Cinema Technology — June 2020

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e THE FIGHT g ! n gy IS e ON. o l v o e n h R tec The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals > VOL.33

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Netflix & cinema Enter the 5G DCP Disaster movie?

Could the streaming Can the super-fast What the impact of giant and exhibitors infrastructure transform CV19 looks like for the be the ofoffice friends? theglobal waybest we films? boxsend

Studio moves Planning forthing victory Generation magpie It's Moments of joy Thethe bigreel switch on CT interviews Andrew What thethe rise of the has How industry Cripps, 20th Centurymeans Fox's "rented experience" rallied to support each advocate forexhibitors change for cinema other during lockdown

today's cinema How fizz Tips Coca-Cola's for cinemas developers arecore helping captured of their preparingthe to unlock to save thebusiness high street the movie doors once more

Produced in partnership with:


In challenging times… You want the right team at your side

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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 3 N O . 2 > 0 6 / 2 0

NEWS

06 08

The latest from around the world of cinema exhibition LG’s new LED solution and UK distributors help the

nation’s cinemas prepare for re-entry!

FEATURES

10

It may have felt bleak, but Patrick von Sychowski finds

ten positives from the lockdown

16

David Hancock explores the real cost of CV19 to cinemas

and its impact on the 2020 box office

20

for the post-CV19 future

24

across the European landscape

32

Omnex’s MD Simon Tandy offers his top tips to power-

up projection technology once more

45

When the going gets tough: Peter Knight on how CTC is

Indie cinemas may have been shut, but they can still

inspire, as Melissa Cogavin discovers

MANAGING EDITOR: ALASTAIR BALMAIN Motion Picture Solutions Ltd, Mission Hall, 9-11 North End Road, London W14 8ST T: +44 (0)20 3026 1368 E: alastair.balmain@motionpicturesolutions.com ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID E: dean@spacehopperdesign.co.uk

www.cinematech.today

10

Movio’s Holly Jones looks at post-CV19 marketing plans

that cinemas should be adopting

48 52

The drive-in revival: a taste of the new normal? Why Harkness Screens has found a crucial new role as

a PPE provider in the world of CV19

rising up to meet a challenging future

24

28

How UNIC is busy planning

54 64

How MPS helped cinemas around the world to restart.

EVENTS

66

Audience diversity was the UKCA conference focus

OPINION Mark Trompeteler reports on the return of Pepper’s

Ghost: Maria Callas in “hologram” form

COMMISSIONING EDITOR: PETER KNIGHT E: commissioning-editor@cinematech.today ADVERTISING: BOB CAVANAGH Caixa Postal 2011, Vale da Telha, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal T: +351 282 997 050

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Should cinema labour the “sanitised for you” message?

M: +351 962 415 172 E: bobcavanagh@sapo.pt SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed to IMIS Members. For subscription details and to read the magazine online, visit www.cinematech.today or e-mail CT@motionpicturesolutions.com

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Looking for the wider view? Talk to the international experts. Whether it’s mastering, localisation, 24/7 global distribution, festivals, premieres or event cinema support, MPS delivers world-class content.

T: +44 (0)20 7751 7000

E: info@motionpicturesolutions.com

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C T

V I E W

CV19: the battle for our audiences begins now In this special digital edition, our clear focus is on the impact of CV19 — and CT’s Alastair Balmain has a positive outlook. we’ve been hurt in the past few months, but cinema is down, not out.

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e THE FIGHT g n gy! IS e ON.

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AFTER CV19, HOW CINEMA

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Studio moves Planning forthing victory Generation magpie It's Moments of joy Thethe bigreel switch on CT interviews Andrew What thethe rise of the has How industry Cripps, 20th Centurymeans Fox's "rented experience" rallied to support each advocate forexhibitors change for cinema other during lockdown

Produced in partnership with:

today's cinema How fizz Tips Coca-Cola's for cinemas developers arecore helping captured of their preparingthe to unlock to save thebusiness high street the movie doors once more

001_DEC18_COVER.indd 001_COVER_JUNE19.indd 11

20/11/2018 14:42 10:03 22/05/2019

OLL BACK THE CLOCK SIX months and

encouraging return. Let’s hope so. Just after lockdown was

— in comparison to today — everything

eased this month one friend explained to me that the Big

in our world was looking pretty peachy.

Screen for her and her daughter is one of the things that

How things change. Who could have

they have missed the most from their lives — as soon as

predicted that cinema would now be

cinemas reopen they will be in the queue: normal people

going through a post-apocalyptic drama of its own?

seeking the magic of the movies. Beyond all the gloom and

In this issue of Cinema Technology, you will find plenty

often irrational fear stoked by social media is the real world.

of reflection on the events of the past few months and

Ignore the Twitter mob for a minute and take a walk in that

inspiring illustrations of how the industry has collectively

world and you’ll find people simply want to get on with

rallied to support each other, but there is also a fair amount

their lives. I know I do. Cinema is a part of that normality.

1

of crystal ball gazing. A word of caution. If we can be certain of one thing now, it’s that predicting the future isn’t as easy

A note of thanks

as it seems. So here goes…

With lives on hold and the universal disruption of the past

2

few months, this magazine has not been unaffected. The

A glimmer of light in the dark

team behind CT would like to thank those who have kindly

You cannot have escaped speculation surrounding the Big

given over their time to write for this issue. Without their

Return… Here in the UK, a lot seems to be riding on the 4th

input and support — especially from the CTC and Motion

July, the Government-approved date for a cinematic revival.

Picture Solutions ­— this digital edition simply would not

Personally, I simply can’t envision a mass stampede to

have come to fruition. Equally, Cinema Technology has

cinemas in the middle of the “pandemic summer”, but

always enjoyed the loyal backing of industry supporters and

conversations with friends recently beyond the cinema

advertisers — to them we extend a particular note of thanks

world (ie real movie-goers) suggest there is reason to be, if

and look forward to their continued support when CT

not super-confident, then at least quietly optimistic for an

returns in both print and digital formats this September!

Writing in this issue of CT

3

1 Patrick von Sychowski

2 David Hancock

3 Simon Tandy

Editor of “Celluloid Junkie”, on p10, Patrick looks at the things that brought us joy during lockdown.

Head of global film and cinema at OMDIA, on p16 David explores the impact of CV19 on global box office.

A director of the CTC and MD of integrator Omnex, on p32, Simon offers his tips for a technical restart.

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e ve n t s

CT NEWSREEL

n e w S ,

v i e w s

&

i n d u s t r y

r o u n d - u p

g l o b a l t h e o f

U p - to - d a te

Kortrijk, Belgium

Kinepolis Group speed transition to Cinionic laser Cinionic, the Barco, CGS, and ALPD cinema joint venture, has announced plans to upgrade Kinepolis cinemas with its exclusive RGB+ laser solutions. Kinepolis Group

DESPITE THE UK GOVERNMENT announcing that

operates nearly 1,100 screens across nine countries

cinemas can reopen from 4 July, many smaller

including the US, Belgium, Spain, France, the Netherlands

independent venues are reluctant to open, citing

and Canada. As part of the ongoing transition to all-laser,

safety of staff and audiences as the main concerns.

Kinepolis adds Cinionic’s Laser Light Upgrades to its mix

A survey conducted this month by the Independent

of new technology solutions for moviegoers.

Cinema Office (ICO) highlights how some sites feel

Cinionic’s Laser Light Upgrades allow cinemas to

pressure from the commercial sector and industry

reuse existing projectors and enjoy the benefits of laser

as a whole to open when it is not actually financially

projection. Through addition of RGB+ laser technology,

viable, practical or safe to do so. While 59% said

upgraded Series 2 projectors produce brighter, clearer

they could enforce social distancing, 41% of

images and are more energy efficient.

respondents did not think they could enforce these

“In our mission to offer the best movie experience, it is important to be the frontrunner in laser, committed to delivering an alllaser

Cinema

circuit

for

our

audiences,” said Eddy Duquenne, CEO of Kinepolis Group 6

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ICO report focuses on independents reopening

measures in their venues and so would be unable to open. The practicalities of the venue and the need

Kinepolis’s Eddie Duquenne is overseeing the all-laser transition at the global chain

for large audience numbers to remain financially viable are the two reasons cited. For the full report, visit www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk

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AMC reverses policy on customer face masks FOLLOWING A PUBLIC BACKLASH, earlier this month AMC Theatres reversed its policy on use of face masks when it reopens its theaters in July. AMC’s CEO Adam Aron had previously announced the company’s strategy for enhanced sanitary measures but said it would only encourage customers to wear masks, requiring them to do if so mandated by local authorities. That AMC was not making mask-wearing compulsory for its customers prompted a slew of criticism, with the hashtag #boycottamc trending on Twitter. AMC quickly issued a statement reversing the policy, saying “At AMC

USA

Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests… As we reopen theaters, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theaters.”

The mask as political football? AMC reversed its policy to allow customers to decide for themselves following criticism

RealD and Harkness announce new partnership on Precision White Technology REALD AND HARKNESS have announced

texture and precise images all from a screen

Mark Ashcroft, CEO of Harkness Screens

the widening availability of their Precision

which appears white. The 1.4 and 2.0 gain PWT

said, “PWT is a wonderful piece of technology

White Technology (PWT) screens. The screens,

screens will be made available to all cinema

which is perfect for a range of auditoria and I

which are produced in an exclusive partnership

operators globally.

am excited to be able to include it as part of our

between the two companies and have a

Travis Reid, COO of RealD said, “We have a

portfolio available to all customers. We work

scientifically engineered surface technology

long and valued partnership with Harkness

hard to find the right solutions for commercial

that delivers superb results for content in both

Screens and are delighted to announce this

partners, and with RealD, we believe that PWT

2D and 3D formats. Features include a smooth

development in our relationship with them.”

helps us take another step toward this goal.”

NEC supports cinemas with free warranty extensions IN RESPONSE TO THE CV19 CRISIS, NEC Display Solutions Europe is offering a free 4-month extension to its existing NEC projector warranty contracts throughout EMEA. At a time when the leisure industry is facing its greatest challenge, NEC is true to its friends, colleagues and partners across the cinema world by extending the warranty status on all its DCI projectors in a gesture of goodwill. NEC’s heritage in cinema projection often drives pioneering advances which go on to benefit more mainstream business users. NEC is the only display manufacturer able to supply all the major display technologies and projection is a cornerstone of the company’s unique position. “Digital cinema is important to us,” confirms Alain Chamaillard, Head of Cinema EMEA & CIS, NEC Display Solutions Europe. “We are pleased to be able to offer this gesture of support at such a challenging time. People are yearning to enjoy their leisure time once again and will return to the cinema as soon as they feel safe to do so.” www.cinematech.today

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C T

N E W S R E E L

LG debuts its LED cinema solution in Taiwan THE ELECTRONIGS GIANT LG has announced that it has equipped the first cinema with its recently unveiled LG LED cinema display technology, with Dolby’s cinema server and Atmos immersive audio with Taiwan theatre chain Showtime Cinemas. LG initially announced the launch of its LED cinema display in May. LG and Dolby closely collaborated to integrate Dolby’s IMS3000 media server with LG’s LED Cinema Display. Dolby’s IMS3000 allows movies to play in full Dolby Atmos producing a wide soundstage that surrounds

the

audience,

projecting

sounds

corresponding to the movement and position of objects on screen. Paik Ki-mun, head of the Information Display business unit, LG Electronics Business Solutions said: “We’re confident that the advanced technologies behind LG LED Cinema Display and Dolby solutions will increase our share of the growing LED cinema market.”

JBL Professional launches its latest cinema series of theater sound systems

HARMAN PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS, the global leader in audio, video, lighting and control systems, has announced the introductopn of the JBL Professional Cinema Expansion Series sound systems for small- to medium-size commercial cinemas. The line, which includes JBL 3153 and 4253 3-way screenchannel loudspeakers, 3181F and 4281F subwoofers and 8102 surrounds, delivers the highest SPLs in its class and covers rooms up to 26m (85ft) deep and up to 12m wide (40ft). The Cinema Expansion Series marries stunning sound with versatility and ease of use: Premium JBL drivers are engineered to deliver maximum output with minimal distortion, while patented JBL Waveguides ensure consistent, symmetrical coverage. Innovative features simplify deployment and operation, from conveniently accessible connections to rigging systems that allow configurations for a

variety of installations, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

The latest JBL Professional line is targetted at the small- to mid-size auditoria segment

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CINEMA FIRST, THE UK’S cross-industry body bringing together cinema operators and film distributors — has announced that a catalogue of some 450 films will be made available for theatrical screenings once cinemas re-open for business in the UK in coming weeks. ‘Relaunching Cinema: Content for Recovery’ is a catalogue collated by the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) with the aim of aiding programmers and cinema operators to choose the widest possible mix of features that will help entice audiences back to the big screen experience. The list includes “Tenet” and “Mulan”, two of the first Hollywood films to be released following the lockdown, alongside classic films such as “Back To The Future”. The 450-film collection is organised into categories, including Best of British, All-Time Classics and Women in Film.

NEWS IN BRIEF

UK Distributors: 450 films available for relaunch

QSC launces new training content for exhibitors QSC has launched a new Cinema Spotlight webinar recordings and a selection of blog posts with technology tips and best practices for exhibitors. The Cinema Spotlight webinar series features several topics such as new product overviews,

Andy Leyshon, CEO of the FDA, said:

technical presentations, and

“These films are there for when cinemas

guidelines for cinema sound.

open to help get them up to operational

Webinar recordings are

speed. We hope it will help rekindle the

available on-demand along

audience enthusiasm for cinema.”

with relevant resources, and the page will be regularly updated with future

CJ4DPLEX wins gold Edison award for ScreenX

recordings and schedules. Check out the series at www. qsc.com/cinema/training

Los Angeles

Drive-in customers can win a movie in a Mitsubishi pick-up Mitsubishi has partnered with the Luna Cinema to provide a VIP competition to win tickets to see each Luna drive-in screening from the back of one of its L200 ramge of pick-up trucks. Fitted with soft furnishings and a picnic

CJ4DPLEX, MANUFACTURER of the

years, ScreenX has grown in footprint

immersive 270-degree cinema format

and content, screening more than a

ScreenX, recently won gold for its

dozen Hollywood films per year and

technology at this year’s Edison Awards.

reaching new heights of innovation to a

An auspicious win for the ScreenX technology from CJ4DPlex

hamper, winners can enjoy the film “in comfort and style”. The competition will initially be run across more

270-degree

wider global audience. We thank our

than 260 screenings across the

panoramic movie watching experience,

partners in the exhibition and studio

UK until 31 July.

allowing the audience to go beyond the

space and the global ScreenX team

Luna, which hosts open-

frame of the traditional screen, utilising

across offices in Seoul, Beijing and Los

air screenings nationwide, is

a proprietary system to expand the

Angeles for their hard work and efforts.”

launching The Luna Drive-In

ScreenX

delivers

a

centre screen image to the sidewalls. To

“After a thorough review, the Edison

date, ScreenX is available in 326

Awards Judges recognise ScreenX as a

sites: Allianz Park, Printworks,

auditoriums and 36 countries.

game-changing innovation standing

Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle and Knebworth House.

“We are incredibly honoured to be

out among the best new products and

receiving recognition from the Edison

services launched in their category,”

Awards for ScreenX,” said JongRyul

said Frank Bonafilia, executive director

Kim, CEO of CJ 4DPLEX. “In the past few

of the Edison Awards.

www.cinematech.today

Cinema on 4 July at five UK

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LOCKDOWN

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THINGS THAT BROUGHT US JOY Cinema has endured arguably its greatest crisis in nearly 125 years, writes Patrick von Sychowski. With screens dark and projectors off, it was an unwelcome break for an industry used to operating year round. Yet even during this intermission hope was not lost. Even as major Hollywood titles skipped darkened cinemas, blackening the mood of cinema operators further,

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1. A light still shines (in Sweden…) Even in the darkest days, not all cinemas closed down all over the world. Gower Street Analytics estimates that — at its nadir — 99% of the world’s cinemas shut, while Omdia (formerly IHS Markit) believed that 94% of global cinema screens were in active. That still left a notable proportion of cinemas keeping the light burning, quite literally. Japan and South Korea — the world’s third and 10th largest cinema market respectively — only closed down most of their screens when audience numbers dropped to an average of less than 5% occupancy due to a lack of new releases. Even then, territories like Taiwan and Hong Kong, both of which had learned the lesson from SARS and MERS, kept going or re-opened, even as China did a u-turn on the few cinemas that had re-opened early in the middle kingdom. Meanwhile in Europe, Sweden became the outlier when it imposed strict restrictions on its population but no blanket

there was plenty to remind us of the power of cinema. If proof was needed that CV19 would not mark a permanent end to the desire to be entertained by what is still the only art form that is larger than life, these ten reminders from the ‘Great Intermission’ were just that. www.cinematech.today

lockdown. While the largest cinema operator Filmstaden (part of Odeon/AMC) closed its sites, the family-run No.2 operator Svensk Film kept going. It showed recent films like “Onward”, “The

Gentlemen”

and

“1917”.

Eventually

cinemas

in

neighbouring Norway became the first in Europe to re-open and from there it has gradually been spreading to the rest of the continent. So from the countries that gave the world Bergman gloom and Nordic Noir came a beacon of hope for cinemas, ensuring continuity of operation.

Cinemas may be shut, but they’re still at the heart of our communities

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2. Jukebox cinema? Once the audience for recent releases and older titles had dried up in Sweden and South Korea, cinema operators pivoted to cinema-on-demand or jukebox cinema. Under this scheme you could rent out an entire auditorium for your family, a small group of friends or just by yourself. Korea’s CGV even launched a campaign called “I Watch Alone — Rent a Theater and Watch a Movie Alone” to attract moviegoers back. In Sweden, Svenska Bio pivoted and rented out its auditoriums for both video gaming and cinema-on-demand, hosting more than 500 events and selling over 13,000 tickets, of which around 200 were for video games. Both countries are considering continuing these schemes once regular

“Svenska Bio rented its auditoriums for both video gaming and cinema-ondemand, selling over 12,000 tickets”

business resumes, showing that the novel Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just resulted in the closing and re-opening of cinemas, but also the re-imagining and re-evaluation of business models.

3. Cinema vendors pivot

With demand for everything from projectors to Coke Freestyle machines down to zero, plenty of vendors had to furlough staff and suspend all activities. However, a handful of service and equipment suppliers saw it as an opportunity to come to the aid of those in need, refashioning their supply chain to offer new kinds of products. Harkness Screens was one of the first to step up when, instead of screens, it started manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care staff. “We truly believe that we can help those on the frontline and hope that people take us up on our offer to provide assistance in these extraordinary times,” explained the CEO of Harkness Screens, Mark Ashcroft. You can read the full story of their response on page XX. Other cinemas and

The perfect way to isolate — catch a movie from the cocoon of your car. The Drive-In is having a serious revival.

vendors helped in small and big ways, all demonstrating that even if a cinema is dark, its heart still beats strong.

4. Drive-in cinema — it’s a thing again Perhaps the most unexpected hit of the Great Intermission has been the revival of the drive-in. With hindsight it should have been obvious that sitting in your own bubble is the safest way to keep your distance (two meters between cars,

date. The Cinema Technology Community (CTC) published

please!), while still enjoying the magic of the big screen.

a useful How-To guide for those thinking of opening their

When Spain’s first cinema re-opened it was a drive-in. The

own drive-in. With no touring acts like Lady Gaga, there is a

first 15 days sold out completely. When regular cinemas re-

surplus of LED screens to rent, meaning drive-in cinemas

opened in the US, the highest grossing multiplex (a Santikos

can host screenings during daylight hours. However, these

in Texas) was only #61 in the box office chart. The 60 sites

screens are not DCI compliant (unlike the Samsung Onyx),

above it were all drive-ins. The phenomenon took off

so no new films can be seen on them. Although the French

everywhere from Norway to South Korea to Poland. In

cinema trade body FNCF argued they were a “distraction” in

Germany the Federal Network Agency had assigned 43

working towards re-opening regular cinemas, there is hope

frequencies for drive-in cinemas (to transmit audio on) by

that drive-ins are back to stay and will form an important

early May; with about 80 more applications submitted to

part of the future cinema landscape. For more, see page 48.

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6. #HilfDeinemKino Adverts before films tends to be one of the most complained about things by cinemagoers (see also: price of popcorn), yet with all of our big screen films Missing in Action, gone too are the cinema adverts and trailers. Germany’s largest cinema advertising operator WerbeWeischer had the cunning idea of letting people watch cinema adverts at home, as a means of supporting their chosen local cinema. The resulting campaign #hilfdeinemkino became an overnight success. “We were overwhelmed,” CEO Stefan Kuhlow revealed during one of many #CJCinemaSummit sessions hosted online in recent months. “We had an immense social media reaction and it was picked up by numerous influencers. Radio and TV wanted to talk to us”. Just over a month after launch the campaign has seen four million advert views and as well as a the revenue from the advertisers, the website has a donate button which generated an additional €30,000. The campaign is still running. Cinema advertising operators have also been carrying out research on cinema-going intentions, finding that there is an appetite to return to picture palaces. “Research is showing that cinema audiences will want to return to watch movies on the big screen and that cinemas and eating out are the second most anticipated activity post-lockdown” notes Cheryl Wannell of cinema advertising trade body SAWA. The only thing people are looking forward to more? A trip to the hairdresser for a cut, perm or colour, naturally.

5. Marquee messages of hope “We’ll be back” was the message on the marquee of the Prince Charles Cinema in London, long-known for using its black-onwhite lettering as a message board. With no films playing,

The readograph as a beacon of hope — as seen here on the Art Deco American theater in Charleston, USA

7. Urban cinema If you can’t go to the cinema, the cinema will come to you. That was the case in cities all across the world where the sides of

cinema marquees became a way to send messages of hope to

buildings were turned into impromptu screens, with people

audiences. “The cinema marquee and its readograph — the

hanging off balconies and from windows to hear classic

backlit sign written with moveable letters — is as important as

dialogue bounce between buildings. On Dublin’s Cork Street

the movie poster,” noted Celluloid Junkie’s Karen Krizanovich

theatre company manager Scott Horgan screened “Gentlemen

in a definitive overview of the messages they sent in the early

Prefer Blondes” and “Calamity Jane” while collecting donations

weeks of the lockdown [Ed: Late March seems a while ago...].

for Age Concern. Amazon drove trucks carrying giant double-

Many quoted movie lines or references (“Home Alone”,

sided LED screens to project episodes of “Modern Love” to be

“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”), while others went for

viewed from Madrid’s balconies. In Mexico City people could

puns: ‘Now Playing’: “The Social Distancing Network” and “No

nominate walls and films for Azotea Coyote to project films on

Close Encounters of Any Kind”. Others appealed for people to

in partnership with sponsor Stella Artois.

‘Stay Safe’. The Esquire cinema in Cincinatti Ohio even ran a

In Cologne’s Belgian quarter a selection of classics were

competition for patrons to select the quote. Others handed

projected onto an empty house wall every Friday. “We asked

their marquee to public services: “Happy 23rd Anniversary

ourselves how one could maintain a sense of community and

Simon & Karen” a recent one read at Evesham’s Regal Cinema.

cohesion despite the current situation,” explained Cologne

“We just wanted to do something to make people smile,” said

native Ulli Kilberth. Seeing the balconies below his own, he

Eva Moeskops, Regal manager, “bringing our already close-knit

thought, “These could also be balconies like those found in

community together for a bit of fun.”

theatres or operas”.

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10. VoD + Cinema = True Many cinemas will not quickly forgive Universal for releasing “Trolls World Tour” on TVoD for $20 per rental, though whether AMC will stick to its word of boycotting future titles is to be seen. But cinemas are clearly smarting from titles like “Scoob!” (Warner Bros) and “Artemis Fowl” (Disney) bypassing their screens for streaming platforms. Yet cinemas and streaming need not be enemies. “We’ve known for a long time the most frequent streamers are our best customers,” echoed Phil Clapp, CEO of the UK Cinema Association. “It mirrors research findings about overlap between film consumption at and out of home.” And some streamers came to the rescue of cinemas in their hour of need. France’s La Toile has offered a white label service for cinemas for years, yet when closures hit, its phone started ringing non-stop. La Toile offers a selection of curated films each month, with its platform embedded in an exhibitor’s existing website. Customers rent a film for up to €5.99, with the fee split between exhibitor, rights holder and La Toile. In the US, Kino Lorber launched the innovative Kino Marquee platform, involving more than 150 exhibitors, including Alamo Drafthouse and Laemmle. There was Alamo-at-Home, while the streamer MUBI partnered Yorck Cinema Group in Berlin and other chains for a special promotional deal for its members. Cinema Beltrade in Italy launched ‘Beltrade-on-the-sofa’. None of these replaced the cinema experience, but were a lifeline of cash. Even studios got in on the act, with Warner Bros offering cinemas a cut of the streaming revenue of “Scoob!”.

9. Merchandising? There were many ways for patrons to show solidarity with their closed cinemas, but none mattered more than those that provided a cash lifeline, particularly for independent and arthouse cinemas. The simplest way was to buy cinema vouchers to be used at a future date. One cinema in Germany sold tickets to ‘ghost screenings’, where no audience would be

You can watch a film on your mobile if you like, but streaming content to a 6in screen isn’t quite the same as being at your local film palace. Despite what some streamers think.

in attendance and no film would be shown, but cinema fans

8. Kerbside popcorn? It’s no secret that operators make most of their profit from the concessions ­ — and patrons have been known to grumble about the cost — yet when forced to stay at home and pop their own popcorn for another Netflix session there was clearly a longing for a real cinema combo. The popularity of kerbside selling of popcorn took even wisened exhibitors by surprise.

could still show support by buying tickets. Best of all, the

Enabled by ticketing software suppliers such as InFlux and

cinema did not have to split the proceeds 50-50 with any

With thanks to

Vista, cinemas were able to sell popcorn for pick-up directly in

‘ghost’ distributor.

the #CJCinema

their apps. “Have a movie night at home and turn your living

Cinema In Flux launched an online merchandise store,

Summit and to

room into #MySantikos until we can reunite,” Santikos wrote

with proceeds from sales being pledged to the Will Rogers

Celluloid Junkie

on its website. Even at $8 per tub (no extra butter) some

Motion Pictures Pioneers Foundation’s Pioneers Assistance

and to its many

locations saw car queues so long that the traffic cops had to be

Fund. Yet the call to #supportyourlocal went further with

contributors, in

called in. Blake Andersen, president of Megaplex Theatres

many cinemas showing ingenuity in the ways fans could give

particular Jess,

commented that “The result of this for our employees has

them cash love. Having been crowdfunded from its inception

Karen,

been huge. We haven’t had to let a single full-time hourly

five years ago, Singapore’s indie cinema The Projector had a

Jim and Claire,

message when it closed: “Now we ask that you Stan our

and to others

MERCH-4-MONEY

who

project.”

This

included

adopt-a-seat

Helen,

employee go despite closing our doors.” In China, operators like Wanda and Dadi pioneered sales

diligently

of surplus concessions stock, be it hot dogs or popcorn, on

(S$20/£12), totebags (S$26/£15) and pre-hire venue for future

wrote to inform

e-commerce apps. While some cinemas in Europe and North

date (from S$799/£454). In Japan the #SaveTheCinema

us about what

America donated surplus stock to food banks and essentials

(Minishiata o Sukue) campaign to lobby the government for

was happening

workers, UK-based snack supplier PCO came up with a £20

state aid, with ‘Save Our Local Cinema’ t-shirts quickly selling

while lockdown

‘Movie Package’ sold through the website of its partner Scott

out. While merchandising for film franchises like Star Wars and

impacted all —

Cinemas. Among other things, it contained 2.2kg of sweet

Batman has long been a reality, it seems cinemas are a no less

their work made

cinema popcorn. Perhaps not the same as eating it below a

worthy super hero to have on your chest.

this list possible.

large flickering screen, but a sweet taste of things to come.

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THE PATH TO

CINEMA’S RECOVERY

An assessment of the true economic impact of CV19 to cinema makes for fairly bleak reading. But for David Hancock, head of global cinema at OMDIA, there really is a light at the end of the tunnel — even if it may feel quite some way off at the moment.

O

NE YEAR AGO AT CineEurope, our

Same challenge, different approaches

sector was looking forward to its first

The closures happened over a period of a month, as the virus

$42bn year, OMDIA was forecasting

spread around the world, and governments suddenly

continued screen growth to beyond

understood why other countries had reacted the way they

200,000 this year, and “Avengers:

did. Not all countries took the same

Endgame” from Marvel was on its way

lockdown route, with Sweden, Taiwan,

to being the highest grossing film of all time (not adjusted

and South Korea keeping businesses

for inflation), raking in epic $2.8bn in cinemas worldwide.

open, including cinemas. In the USA,

“The release of ‘Trolls’ on digital platforms was an anomaly in the way films are on hold.”

On 27 January this year, China shut down all the cinema

Utah and South Dakota never officially

screens in the country and the film world changed. This was

closed down cinemas even if sites did

the moment the business woke up to the threat posed from

shut down as part of a wider company

CV19. Even then, there was hope this would not spread

response by the major circuits. Even so,

elsewhere, therefore closing cinemas. Within six weeks, 97%

cinema was critically hit and distributors rushed to rework

of the world’s screens had shut down, taking with them all

film slates, with knock-on effects two years down the line.

new releases and laying off thousands of employees around

April, May and June saw no releases at all in the USA and

the globe. The sector lost over $4bn in the first quarter of

the numbers in March and July are (or will be) down (see

2020, mainly from early closure of China.

graph on the next spread). Most major films have been given

Additionally, all three revenue streams shut (admissions,

new theatrical release dates with a very few suitable titles

concessions and screen advertising), affecting a wider

skipping a cinema release and moving onto PVOD. The

ecosystem: screen advertisers, food and beverage suppliers,

release of “Trolls” on digital platforms was an anomaly in the

seating companies, projector and technology manufacturers,

way films have been put on hold, and it is hard to draw

online and physical distribution companies and more.

lessons for wider long-term release strategies for all films

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from that example. There was more movement of titles

40,000

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15

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35,000

with release strategies more than major movies do.

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keep some cash coming in. Such films already experiment

20

from cinema to digital among smaller indie titles as a way to

12

There have been short-term changes in the cinema system. For example, the French government exceptionally agreed to waive the theatrical window (which is legally set

16

and adhered to strictly) for all films in cinemas around the time of cinema closures, allowing them to go straight to VOD. France is a strong supporter of the theatrical window

12

and this system will go back to normal when this crisis is over. There have been initiatives to help cinemas too, such as online film viewing giving a slice of revenue to cinemas.

Opening again, in a limited fashion…

8

4

In many countries, governments stepped in to underpin economies, including supporting cinemas during a period of complete shutdown. Other countries worked support through the welfare system. However, four months after

0

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China imposed those cinema closures, there are now much

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M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

US wide releases by year: 2019 vs 2020

more positive signs for the re-opening of cinemas, although capacity ceilings, social distancing and staggered seating in

handwashing, regular disinfecting of auditoriums, maximum

auditoriums will limit admissions. This can be countered by

capacities, online booking only, empty seats, and fewer F&B

putting on extra screens for the biggest films, as well as

options. These are all sensible measures to take.

aiming to shift people’s visiting habits to outside peak times. Audience surveys, although limited in number, suggest

Delivering a sense of confidence

that there is considerable pent-up demand for cinema

The issue is not just about sensible precautions, it is about

going but that it will take time for people to feel safe going

overcoming a natural sense of unease at being in a social

into entertainment venues of all types,

space. This will need more subtle ways to achieve this. One

including cinemas. This indicates that for a few weeks, library titles may be the main content, hopefully with generous terms for exhibitors to get them back on their feet. However, the key issue now is one of reassurance. At

“If it is possible to have positive “security theatre” then that is what cinemas need now.”

of the ways to do this is to take a leaf out of air travel’s book (pre-pandemic), and to use a concept known as security theatre. This is often used in a pejorative way, to denote measures taken to provide a sense of security without doing much to achieve it. An example often cited is the 100ml liquid rule for air travel. While the measures being advocated

its core, cinema is a social medium

for cinema are not ‘theatre’ and are not just for show, the

that brings people out of their homes for a communal

psychology behind them could be useful in providing this

experience. This is the point that critics of cinema always

reassurance for people. Cinemas can be vocal in talking

miss, but in this unprecedented circumstance, cinema’s

about their measures, reassure the public by showing their

strength has become its weakness. Being social is perceived

prospective customers what they are doing to keep them

as a threat today, with physical distancing being labelled

safe. If it is possible to have positive security theatre, then

social distancing. Hence, the public needs to be

that is what cinemas need right now.

convinced that being in a social space is a safe activity. Cinemas and authorities are busy

Understanding the scale of the loss

defining a raft of measures that all entertainment

Our data on 15 key countries shows an estimated $4bn loss

activities need to implement to keep their

of box office in the first quarter of the year, (these countries

guests safe. These include temperature checks

account for over 70% of global BO). The hardest hit country

on arrival, masks for staff and guests,

is China, which was 88% down on the first quarter 2019. Box

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walking

orientation,

office is likely to be down by over half globally this year (it is www.cinematech.today


45,206

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pulled their theatrical release in favour of going straight to a digital platform. Despite the row over “Trolls”, we probably learn more from the fact that all major distributors have stuck to a theatrical release first strategy for nearly all films, postponing and reworking slates rather than rushing to

20 21

17,398

Global Box Office Revenue (in $m) for 2012-2024 — Cinema Intelligence forecast scenario

other windows. An element of experimentation for small or mid-range films on other platforms already exists, but the bedrock of major movies is cinema, and the sector has provided a stable underpinning for distributors during a time of massive change in how people consume their movie

20

entertainment. This strongly underlines the role of cinema

20

as the key value creator for major movies and is the light at

$20-31bn 97%

the end of the tunnel for the cinema sector. People need OMDIA’s forecast of global Box office losses as a consequence of the CV19 pandemic.

cinema, movies need cinema, and society needs cinema. David Hancock is the head of global film and cinema at OMDIA (formerly IHS Markit) and is president of the EDCF.

By March this year, 97% of all cinema screens worldwide had been closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, all within six weeks of China first shutting down its cinemas from 27 January.

around 70% down as of early June), and will also be significantly affected in 2021 as social distancing continues until we find a vaccine. The second quarter of the year will be severely impacted, as even cinemas that are open are earning much-reduced revenues due to capacity measures, social distancing and lack of film content. As at early June, OMDIA was tracking 76 countries/provinces/states that had set a date for cinema reopening and 54 of those had already opened. The key market of California opened from 12 June, the UK in early July, France in late June but the cinema world awaits word on China. The prospects for the maintenance of any sort of summer season relies on some key markets opening in time for those releases. Currently, the first big release is currently Disney’s “Mulan” on 24 July, now that Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has moved from 17 to 31 July. Quite a lot is riding on the launch of these films, allowing us to assess the impact of CV19 on people’s attitudes to cinemagoing in a post-Covid world.

Predicting the future: some scenarios We have been working on scenarios for forecasting how cinema may recover. These range from more positive (using the term loosely) to more negative outcomes. In summary, the business stands to lose between $20-31bn in 2020, from what was expected to be another year well above $40bn in box office. We forecast a figure of 58% down this year as our best estimate. So, over 2020 and 2021, the business could lose $30-35bn in gross box office. However, no-one can predict with total accuracy how cinema in every country will come out of this. I would argue that in all this, one of the main positives for cinema in this bleak situation is that very few major movies www.cinematech.today

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CTC POWERS UP THE

POSITIVE NEGATIVE

OUT OF THE

When the going gets tough… The toughest rise to the challenge. CTC’s Peter Knight reflects on the global technology organisation’s success in delivering for its members in recent months.

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ESPITE

EMERGING

IN

its

current guise just two and half years ago, now the world’s

step away from the BKSTS to form an independent body serving a wider global community. “It was a tough choice for everyone involved,

technology

but in hindsight the correct one,” explains Richard

trade organisation, the Cinema

Mitchell, president of CTC (and SVP at Harkness

Technology Community (“CTC”

Screens). “At the end of digitisation and with a

to its friends) has been an

changing internal team, we recognised that there

important part of our community for over 30 years.

was a need to reform and chart a new direction in

Initially founded within the BKSTS (now IMIS), the

order to ensure we were best-serving the globally

group spent the better part of three decades

connected cinema industry. We stood back and

supporting and educating projectionists during the

looked at our mission statement — and indeed our

film era and subsequently supporting the industry

team — and identified both the changes we needed

through the changeover to digital. Whilst the

to make and the direction of travel we needed to

cinema sector was transforming, other sectors of

head in. We spent a lot of time re-shaping the

media and entertainment were doing the same, so

leadership team to create a more gender-balanced,

in 2017 the CTC team made the hard decision to

diverse group with a range of skills and experience

largest

cinema

www.cinematech.today


CTC futurE

to help us be best-placed to support the industry.

Kermode presenter Simon Mayo and actor Sanjeev

To an extent that remains a work in progress, but

Bhaskar, CTC started the process of creating a new

the team we’ve assembled is one of the finest in the

community-focused platform with the promise of a

business. I’m especially proud that we’ve increased

ramping up of activities built on a foundation of

our female representation from 3% to 30%.”

training, projection handbooks, certification and networking. The CTC has truly delivered on this.

A wider remit, new avenues

“The task was daunting. We’d parted ways with

That wider skillset has meant that the new-look CTC

our friends at the BKSTS amicably and then there

has been able to focus not just on auditorium

was an immediate realisation that we were now

technology but on all aspects of cinema technology,

independent, almost in start-up mode with a big,

right the way from POS and ticketing technology

bold mission and a tiny shoe-string budget. Getting

through to digital marketing and signage and even

to where we are would not have been possible

to future technologies, such as LED screens.

without the dedication and contribution of directors

With a grand unveiling at its first annual awards

and governors old and new who gave time freely

in London in 2017 with a number of famous faces

and our first members and sponsors who helped

including long-time CTC friends film critic Mark

get CTC on a solid platform,” Mitchell explains.

www.cinematech.today

Empty seats in the world’s cinemas… for some a source of gloom, for others, such as the CTC, a chance to shine and rise to the occasion

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CTC Structure BOARD OF DIRECTORS Richard Mitchell (President) (Harkness), Graham Lodge (VP & Finance) (Sound Associates), Peter Knight (Head of Training & Education) (MCP Services), Paul Wilmott (Saffron Screen), Sarah Lewthwaite (Movio), Simon Tandy (Omnex), David Norris (NBC Universal), Toni Purvis (Amblin Partners) BOARD OF GOVERNORS Patrick von Sychowski (Celluloid Junkie), Grainne Peat (ECA), John Dowsland (Dolby), Danny Jeremiah (Maccs), Mike Bradbury (Odeon UCI), Alessandra Bernacchi (IMAX), Sandie Caffelle (Jack Roe), Saul Mahoney (Sundog Media Toolkit), David Pope (Musicscreen), Adam MacDonald (GDC), Mark Kendall (NEC Displays), Michael Denner (Festival Cinema Services), Andre Mort (CinemaNext), Suhaila Mahmoud (Goldcrest), Chris Milton (eOne) ADVISORY COUNCIL Mark Christiansen (Paramount Pictures), Debbie-StanfordKristiansen (Novo Cinemas), Brian Claypool (Christie Digital), Sriram Sistla (CinemaNext India), Theresa English (TK Architects), Roland Jones (Vue International), Tom Bert (Barco), Dominic Simmons (BFI), Alexey Vinokurov (RealD), Russell Smith (Motion Picture Solutions), Laurence Claydon (Netflix)

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Support from loyal friends

do to play our part and fill the gap left behind by the absence

With a growing global profile and list of outputs, CTC attracted

of the global trade show calendar. We deferred all membership

members across the globe and today has a set of sponsors

and sponsorship renewals for a minimum of six months — it

that includes the likes of RealD, QSC, Christie, NEC, Harkness

felt the right thing to do, but we wanted to go further,” he adds.

Screens, Movio, Arts Alliance Media, Sound Associates, Strong/

With the remit to be a global community that provides

MDI and The Picture House Uckfield — not forgetting the long-

knowledge-sharing opportunities and drives the industry

standing support of Motion Picture Solutions which creates

forward, CTC’s board rapidly took the unprecedented step of

Cinema Technology for the benefit of the industry and for

creating a free six-month Community Membership scheme to

distribution to CTC members quarterly. These contributions

enable industry professionals worldwide to stay connected

enable CTC to reinvest funds directly to support the industry.

and access resources, network and learn throughout the crisis. “Behind the CTC team there’s a real

In 2018/19, CTC used its sponsors’ funds to create a guide to premium formats, new test DCP content, support for audio description testing, training courses, CTC’s acclaimed Women in Cinema series with Celluloid Junkie, launch a podcast series and support

“The new-look CTC has been able to focus not just on the auditorium but on all cinema tech.”

events including the Emerging Markets

passion for our industry and the people in it, a love of what we do in our day jobs and a sense of wanting to give back where we can,” Graham explains. “When the industry and the world about us felt as if they were falling apart, we decided the best thing to do was stand up and

Conference in Turkey, the UKCA Conference, BigCineExpo in

do our own small bit to help in the best way we knew how. We

India, ExpoCine in Brazil and the Kino Konferansen in Norway.

didn’t expect the uptake to be so dramatic, but the feedback

In 2020, the not-for-profit member-led organisation has been

from across the world has been incredible, not just about the

working harder than ever, still on an incredibly limited budget

initiative but about the quality, variety and depth of materials

to help support the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.

we have made available to the global community.” he adds. Work that CTC has done has spread far and wide. From

Rising to the challenge

humble beginnings, CTC has become the go-to resource for

“CV19 hit our industry harder and faster than anyone could

impartial technical guidance in the world’s cinema community

have imagined,” explains Graham Lodge, vice president of CTC

and CTC has seen its membership rise to well over 500

(CEO, Sound Associates). “We quickly discussed what we could

members from 65 countries, with additional members added www.cinematech.today


CTC futurE

Training courses such as the highly regarded cinema manager’s course have long been a mainstay of the CTC’s output

Rapid fire… CTC’s CV19 output CTC had ambitious plans for 2020… only to find them turned upside down by CV19. Whilst some of the regular outputs such as the hands-on training courses from CTC have been placed on hold, the delivery of a large amount of planned content for 2020 has been re-imagined to make it available to CTC’s membership. This includes a whole range of new material that has been produced over the past three months: Covid-19 Closure; Technology Tips for Equipment Upkeep and Preparation for Re-opening - The outbreak of CV19 placed critical pressure on the exhibition sector in most major markets, leading to this document. As a follow-up, CTC produced Covid-19 Closure; Things to Consider Prior to Cinemas Re-Opening, which focussed on operational and technological recommendations.

CTC continues to offer its six month Community

Drive-In Screening Guide - produced in direct response to the resurgence in drive-

Membership to cinema professionals. You can join

in screenings around the world as the industry seeks to provide the big screen

for free by visiting the CTC site online at:

www.cinema-technology.com

experience whilst adhering to government social-distancing guidelines. Social Distancing White Paper and DCP Support – produced to support cinemas re-opening focusing on measures that could be taken to ensure maximum

to that number every day from all areas of the industry at all

possible occupancy levels whilst maintaining social distancing.

levels. It is fair to assume CTC has become the largest global cinema technology trade organisation by some margin.

Tech-Talk On Demand Seminars – Due to the loss of the global tradeshow calendar, CTC created a new Tech Talk series. With new pre-recorded episodes bi-weekly for

The signs of a promising future

the foreseeable future, these sessions provide technology seminars.

Despite the vast amount of material that has already been produced in the first half of the year, CTC still has plans for a

New podcast episodes - In The Pub With Mike Bradbury. Despite lockdown

wide range of content for the rest of 2020 into 2021.

conditions, CTC has found innovative ways to create its popular podcast. Each time

As well as a follow-up to the Women In Cinema series in

Mike is joined by regulars Kevin Markwick (The Picture House Uckfield) and Toni

conjunction with Celluloid Junkie, CTC also promises to deliver

Purvis (Amblin Partners) plus guests to take an irreverent look at cinema technology

further episodes of Tech Talks, more podcasts, a white paper

and topical industry issues. In the first episode produced during the lockdown in

on Series 1 and 2 Projection Uplifts, new test materials and

April, the team was joined by Adam MacDonald (GDC) to discuss topics such as

guidance for event cinema, video content covering the post

paperless tickets, phone-friendly screenings and rogue aspect ratios. In the latest

production process, consumer insights into 3D, a completely

edition, released at the end of May, the team was joined by Brian Claypool of

new version of the CTC Projection Handbook, training courses

Christie Digital to discuss auditorium EQs, the learnings from the digital roll-out,

and the hugely anticipated annual awards night.

buying projection light, automated services and a ratings system for cinema.

Producing such a huge swathe of content in trying times creates its own challenges, as Richard Mitchell explains, “the

Kids Cinema Activity Pack – Recognising that beyond their jobs, the cinema

world we’re entering in to is likely to require us to reimagine

community is made up of people, many of whom are parents juggling working life

how we deliver our outputs, specifically those involving large

with home-schooling, CTC created an activity pack of movie-themed colouring in,

gatherings like our training courses or our annual awards night

puzzles, wordsearches and mazes to help keep children engaged and active.

where we typically host around 200 people.” It’s a challenge the CTC team doesn’t appear to be nervous to face — if there’s

While the majority of these outputs had never been conceived prior to March, the

one thing they appear to have learned over the past few

circumstantial changes in the global industry meant that many of them were

months, it’s that their plans and their team are incredibly

quickly created, showcasing the breadth of knowledge and the dynamic

adaptable. Their drive and enthusiasm to support a growing

responsiveness that CTC possesses.

membership and the global cinema community will enable CTC to keep delivering for the industry. www.cinematech.today

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Passionate Creative Social


a u d i e n c e

Rising up to meet the lockdown challenge Fight or flight? The CV19 crisis has tapped into something primal in all of us, eliciting a broad spectrum of responses… Staying in touch and staying afloat have been the core goals for most cinemas and here Melissa Cogavin explores the inspiring ways the UK’s independents have used their time wisely.

H

AND-WRINGING AS OFTEN as hand-

Nobody could accuse independent exhibitors of sitting

washing, this has been a tense time for

around waiting for dough to prove though. The sourdough

independent exhibitors in particular,

technique might not have got any better during lockdown

exposed to cashflow shortfalls unlike

and the jigsaw puzzles gathering dust, but the indie cinema

their larger multiplex contemporaries,

sector has risen elegantly to the occasion. Their work has

perplexed about the present closures,

inspired, their efforts have been wildly creative, moving and

the furloughing of staff and fretful about social distancing

long-lasting. It is testament to the enormous resilience, passion

measures affecting their survival.

and commitment of exhibitors.

The impact of lockdown on the industry has been

I talked with a selection of exhibitors from all over the UK

profound and the imposition of enforced, if anxious, idleness is

who have seen this downtime as an opportunity to connect

a phenomenon none of us have experienced before. Much has

with audiences, stay relevant, and engage with customers

been made of the economic impact but what about the

online. They’ve raised funds for charity, crowdfunded books,

social? It is perhaps no surprise that once panic buying of toilet

produced

paper and pasta ceased, it was self-raising flour and eggs that

competitions, surveys, blogs, streamed arthouse movies,

became scarce as cookbooks were opened for the first time in

hosted social media house parties and even donated their

years. Long and empty days? You might as well bake a cake.

pick and mix to foodbanks.

podcasts,

made

videos,

hosted

quizzes,

Parkway Cinemas: Keeping the faith via Facebook Rob Younger of Parkway Cinemas has been using his engineering background to produce Facebook videos on his own in his closed cinema in Barnsley, covering a range of topics from renovating a sub-woofer to a tour of the disused gents’ toilets. As entertaining as they are educational, Rob laughed and said, “It’s just a bit of daft fun really. Who wouldn’t use this time to spruce the place up a bit?” He and his team have spent years cultivating their audience and introducing the show in person is all part of the relationship. “Gerald Parks [who died 7 years ago] always used to introduce Senior Screen shows with a joke, and I’ve taken that over now. The cinema might be closed but I see people in the street at the moment who call out ‘Have you got a joke for us?’ I try to be personal, I try to be different.” Rob feels that connecting via Facebook during lockdown is important for continuity, not least because the cinema itself has a 13-screen Cineworld multiplex being constructed a few hundred yards away. As a local man, with roots in the cinema going back decades, he feels his voice and presence online is part of the effort to retain his relationship with his customers. It doesn’t look as if Rob has much to worry about. Comments from supportive fans of the cinema all love his new paintwork. “Please don’t close when Cineworld comes, I like the old-school theatre, love this cinema,” said one fan.

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“Beneath a frenzy of activity, there are concerns about partial opening and social distancing.”

AT THE PALACE CINEMA in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, they have been tearing up the floor of the auditorium and posting

their

finds

on

Movies@: Ready to launch

Facebook.

Cinephiles will be frothing at the sight of

It would be remiss to cover promotion of indie cinemas

faded old tickets, paper cups and ice

without mentioning Graham Spurling. In Ireland, there’s

cream

creative,

a fixed date for cinemas reopening: 10 August. Movies@

resourceful way of using the downtime to renovate a cinema

has set itself apart with a cross-platform creative count-

while bringing history to life — exploiting social media to

down campaign that uses classic movie posters through

connect with the audience even with the doors closed.

the years. At the time of writing (with 72 days to go)

Likewise, Kevin Markwick, owner of the Uckfield Picture House

Vietnam, the Summer of Love and two World Wars were

in Sussex, has been reeling in showbiz contacts to create

producing great material. “I’d normally count down to

podcasts. Matthew Sweet, Neil Brand, Peter Curran, Robin

CinemaCon,” says Graham, “So this comes naturally, but

Ince and Catherine Bray have all joined him for his Lockdown

it’s a pressure to think of something daily!” Like others,

Time Machine podcast. Kevin avoids gloomy CV19-related

the independent nature of the business helps. “I have no

rhetoric, preferring to discuss favourite movie moments and

corporate hat to wear so am free to do what I want, but

the good old days, over a couple of pints. Given the quality of

it’s been tough facing another 70 days before we open.

his podcast, one can only wonder what would have happened

And then it’ll be meagre before normal returns.”

wrappers.

It’s

a

had the pandemic taken place before the Internet.. At the Plaza Cinema in Workington, Cumbria, and its sister site the Gaiety Cinema in Whitehaven, general manager Pete Berrisford identified a pressing need. He realised there was an

vulnerable as well as donate direct to food banks. He admitted

awful lot of perishable stock sitting on shelves at both sites. He

the buzz helping in such a close-knit community is almost as

contacted a local foodbank and volunteered. “If you’ve ever

good as having a packed cinema for a Bond movie. Almost.

worked in retail or a cinema, you’ll know about rotating stock. There’s a shelf life. Otherwise it would all go in the bin.”

“It’s made us very efficient at rotating dates,” he laughed, adding that this volunteer work prevented thousands of

His Facebook page is all smiling faces and food vans being

pounds worth of stock being thrown. Such outreach has done

unloaded. “The reaction was overwhelming. Our first post was

wonders for the profile of the cinema and strengthened

seen by 10,000 people,” Pete’s been offloading popcorn and

already close relationships in his community. “We’re going to

sweets to the needy all over Cumbria. They deliver stock to the

have a job here with social distancing when we re-open,” Pete smiled. “Our foyer is like a mothers’ meeting most days.”

Scott Cinemas: Giving back

Exhibition: a buyer’s market? Beneath a frenzy of activity and bonhomie are concerns about partial opening, deep-cleaning, social distancing and cashflow.

Giving back to the community is a recurring theme. In the

Many are covered elsewhere in this issue, but interestingly a

West Country, Scott Cinemas has partnered with German

shift in the balance of power was something that came up a

cinema snack manufacturer PCO, offering ‘Movie Packages’

few times; the glut of product at year end will turn exhibition

for £20 to audiences, for them to watch movies at home surrounded by as

into a buyer’s market for the first time, empowering cinemas

much popcorn as they can handle, judging by the 2.2kg bags flying out the

more than ever. Film rental rates have plummeted in exhibitors’

door. Nicholas Boyd, retail manager at Scott Cinemas said they’re promoting

favour: 14% rental is common, and even 5-10% rates for classic

this with such success that they have raised £15,000 and will likely reach

titles are being agreed by distributors desperate for something

£20,000, a life-changing amount for their chosen local charities.

to be on screens when cinemas open, at a time when the

Social media is key to the success of this initiative and TikTok has played

summer tentpoles have been rescheduled for Q3 and Q4.

an important part in spreading the word. “Our link was shared on a TikTok

Where does that leave event cinema in the margins? As far

account with one million followers. The following day we had 4,000 orders

as economics are concerned, Graham Spurling at Movies@

nationwide,” Nicholas explained. “It’s been great for our profile and amazing

was bullish, saying he’d rather fill Screen 1 with 100% of the

to engage with our own communities across our sites,” he added.

[socially distanced] 25% capacity in this market at €15 a ticket than risk being half empty. Kevin in Uckfield agreed — it would have to be live. “No over-60s will be keen to head to the cinema,

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P O P - U P S

so recorded events will be screwed,” reckoned Graham, “It has

The Rio’s community archive

to be live as it’s a draw.” A marginal business narrows further. A bottleneck of product would surely place additional

At the Rio Cinema in Dalston, East London they have exploited

pressure on easing restrictive windows though? Not necessarily,

a happy accident to connect with the community in a highly

was the answer. Some titles would benefit from some flexibility

original way. Andrew Woodyatt, marketing manager, explained that during

with release windows, Kevin argued, while others should stay

renovations four years ago they discovered a filing cabinet with slides from a

as they are. CV19 has forced change onto a market that has

youth project from 1982-88 that taught young unemployed locals photography,

been resistant for years; if anything, the reaction has proved to

using the skills to record urban life in one of London’s most deprived areas.

distributors and exhibitors alike that change can be embraced, though perhaps in more piecemeal form.

“When we cleared the basement to build our second screen, it was filled to the ceiling with stuff ­— 90% of it was crap.” I pushed him on this. “Standees? No, that’s the interesting stuff! There were printers, fax machines, patio furniture, a

But has the audience changed?

rusty bacon slicer, VHS tapes, Betamax’s… We recycled it all properly and beneath

Audience habits are a worry. The world’s got used to streaming

it all was a filing cabinet containing 12,000 glass slides.” Andrew has been using

content during lockdown. Notably event cinema producers

the lockdown to curate these now-digitised slides, track down the photographers,

have taken the decision to offer content for free. Will it devalue

pinpoint the events captured nearly 40 years ago and produce a book. Part

the product? The consensus was no. These are strange times;

historical record, part love letter to a rich and diverse community, it is now a local

people have no other option. Exploit that captive audience.

asset. Crowdfunding the project, the Rio will use the proceeds towards a new

Get them hooked then jack up the price. The first fix is free…

community workshop, reigniting the spirit that fired up the Tape/Slide Newsreel

Graham Spurling agrees. “There will be a point at which

Group in the 80s. They have nearly reached their £15,000 target to start printing.

people are tired of being indoors and want to get out. My job

“It’s come full circle,” Andrew noted. “Topics covered originally — the NHS, cuts to

as an impresario is to screen content the under 35s, the group

education, the arts, urban gentrification, the relationship between police and the

least at risk, will want to see. Look, we can write 2020 off. We

black community — it makes the issues covered then even more relevant now.”

are 60% down on last year and 2021 will see a 60-70% drop on

There is a flipside, Andrew told me. “We have a perception that Hackney was

2019.” Ever the optimist, Graham is confident of a return to

a grim place in the 80s but we can see it was a vibrant, diverse community not

form. Testament to the resilience and optimism of exhibitors is

content to sit back to let things happen. They made a positive change. Teenagers

rueful acceptance that — even if 2020 had no global pandemic

looking at these images tell me the pictures could have been taken now.” An

— relentless good weather since April would be catastrophic

exhibition will run in Hackney for three months from September.

anyway. If you’re going to be locked down, best to do it in the

See more at @riocinemaarchive on Instagram

sunshine. And bake a cake. www.cinematech.today

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T S D O I P V L O R C O W

M E N I C

I A

A N

, ers d d ran y an ‌ B e lic gh um s po hou a l ,t il C’ Gu UNI uture s a ill, f ly, he rab ris M in t i e dm h ? A nd C ll com s i ris , a wi 9 c NIC test 1 e CV t U he er a e tru t o h ag . T dt on man plain p s x s s re tion er, e a g la m a ine tr y re man c did dus tions w in o H ior nica sen mmu co

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post-cV19

W

HEN BACK IN MID-MARCH, Europe’s

To provide some perspective, from mid-March until mid-

cinemas closed their doors, there was

May, fewer than 2% of more than 42,000 screens in Europe

no clear sense of when they would

were open for business to any extent, not counting sites

again be allowed to open. Three

operating at severely limited capacity due to social distancing

months later, movie theatres are at

measures. At the end of May, year-to-date box office was

last gradually re-opening, albeit with

down by 50% in five leading European markets. Current

strict social distancing restrictions.

estimates indicate box office losses of at least €4.5bn for

Everyone has had to make adjustments in line with government advice to limit the virus’ spread. Cinemas are no different. Readers of Cinema Technology don’t need to

Europe alone in 2020 compared to 2019 — which, as you will recall, was an amazing year for the sector. Despite these harsh circumstances,

be told our sector was one of the hardest-hit, with cinemas

operators around Europe did not

left without revenue for weeks — not just box office, but

lose

concessions, B2B sales and advertising. Significant fixed

mattered

sight

of

what

costs still had to be covered. And it’s also worth noting that, in the weeks leading up to the start of confinement measures, many sites already implemented strict measures to ensure the safety of both their customers and staff alike.

masks in exchange for donations to families in need. While exact re-opening dates and guidelines evolve, we expect most cinemas in Europe to start operating again this summer. UNIC has kept a close most. Large and

eye on developments across the region throughout

small companies, from Les

lockdown to ensure our members and their cinemas are in

Cinémas Gaumont Pathé in France to

the best position to welcome audiences back. Our ongoing

Cinamon cinemas in the Baltics, or independent

publicly available research into the state-of-play has been

cinemas such as Graves, Cumberland in the UK, redistributed

intertwined with efforts to keep cinemas at the heart of

remaining F&B stock to people in need, showing once again

economic recovery plans at national and European level.

the fundamental role of cinemas in their communities.

Support for the sector is there. As thousands of workers

Across Europe, cinemas moved to offer tickets to

were furloughed following the closure of cinemas, most

essential workers so they could be among the first to enjoy

European governments swiftly introduced measures to

the cinema experience again. Another initiative worth

help them. Danish authorities were amongst the first, as the

highlighting came from Roxy Kino in Abensberg, Germany,

State decided to cover 75% of wages throughout the crisis.

which worked with local partners to sew and distribute

Others followed suit.

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post-cV19

Looking at rents, a small but growing number of governments have decided to encourage — or force — landlords to defer or decrease payments. This is the case in Poland, where rent payments were suspended for businesses located in malls — the case for most of its local multiplexes. In Sweden, a rent rescue package is encouraging landlords to provide renters with a 25% discount. Wider measures, notably regarding taxation and social contributions, have been taken across Europe. Moreover, “hardship funds” worth billions of euros have enabled cinemas to apply for direct grants or state-supported loans. Such strong support will be key in helping cinemas welcome audiences back. Looking at schemes specifically for cinemas, UNIC and its members have been advocating to ensure the big screen’s value and that of the wider cultural industries is not lost on decision-makers. We will feel

Positive steps have been taken around Europe, even if

the lingering financial effects of this crisis more than most.

dedicated support funds for the film sector remain sparse. National film funds in France, Portugal and Germany quickly decided to suspend payments of film levies and

Safety guidelines? Check locally…

accelerate payments of subsidies, when available. In another showcase of industry unity, the Polish Film Institute was probably the first to bring all stakeholders from the national

Health and safety remains a key concern for operators, for both guests and staff

film value-chain together to discuss a coherent strategy for

alike. Social distancing will play a part in operations for the foreseeable future,

relaunching the industry and preparing for re-opening.

with distancing inside and out of screening rooms, increased hygiene measures and establishment of guidelines to ensure compliance and effectiveness.

More could be done for the European cinema industry, especially as the sector strives to ensure support continues

Therein lies a further challenge: preparing and implementing guidelines

once doors re-open. Without lasting support, the outlook for

according to evolving national rules. Rules related to minimum safety distances,

everyone from the biggest chains to smaller exhibitors could

masks for staff and customers, temperature checks, disinfection of surfaces

be bleak. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. For instance, financial

and maximum occupancy vary widely. Some territories have seen relatively

support for acquisition of protective equipment necessary

relaxed restrictions, others have made it challenging for cinemas to re-open.

for re-opening cinemas was introduced in late May in France

National associations are publishing safeguarding guidelines, giving a

and Belgium, among the first to roll in such a scheme.

better, locally coordinated idea of what cinema-going will look like in months ahead. Staggered seating and programming, online/contactless transactions,

Accessing the mechanisms of support

crowd monitoring and enhanced hygiene are all requirements of “new normal”.

UNIC has been busy keeping members informed of the

From our side, the pan-European nature of UNIC means we are unable to

range of support mechanisms cinemas may be eligible for,

produce re-opening guidelines encompassing all our members. Considerations,

developments in the closure/re-opening process and related

however, have been shared with our members, operators large and small, as

safety guidelines, and practical/technical recommendations

part of the broader exchange of best practice taking place throughout the

for operators as they prepare to re-open. Technology

sector, which shows we are most definitely all in this together.

manufacturers, integrators, and service providers have made a range of technical guidelines, training courses or digital marketing tips available. Test packages were distributed

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Critical to the long-term future of the cinema and related cultural sectors is national governmental support — not just now, but ongoing

Many cinemas have taken creativity further, temporarily reinventing themselves. Several local cinemas have turned to food delivery, such as Cinecitta in Germany which launched delivery services for popcorn, nachos and other staples. We have also seen innovative collaboration with local VOD platforms, such as in France with La Vingt-Cinquième Heure, a geolocated platform allowing access to online screenings for people living in a 40km radius from participating cinemas.

Preparing for re-entry Now too, the first large-scale, national re-opening campaigns are being launched. France’s #oniratousaucinéma (“we’ll all go to the cinema”) campaign was launched by the national cinema federation (the FNCF) and it involves French talents sharing their passion for cinema. The German association, HDF Kino, launched a similar campaign with messages of support from celebrities and cinema-goers, using hashtags #kinokommtwieder

(“cinema

is

coming

back”)

and

#durchhalten (“holding on”). Other European initiatives have been developed — and we haven’t even mentioned individual cinema campaigns. Many have been publishing detailed info to announce re-opening, showing audiences they are taking globally to ensure that equipment will run efficiently upon re-opening. Once again, we can only admire colleagues’ passion to ensure our sector recovers as quickly as possible. Beyond operational considerations, cinemas have had to rethink the way

“Without lasting support, the outlook for everyone from big chains to indies could be bleak.”

they engage with their audiences. Operators in Europe have

steps to ensure safety and enjoyment. Doors have been temporarily closed, but cinemas have kept busy. And this extends beyond the Big Screen too. The entire film value chain, from creation, to production, to distribution and beyond, continues to feel the effects of CV19 and, most importantly, will all have to work together to get back on our feet collectively. It’s clear continued prosperity of European film and cinema will rely on close collaboration at all levels.

encouraged loyal customers to support them by acquiring

Being able to do so holds the key to emerging from the

giftcards, vouchers or subscriptions to be used once they re-

crisis stronger, more innovative and closer to audiences than

open. Italy, the first to close cinemas in Europe, took this a

ever before. Over the past few months, it has become

step further with the national Biglietto Sospeso (“Suspended Ticket”)

initiative

to

support

cultural

institutions

by

encouraging Italians to purchase “tickets” that, rather than

apparent that people not only miss going to the cinema,

UNIC research

gaining entrance, providing support to institutions so that they can re-open or continue when restrictions lift.

they are more than looking forward to a time when they can do so again. Numerous local studies and audience surveys, combined with countless messages of support for cinemas

UNIC has made a

of all sizes and locations across social media and beyond, fill

Most operators have actively engaged with audiences via

freely available

us with assurance that once this intermission is over, cinemas

social media — asking people to share their best cinema

research paper

will reclaim their place as the cultural activity of choice for

experience, film quizzes, etc. In Austria and Germany, the

on the impact of

billions of people across the globe.

#curtainrace campaign has seen cinemas sharing videos of

CV19 on cinema

With this in mind, UNIC can look forward to a bright

their curtains slowly opening with a countdown projected

and research on

future for the cinema industry. In moments of crisis and

on screen, to symbolise future re-opening. In Finland,

several financial

upheaval, we sometimes gain a sense of clarity as to the

Finnkino posted videos on how to draw Disney characters. In

initiatives from

important things in life ­— and being obliged to spend time

Romania, Grand Entertainment challenged their audience

the EU. Both are

apart from one another has perhaps made the communal

to recreate famous film scenes, with the best images shared

available online:

experience of seeing films on the big screen more important

on their social media channels. These are a handful of many

unic-cinemas.org

than ever. For cinemas, it’s not really a case of “I’ll be back.”

such creative initiatives from exhibitors around the region. www.cinematech.today

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R E L A U N C H

READY FOR

THE BIG LAUNCH?

After the lockdown comes the big technological relaunch. Get it right and it will help us project the perfect image of cinema to the returning audience, but get it wrong and it delivers the wrong impression. Simon Tandy, CTC director and MD of cinema integrator Omnex offers some advice.

F

OLLOWING

THE

IMPOSITION

of

For our part, the quiet time has helped us to learn and

lockdown, many of us experienced

appreciate all the facets of our businesses, scrutinise our

just how challenging it was simply to

overheads and review how we can support the industry. In

put up the “closed” sign. Whether it be

common with others, at Omnex our team has used this

managing front-of-house stocks or

time to participate in in-depth training and development

supporting employees and relations

opportunities which have only heightened our appetite to

with long-standing clients and suppliers; it was no mean

come back stronger. There’s a real feeling in the team now

feat for any of us. Turning off a business is an unnatural

that we’re so very close to the big relaunch.

thing to do. At cinema integrators like Omnex we were no exception. Similarly, cinemas went through a largely alien technology ‘shut-down’. In common with many supportive colleagues, Omnex was quick to send a freely distributed guideline to any and all that needed the information, supporting cinemas in preparations to

“Now is not the time to get things wrong. As an industry, we need to be coming back with the best standards possible”

The perfect time for perfection One thing that cinema integrators understand full well is that the work our companies do for our customers (exhibitors large and small) is, in fact, judged in turn by their customers (the cinemagoers). Now is not the time to get things wrong. As an industry we need to be coming back strong — cinemagoers deserve the best possible cinematic return. This isn’t the time for technical slip-ups or

turn non-essential equipment off and

a casual approach to projection. Now more than ever we

propose what might be left on. Now cinemas similarly

need to impress upon cinemagoers why the experience we

need our support to reverse the process and switch back

offer is the ultimate entertainment format. The key word is

on ­— the long-awaited preparations for happier days!

“impress”. Picture and sound needs to be at its optimal —

Operationally, many will have developed a detailed macro-understanding of their businesses like never before.

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that means all of us working together to achieve the best results possible. See over for some tips on that front.

www.cinematech.today


www.cinematech.today

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R E L A U N C H

Ready, willing and able

cinemas with upgrades from 2k to 4k,

Over the past two years, at Omnex we’ve trebled the

xenon to laser, 5.1, 7.1 and ATMOS. We

number of screens we maintain in the UK and are ready

believe there is a solution to suit every

with a wealth of support available to cinemas. We’ve been

screen, especially in straitened times.

working hand-in-hand with major manufacturers to build

And we’ve been working hard with

technology options that cinemas may be able to benefit

Xenon suppliers to keep lamps as

from at this time, whether that’s warranty extensions, or

affordable as they have always been.

training programs for your team including webinars.

“All of us are buoyed by the spirit of the industry. We will come back ready to support and to grow.”

Whilst we’d all love to wind the

Clearly the past few months have had a dramatic toll on

clock back a few months or years to plan better for this

all businesses. That makes finance perhaps more critical

particular version of the present, I know — whether it’s my

now than it has ever been. Integrators like Omnex aren’t

colleagues at Omnex or my wider industry colleagues in

purely about technology: our companies also support

the CTC — that all of us are buoyed by the spirit of industry.

customers with a range of finance models; (i) service model,

We will come back ready to support, to grow and to bring

(ii) capex model, (iii) finance model. These can support

cinema back to where it should be.

Seven simple tips for a perfect re-launch

ON

WE HAVE BEEN TALKING to cinemas

of audiences and the need to make

take the steps below. And it should go

around the country a lot in the past

cinema a success. Our quick-tips

without saying: if you are in any doubt,

few weeks. Naturally the focus of these

below will help prepare the projection

drop a line to any reputable integrator

conversations has been on the return

room for re-opening. Make sure you

colleagues in your own territory.

When your projection

When

powered

up

equipment fans start

ensure you have no

up, you inhale any dust

error

that’s settled unless you

lights

on

the

projector or server (Red/

vacuum the projection

Amber/Blue

room, wiping down the

on the equipment)

depending

pedestal, the projector and cleaning all the equipment filters (Replace if required)

Check using the MPS Test DCP that server playback work and you have an image:

Clean your port glass and front of the lens with lens cleaning

“MPSEncTest15s_TST_F_XXXX_INT_2K_MOS_MPS_ 20200429_MPS_IOP_OV”

Check your extract system is working. Lack of extract will cause

Ensure the audio system is fully

errors, prevent lamp switch on and

operating. Most servers will have

possible overheating.

an audio test DCP (such as the (Dolby 7.1 Channel ID). Listen in

Clean your lamp house (Xenon and

3 4

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auditoria for correct operation of

lamp reflector plus UV glass which

all channels. Also test your HOH/VI

separates the lamp house from the

system and charge your headsets.

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o p e r at i o n s

Cinema with[out] the personal touch? Though it may sound counter-intuitive, cinema literally without the personal touch is the current order of the day. Movio’s head of marketing Holly Jones highlights how exhibitors can maintain great service and communication in a socially distanced world.

B

ENJAMIN ZECCOLA, CHIEF executive

way we will consider the impacts on staff and moviegoers.

of Palace Cinemas in Australia recently

When cinemas plan to reopen a strong emphasis will be

said “People are more into storytelling

on adapting. This isn’t business as usual — almost every

now than ever. And the greatest

element of the cinema will need to be adapted, from booking

storytelling form is cinema. From what

tickets and seats to ordering concessions and the experience

people are saying to us on social media

once inside the auditorium. The guidance below considers

and email, they just can’t wait to come back to the cinema.”

The advent of contactless technology hasn’t come a moment too soon for cinemas — instilling confidence in customers is the central to success

first steps to take and tools to help streamline the process.

There’s no denying that in the past few weeks there has been a noticeable increase in conversation around cinemas

Booking: an emphasis on self-service

reopening, how they plan to do so and whether moviegoers

When it comes to tickets, much prominence should be given

will confidently return straight away. Managing a cinema

to a self-serve experience, to keep both moviegoers and staff

business is complex. Reopening after the CV19 lockdown

safe and comfortable when you reopen. Self-serve can start

makes it doubly so. There are so many elements that need to

at home, by encouraging moviegoers to book tickets through

be considered carefully — and technology plays an essential

your website or app, meaning less contact at the site. The

role in ensuring a successful and safe reopening. The tips and

online booking process is also a great opportunity for contact

best practices on these pages come from Vista Cinema and

tracing as required by some authorities. However, collecting

Movio — significantly, our expertise covers two key areas of

your moviegoers’ details may be mandatory across all your

reopening; operations and guest communication. Along the

sales channels, from web, app, kiosk and POS.

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o p e r at i o n s

At the cinema: a contactless connection Removing the need for direct contact with a staff member can be

signage to display order status can reduce queues and gatherings

fairly easily achieved at the cinema. An easy win is to enable food

in one place. Ordering via your app and kiosk can provide a

and beverage purchases via a mobile app or kiosk. Purchases

seamless experience for customers and protecting your front-of-

through your app allow moviegoers to use their devices to buy

house and kitchen staff with reduced interactions. Make entry to

food and app notifications inform them when the order is ready to

screenings quick and contactless by allowing moviegoers to scan

collect, reducing queues. Kiosks are a self-service alternative, and

their own tickets, whether digital or paper printed. This eliminates

can shorten wait times, allowing you to operate with reduced staff

another unnecessary human interaction and can require limited

and with social distancing measures in place. Finally, use of digital

supervision, benefiting your staff and your moviegoers.

1

2

Paperless ticketing: reducing the need for physical touchpoints

Automating social distancing at the seatselection stage

3

Additional suggestions for safe operations in your cinemas

Introduce social-distance seating at the

Enhance the contactless experience for

• Reassure moviegoers and staff of safety

seat-selection stage. Features such as the

moviegoers by sending paperless digital

by displaying health and hygiene measures

dynamic social distancing solution from

tickets, further reducing a need for physical

you have adopted on digital signage.

Vista Cinema automatically force gaps

interaction and printing. ‘Living Ticket’

• Enforce cleaning measures by scheduling

between bookings, with programming

technology from Vista provides a highly

regular checks for the team to perform in

parameters that must be respected to be

dynamic ticket that automatically updates

each section of the theatre.

approved. A cinema can easily put this in

if any change is made on the cinema side,

place by either recommending seats that

for example to a screening time or seat

example, with Vista’s InTouch for example)

selection.

are far enough from others or by only allowing bookings that match specific gap rules.

Leverage

spot-by-spot

reviews

(for

additional

which displays levels of sanitisation in your

purchases, such as concessions, to be

cinema to confirm each area in your site

added

meets standard of service required.

to

This

also

the

allows

same

ticket,

further

If a moviegoer selects

continuing the contactless experience. The

• For each screening, you can easily extract

a seat that is too close

combination of booking online, advance

a list of moviegoers, their contact details

to another for the

contact tracing, social-distance seating

and the seats each of them occupied for

rules you set, then an

and a digital ticket means you and your

contact tracing purposes.

error

will

moviegoer is already prepared for a self-

• A staff scheduling tool (such as MovieTeam)

prompt the selection of

serve experience before they even set foot

can help you run efficiently by managing

in the cinema.

labour costs, hiring and onboarding staff.

message

an appropriate seat.

Communication is critical

strong deliverability. If this applies to you:

Many moviegoers can’t wait to return to cinemas, but there

• Inform your campaign management tool provider before

will be others that need reassurance and encouragement.

your start sending campaigns so they can track volume and

Reigniting attendance, keeping consistent communication

spam complaints.

and ensuring return visits will be vital in the early stages of

• Limit the number of emails you send each week (for

reopening. Marketing campaign ideas should focus on two

example, you could target only the most engaged and

key stages, pre re-opening and reopening itself. Keep in mind

recent moviegoers first), then slowly increase your

that it’s important to consider the circumstances of your own

email volume over a few weeks.

market before sending any communications.

• Keep an eye on delivery rates and bounces. One-off campaigns you can send your moviegoers

Before re-opening: restoring confidence

could be to announce re-opening preparations or the

If you have not been regularly sending emails during closure,

date if you know it, alert them that you have tickets on

your email servers will likely need to be warmed up to

sale or simply communicate measures you’re taking to

maintain a positive email sender reputation and ensure

ensure a safe opening. Some tips for this first communication:

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• Consider your tone of voice and content and be aware of the news and external events when setting up this campaign. • While Hollywood studios may have yet to announce new release dates, you can entice moviegoers to re-watch trailers once release dates are confirmed or use this as an opportunity to promote local content, non-Hollywood or catalogue titles. • Share safety measures taken on site to reassure customers you’re taking necessary steps to ensure a safe environment. • Communicate to members that have made a purchase during lockdown (for a voucher for example) and let them know when you are reopening so they can plan their visit. If you have a loyalty programme, it is vital to keep communication consistent with loyalty members, especially as you prepare to re-open. Inform them how reopening affects their benefits: • Update members who had points or benefits that expired during closure, consider re-applying or extending the validity

titles to encourage F&B spend. It is a good opportunity to

period and communicating this to them.

remind moviegoers of contactless concession systems or

• Equally some members may have had membership expire

processes in place, like ordering through your app or kiosk.

during closure — again, consider extending their membership

Once you have reopened, this is the time to consider

and/or compensating for the ‘lost months’.

setting up or reactivating your recurring and automated

• Send a campaign to those members who signed up during

campaigns for your loyalty members. Recurring campaigns

lockdown, remind them of their benefits and inform them

are useful if you would like a member to receive campaigns

when they can visit.

automatically when an event happens or if they get to a

• Create excitement with members and send a countdown

certain state, They can also help to keep encouraging cinema visitation. For example, you could send

campaign and make suggestions on how they can use points and benefits once the cinema is open again. Finally, if you paused any recurring or automated campaigns, this would be a good time to review and reactivate them. You may need to update wording or the audience segmentation before

Pre- and post-engagement mobile app notifications have a role to play in encouraging the continuation of the pre-CV19 habit of cinema-going

“Even with limited content, you can still remind people why movies are so great in cinemas.”

these campaigns are activated again.

a campaign offer to members who — once they visit the cinema — will receive free popcorn if they visit again in the next 14 days. Automated campaigns are useful for both pre- and postsession engagement with members. Before a session, remind members of safety measures you’re taking and how

you’ve adapted your cinemas so there are no surprises when

Re-opening: attracting audiences back

they visit (for example, staff may wear masks or protective

As cinemas open again and sessions begin screening, you

equipment). After a session, keep your engagement up by

will need to continue to create engaging campaigns that

sending surveys asking for feedback on their experience and

encourage moviegoers’ repeat visitation. To build excitement,

reinforce that the money spent in the cinema will continue to

place an emphasis on content you do have available. Even

support your business, staff and the industry.

with limited content, you can highlight the moviegoing

With the pent up demand to socialise once again,

experience, reminding people why movies are so amazing at

share moments with friends and family and to be

the cinema. Include trailers, fun scenes or behind-the-scene

entertained beyond the confines of online and in-

clips or focus on themed emails with legacy titles (like “Top

home content; cinemas are going to be a much-

Gun”, “Grease” or a Horror evening). You could also implement

needed escape for many people post lockdown.

a date-night experience or sing-along showing to make an

With the right operations and marketing plans in

event of the moviegoers’ experience. Why not have customers

place, cinemas will be able to shift their focus to

vote for retro titles they’d most like to watch in the cinema?

what this industry has always excelled in — delivering

These first communications are a great time to consider pairing a pre-packaged food item with alternative movie www.cinematech.today

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Who would have thought, six months ago, that drive-in movie theaters would be the hot ticket in 2020? Mike Hope, enterprise director at advertising firm Pearl & Dean, investigates a resurgent — and pandemic friendly — cinema solution.

U

P UNTIL MARCH

engage with our valuable audience in an

a webinar under the title “Return To The

this year, it’s fair to

environment where they were relaxed,

Big Screen” to provide our clients with

say that working

happy away from the hustle and bustle

some insight into how cinema might

in the cinema ad

of modern-day life…. and just as we were

look from July onwards as lockdown

sector really was

all feeling very pleased with ourselves,

eases and cinemas reopen.

the place to be.

everything got brought to dramatic halt

Admissions had been at a record high

and the taps were turned off.

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representation, marketing (Cinema First) and a representative from the outdoor/

and advertisers seemed to have woken

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We invited exhibitor and studio

up to the fact that cinema is one of the

Cinema post-July 2020...

drive-in cinema sector. The first thing to

few places where they could properly

Here at Pearl & Dean, we recently hosted

note was that there seemed to be a

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D R I V E - I N s

universal desire to put aside perceived

Hold on. Drive-ins... Why?

Cinema, Nightflix and Rooftop Film

competition and a genuine willingness

Actually, how is drive-in cinema going to

Club, all of which have a pedigree in

to collaborate to bring audiences back

help, not hinder, the audience returning

outdoor cinema events and drive-in,

to the cinema. The studios are there to

to cinemas with real roofs? Drive-in

there is an opportunity to kick-start the

ensure quality film product is available,

cinema can work as a safe catalyst to

cinema-going audience safely without

exhibition is making sure measures are

help

after

compromising the experience. If the

in place to ensure customers are safe,

months of captivity and encourage

experience is good, then I believe that

the marketing function is important to

them back to our screens. There is a

this will help to reignite the appetite for

give exhibition an understanding of how

“but” — the drive-in experience must be

cinema-going and hopefully increase

people feel about returning and to how

of a quality to which cinema audiences

the confidence in doing so. In turn, I see

to communicate with them to help give

have become accustomed.

this contributing to cinema admissions

confidence and drive-in cinema to…

www.cinematech.today

audiences

reacclimatise

Working with the likes of The Luna

returning to pre-pandemic levels.

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RIGHT NOW IN THE US, while

Due diligence — it’s common sense

there are few fresh films available, I

Without being patronising, I’d advise any potential partners of

understand that some friction exists

drive-in operators to do some due diligence before committing.

between the mainstream exhibitors

Key things to check on, apart from the history and experience

and outdoor operators. It would appear

of the company, is how they address things such as social

mainstream exhibition is putting pressure

distancing (including toilet facilities), sound delivery (do they

on the studios to limit the licenses for home

have an OFCOM licence [or its equivalent in other territories —

entertainment titles to themselves, hindering the

Ed] for FM transmission or are there alternative means of

outdoor operators from showing films that have traditionally

delivering quality sound?), quality of screen/and or projection

been their life-blood. From the feedback received from our

used (not all LED screens are of the same quality, and projection

webinar, I am hopeful that the wider members of the cinema

only really works after dusk!). How is the food and beverage

industry in the UK will not head down a similar path.

offering being handled to adhere to government guidelines

Before going into lockdown, admissions were at the

and safety of all?

highest they have been since the 1970s. Audiences have

I’m no expert, but to me all of the above fall into the

continued to grow despite the prevalence of alternative ways

“common sense” category. The reason to reiterate these points

to view cinematic content. The availability and popularity of

is due to the huge influx of demand and excitement we have

streaming services and outdoor/pop-up cinema grows every

experienced from advertisers looking to get involved with

year, but this is not at the expense of cinema visits. Indeed, in

drive-ins as soon as we went to market with the opportunity.

the latest wave of FAME research it is shown that the higher

After weeks locked down, there is to be associated with

the number of in-home streaming channels, the more likely

events where people can finally get out of the house and be

the household is to be one of heavy cinema-goers. A range of

together to enjoy quality entertainment in a social environment

options feeds the appetite, so the more likely they are to visit

(from the safety of your own car!). In that excitement, I have

their local cinema to sate that hunger.

seen occasions where the focus on the end goal has been at the expense of the usual checks and measures.

The word of caution? “Experience”.

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Why does someone in cinema advertising belive he has

So, can drive-ins help revitalise our industry? I am obviously

the right to preach about such things in a publication targeted

not saying that drive-in and outdoor cinema is the magic

at those who are far better qualified to share their opinions on

solution — far from it — but it can play its (important) part in

such matters?

aiding our road to recovery. It will be no surprise that with the

First, having involved Pearl & Dean with outdoor cinema

current situation, we have seen a host of new drive-ins pop

for over 10 years now, I hope I have gained a bit of experience

up, much as with outdoor cinema, wishing to capitalise in this

of what works, what doesn’t and what I am happy to pin the

area. Some are from established operators such as the ones

company’s reputation to in this area. Second, and more

mentioned earlier, who have adapted or brought back

important, is the fact that we work closely with advertisers

formats that they have worked with before to move with the

daily and have a good steer on when things are good or not in

times, and will provide a premium experience for their visitors.

the advertising market. While cinema advertising revenue is

There are a number of “event companies” that have appeared

not the most important business element when it comes to

from nowhere to take advantage of the situation.

the sector as a whole, advertising spend does tend to be an

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D R I V E - I N s

accurate indicator of where our economy is heading.

As we see glimmers of hope coming out of lockdown, we

Advertising tends to be the first to feel the pinch when we are

have seen support return. Advertisers are keen to know how

headed towards a recession and likewise the first to feel an

quickly they can begin to advertise on cinema again, albeit

uplift when recovery occurs. For that reason, it’s useful to share

tempered with an air of caution, the need to understand how

some of our findings from in the past few weeks (see panel).

this is going to be done safely and with an assurance of what film product is going to be available.

Advertisers miss the cinema, too

At a time where there is limited availability of fresh films,

The good news is that there was genuine disappointment

we could see cinemas expanding the use of their screens to

from

show even more alternative forms of content than they did

advertisers

when

cinemas

closed

their

doors.

Relationships between media agencies and companies such

prior to lockdown.

as Pearl & Dean are probably not that dissimilar to those

So, in answer to the initial question, drive-in and outdoor

between exhibition and distribution. We get along most of the

cinema could play an important role in seeing our industry

time, but negotiations can get heated. One might not be too

return to strength without cannibalising the core cinema

shy in taking a pop at the other if the opportunity presents

offering. In the same way that we have seen some circuits

itself! The many discussions we had when cinemas were

collaborating more closely with a raft of home entertainment

forced to close and the response and support from advertisers

services, I would like to see the same happen with reputable

and agencies was a pleasant surprise at best and often

outdoor cinema operators, as we emerge into the new world

positively overwhelming. It was clear that our advertisers truly

after lockdown. If all members of our industry work together,

value the cinema experience and see it as an integral part of

we can realistically expect to come out of this pandemic

consumers’ daily lives and key to their marketing strategies.

stronger than ever.

Advertisers’ sentiment and the drive-in proposition WHEN WE WENT to market with the

circuits and we have started booking ad

desperate to get to normality. Cinema is

drive-in proposition, the response from

campaigns again from July onwards.

high on their agenda. A portion of the

advertisers was a tidal wave of positivity.

My experience from the advertising

population may be nervous of enclosed

They understood how it fits in with the

world gives me confidence that this will

environments such as restaurants and

restrictions we face and saw the value

be replicated in consumer behaviour.

cinemas and it is this group for which

for their brands to ride on what could be

The first wave of results from research

drive-in cinema has a really important

the euphoric wave of revnewed social

carried out by Cinema First should be

role to play.

interaction. They loved that this could

available shortly which will gauge the

For all cinema fans, the opportunity

extend to other forms of entertainment

public’s thoughts on coming back to the

to visit a drive-in or outdoor cinema will

such as music, comedy — even theatre.

cinema post-lockdown, but from our

be an exciting proposition and one that

The dialogue around drive-in has

experience over the past few weeks, I

they will feel safe in doing. This will not

enabled us to talk to them in depth

would happily put a wager on it looking

detract from the desire to visit their local

about opportunities in our other cinema

something like this: Consumers are

cinema, but may well enhance it.

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Putting up barriers — in the right way! As a specialist in the use of PVC, Harkness Screens was uniquely placed to support the international effort to combat CV19. Here CEO Mark Ashcroft tells CT how his company is lending support globally.

C

V19 HAS PLACED HUGE pressure not only on cinemas but also on the various technology companies that support cinemas. One such company is Harkness Screens, which, in the middle of its 90th anniversary year, realised that it was in a

unique position to help those in need the best that they can. Rather than close its doors and potentially put staff out of

“Better still, we have a group of employees extremely well

work, the Harkness research and development team promptly

skilled with PVC — and we have been able to keep them in

developed a product range of Personal Protective Equipment

employment throughout this uncertain period. We were able

(PPE) with various applications to help those on the frontline.

roll out specifications to our sites worldwide and now our staff

“What I was told quite early on is that no one was really

create PPE worldwide for those that need it.”

prepared for anything like this,” explains Mark Ashcroft, CEO at

Since launching the Harkness Protect line, Harkness

Harkness, “Turning on the television, that became abundantly

Screens’ PPE has been issued widely. It is in use with the

clear. You saw nurses and volunteers at drive-in testing centres

Bangalore Police, the Indian Navy, various care homes in the UK as well as at some pop-up hospitals

with aprons that looked just like bin bags and masks that didn’t have the capability to be reused.” Ashcroft has been with the company for the past seven years, coming to the screen manufacturer with a wealth of experience in the chemical, party retailing

“Turning on the television, it was clear that aprons in use looked just like bin bags.”

and optical industries. The Lancashire

that have been established to cope with the influx of CV19 cases.

Meanwhile in cinemas... What of Harkness’s core market? Ashcroft explains: “These will have fantastic application in cinemas. Over

native says he was quick to see how best Harkness could use

the past five months or so many cinemagoers will have

their expertise. “I contacted our head of R&D, Laurent Espitalier,

scarcely been in an environment with more than 20 people, so

to see how easy it would be to create various pieces of PPE that

to go from that to an auditorium is a concern for some. We

would be durable, reusable and still lightweight. Quickly he

believe that if our exhibitor customers are looking to make

and the rest of the team had specifications for aprons, barrier

movie-goers as comfortable as possible, we can help.

screens and face shields available for review. The key to the

“Barrier screens can be deployed at any contact points —

whole thing is that we were using materials we already had

the concessions stands and ticket booths, even in hallways to

readily available.

separate arriving and departing customers. We are also able to

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Harkness has seen demand for its PPE screens from all quarters, notably from the hospitality trade, as here at Barge East, a restaurant in Hackney Wick, London

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S C R E E N S

Screens beyond the world of cinema Harkness’ barrier screens are in demand from bars, restaurants and similar public-facing enterprises and barrier screens can readily be made to any size and adjusted to fit any environment. As lockdowns ease worldwide, Ashcroft believes that the barrier screens will be extremely effective and useful for businesses when they reopen. “Feedback from various people who have trialled our barrier screens has been positive,” notes Ashcroft. “Due to PVC being so manageable and our staff being so proficient with it as a material, we are able to fill customer’s needs precisely. In addition to these barrier screens are easy to sanitise and durable. “Our face shields are ANSI certified by world renowned Colt Laboratories and our scientists have modelled airflows to maximise the effectiveness of our barrier screens in helping to prevent the spread of particles.”

offer our reality capture service to help cinemas plan out the

have been pushed back as a result of the pandemic and we

best way to set up a lobby and are currently considering further

are certain that will affect various budgets available to cinemas.

ways to help the cinema experience feel safer.”

This could mean postponement of planned upgrades, which

Launched in 2015, reality capture technology allows for a

could mean they are unable to purchase new screens and

rapid high-definition 3D examination of the built environment

similar. We foresee this until at least the end of 2022 and have

of a cinema. By doing this, architects and exhibitors can map

come up with solutions to reduce the total cost of ownership

out auditoria and public areas and plan how best to use them.

for a screen. We have done this through development of four

This month, Harkness announced it is also looking into

new screens using interfacial technology and can allow for a

ways to separate seating to allow for social distancing. While

50% ownership saving, as well as raising brightness by 40%.

plans are under wraps, Ashcroft is excited about an innovation

Currently, they’re codenamed Go Anywhere, The Black Screen,

that promises to be scientific, entertaining and cost-effective.

Screens4Accountants and HTMC.

Harkness has kept a keen eye on when cinemas reopen.

“Having seen what was happening in China, I knew early

“We’re aware that there will be a domino effect as a result of

on we could optimise our core skills as a screen manufacturer,”

CV19,” Ashcroft said, “Not only will every cinema be losing

Ashcroft said, adding “My colleagues and I want to help those

money, there will be some sort of void of new releases that

in need as much as possible.

Compact+ for simpler transportation With social distancing set to be enforced for the foreseeable future, Harkness Screens is finding new ways to transport screens to reduce chances of infection. Its Compact+ screens launching this summer are a range of easily shipped products that use a crease free technology. This allows them to be transported in smaller packages via a delivery service, removing the need for a lorry — in turn reducing the carbon footprint of a screen. The new range features Perlux HiWhite technology, the industry’s leading white gain projection screen brand.

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R E L A U N C H

HITTING ALL THE RIGHT

BUTTONS

As exhibitors are discovering, switching off all the lights is one thing, but switching them all back on is quite another. Alastair Balmain explores how Motion Picture Solutions rapidly stepped in to support cinemas around the globe to help ensure their projection equipment doesn’t fail on restart.

A

S THE WORLD SWITCHED off the

then ‘know’ its certificate and could therefore not unlock

lights, technology providers were

encrypted content.”

quick to offer support on procedures for powering down projectors, servers

The right people at the right time

and associated technology. Closing

MPS handles content across the theatrical spectrum from

down is one thing — starting up is

post-production to localisation, mastering, distribution

another thing altogether. At London-

and downstream deliverables, but for well over a decade

based film-services company Motion Picture Solutions,

has specialised in delivery of the KDMs that unlock

better known to many simply as “MPS”, managing server

screenings worldwide. Handling millions of these annually,

swaps, projector movements and KDM deliveries globally is

if anyone is in a position to flag a problem, it’s MPS.

just part of the daily routine — so when cinemas all closed,

Despite the majority of its KDM, localisation and

the team quickly realised they had a vital role to play in

mastering teams being forced to work from home, MPS

supporting exhibitors on re-entry.

was quick to create a simple 15-second Interop Encrypted

“Our systems connect to well over 100,000 screens and we were rapidly aware from monitoring that many sites were turning off digital cinema equipment just as they’d flick a switch on the popcorn machine,” explains Tara Farrer, MPS’s head of distribution services, “This was an exceptional time

“When cinemas closed, the MPS team quickly realised they had a vital role to play in supporting restarts”

DCP — localised in 19 languages overnight — and distributed free to cinemas globally. This DCP plays a vital role: it allows cinemas to test servers for successful encrypted playback as often as possible during lockdown. So far, MPS has issued around 100,000 keys for this test material to no fewer than 107 territories, spanning Europe, Asia Pacific, the US, Latin America and Africa. This meant information accompanying the keys had to be translated

to prepare for, so naturally it seemed the sensible thing to

carefully to ensure the message was as widely understood

do. However, a specific — and largely overlooked — concern

as possible. “The outcome was that our cinema support

was raised regarding the cert battery and secure clock built

team have so far had more than 3,000 conversations with

into each cinema server. The industry simply didn’t know

exhibitors around the world,” says Tara, “This allowed us to

how these parts of the digital cinema security chain might

provide essential advice, put them in touch with the correct

react to being powered down for months.” Why would this

technical support and ensure their sites were prepared to

even be a problem? Tara continues: “If a server is powered

reopen. It’s been genuinely rewarding seeing cinemas gear

off too long, its cert battery may drain. Without this battery

up globally to welcome the public again.

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“As we distribute content worldwide this was such an www.cinematech.today


unprecedented time for us. There’s never been a time at

most, but we’ve had great responses from a number of

which nearly the entire digital cinema server network has

chain heads too, proving the concern was universal. It’s

been turned off,” continues Tara, “We’re fortunate in having

been rewarding to do something positive and to know that

a support team used to identifying issues which can be

we’ve played a critical role in cinemas’ reopening.”

Ready to hit reset? Best to check your DCPs will still play on screen first!

followed up locally by professional integrators like Omnex and Sound Associates. Our team’s been pretty busy lately…”

A chance to check other aspects too

Test your DCP playback today!

There have been added benefits to this simple little DCP — many sites have used it to check other elements, notably screen alignment, as Tara explains: “Screen alignment is

THE TEST DCP

perhaps an aspect that hasn’t been considered as closely as

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it should have been over the years. Lockdown has given the

still available to

opportunity to test this to a high standard outside of the

all sites keen to

pressure of business as usual. When you’ve got a queue of

confirm content

people waiting for popcorn, that’s where the money is. We

will screen once

realise cinemas aren’t always thinking of screen alignment!”

they reopen. It

With thousands of exhibitors responding from around

can

be

freely

the world, it’s fair to say the response exceeded expectations

downloaded at the following link https://bit.ly/31b3kQ5

— and at MPS it justified the team’s actions wholeheartedly,

MPS has issued keys for all servers valid for 2 years. Feed back to your support

as Tara notes: “All of us felt fortunate to be in a position to

team or your integrator if issues are found with your encrypted playback.

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AWAKENING THE

ICONS PAST OF THE

“Live in concert” takes on a whole new meaning — Mark Trompeteler reports on a sold-out English National Opera evening that used an old theatrical trick and modern technology to bring the long-deceased Maria Callas back on stage once more.

A

S A PRESENT FOR MY wife, recently our

projectors to the other. Also as she walked past members of

son bought us tickets to a performance at

the orchestra you could see through the image and faintly

the London Coliseum. A third of the way

view musicians through her. When she was centre stage with

back in the front stalls, thanks to the use

nothing behind her except black, the projection and stage

of two front-of-stage digital cinema

lighting made her look solid and realistic.

projectors, we saw what appeared to be

the living image of the (long-dead since 1977) Maria Callas

The ethereal presence of Pepper’s Ghost

walk on stage to give a 115-minute concert of her greatest

Produced by a company called Base Hologram — a subsidiary

arias, accompanied by a live orchestra. It was quite a contrast

of Base Entertainment — American stage director Stephen

from the days of three off-stage Cinerama projectors and the

Wadsworth is creative director for the Callas Hologram World

former glories of Cinerama at the Coliseum. This was an

Tour. Brian Becker, CEO of Base Entertainment, told the press

altogether new projection technology that thrilled the

at the time “We’re celebrating iconic performers and

audience. The 2,400 seat London Coliseum was sold out and

theirperformances and presenting them to audiences to

the audience captivated by the dead diva’s performance.

either see again, or audiences see for the first time.” The simple technology used is a variation of the Victorian theatrical illusion

No need for 3D glasses

“Pepper’s Ghost” [Ed: see our article on the subject in the

The realistic image appeared three-dimensional and rendered

March 2018 issue]. The realistic image is projected onto a thin

in the round — she could turn around, walk about and adjust

metallic — near invisible — gauze rigged at an angle and lit to

her dress and drapes, gesture and perform with emotion just

be imperceptible to the audience. The image appears on the

as she used to in concert. Though you can find footage online,

stage space behind the gauze and has the illusion of being

the image looked far more realistic “live” and the sound was

three dimensional when it actually is not. “This is a 3-D illusion…

fabulous with vocals localised to the hologram and made

But ‘holographic technology’ or ‘hologram’ is just a good

more realistic by the opera house acoustics.

name that people recognise,” explained Becker.

Featuring arguably the greatest singer of the 20th century,

The concert was produced by meticulously editing a

the Callas World Hologram Tour presents viewers with an eery,

programme of the singer’s filmed performances to make up

almost spectral — but also radiant — on stage image experience.

the 115 minute running time. On the visual side, a body double

In white satin gown and red stole with minute movements of

and actress with the same body type and measurements as

her hands and the subtlest facial gestures recreated, the Callas

Callas, was auditioned and cast. For 12 weeks she learned and

on stage is very lifelike, her voice from an especially produced

practised Callas’s every movement and gesture and facial

compilation of her recordings, with a 60-piece live orchestra

expression from original filmed performances. A computer-

accompanying. As she walked on and off stage her image

generated likeness of Callas’s head and face was produced

rippled very slightly as the projected image passed from one

with the mouth exactly synched to the recorded vocals.

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The “original” diva: painstaking use of technology is giving viewers the opportunity to experience the performances of cultural icons like Maria Callas.

Setting the scene For footage of “Maria Callas in Concert” click on bit.ly/2APtwoQ

www.cinematech.today


projection

On the audio side, the edited soundtrack had all the music

reflect projected images, but it also reveals or shows anything

removed so just the vocals remained on the finished digital file

behind, when carefully lit. This means projected images and

that was be projected. The actress was then filmed in the best

live action can be blended seamlessly and become part of the

definition, literally re-performing the edited compilation of the

same performance. At one point in this concert the conductor

original low-definition colour and monochrome versions of

even appeared to shake hands with the

Callas’s performances. The CGI face was superimposed on the

projected Callas. Two Epson Pro-L laser

high-definition film and the high- definition moving image file

projectors placed low on the front of the

for the concert was then ready with a synched soundtrack of

stage projected “Callas” onto the gauze.

just the vocals and without an orchestra.

The effect was stunning and it

“Maria Callas did — effectively — join us at the opera house and sing her most beautiful arias.”

A click track was prepared to help synch the live orchestra

seems the realism of these projected

with the new film file. Each musician has the score and an

“holograms” of past performance icons

earpiece as does the conductor. Rehearsals took place with

is getting better and better. Callas did

the film and the click track played into their earpieces. The

effectively join us at the opera house, walk onto the stage and

click track helps the musicians, orchestra and conductor keep

off, and sing a selection of the most beautiful arias with a live

in synch with the Callas “hologram” on stage.

orchestra. It was a new type of projected moving image performance which I have never experienced before. The

Modern images, traditional instruments

audience seemed to love the concert even if — on one or two

Holo-Gauze is a theatrical gauze combined with a highly

occasions — they could possibly see through the magic.

reflective metallic coating. It has the property that it will solidly

For more, see www.baseentertainment.com

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E V E N T S

Audiences… Growing the big screen experience

UKCA Conference, London

P

ROJECTING BACK

Many had travelled from all over

Edgar Wright on cinema

to the calm we

Europe to be there. UKCA chief exec

Powster’s loud and impressive sizzle

enjoyed earlier in

Phil Clapp set the tone with an opening

reels kicked it all off followed by what

the year is difficult,

address for a two-day event that unlike

for many was the highlight of the day.

but before CV19

previous conferences would stress the

Edgar Wright, director of cult hits like

closed cinemas and livelihoods stalled,

theme of audience development and

“Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”,

the UK Cinema Association hosted its

focus on demographics that had not

“World’s End” and more recently “Baby

previously enjoyed the attention they

Driver”, was the day’s keynote speaker.

deserved. This year, the focus was on

A natural, unscripted orator, Edgar sent

youth, disabled, BAME, female and

us down memory lane with tales of his

LGBTQ+ audiences by way of spotlights

first experience at the Galaxy Cinema

on festivals, audience development

in Westover Road, Swanage, “where, to

schemes and exhibitors’ initiatives.

me aged 5, the stars on the ceiling

annual conference… Let’s reminisce about happier times ­— 12th and 13th February, writes Melissa Cogavin. On the first day the atmosphere was buzzing, and the auditorium at

The UKCA’s Phil Clapp gave a positive outlook on the box office — just before lockdown took hold. Events…

Picturehouse Central was packed.

Streaming, binge-viewing, audience home truths?

6 6

Streaming threat?: ComScore’s Lucy Jones

Binge-viewing: The dapper Malcolm

showed via a series of helpful infographics

Macmillan of Webedia went into some

that the threat of online streaming on

depth about binge viewing, the impact on

cinema attendance is not as dire as we

advertising revenue and the huge drop in

might have feared, a theme that was

linear TV consumption amongst the

current throughout the two-day event.

younger generation. He made an

Indeed, Lucy demonstrated that average

interesting observation that the current TV

screen time on various devices started at 9

demographic skews much older than

minutes for a phone, 18 minutes for a

cinema, which is consistently attracting

tablet, 35 minutes for a laptop, 65 minutes

audiences in the 16-34 age group, so

for a TV but a whopping 110 minutes — a

advertisers wishing to attract the binge-

feature film length — for the cinema screen,

watching, Netflix generation would do

a comforting statistic for cinema advertisers

better to cast their net wider and advertise

everywhere. The effects on cinema

on the big screen in order to reach them. To

attendance at the sudden lurch towards

underline this point he added that over a

streaming for many distributors remains

10-year period the percentage of cinema-

to be seen, but since this presentation the

goers who buy tickets once a year had

mood in general seems upbeat and positive

jumped from 79% to 88%, so clearly there is

overall; it will just take time to recover.

an opportunity among these numbers.

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A spotlight on the Rio Dalston Andrew Woodyatt’s impressive presentation (left) showed the evolution of the Rio in Dalston from disused flea pit to hip community hub; their particular focus is on the young, and especially LGBTQ audience, winning awards and a devoted following as a result. Woodyatt stressed that Gen Z (ie born post-2000) aren’t impressed by brands and that authenticity of experience, not stuff, is key to their loyalty. This deep understanding has clearly paid off at the Rio Dalston.

merged with the stars in George Lucas’

good to hear a prominent director

galaxy so the first thing I saw was an

being direct about his impressions

Imperial Star Destroyer emerging out

of the cinema-going experience. It’s

of the night sky”.

good to hear home truths sometimes.

Networking galore in a thoroughly modern cinema

the pre-roll is — in his view — ridiculous and irritating. He’s right. Overall the shared experience was

44%

what hee was keen to stress. Edgar

The number of cinemagoers persuaded to see “Parasite” by critics’ reviews.

competition and the perceived threats

Edgar’s childlike joy of the cinema

‘Commercials are too long,’ he

reminded us all why we were there,

complained. Why promote the Big

regaling us with a series of anecdotes,

Screen Experience to audiences who

he admitted to spending so much

are already there? Why preach to the

time at the movies that “Time Out”

converted? That was hard to counter.

actually noted that prolonged visits to

He groaned at lavish advertising that

the capital might result in a sighting of

precedes the equally lavish product

two years since 1970. Film-making in

director Edgar Wright in the audience.

placement in the Bond films. Featuring

the UK is booming, albeit on hold

He was critical too though, and it was

clips of the film he was about to see in

currently. There is a huge opportunity

challenged exhibitors in the audience to be the best they can be, in a time of from streamers (pandemics aside). As Phil Clapp explained, box office was the best it had been in the past

for exhibitors to make their offering the best in Europe, if not the world, against such a positive backdrop.

Insight on exit polling… applause that met Edgar Wright’s keynote with her usual slick delivery of statistics across the UK and Ireland cinema sector, devoting a lot of time to exit polls ComScore had conducted at screenings of the Best Picture Oscar winner “Parasite”, with some surprising results. “Parasite” bucked trends in countless ways but ComsScore’s exit polls showed almost half respondents — 44% — bought tickets having actually been persuaded by critics’ reviews, which are normally responsible for Jake Harvey from the Phoenix Cinema and Arts Centre in Leicester explores local film festival strands

www.cinematech.today

around 6% of ticket sales. There were a number of spotlight sessions during the event that looked into

various

aspects

of

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Photography: Julie Edwards - www.julieedwardsphotography.co.uk

Lucy Jones followed up the roars of


E V E N T S

audience

development.

These

included MASSIVE, supported by the BFI and run by David Kapur, a familiar face in the industry having established OurScreen and ElevenFiftyFive, both audience

development

initiatives.

MASSIVE is devoted to growing youth audience, promoting cinema via social media, partnerships and screenings. Essentially a membership organisation modelled on OurScreen, in David’s explanation about the youth market he drew attention to some underlying paradoxes in audiences today: There has been a slight dip in attendance, but a massive increase in attendance among the young. Social media engagement in 2020 is now the most important element of movie

marketing,

but

loneliness

among disconnected young people

David Kapur gave his insights into audience development, including the launch of MASSIVE, which focuses on youth audiences

facilities at the cinema, and yet,

with support from organisations like

according to Rick Williams, who gave

the BFI and the National Lottery, we

an in-depth and persuasive speech in

saw examples of success from Dorothy

the

not

Smith of Zeffirellis and Jake Harvey

considered a business imperative’ by

from the Phoenix Cinema and Arts

decision-makers in exhibition.

Centre in Leicester, whose celebration

afternoon,

‘disability

is

remains an urgent and thus far

The mood historically in this area

of Indian cinema has seen a substantial

unresolved issue, but which chimes in

has been reactive, not proactive. The

rise in attendance from the city’s Asian

well with the noise on mental health

opportunity to cater for a select group

residents. Of the UK population, BAME

awareness that has been making

is not seen as a way of reaching 8m

people account for 14% of the total,

headlines over the last 12 months.

customers, more a drain on resources.

7.5% of these are Asian or of Asian

Clearly, according to Rick, those who

descent,

speculate will accumulate.

Fellowes, who gave an entertaining

Cinema for all In the afternoon, the UKCA’s James Connor kicked off an intelligent debate in the session “Disabled Audiences — Maximising Opportunities For Us All” featuring

a

refreshing

line-up

of

speakers from prominent independent cinemas around the UK.

22% The disabled account for 22% of the UK population: a demographic best not to ignore

Disability as a group routinely gets

according

to

Stephen

and memorable round-up of the UK

Festivals for all audiences

cinema landscape as he sees it.

Film Festivals are now a familiar sight

He credited the BFI’s Diversity

catering for every conceivable genre,

Standards agenda for a positive effect

ethnicity and sexual orientation, and

on BAME cinema attendance in recent

these have done much to raise the

years, adding that over the course of

profile of anything from horror films to

exhaustive research of viewing habits,

Bollywood. Usually grass-roots led,

the age, tastes, preferences, even types

a lot of attention at UKCA regional events with updates from around the country about visually and hearing impaired but usually it is around the progress of ramp access, subtitle facilities and so on within cinemas regionally. This was a more broadbrush session with some fascinating top line numbers: Disabled people number 22% of the population and are a significant demographic that is

110 Average no. of mins cinema audiences focus on the screen. Compared with 9 for a mobile.

all too often forgotten in the leisure industry. 60% of these have disability needs that require special access 6 8

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www.cinematech.today


of cinemas attended revealed various

Encouraging diversity

idiosyncrasies that until now had gone

It was impressive seeing such fervent

unnoticed. War films weren’t popular

efforts to encourage diversity, to

Jane Woodason of the Light Cinemas expanded on

but Asian audiences love an action

engage with disparate groups and get

her circuit’s dementia screenings. In an era when

movie, for example. Or, according to

to know audiences in such depth;

data segmentation seems on everybody’s lips, event

Samir Bhamra, from the UK Asian Film

these initiatives, judging by the smiles

cinema actively caters to the senior market. With

Festival, regional differences among

and positive comments we saw from

economists everywhere waxing lyrical over affluent

Asian audiences are so acute that “In

customers in speech bubbles on the

‘boomers’ and ‘Grey Pounds’, dementia screenings

Coventry they don’t even know what

various powerpoints, those efforts are

are another area that, like event cinema, will fill

an independent film is,” he explained.

clearly appreciated.

empty auditoria mid-morning, traditionally a quiet

Dementia-friendly screenings

While growing these audiences is

time, and those exhibitors who go the extra mile to

important, let’s not lose sight of the

keep lighting up, sound low, choose easily accessible

commercial opportunity segmenting

auditoria and introduce the screening see a room of

Great works nationwide

and exploiting all of these audiences

nostalgic customers, at ease enjoying themselves.

There were impressive presentations

presents. Executed properly the BAME

‘It’s about minimising anxiety,’ Jane explained, and

on Women’s Cinema and promoting

Pound, the Disability Pound and the

showed us photos of rooms full of people having a

equal opportunities in film-making

Women’s Pound will likely become as

sing-song and clapping hands enthusiastically.”

from the Reclaim The Frame festival;

carefully exploited in marketing circles

we heard from Kathy Wilson at Derby

as the Grey pound and the Pink Pound.

QUAD whose work with the local deaf

Against the backdrop of Coronavirus,

workers and our neighbours. The

community is inspirational. We Are

all of these initiatives will become even

cinema has a crucial role to play in

Parable, the events company fronted

more important once cinemas reopen.

future to continue providing this sense

by Anthony Andrews and his wife

Audience development becomes

of community. At the UKCA 2020

Teanne are committed to recognising

not just an add-on but a critical

cinema’s positive representations of

element to the future survival of the

black

an

business. Lately we have rediscovered

impressive presentation showing their

the value of our communities, our key

“They would ask me ‘Well is it from India? Or Pakistan?’”

culture,

They

delivered

Film director Edgar Wright gave a well-received keynote speech on the significance of the big screen

Conference we were treated to a valuable

education

which

should

become a focal point for cinemas not just in the UK, but everywhere.

work with Black Panther and its premiere at the BFI Southbank. “Times have changed a lot in a couple of generations,” Anthony told us, and it was time to celebrate. One of the event’s highlights was a presentation by Dan Ellis, owner of the Jam Jar Cinema in Whitley Bay, whose hilarious account of the opening of the town’s independent cinema, from the germination of a crazy idea to the opening day via a flawed business plan and with no idea about digital cinema into a fabulous success story, was frankly hilarious. It is heartening to see the positive impact that a cinema that is truly engaged with its customers can have on a community; Dan’s clear passion and charisma have worked so well they are opening a second screen and have raised sufficient money for a lift for disability access. www.cinematech.today

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O P I N I O N ‘Security theatre’? Don’t frighten the horses… When cinemas reopen, being demonstrably “clean” will be seen as a priority, but as CT’s Alastair Balmain argues, perhaps exhibitors should consider not labouring this particular point too much.

G

RANNY’S GOT CORONA…” I confess that

messages about gloves, hand sanitiser, sneeze screens and

the call we received some weeks back

masks “for customer protection”, what we’re actually saying

about my 99-year-old grandmother-in-

is: “Come to the cinema… if you like living life on the edge”.

law seemed daunting. Unsurprisingly at

I can see how my view may run counter to the accepted

her age, she’s in a care home, so catching

groupthink and that we should, of course, insist that front of

Covid-19 didn’t come as a huge shock. We braced ourselves.

house teams dress like Dustin Hoffman in his yellow hazmat

You can imagine our relief when, a week later, the follow-up

suit, but perhaps we should not overplay “security theatre”

call had a more positive tone: “She’s recovered… her main

too much? Maybe washing our hands more often, catching

concern now is where her digestive biscuits have got to.”

our coughs and keeping a respectful distance is sufficient to

It’s been a funny few months. Worldwide, familes have been struck by tragedy — and I’m sure all know of individuals

satisfy the concerns of those who are confident enough to attempt to resume their normal lives.

taken by this terrible scourge — yet stories like the one above demonstrate, fundamentally, that life also goes on. You’d be

Safe to go back in the water?

hard pushed to say that it’s life as normal right now though.

I had my car serviced the other day. The garage I went to was outstanding. The seats were slathered in fresh sheets of

Go ahead, punk… Wash your hands.

throwaway plastic, it was sanitised to within an inch of its life,

But the semblance of normal life is returning. In the UK,

my key returned in a ziplock bag, and I got to keep the pen I

cinemas reopen from 4th July. If ever there was a better case

used to sign on the dotted line. “What a palaver,” I yelled to

for a re-run of “Independence Day”, I don’t know what it is. Of

the chap some distance from me behind the service desk.

course it’s not 100% normal life. Not yet. As you can read

“With all due respect, you’re not the customer we’re doing it

throughout this issue, concern, consideration, and provision

for,” was the immediate — and accurate — response.

will be made for the inevitable “PPE”, all of which is done

When cinemas reopen, I’ll stand in the elongated queue,

with the best of intentions — to demonstrate actions taken

I’ll book online and I’ll follow the authorised route to my

to protect customers and staff alike. To use the parlance of

isolated seat. But in all honesty, I’ll do so with a faintly devil-

the airline industry, it’s good “security theatre”. People can

may-care attitude. And I bet that’s true of the majority of

see safety. It wears blue gloves and smells of hand sanitiser.

those who visit the cinema in the next few months. They’ll

I have a concern. If we overplay the adoption of such

be there not because it’s 100% safe to go back in the water,

measures, do we not simply intensify fear further, jeopardising

but because they know and accept the associated risks. Let’s

the audience’s enthusiastic return? To me, if we broadcast

give them reasons to come, not reasons to stay away.

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