as I had
and which was part of a larger complex
up cinema seats are appropriate for a cinema
arrived at the cinema early. All gave me
driven by the blatant imperative to buy
viewing experience seems to work well here.
the impression that this wasn’t the
food and drinks. Mild improvements
They maximise capacity for the space. No
cinema… it was their cinema.
included playing contemporary music in
sleep-inducing full luxury recliners or hot
the screens, in the nondescript foyer and
the toilet areas prior to the film starting.
throughout the film distract you here.
Honestly? It felt as if I was in an industrial film-viewing factory.
The number of programming strands Kevin provides for the audience is very impressive; current releases, revivals,
The addition of a fully serviced restaurant
cream tea classics, cinephile Sundays, a
with a bar and a more than adequate menu,
range of cultural and event cinema,
At this small complex, each screen has
to the three-screen complex is a masterstroke.
Saturday kids screenings, autism and
the feel that it is a luxurious mini-cinema
You can enjoy a full meal and have additional
dementia friendly screenings. Screen 2 is
in its own right. The seats are comfortable,
drinks waiting for you in the cinema, or carry
even a licensed wedding venue. Add into
the conundrum of consumption of F&B
yours to one of the screens. The restaurant is
the mix private hire and themed nights
has been beautifully sorted out, the non-
fully integrated into the cinema’s operation.
that integrate a new film with an event at
synch music is more gentle, the décor
Tickets can be purchased for screens at the
the restaurant, and you can see it is all
and colours, and the carpeting, give a
restaurant or you can enjoy a complete timed
audience focused. A meal and an Elton
warm, welcoming feel to the auditorium.
dining, drinking and viewing experience, all
John tribute act performing in the
The magic that cinema lends to the
bookable online in advance. The restaurant
restaurant coincide with the opening of
viewing of a film is beautifully reinforced
also stages party nights, live music, comedy
the biopic “Rocketman”, gives just one
by using curtains and masking in all three
and performance events too — some of which
example of how the restaurant works
screens. It is a level of detail that makes a
will be directly linked to screenings.
with the cinema.
difference. Curtains reveal something when they open and the whole concept of the “big reveal” is synonymous with magic and entertainment.
An integrated purchasing experience maximising customer satisfaction and income
The recent investment in the cinema’s website is another masterstroke. The site integrates
The corridors leading to the screens
three separate systems; Vista ticketing, ResDiary restaurant booking and Braintree Pay Pal
demonstrate the team’s love of cinema
Credit Card payment. When a customer books a meal it is recommended on average that
with captioned and framed posters of
a table is booked for 90 minutes before the start of the programme. A customer can book
classic films from the past displayed
a restaurant meal, drinks and cinema seats in one single transaction, with one confirmation
alongside forthcoming attractions.
outlining the times of their evening out together with online tickets and QR codes.
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The ease with which you can book and pay for your night out makes this operation stand out from the rest.
A thriving local employer The Picture House Cinema & Restaurant employs fifty people, 10 of whom are full time. Key members of the team include; obviously, Kevin Markwick, the owner and director; his wife Tansy, restaurant manager and chef; Rachel Tout, cinema manager; Katie Markwick, technical supervisor; Nicolette Howard, marketing and development and Loretta Davis, membership co-ordinator. The restaurant contributes three-quarter of a million-pounds’ worth of turnover to the overall turnover of £2.5million. In his local paper, Kevin recently commented “This is a good time for cinemas, the UK industry is showing the way for the rest of the world. It is an expanding market and the way to do it is to make cinemas more than a place showing films, offering a whole night out with the opportunity to have a drink and a meal.” In chatting with Kevin you realise that
Adding a restaurant into the mix was a masterstroke that has made The Picture House a true cultural hub
just a branding or marketing exercise to impress audiences since they have become familiar with the concept of 4K from domestic TV sets. Without more 4K DCPs being made available, what else has the move to 4K been about? For the immediate future, Kevin is setting his sights on
this is someone who has a superb grasp on cinema exhibition.
working on the cinema’s membership scheme. Growing
He has a positive and extremely committed approach to
both the number of members they have and the range of
the exhibition industry which he loves. Kevin told me that he
benefits they receive is a priority. He is also interested in
often wonders why more cinemas — instead of attempting
finding perhaps one or two other locations where local
to compete with adjacent local restaurants on F&B income
conditions might be right for him to repeat his successful
— don’t build one or buy one next door, rather than try to
cinema and restaurant template — though he did note that
recreate a restaurant experience within the cinema.
he would never want to build such a business venture
Delivering the best possible image
beyond say three or four sites because it would become too difficult to maintain the quality on offer.
I asked him about his investment in 4K projection in his three
In two recent articles in CT magazine I have written
relatively small screens when 2K would be adequate — does
about how cinema and the hospitality and catering industries
his audience notice the difference? He told me — rightly in
have moved closer together. I have visited many cinemas
my view — that whatever size the screen, 4K with its improved
over the years and know many of the pressures, pleasures,
contrast ratios, HDR etc still gives a noticeably better picture,
rewards and developments that are taking place within
and as mentioned previously, he has made a saving on
After I visited Uckfield, I have been finding it difficult to
Kevin is always striving to give his audience the best
think of an exhibitor that I have seen that can match the
experience, which includes regular checks on picture and
perfect array of solutions that The Picture House team have
sound in an automated projection environment. He did
come up with at their venue, and that show so superbly
mention the one big 4K disappointment he has — the lack of
everything that a modern cinema experience can be. No
4K DCPs that seem to be available or only in short supply
wonder it is such an award-winning cinema. For one year at
from distributors. We discussed to what extent 4K has been
least, it was voted simply the best.
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and where to find them
Words: Patrick von Sychowski
DIFFERENCES”, says Vincent Vega, John Travolta’s Pulp Fiction character introducing his famous ‘Royale With Cheese’ speech.
“You can walk into a movie theatre in Amsterdam and buy a beer…” he adds. While beer and alcohol is now served in cinemas all over the world — well, perhaps not in Saudi Arabia — let’s take a look at “the little differences” that make cinemagoing a unique experience internationally.
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AUSTRALIA: The country that pioneered the
rented by the hour; scent cinema and more. Just don’t
Gold Class concept of luxury cinema also lures
expect to watch any films that feature ghosts, time travel or
audiences in from the beaches with all things cool: air
supernatural themes. That means no “Ghostbusters”, “Back
conditioning (natch), but also Choctops (ice cream with
to the Future”, the original “Planet of the Apes”, or “Pirates of
melted chocolate on it) and Coca-Cola Classic Frozen.
the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”.
BELGIUM: Reserved seating! Probably one of the
COLOMBIA: The crunch-munchy sound from the
first countries to introduce this. Belgium also has
person next to you in the cinema might not be
intermissions for family movies, but no intermission for
popcorn. This South American country serves roasted ants,
regular features. Look out for films marked “VO” (“Version
also known as hormiga culona, in cinemas. The ants are
Originale”), “VF” (“Version Française” i.e. dubbed French
eaten like peanuts and are addiitonally also considered to
version), or “VOST”, followed by “FR”, “NL” or “BIL”, meaning it
be an aphrodisiac [Ed: in the back row?].
is the original language subtitled in French, Flemish or both at the same time. With its linguistic split, Belgium is also
FINLAND: The land of the midnight sun and long
always the last kid in the European school to hand in his
winters has an insane love for cinema gift cards,
homework when it comes to the important business of box
which are apparently a favourite present from granny.
office and admissions reporting.
Similarly to Belgium, some Finnish cinemas screen films subtitled both in Finnish and Swedish, often making for
BARBADOS: For a truly Carribean cinema
speed reading as they zip along one line at a time.
experience, snack out in the cinema on deepfried balls of flying fish, washed down with Banks beer,
FRANCE: The country that invented cinema is
making a trip to the cinema both boozy and delicious.
actually remarkably conventional in its cinema habits, though French cinema audiences have long resisted
CHINA: The world’s largest cinema market (by
reserved seating. It is also one of the few countries that
screen count; No. 2 in BO) offers plenty of
dictates its own standards for cinemas though the CNC/CST
uniqueness. There are phonebox-size karaoke booths in the
— and if you want to build a cinema, you can get funding
lobby; ‘bullet screen’ where your text messages appear
through the Institute for the Financing of Cinema and
overlaying the film on the big screen; private cinemas for
Cultural Industries (IFCIC).
two-to-ten people with on-demand films (hopefully legal) GERMANY: Uniquely, German cinemas have an intermission between the trailers and feature INDIA: A whole chapter could be written
film known as ‘Eis break’ (‘Ice Cream break’) — when it’s time
on cinema-going in India, appropriately
to top up the concessions you ate during the interminably
enough as it is the world’s largest territory in terms of
long adverts. It is also a country that has a distinct preference
admissions and in terms of films produced each year
for nachos over popcorn (mostly sweet).
(1,900). Cinema-going is closer to religion here (only trumped by cricket). Actors becoming politicians is the norm, rather than an oddity. The death of a star leads to day-long mourning and even suicides (!) by fans. Anyone who has seen a screening in Southern India (Tamil Nadu, etc.) will know that audiences leave their seats to dance, yell, clap and cheer as soon as the name of a favourite actor appears in the pre-credits. Cinema is so fundamental to Indian life that the regional government caps prices of cinema and multiplex tickets. A major issue in Indian cinema in recent years has been standing for the national anthem played before the film. Initially this was only the case in the state of Maharashtra (where Mumbai is the capital), but after legislation and country rulings spread to the whole of the country. It led to ugly incidents, including one man being roughed up for not standing — despite being wheelchair bound. Famously, Bollywood films were so long they had to build in a cliff-hanger intermission break in the programme. Unfortunately, it also meant Hollywood films might be stopped arbitrarily, even in mid-dialogue. In other “intrusions”, Indian law mandates a ticker-tape text warning of tobacco consumption in scenes featuring on-screen smoking. During the intermission you might want to stock up on snacks, which, in addition to popcorn, include samosas, chutney and cheese sandwiches and vada pav [potato fritters in a bread bun]. Several lawsuits have been filed against cinemas for not allowing in outside food and drink, for not providing drinking fountains of water and for charging above the MRP (maximum retail price) for bottled water. It’s not always a song and dance operating a cinema in India.
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KOREA (SOUTH): With some of the most Kim Jong II supposedly kidnapped two South Korean actors in the 1970s to appear in his beloved films
The Netherlands was a pioneer — one of the first nations to serve bottled beer to cinemagoers
advanced and sophisticated multiplexes in the world, the home of CGV, Lotte and Megabox also gave rise to
4DX and ScreenX. Cinema is pretty popular, so don’t be surprised to find that a Monday morning re-release of the first “Harry Potter” in the immersive seat format is sold out. Instead of just selling popcorn, the multiplexes have a Popcorn Factory. They also take in-store retail to an entirely new level — you might easily find a VIP restaurant or Manga library in the multiplex. Truly South Korea is the world’s most sophisticated multiplex market.
Belgium was one of the first countries to introduce reserved seating in cinemas
GULF STATES: If you had watched “Avatar” in the UAE you would have seen about half an hour less than the rest of the world, with far too many naked blue Naavis for the local censors’ tastes. Also, there is no market for films featuring pigs, so for the purposes of “Angry Birds” the green nemesis were re-named Squishies. HONG KONG SAR: Not only are apartments small and expensive in Hong Kong, but real estate is so dear that cinemas are forced to close due to rent rises — and yours truly was once served popcorn in a drinks-size cup. That’s how little space they have. True story! IRELAND: There has long been a tradition of
China is the world’s largest cinema market by number of screens — 2nd by box office
Number of films produced each year in India
KOREA (NORTH): North of the border, the late Kim Jong Il was such a cinema fan that he actually kidnapped two famous South Korean actors in the 1970s to appear in North Korean films. Sadly, his son Kim Jong Un was not a fan of being assassinated on-screen in “The Interview”, ostensibly leading to the Sony hack. Despite this there is a film festival every two years in Pyongyang, featuring international films such as “Mr Bean”. MALAYSIA: The islamic country bans a lot of films for violence, too much sex or gay themes: “Hustlers”, “The Snowman”, “Wonderwoman” (later overturned), “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Sausage Party” are just some of the recent films to fall foul. “Zoolander” featured a plot to assasinate the Malaysian prime minister, so that got a ban too. Meanwhile, the real-life prime minister lost his seat and now faces jail for corruption partly linked to the production of the drugs and orgy-heavy film “The Wolf of Wall Street”. The film itself was never show in Malaysian cinemas — far too much swearing, drugs and sex.
using real butter for cinema popcorn. While other countries, particularly the US, use artificial flavouring
NETHERLANDS: Famous from “Pulp Fiction” for
as the water content in real butter makes popcorn soggy,
being one of the first nations to serve beer in its
the Irish are particularly proud of this tradition.
cinemas (not in paper cups, mind you, but in bottles), the country has excelled in F&B with the launch of the ‘Pathé
ITALY: Fancy watching the latest Hollywood
Boulevard’ retail concept that mimmicks the airport duty-
release during the summer? Until recently that
free walk-through maze. Here you can get hand-crafted
was impossible as Italians headed to the beaches and
popcorn from a Popcorn Chef or a self-serve of beer. They
simply ignored the cinema. This resulted in other months
even sell healthy foods such as fruit and sushi — and they sell
being jammed with releases and an intense peak during
well, too. Sadly intermissions are long gone.
Christmas. Only now is it slowly changing. NORWAY: Scandinavians are famous for their JAPAN: The country with the world’s most
sweet tooth and in Norway you can buy fizzy
expensive cinema tickets also features some
candies in transparent fillable pints. The country also only
interesting snacks in the foyer, such as iwashi senbei, or
used to show one trailer before the film, leading to
dried sardines. These small fish are baked whole in soy
introduction of the lobby display from Unique Digital that
sauce and sugar. They are then topped with sesame seeds
helped to make it the first country in the world to switch
to give them a sweet and savoury umami flavour.
over entirely to digital projection.
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POLAND: Go to watch a local film in Poland and
THAILAND: Don’t get too comfortable in the
the chances are that you will have a personal
leather recliner seat in your Seven Star super
greeting from the film’s director before the film, thanking
luxury cinema because it is time to stand for the king before
you for choosing to watch the film legally. This is part of the
the film. As the national anthem plays you see a clip reel
Legalna Kultura (Legal Culture) campaign to steer people
of all that the late king did for Thailand. No word yet on
away from illegal downloading and streaming.
whether it has been updated for his son since he took over.
RUSSIA: Censorship practices from the Soviet
UK: British cinema patrons like to drink. And we
era seem to linger in modern Russia. Not only
don’t mean just Coke or beer. The biggest craze
was “The Death of Stalin” banned (unsurprisingly), but the
to take off in the UK’s multiplexes recently is branded coffee.
anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law from 2013 meant that films such
Starbucks’ partnership with Cineworld has been a great
as “Power Rangers” got an 18-only rating, while the new
success, with Odeon following with Costa and Vue with
“Beauty and the Beast” was rated 16. On the upside, you can
Lavazza. Meanwhile Everyman has perfected the premium
enjoy Beluga caviar in the VIP cinema auditoriums.
F&B experience to the point where cinema operators are now travelling form all over the world to study (read: try to
SINGAPORE: The small country with one of the
copy) it. The UK is also the country that gave the world the
highest-per capita cinema attendances in the
“Unlimited” cinema card more than 20 years ago. “Unlimited”
world (over four visits per person per year) was early to
and “drinking” — how very British.
embrace the Gold Class concept. However, in order to fill seats during off-peak you can rent a leather recliner for an afternoon nap. The best part is that cinemas don’t have to split this revenue with the distributors. SPAIN: Spare a thought for the poor cinema ushers cleaning the cinemas in Spain where sunflower seeds are a popular snack. SWEDEN: Don’t be surprised at audiences arriving early to watch the adverts in Sweden. As commercials weren’t shown on terrestrial TV until the 90s, they were made exclusively for cinema, even by renowned directors such as Ingmar Bergman and Roy Andresson. Also, there is a tradition of the cinema manager or usher arriving before the film to welcome the audience, a practice that has since been adopted by the likes of Everyman in the UK. SWITZERLAND: Intermissions used to be the custom, the same as in Holland, but they have now been phased out. The clean-living Switzerland is strangely one of the few countries in which sex cinemas have survived, mainly due to planning laws which meant
Taiwan specialises in vending machines distributing chicken legs
Japan has the most expensive cinema tickets in the world
Singapore has one of the highest worldwide per capita cinema attendances, with over 4 visits per person per year
In Russia, the anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law from 2013 ensures perversion such as “Power Rangers” is for over-18s only.
20 The UK is the country that gave the world the “Unlimited” cinema card more than 20 years ago
that you could not close a cinema (any cinema) to replace it with a Starbucks. Being too small to be profitable as regular
With growing global cinema consolidation, there is also a growing risk of
cinemas, many such cinemas thus simply closed or kept
homogenisation — particularly in multiplexes. Fortunately audience tastes
running. Also the first territory in Europe to have a Samsung
are always rooted in local habits and culinary traditions. Though some can
Onyx LED screen.
change over time, some always remain. Viva la cinema difference! With thanks to Andrea Trinetti, Goran Stojmenovik, Kamal Gianchandani
TAIWAN: Chicken leg snacks — bought from a
and others who sent me their tips.
vending machine in the cinema. Yes, really. 7 0
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E V E N T S The discussion was wide-ranging and in-depth at the ECA’s annual conference in October. Peter Knight reports.
ECA Annual Conference
VER 130 of the world’s
specialist headed up the steps of
the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam last October to attend the Event Cinema
conference. The second time in its 10-year history that the ECA has travelled outside of its UK base for its annual conference, this event drew in a diverse range of attendees from far and wide. The
extensive array of data and information about the sector, offering many insights that have been lacking in this area. The day started off by celebrating the successes of the past year of event cinema content and their box office takings, acknowledging the record-
A dramatic venue for a conference that packed a punch — the striking EYE Film Museum, in Amsterdam
off proceedings with a presentation
whole day — was the continued need
that provided a comparison of the
for better, more consistent audience
audience profile in the UK and the US
data. Sarah highlighted that female
and how they differed — or not — across
customers dominate audiences in
the two countries.
both markets for event cinema content,
breaking success of NT Live’s “Fleabag”,
Sarah’s information demonstrated
yet live concerts over-index for the
now the biggest event cinema title of
how data can be best used to help
under 25-year olds. The presentation
all time in the UK and Ireland.
understand the cinema audiences
also looked at frequency, spend and
going to event cinema presentations.
crossover attendance to mainstream
The critical message to come out of
this presentation — repeated across the
concluded noting the opportunities for
Audience segmentation Sarah Lewthwaite from Movio kicked www.cinematech.today
1 21 2 / 1/ 91 9
E V E N T S
for bespoke training for cinema staff,
understanding on audience behaviours
the desire for more live content but
particularly with the advent of more
around event cinema.
also the call for improved mutual
streaming platforms, many of which
seem to be actively competing to
exhibitors to better facilitate delivery of
capture not just feature films, but also
Joe Spurling from Showtime Analytics
live events. Omnex managing director
the cultural content that has previously
and Fantine Mordelet from Comscore
Simon Tandy steered the discussion
defined the event cinema sector
teamed up to give an interesting
panel, linking to the results and looked
Indedeed, redefining the event
insight to event cinema performance
to see how some of these areas could
cinema sector was the subject of the
across four territories — UK, Germany,
be improved. Test broadcasts were a
very next session. Moderated by Patrick
Netherlands and Italy — combining
key part of the discussion. They allow
von Sychowski, from Celluloid Junkie,
their data from the past eight years to
for complete end-to-end testing on
Luke Williams from Comscore, Rickard
get a deeper understanding on market
the day, which is important for the
Gramfros of Folket Shusoch Parker;
trends. The metrics analysed box office,
broadcasters but less so for many
Movio’s Gabriel Swartland, Alice De
market share, percentage of screenings
cinemas who are now used to the
Rosa from Trafalgar Releasing and
equipment and are often using it on a
Angela Malvone from Yelmo Cine all
cinemas in their territories. It was a
multiple weekly basis. Some IP-based
got heavily enaged in a lively discussion
companies, such as Gofilex, are able to
around the future of event cinema and
offer 24/7 testing.
its role in the wider cinema business.
Box office performance
fascinating way to present data to better
performance and opportunities. The session concluded with a teaser around the next steps of the
113 Well over 100 cinema operators contributed to the ECA’s most recent survey
There is little doubt that this is a
Building a marketing plan
growing area and that those working
afternoon started with an animated
successfully packaged and delivered a
the impact of event cinema on overall
presentation around the use of data to
fruitful model that is proven to attract
box office. The next wave of data will
build a successful marketing platform.
new audiences to cinemas. Those
partnership with the ECA to examine
audiences that want to enjoy a shared
uplift that event cinema can bring to
conversions by genre and territory, with
experience of magical moments —
overall box office.
music having the biggest engagement
whether it be opera, ballet, music or
with audiences. According to her date,
gaming — find in event cinema
traffic on sites is busiest on a Sunday
entertainment that sits outside of the
with the most active times being after
traditional forms. And that is the
4pm. Jen talked through a number
sector’s ultimate selling proposition.
of recommendations around website
The term event cinema is a useful one,
engagement and the best campaign
a shorthand phrase used within the
launch times to help maximise the
industry to define the ecology and
impact and drive ticket conversions.
performance of the category — but to
look to demonstrate the value and
Surveying the sector Guillaume
presented a summary of the recent event
conducted by ECA in association with EDCF and UNIC (see page 82 for more
2 This is the 2nd time the ECA Conference has been held outside the UK
on this subject). The survey, which was
completed by 113 cinema operators
The afternoon went on to explore
the wider audiences we should be
from across Europe and North America,
the marketing findings from the survey,
content-led in terms of marketing and
in which ECA board director Jan Runge
promotion of the experience it offers.
developments. Most importantly, it
hosted a round-table discussion with
provided extensive detail about the technical challenges related to the
distribution of event cinema contentboth live and recorded. Among these, sound levels, accessibility and the wider availability of subtitling were all highlighted as areas in need of improvement. The ‘tech-talk’ from the panel discussion after highlighted the need 7 4
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Traffic on ticketing sites are busiest on a Sunday around 4pm
representatives from Kinepolis, Pathé
The recurring themes
Live and Cineplex Canada.
Throughout the conference a number
The discussion emphasised the
of key themes came out that will help
importance of partnerships, effective
to feed developments over the coming
targeted marketing and also what lies
years. The biggest of these was around
ahead — how are we engaging young
consistency of data, and the need for
audiences, how can we help increase
better and wider information from a
food and beverage spend and what
range of sources. Everyone talked
will 2020 bring?
about it in one form or another, and the
The coming year promises to be a
results of the survey the ECA carried www.cinematech.today
About the EYE Film Museum The EYE Film Museum is internationally acclaimed for its knowledge of and expertise in the field of film restoration, research, and education. The organisation has
employees who do their best to make everything you would want to know about film accessible. For young and old, for film enthusiasts and professionals, and from constantly changing perspectives, EYE focuses on film as an art form, as entertainment, and as part of digital visual culture. EYE was founded in 2010 as a result of the merger between four organisations: the Filmmuseum, Holland Film, the Filmbank, and the Netherlands Institute for Film Education. The museum itself is located on Amsterdam’s harbour right in the centre of the city, where a collection of more than 40,000 films from all genres represents a sample of the film history of the Netherlands. It is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Amsterdam! out definitely pointed towards this. Initial
Annual Report demonstrated how there are a great deal of inconsistencies around the ways in which event cinema is segmented and reported. There is a wider discussion to be had around the need for a universal — and agreed — categorisation of event cinema to help gain better transparency of the sector’s overall performance. There is little doubt that event cinema has evolved and is mainly defined by content and/or by its methodology of release — even within these categorisations, it is not always clear what
“event cinema content”. This is a muchneeded discussion that the ECA is best-placed to steer and develop.
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SMALL SPACE BIG VIBES
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Entrepreneurs in exhibition are bringing to fruition a multitude of new boutique venues and mixed-use spaces. Karen Pitman, director at Future Projections, explores the implications this has on the role of the integrator.
VERY WEEK AT FUTURE PROJECTIONS we take a couple of calls or emails from enthusiastic people wanting to build a cinema or bring back to life a neglected one. That’s a fantastic state of affairs as it reflects the optimism and energy that still comes with the most accessible of art forms — film. So what is our role as an integrator — the provider of the technology — in bringing these dreams to their opening night? First off, these visionaries trust us to build a sturdy structure around which they can flesh out the image they have dreamt of. The change from the expensive, skill-intensive — though beautiful — 16/35/70mm technology to relatively cheaper and more flexible digital equipment has opened this area up to people who may have previously considered it too closed an industry for them. Spaces and venues that were once tricky in shape
recently are the historic Buxton Opera House in Derbyshire
or too small to suit larger projectors are now perfect for
and Dorset’s public-use community centre, Verwood Hub.
boutique-style cinemas installed with smaller, more flexible
The Really Local Group chose Catford SE6 in under-
equipment. These are heralding a wider range of clients. And
screened Lewisham as its first site. Space was at a premium
I say “client” rather than “customer” because these are the
and in order to get as many bottoms on seats as possible we
venues bringing the preview theatre feel all across the UK — a
had to think boothless — so we made the Barco DP2k-6E
long overdue concept. Is there a possibility that, for these
projectors into art installations, visible to the public and hung
new-style entrepreneurs, we as the integrators will mistake
in the corridors outside each screen. The Barco DP2k-6E is
the quality experience their clientele demand with a need to
among the quietest projectors on the market, making it ideal
overspecify their technology? Yes absolutely — however well-
for unpredictable locations. It is also a low cost of ownership
meant. Overspecced technology can saddle smaller venues
solution due to the UHP lamps it uses, with the added
with high future running costs, paying out on spares and
advantage that, as a twin lamp, it can still work one if one fails
engineering support as a result of over-complex equipment
during screenings. We had to find ways to push the HDMI
— even though we are “Porsche dealers”, it may not be the
and USB protocols due to cabling distance, but both now
most appropriate way to get to the supermarket!
ingest at the maximum possible speed — and the technician
The question is how much the technology translates into
only has to look up to see the service lights.
the customer experience that pays the bills in these venues.
The Fellowship and Star Cinema close by in Bellingham
If the owners are new to the industry, then it’s up to us as
had a definite Miss Haversham feel to it — a totally neglected
integrators to give sound advice, not simply to sell them the
but aristocratic 1920s structure in an old theatre space. The
most expensive kit. This is how we can help to keep them in
main venue still had a local pub and you could see the
business — and when they make sufficient money to upgrade
boxing space where Henry Cooper trained for his fight
to laser, then we’d like to be the first they call, of course.
against Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile the music space has
A myriad of fascinating venues
hosted bands such as Fleetwood Mac. The Electric Star Group took on the venue, lavishing it
Within this new wave of builders and managers, there are
with love and style. Now the 86-seat
some really interesting venues, including several in South-
cinema provides what locals want —
East London such as the new Catford Mews three-screen site
comfortable seats, a good screen size
from the Really Local Group, the Fellowship and Star, in
and great food and drink. Again, a
Bellingham, transformed from its 1920s origins, and The
Barco DP2k-6E was placed into a
Institute of Light in a railway arch in Hackney. Among the
purpose-made void above the main
local authority-backed forays into film that we’ve worked on
door, with two access panels for
From top left, clockwise: Catford Mews is the first site from the Really Local Group; installing Catford’s Barco projectors meant showing them off outside the auditorium; the Buxton Opera House — one of the finest local authority-run venues in the UK, now with a cinema; digital signage and other such refinements are within the scope of most boutique projects
1 2 / 1 9
maintenance. Perhaps they’ll go for Dolby Atmos and 4k projectors later, but it wasn’t needed at this stage. We not only came in on budget, our solutions saved the owners
The new wave…
money. Their marketing is great, they employ 70 per cent local Bellingham residents and it’s a success story which
looks like it will lead to more sites — this is how to support the
industry and keep it growing in difficult financial times.
Vintage cocktails and dreams…
An independent arts centre and
The last of the privately run sites to mention is The Institute of
cinema, this site
Light (now known as No10/London) — probably one of the
has a strong focus
coolest venues ever in a railway arch in Hackney. Brought to
on its Lewisham
fruition by architect Jo Hagan, it currently combines cinema
with a vinyl record shop, Japanese food and fresh signature cocktails. Small cinemas in interesting spaces need this
fluidity allowing them to alter with the changes and stay on
trend. We initially put both digital and 35mm in for Jo as he wanted to offer a vintage experience to his clientele. Sadly
A pub and arts
today’s paucity of skilled operators meant he eventually had
to ask our advice on the underused film projector — and we
Fellowship & Star
offered a buyback deal which worked for him. That projector,
hosts it all from
after being used at the Royal Academy of Art, has now found
quiz nights to
a home in Switzerland with an art collector!
new release films
Looking after the public purse
Cash-strapped local authorities are rightly always looking for
ways to push arts venues to be more self- sustaining, so that they can spend money on essentials like schools. This means
The final site that typifies this new breed of venue is Dorset
From top: The Institute of Light, built in a railway arch; the 1920s Fellowship and Star
By day, it’s
Council’s Verwood Hub site, near
there’s another type of entrepreneur in our world: the staff
Bournemouth. Looking to add film
and managers at arts centres, libraries and theatres. As an
record store and a
as an additional revenue stream, our solution for them was to
integrator, we have a responsibility to respect the public purse and the staff who will be left to run it successfully. At the technical manager’s invitation I travelled to Buxton
put in a Barco DP2k-8s and — a year later — the venue is
by night it’s a film
thriving. We visited recently to service their equipment and
lounge. V. cool
were pleased that they are chuffed to be running far more
in the Peak District recently to meet with the technicians and
screenings than anticipated. As their integrator, we trained
staff at the town’s Opera House, to talk through how an
the technical staff already in situ for the theatre. This saved
adjoining cinema would work — and to reassure them it
them money — they don’t need a specialist for screenings
would be a fun project to be involved in! In winter the town
and this helps balance the books.
can be cut off by snow, so I suggested they either screen
“Everest” or warm the audience with “The Beach”. I watched
add film — universities, schools, museums, theme parks etc
the programmer visibly relax at the realisation that, yes, this
a truly awesome
— all of which we’ve worked with. There are always appropriate
could be fun. After looking at the rear projection concept the
solutions, whether it is a permanent installation or maybe a
client initially favoured, our solution was eventually to install a
house — a big hit
long-term hire, as well as for clients such as post-production
Barco DP2k-10s — again no booth, so, in-house, we built a
with the people
houses looking for short-term hire across Europe. This new
breed of cinema entrepreneur demands an extra level of
custom enclosure and inverted the projector.
There are many more potential sites out there looking to
If you’ve never been to Buxton, I recommend a visit to see
customer service from their integrator. We need to see their
the Opera House. Built in 1903, it is a stunning venue —
vision and understand who they cater to, giving them a
together with its busy cinema which is running beautifully. If
strong foundation of support and technology that they can
we don’t hear from the team there until their servicing time
build on. In the final analysis, the cinema team simply want it
comes, we are happy. It means we’ve done our job well.
to work when they press the button — and that is our job.
1 2 / 1 9
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Sustainability… it’s the last (single-use plastic) straw Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, reports on progress behind the development of a sustainability strategy for members — and the important work being undertaken to help transform our industry’s more wasteful ways.
HE PAST YEAR or so has seen attention
pressures, many of which are likely to be outside of our
given to a host of environmental issues,
industry’s control. As such, we will monitor the strategy to
with cinemas being brought into the
confirm it remains relevant, able to react to changing market
eco-firing line. In the UK at least, that
demands and is an affective resource for members.
focus has in part been due to the
To that end, the UKCA is setting up a ‘Sustainability
Government announcing legislation to tackle relevant issues,
Working Group’ to oversee the development and delivery of
but it has also arisen from the public whose awareness has
this initiative. It will consist of cinema operators whose
been heightened, not least by online campaigns singling out
business models and priorities vary, meaning a range of
cinemas. The most notable was launched on the 38 degrees
opinions are represented within the group, in turn helping to
platform: ‘Make plastic straws obsolete in cinemas’ received
shape our approach to this important subject.
over 200,000 signatures. All this prompted the UKCA earlier in
Updates from across the wider cinema sector will support
the year to ask members about their current and ongoing
this group’s awareness of the options available to operators.
efforts to improve sustainability in their businesses, in turn
The UKCA will continue to engage with supplier companies
highlighting areas where more work could be done.
regularly, many of whom already promote more sustainable
The findings were generally positive, with members of all
choices to cinemas. Whether it be technology providers and
sizes already pursuing eco-friendly solutions. However, it was
integrators highlighting economic and ecological benefits of
also clear that such activity was fragmented. As a result, the
a certain model of projector or key food and drink partners
UKCA felt it necessary to take an active role in encouraging
looking to reduce or remove single-use plastic options from
cinema operators to adopt ‘green’ best practices.
their product ranges, replacing them with more sustainable
We have worked to gather information from a range of member companies large and small, as well as others in our
alternatives (eg paper straws, compostable coffee cups etc), all our industry partners have a role to play.
sector, in particular major suppliers. This has helped us
The initial focus will be on the move away from single-use
develop a working sustainability strategy focused on the
plastics, seen by many as the bellwether of good practice.
three most challenging areasy, specifically:
Thankfully, there is already positive work underway, though
single-use plastics; waste management and recycling; and
early feedback and discussions with exhibitors suggests that
efficient energy use.
waste management and recycling some alternative products
A strategy that moves with the times This strategy will inevitably evolve in response to external 8 0
1 2 / 1 9
poses a complicated challenge, with local and sometimes regional infrastructure not matching the potential volumes required by cinemas and other waste generators. www.cinematech.today
AV • Live Events • Production • Audio • Video • Broadcast
Goodbye virtual print fee, hello Medialease!
What’s stopping us doing more? Difficulties in this area feed our second medium-term strand on waste management and recycling. The UKCA is planning to conduct a baseline audit of current activity and provision, not least to identify barriers preventing cinemas doing more. The final strand our strategy will focus on is improving energy efficiency. It’s an area the UKCA has looked at in the past and continues to monitor, but additional resources and expertise might be beneficial — this is partly in response to recent activity in the industry which offers the possibility of collaboration and collective energy buying, the most notable example being the Good/Creative energy project, supported by BAFTA and Film London. Sustainability and the impacts of current activity are front and centre for the UKCA, and something which will be
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reflected in our future work, but exhibition requires the support and ingenuity of all our industry partners to ensure the big screen experience continues to respond to changing audience demands as well as the external environmental pressures to remain the most accessible and enjoyed leisure/
To find out more, please call us on 01327 872531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
cultural activity in the UK.
0 9 / 1 8
U N I C
V I E W
Advocacy… how does that open doors for Europe’s cinema industry? UNIC exists as the key representative of cinema operators in Europe. Here, Chris Mill, policy and communications manager, explains why a love of cinema makes things happen at a political level.
O, YOUR MAIN ROLE is advocacy, what
unique and thrilling experiences enjoyed by audiences in
is that exactly?” It’s a question that, as
cinema theatres across Europe would be at stake.
an organisation acting as the bridge between the industry and the policy-
What’s your favourite movie…?
makers, we’re no stranger to. That said,
Getting this message across in Brussels is particularly crucial
the work of trade bodies such as the International Union of
at the moment, following last May’s European elections and
Cinemas (UNIC) is most certainly a crucial one when it
with a new European Commission coming into office. When
comes to the legal framework that can shape the way
asked, most of the policymakers we meet can readily recall
cinemas do business, innovate and provide customers with
their earliest cinema memory or their favourite cinema trip
the best experience possible.
ever, although conversation often becomes slightly trickier
Here at UNIC, we work by the motto “We love the Big Screen.” This means that, just like billions of avid cinema-
when it touches upon the dangers of piracy, the importance of territorial licensing or why cinemas need exclusivity.
goers across the world, we attach great value to the shared
It’s therefore key that UNIC acts as a voice for cinema
experience of watching films in theatres — encapsulating
operators on these issues, in order to ensure the continued
everything that comes with immersing ourselves in a
celebration of the cinema experience through support for
collective viewing experience like no other. This fuels our
the foundations of our industry.
central mission; shining a light on precisely what makes the cinema experience so special.
As we welcome in a new European Parliament, we’ve been trying to raise these messages as early on as possible.
Fortunately for us, in discussions with representatives
Alongside our manifesto, outlining what cinemas do for their
from both the European Union and national level you won’t
audiences, communities and national economies across
be surprised to hear that the vast majority of people we
Europe, we meet with policymakers to boost awareness of
encounter share our love of cinema; after all, it brings us
the benefits of the abovementioned principles, for everyone
together, provides a window into the lives of others and a
from cinema theatres to colleagues throughout the value-
space in which the distractions of modern life can take a
chain and, ultimately, the cinema-goers themselves. Through
backseat until the credits roll. However, it’s one thing to enjoy
such discussions, supplemented by our conferences at the
going to the cinema and another thing altogether to fully
European Parliament, publications, data-gathering and (in
understand the workings of our industry that make such an
our view, the best way to celebrate the magic of the Big
activity possible. Namely, the key principles on which cinema
Screen) screenings, we strive to share our members’
exhibition relies — territoriality, exclusivity and contractual
concerns, place their successes under the spotlight and,
freedom, just to mention a few — without any of which, the
most importantly, ensure that cinemas have a seat at the
1 2 / 1 9
table when it comes to the fundamental nuts and bolts of
Network, for instance, to highlight the potential of the sector
in terms of providing audiences of all demographics with as
After all, when we start to look into the policies that affect our industry, the sheer number of files and their
broad and enthralling film content as is possible, through concrete success stories.
potential impacts on cinema exhibition can sometimes be
Our job also involves a great deal of lateral thinking.
underestimated. For instance, it goes without saying that
UNIC keeps an eye on any legislative development that
piracy remains one of the biggest threats to box office
could have an impact on the sector, to ensure that nothing
revenues. It’s therefore crucial that the stakeholders like us
— big or small — escapes our attention. It’s crucial that we
have a say in legislation such as the recently adopted
keep a close eye on everything from the banning of plastic
Copyright Directive (and its implementation) to help bolster
straws to loudness levels, to accessibility, safety, privacy and
the enforcement framework and combat film theft.
beyond, as illustrated by recent legislative developments on
UNIC strives to protect cinema operators’ interests — ultimately to the benefit of audiences — and our efforts
these specific issues that can and do have an effect on how cinemas operate and best serve their customers.
towards doing so when it comes to film exclusivity and
So, when asked why advocacy matters, the answer is
windows will only increase in the coming months as
easy. We’re here to spread the word about the economic,
discussions on the EU Geo-blocking Regulation continue.
social and cultural value of cinemas and to preserve the cornerstones of our business, in the interest of prosperity
Come see the show!
and keeping audiences happy. In short, our CEO, Laura
Alongside direct participation in legislative discussions,
Houlgatte, recently said at CineEurope that “cinemas are not
we also communicate the forward-thinking nature of the
only here to stay — they are here to grow and to continue to
cinema industry by welcoming the European Commission
bring audiences together all over the world to share in the
to our annual show, CineEurope. By attending the largest
unmatched Big Screen experience”. It’s our job at UNIC to
cinema convention in Europe and bearing witness to the
ensure they have the support to be able to do so.
cutting-edge developments in everything from screens, to sound, concessions, content and beyond, policymakers gain a glimpse of what audiences are at risk of missing out on should the sector come under threat. We are also proud to partner with other industry stakeholders, such as the Creative
Cinemas 01 9 2/ 1 8 9
Independent learning for independent cinemas
Credit: Anna Pomichowska
A new online platform from the Independent Cinema Office is bringing a range of cinema-related training to a global audience — perfect for smaller exhibitors, as the ICO’s Kate Ottway explains.
OW IN ITS 16TH YEAR, the Independent
The ICO hopes that these online programmes will
Cinema Office (ICO) has run numerous training
both provide people with affordable and flexible training
courses and programmes covering business
opportunities and widen access into the industry. Making its
planning and advice, programming, audience
training accessible has always been a priority for the ICO,
development, marketing, technical skills for
with the majority of its courses already offering bursaries
digital projection, management development,
towards fees, travel, accommodation and childcare. This new
distribution, strategic income building, cinema
platform ensures that cost is even less of a barrier — removing
management and more. Extending this broad
many of the above costs entirely — with both free and paid-
portfolio even further, the ICO is now taking its
for courses available online so that everyone is able to
training expertise online with a new Online Learning Platform
participate. The courses will also be accessible worldwide,
launching in November 2019. Here, trainees unable to attend
greatly expanding the reach of ICO training.
ICO training in person or who want to expand their
1 2 / 1 9
knowledge further can access invaluable teaching from
How does it work?
leading industry experts via a series of carefully curated
From November, those looking for training are now able to
head to independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/online-learning to www.cinematech.today
start their online training. Content on the platform will be updated regularly, with the first online course based on the ICO’s popular Developing Your Film Festival programme (see panel, right). Participants will be able to watch a series of videos from expert speakers, alongside written content
The first online course: Developing your film festival
expanding on the detail discussed in the videos. Each video will also be subtitled. The courses allow participants to
The Developing Your Film Festival course is the world’s only intensive
monitor their progress, how far they’ve come and how long
development programme for film festival professionals, launched by the
before they complete the session. The courses will be
ICO in 2011 and funded by the Creative Europe — MEDIA Programme of the
available to subscribers free of charge for a limited period of
EU and the British Council. To date more than 250 participants representing
time, after which a fee can be paid to enable access to the
no less than 197 film festivals worldwide have taken part in the course, all of
content for an extended period.
whom reported they would recommend the course to others looking to
The platform was developed through the use of
develop their own events. A participant of the course in July 2019, Andhika
LifterLMS, a WordPress-powered learning management
Annas Satria, festival manager of Indonesia’s Europe on Screen, even
system. As more online courses are launched over the
commented afterwards: “The most unforgettable training I’ve ever had!”.
coming months, its functionality will be expanded to
High praise indeed. The Online Learning Platform therefore provides a
encompass the variety of tools available through the
fantastic opportunity for more film festivals worldwide to be able to access
software. Those who subscribe to the courses will be invited
resources and insights from the course’s high calibre of speakers.
to discuss the content during the course, in order to create a virtual classroom. There is also the potential to include assessments and exams as part of the online courses, whether as part of an entry requirement in order to access a course, or to assess learning as participants progress through each stage of a course. The speakers featured in the course videos (see list right)
The ICO’s mission is to develop an open, challenging
have been carefully selected to talk across a range of topics, and provide clear, concise insights into their field of expertise. The content offers lots of examples and practical tips for people to take on board within their own professional development and organisations. Rather than using a third-party system in order to host an online learning programme, creating a bespoke platform allows for a more versatile process. There is scope for the design of simple courses, consisting of a handful of lessons made up of text and images, all the way through to programmes that consist of the complexity required from industry recognised qualifications. Early next year participants will be able to access an online version of the ICO’s longstanding REACH: Strategic Audience Development Course. With development funding from the BFI, the online version of this course is for independent film exhibitors who seek to develop the
Olle Agebro Göteborg Film Festival Editor, Programmer Independent Consultant and former Deputy Director of the Audience Agency
contact ICO on +44 (0)20 7636 7120 or email the organisation on email@example.com. www.cinematech.today
Programming a network of over 20 cinemas, festivals and arts venues in the UK so everyone can access a shared experience of cinema.
Director, Independent Cinema Office
to ensure the sector is successful and progressive.
Jennifer Frees Vice President, Partnerships, Toronto International Film Festival Head of Cinemas, Independent Cinema Office
to start training! For any questions or further information,
works across the film exhibition sector by:
Offering training so that independent cinema
attracting new customers and deepening the connection
Head to independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/online-learning
have access to cinema that changes lives. The ICO
Catharine Des Forges
Join the training
and thriving film sector. The ICO wants everyone to
sustainability of their businesses by stimulating attendance, between venues and the communities they serve.
What is the Independent Cinema Office?
Wendy Mitchell Contributing Editor, Screen International and delegate for San Sebastian & Zurich Film Festivals
professionals benefit from high-level knowledge
Offering consultancy to help start, save and grow cinemas, making sure they stay economically viable and helping build their capacity. Distributing films that make a contribution to the diversity of cinema culture in the UK. Offering free advice to make sure everyone can show films and take part in the sector. Running events for cinema professionals that help encourage collaboration.
1 2 / 1 9
A W A R D S Cinema’s brightest and best were honoured last month at the CTC Awards. Event photography by Julie Edwards
The CTC Awards 2019
ACH YEAR AT its annual awards, the Cinema Technology Community (better known as CTC) honours those who have made a significant contribution, improving the quality of movie presentation through innovation and technological implementation, as well as acknowledging the importance
of showmanship and presentation quality in enhancing the movie-going experience. The 2019 awards night was hosted by film critic Mark Kermode and CTC’s own “Last Projectionist Standing” Dave Norris and was held at NBCUniversal’s London HQ on Monday 11 November. Compered by Helen Budge and Patrick von Sychowski from Celluloid Junkie, a packed crowd applauded as a host of professionals were honoured. Cinema Technology is proud to present this year’s winners…
Team of the Year
Technology of the Year ScreenX Technology continues to flow steadily into the cinema space. However, this year one technology has continued to make an impact globally, creating transformative, immersive experiences which have made the industry stop and think about whether there may well be a new take on one of the most
magical elements of the movie experience. With over 200 installs across the world and an agreement just last year from UK operator Cineworld to install this technology in 100 of its theatres, CJ CGV’s ScreenX provides a “three screen 270-degree experience” projecting on to the existing screen and the walls of the cinema along with motion seats creating a unique experience. A hit with movie-goers. it’s a format that Hollywood studios and local content providers remain keen to support, often providing supplementary content for major releases.
Showmanship is vital to the movie-going experience. With digitisation and the automation of screening movies, much of the care and attention that goes into ensuring that a movie is seen in cinema as the film-maker intended occurs during post-production and preview. Without the best of environments that simply isn’t possible. In the heart of London, this year’s Team of the Year at the British Board of Film Classification consistently set the highest standards, ensuring their commercially available preview theatre is always running at an optimal level even outside of normal operational hours. The BBFC team is so focused on providing a quality experience that their preview theatre is often fully booked far in advance — a testament to their skill and commitment. The CTC’s team of the year award went to the BBFC screening room team and the award was accepted by operations officer Becci Jameson and CEO David Austin.
1 2 / 1 9
Denis Kelly with Richard Mitchell and hosts Dave Norris and Mark Kermode
The BBFC’s Becci Jameson collects her award; inset, Simon Mayo takes the stage
All smiles… Rising Star Grainne Peat
Screen of the Year
Odeon Leicester Square
At a time when cinema operators around the world are creating unique
A new award for 2019, the Rising Star award
movie-going venues we often associate these specifically with either the
acknowledges the significant contributions — often
technologies deployed, such as IMAX or more recently ScreenX, or with
transformational — that one individual has made to
enhanced offerings such as food and drinks or reclining seats.
the cinema industry in recent times.
But there’s often much more to creating a unique experience — and
The first recipient of this award, Grainne Peat,
that starts with the cinema itself. This year’s winner, Odeon Leicester
has worked within the industry for a number of
Square, is arguably the cinema of all cinemas. Having officially opened its
years and is widely regarded as one of the kindest,
doors in 1937, this landmark has hosted over 700 premieres and, following
most caring and approachable people within it.
a number of refurbishments over the next fifty years, the site once again
Starting as a Charity Support Officer with
closed its doors in early 2018 to undergo a dramatic
MediCinema, Grainne’s role grew eventually to
multi-million pound renovation which would see it
taking ownership of the organisation’s fundraising
become the most modern of venues whilst restoring some of its most iconic features, “the flying ladies” and “the duchess”, the UK’s largest musical organ.
and development roles. On leaving Medicinema, she joined the UK Cinema Association where, for the next six years as a policy executive, she would champion
The result is breath-taking, combining heritage
vital causes with a passion for making cinemas accessible to all, playing
and attention to detail with state-of-the-art seating
an important role in raising awareness of the significant issues of diversity
and Dolby Cinema to create a new version of the
and gender equality within the industry.
UK’s most iconic cinema for the next generation.
In 2018, Grainne took on her most current career step, taking over the
The Screen of the Year award was collected by
reins at the Event Cinema Association where her passion, enthusiasm
the Odeon team led by Duncan Reynolds, Mike
and dedication has seen her building on the organisation previous
Bradbury, Duncan Kerr, Michael Mannix, Tess Street
success, taking it to new heights and supporting the continued growth
and Emma Isenman.
of event cinema both in the UK and overseas.
1 2 / 1 9
A W A R D S
Outstanding Achievement Award
Too often in the world of cinema the unsung heroes, often with the most
Another new category, the Technology Pioneers
refined skills, get overlooked with their work going unnoticed. Today,
award acknowledges the work an organisation has
some of the biggest unsung heroes are those who create the compelling
done over a sustained period to support the
spaces that allow the audience to be transported to another world for a
advancement of the industry through technology.
short period of time — the architects. Much of the time, architects in the
When one thinks of “heritage brands” there are
cinema space are asked to design spaces in shopping centres or purpose-
few that this more readily applies to than Harkness
built modern buildings, however occasionally iconic and transformational
Screens. From humble beginnings, Harkness has
projects comes along which allow them to show their talent and flair for
evolved constantly to meet the changing cinema
creating amazing spaces.
landscape. From silent movies in smoked-filled
Through delivering just such an iconic project in the form of the
auditoria through to the first spoken words in
Odeon Leicester Square, this year’s recipient, Michael Swinson from EWA
cinema, digital sound, digital projection, 3D and
Architects, has showcased his ability to understand the brief and the
more, this company has been a constant innovator
technology requirements, turning a complex vision into a modern-day
and leader. Founded in 1929 by Scottish master
masterpiece that successfully combines modern themes with heritage.
draper Andrew Smith-Harkness and his son Tom, Harkness Screens became known for its fabric screens. Based out of Gate Studios in Borehamwood,
Lifetime Achievement Award
the business grew and by the early 1950s Harkness
so much so that during a brief period it was a part of
had begun establishing itself as a brand worldwide, the Rank Organisation at the same time as Odeon.
Continuing the theme of unsung heroes, this year’s Lifetime Achievement
During the multiplex boom demand for its’
Award went to Rolv Gjestland, who, for the past 35 years, has advised
modern PVC screens stretched across the world. In
cinemas on design and technology. Respected in his native Norway for his
the early 2000s the company entered a period of
attention to detail and expertise, many believe there is not a single
growth during the 3D boom, supplying more than
renovation project in the country he has not contributed to in some way
70% of all silver screens globally. Today, Harkness
during his illustrious career with Film & Kino. He also played a pivotal role
provides the highest quality screens and has a 65%
in the digitisation of cinemas in Norway, advising operators on technology
global market share. The business also specialises in
specifications ensuring that the country remains one of the best in terms
measurement devices, design tools and service with
of sound and image quality. Over three decades Rolv has shown great
facilities in Europe, America and Asia. In its 90th
commitment to individual projects and has been genuinely concerned
year, the Technology Pioneers award was accepted
about new technology and development, all focused around ensuring the
by David Harrison, CTO of Harkness Screens.
cinemas he helps provide the best experiences. A member of UNICs Technology Group, he has very recently published a book sharing his experiences and providing practical guidance for all those involved in the design and build of cinemas.
President’s Award Denis Kelly
For over 40 years, Denis Kelly (now retired and formerly of Kodak) has been a part of CTC serving in many roles. As the current “father of the house” Denis’ wisdom and understanding of the global cinema market and his hard work and commitment to knowledge sharing and education of the industry has enabled the team to grow and in recent times, expanding its horizons to become a leading industry body. Throughout the past three years, Denis has played a pivotal part in the establishment of CTC as an independent global organisation and his support and leadership has enabled CTC to grow rapidly. The President’s Award was richly deserved by a stalwart of our industry.
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o p i n i o n Our local cinemas… islands in the stream? Just £11.99 a month, £144 a year, times that by four and add on the occasional premium purchase… Streaming looks like the pricey option. CT’s Alastair Balmain opens his credit card bill.
f You’re looking to bring the good times
slipped through the terrestrial net — and now Disney+,
home this Saturday night, then head on over to
Apple TV+, and even Britbox for those die-hards that find
your local Blockbuster and rent a video. Just as
Ricky Gervais funny. And let’s not forget iPlayer for the UK
an FYI, you’ll have to go to Bend, Oregon [pop’n
audience, since we’re obliged to pay for it anyway. That lot is
97,590], to find your nearest store.
racking up faster than a Barcelona taxi meter. I open my
I drove through Bend some years ago, but I confess I
credit card statement with trepidation these days.
gave Blockbuster a miss. If only I’d known at the time. The
Why bring poor old Blockbuster into the subject,
town itself is certainly worth the trip, however, primarily
though? Simply because, despite all that choice, every time I
because it is the gateway to some of the most spectacular
look for content on streaming platforms, I find I get the
landscapes in the eastern United States — but I’ll be
exact same feeling I used to get arriving half an hour late at
completely frank: unless you actually live in the foothills of
Blockbuster in search of the latest release. Some other
the Cascade mountains, it’s not a particularly convenient
winner nabbed the last copy off the shelf, leaving me to
proposition for video rental. There’s every chance you’ll get
browse American Ninja 1-5 and Chuck Norris’s greatest hits.
charged a late-return fee. Given just how darned inconvenient Blockbuster’s
A beacon of hope, shining in the dark
video rental network is in late 2019, is it any wonder that
Once the headline-grabbing content has been exhausted, I
content distributors are now clambering over themselves to
cannot be the only one to spend hours online trawling past
launch streaming platforms that promise to service our
a litany of uninspiring movies. And because of — not despite
Saturday night television viewing needs (and indeed the
— the sheer proliferation of streaming services, that puts
needs of our commute, our lunch break or any other break
cinema in an excellent place. I want to watch good content.
that you can think of)?
I place a premium on my family’s leisure time and the more
As all these services proliferate, here’s my concern:
I’m asked to pony-up for a carousel of the bland, the faster
I consider myself a bit of an everyman, not in the cinema
I run into the increasingly welcoming arms of my local
chain sense (for that see p.21), but in the Henry Fonda/Tom
cinema. Browsing this week’s top 10 releases, I’d be happy to
Hanks sense. Like everyone else, I work hard to pay both my
pay to watch at least eight of them (not a big fan of Stephen
taxes and my bills, including the bills that satisfy my family’s
King…) and my children are very keen to see to four of those.
entertainment needs. When it comes to content, I’m afraid
So bring on the streamers. The more they proliferate, the
those ones really are starting to add up. Netflix here, Amazon
more we have cinema to act as a cardinal buoy that guides
Prime there, Now TV for the occasional sporting event that
us through this storm-tossed sea of mediocrity.
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