Cinema Technology Magazine - September 2022 Edition

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The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals > VOL.35 NO.3 > 09/22 THE RISE & RISE OF BOUTIQUE CINEMA Premium cinema with luxury (home) comforts The Living Room Cinema The journey from idea to reality Exploring the Metaverse What it is and what it means for cinema 3D’s Time to Shine RealD prepares us for the coming Avatar spectacular








Gofilex expands into the APAC region

Harkness unveils new software platform, myHarkness


David Hancock looks at the current trajectory of the cinema recovery


The Really Local Group goes from strength to strength in their quest to upgrade the high street


A Spotlight On shines on Parkway Cinemas in the north of England


Claire Beswick talks us through the journey of opening a cinema during a pandemic

Motion Picture Solutions Ltd,

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As Arts Alliance Media approaches its 20th anniversary in cinema, we profile the company and their products


Comscore's latest box office update comes after a red hot summer


The Metaverse: what it's all about and how it's relevant to the future of cinema


In the run up to "Avatar: The Way of Water", RealD's Bobbie Andrews talks us through how to prepare



Rob Arthur talks about why localisation is so important

Personality is key to success: Mandy Kean explains why




ADVERTISING: BOB CAVANAGH Caixa Postal 2011, Vale da Telha, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal

T: +351 282 997 050


ICTA's latest column updates us on their summer activities


CTC: Richard Mitchell looks to maintaining and sustaining the recovery so far



Comscore's Lucy Jones breaks away from box office data to tell us a bit about her

M: +351 962 415 172



Cinema Technology is mailed to IMIS Members. For subscription details and to read the magazine online, visit or email 09/22 > 3

Bring any Screen to Life!

Whatever size, brightness or flexibility you need, the NEC ML DC Laser Projectors deliver the ultimate theatre experience.

Captivate your audience with ultra-crisp almost speckle-free RB Laser technology with 18, 20 or 24,000 lumens and 2K or 4K resolutions, whilst benefitting from lens inter-changeability with the NC2000 Series.




Sprinkle the Magic, Create the Spectacle

A scorcher of a summer and a succulent National Cinema Day both give the industry reasons to selebrate... sorry, the alliteration was too tempting.

As we find ourselves approaching an autumn season with fewer “big hitter” tentpole films on the release schedule than we’d like, it can become easy to feel downbeat; particularly with certain recent news stories swirling around. But it’s imperative that, as an industry, we shouldn’t forget the summer we’ve just had. Both in terms of weather and box office, it was a scorcher - two things that usually don’t go together. And the line up of “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Minions: Rise of Gru”, “Jurassic Park Dominion” showed WHY PEOPLE LOVE THE CINEMA. (It needs shouting about.)

As if any more proof was needed, just look at the recent, hugely successful, National Cinema Day in the UK & Ireland, US and Canada. Not only were the figures incredible - particularly for a one-day event that *wasn’t* promoted for months in advance - but it also spawned subsequent initiatives in other countries.

And so, during this period of “feast vs famine”, we have to continue to innovate in every way possible: technology, experience, customer service, showmanship. On that latter note, the cinema visit should - in my humble opinion - be like going to the theatre, with theatrical magic sprinkled liberally where possible, something that many independents do so well already (read on for some examples in this edition). Every visit to any cinema should leave people with a sense of “wow”, something that’s beyond the ordinary. And their lasting

impression shouldn’t only be dependent on if the film’s any good or not. An average movie can be forgiven if the whole experience is special. And this doesn’t come only from huge investment or super time-consuming activities. There are lots of simple touches that can make all the difference.

Thinking Outside the Box

Service-to-seat, an usher or MC who introduces the film, a signature cocktail or special promotional film-themed snackthere are plenty of ways to create a special experience, it just takes some imagination. And aren’t we supposed to be the industry of storytelling and imagination? Isn’t that what films are all about?

And on that note... I posted this on LinkedIn a few weeks ago but it feels appropriate to add here: for that special touch, I’m available for a pre-film performance or monologue. My rates are reasonable and I have my own costumes.

THE & RISE Premium cinema with luxury (home) comforts 09/22 > 5 The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals VOL.35 NO.3 09/22
The Living Room Cinema The journey from idea to reality Exploring the Metaverse What it is and what it means for cinema 3D’s Time to Shine RealD prepares us for the coming Avatar spectacular

Gofilex APAC Expansion Launches in Australia and New Zealand


Australia & NZ

Gofilex APAC launched in May 2022

FILM content delivery company, Gofilex, has formally opened business in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The expansion sees Gofilex’s services extend to Australia and New Zealand, managed by a newly-formed team.

Current APAC General Managers of MPS and Deluxe, respectively Jason Harrod and Teresa

Hobbs, have grown their current roles to become co-general managers of Gofilex APAC, heading up the Sydney- and Melbourne-based team

Gofilex runs e-delivery distribution infrastructure globally, delivering content, trailers, DCPs, electronic advertising, directly to cinemas.

BFI Resumes Operating Iconic BFI

THE British Film Institute (BFI) has resumed its direct operation of Waterloo’s iconic BFI IMAX cinema. Tickets for screenings of “Thor: Love & Thunder” at the end of July went on sale at the beginning of the same month.

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round-up of the global industry newS, views & events

Harkness Screens Unveils New Collaborative Design and Specification Software Platform

Harkness Screens has launched its brand new software platform, myHarkness, for screen specification and design.

DESIGNED with customer experience in mind, the myHarkness platform provides a cloud-based collaborative environment enabling users to work alone or together as a team, using a number of tools to create positive outcomes from cinema screen design and specification.

“myHarkness is the result of more than a decade of investment by Harkness into developing leading technology tools to support our global customers in driving better outcomes from their screen technology investments,” explains

Mark Ashcroft, CEO, Harkness Screens. “myHarkness builds on those tools creating a cloud-based collaborative platform that will revolutionise the Harkness customer experience, bringing them closer to our products and our expertise,” he adds.

Available on Windows, Android and iOS, the cloud-based platform integrates Harkness’ leading software toolsmyHarkness Calculator, Modeller and Planner - into a workflow that enables users to manage new build and refurbishment projects where screens are an important consideration.

Harkness Screens has unveiled the myHarkness platform
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myHarkness Calculator

QUICK and easy to use, the myHarkness Calculator calculates the capabilities of equipment choices and provides recommendations on projector, light source and screen choices based upon chosen screen size and maximum brightness levels for 2D and 3D. It also calculates theoretical operating costs and shows how screen choice might reduce these dramatically.

myHarkness Modeller

THE Modeller tool allows users to visualise and optimise digital cinema scenarios in a virtual 3D environment, reviewing presentation quality from every seat in the auditorium. With in-depth analysis tools, the myHarkness Modeller helps users make more informed decisions about room geometry, seating, screen, projection and 3D technology choices before they’re even installed.

myHarkness Planner

THE myHarkness Planner helps those specifying screens to reduce risk by carrying out complex calculations ahead of procuring screens. From physical screen curvature and tilt, through to specifying the physical sheet size, the myHarkness Planner is an ideal tool for ensuring that these key construction design elements and the actual screen specified are correct prior to the project, helping to prevent mistakes or potentially costly on-site delays.

The three utilities form a seamless workflow and through the myHarkness cloud-based data tools, project data created in one utility can be passed on to the next, allowing for data to flow seamlessly through the project. myHarkness allows for users to collaborate on projects together for the first time, allowing teams to work closely to define and optimise presentation and screen technology.

Users can also access their data seamlessly on any device, anywhere with a uniform experience, whether in a web browser or on an iPhone or tablet.

“Over the past ten years, our first-generation apps have become the de facto industry tools for screen design and specification. The myHarkness project has allowed us to rebuild these tools from the ground up using the latest technologies whilst encompassing all the feedback and ideas from our user community, such as localisation, so these truly are the tools that the cinema industry needs and wants. The myHarkness infrastructure provides a platform to develop a range of modules focused around education, commercial support and fulfilment that will provide our users and customers with a truly unique experience,” explains Richard Mitchell, VP, myHarkness.


Cinionic, the global leader in cinema solutions, now powers the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater, in Beverly Hills, with its brightest laser projection solution. The upgrade to laser projection by Cinionic elevates the theater’s movie presentation with stunning 4K laser picture quality that is exclusively available in cinema settings.

The excitement of the big screen

The new Barco laser projector from Cinionic provides high brightness, colour gamut and exquisite picture quality. Laser projection from Cinionic works seamlessly with the theater’s state-of-the-art sound system to present films at maximum technical accuracy.

Cinionic Gives the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater a Laserpowered Upgrade 09/22 > 9 >

Cineworld Group Commences Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing


CINEWORLD Group plc and its subsidiaries, the world’s secondlargest cinema operator in 10 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom with 747 sites and 9,139 screens globally, has announced that Cineworld and certain of its subsidiaries have commenced Chapter 11 cases in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

As part of the Chapter 11 cases, Cineworld, with the expected support of its secured lenders, will seek to implement a deleveraging transaction that will significantly reduce the Group’s debt, strengthen its balance sheet and provide the financial strength and flexibility to accelerate, and capitalise on, Cineworld’s strategy in the cinema industry. The Group Chapter 11 Companies enter the Chapter 11 cases with commitments for an approximate $1.94 billion debtor-in-possession financing facility from existing lenders, which will help ensure Cineworld’s operations continue in the ordinary course

while Cineworld implements its reorganisation.

As previously announced, it is expected that any deleveraging transaction will result in very significant dilution of existing equity interests in the Group and there is no guarantee of any recovery for holders of existing equity interests. The Company does not expect the Chapter 11 filing to result in a suspension of trading in its shares on the London Stock Exchange.

The Group Chapter 11 Companies expect to file a proposed plan of reorganisation (the “Plan”) with the Court in due course and to meet the necessary requirements to emerge from Chapter 11 as expeditiously as possible. Cineworld currently anticipates emerging from Chapter 11 during the first quarter of 2023 and is confident that a comprehensive financial restructuring is in the best interests of the Group and its stakeholders, taken as a whole, in the long term.

The world’s second-largest cinema company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Cinionic & China Film Group Team Up to Bring CINITY Technology to Barcelona for 20th Century Studio’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” Sneak Peek

Cinionic and China Film Group teamed up to bring attendees of this year’s CineEurope a first look at 20th Century Studios’ “Avatar: The Way of Water”, releasing later this year in December. As the official projection partner of the annual cinema event in Barcelona, Cinionic’s awardwinning laser solutions power all screenings and presentations during the event in the CCIB’s 3000-person auditorium.

CTC’s High Frame Rate White Paper Release

The CTC has released a white paper detailing the High Frame Rate (HFR) capabilities of Digital Cinema Equipment. It’s available on the website: www.cinema-technology. com. 09/22 > 11 CT NEWSREEL >

Severtson Exhibits Popular Options for Folded Cinema Projection Screens During ExpoCine 2022

SEVERTSON Screens featured its most popular options for its acclaimed folded SēVision 3D GX line of cinema projection screens during ExpoCine 2022, held in São Paulo, Brazil, in September. Severtson also featured its updated cinema screen “Price Estimator” for its dealer base during the show.

The new folded line of SēVision 3D GX and Ultra Wide cinema screens are now available for delivery to international destinations, having numerous advantages, including: Available in standard or micro perforation (white and silver)

Coated surface that is harder to bruise and scuff

Small micron flake coating produces a sharper image, eliminating graininess in bright scenes

Viewing angles range from 30-40 degree half-gain depending on specific screen gain requested

Water-based coating promotes longevity by maintaining optical properties over time, eliminating flaking and cracking of the screen surface

Perfect for large cinema applications (movie houses, museums, universities etc.)

Merlin Cinemas to Take Over Regent Operations

MERLIN Cinemas has announced that the company will soon be operating in North Yorkshire at The Regent Redcar cinema, following the successful redevelopment by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. This will be the seventeenth cinema in the Merlin Cinemas Group.

Home to three fully air conditioned, state-of-the-art screens, each with wheelchair access, the venue also includes a cafe and bar with a terraced area overlooking the beach, offering panoramic views of the coastline. Merlin Cinemas

is an experienced operator with decades in the industry in similar locations. The company’s aim is to bring the big screen experience to local communities, by offering some of the best value cinema ticket prices in the UK, with their very popular discount card also available; The Movie Magic Card.

Merlin Cinemas started in 1990 at the then-single-screen cinema, the Savoy Penzance in Cornwall; now a four-screen venue with bar and restaurant.

Severtson Screens’ Folded MicroPerf screen
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After more than two highly unsettled years, as content holders experimented with other release strategies, the vast majority of the world’s cinema screens are now back open and operating. As the sector moves towards some sort of normality, the US studios are backing cinemas as the principal vector of their output’s revenue maximisation strategy once again, but some mid-level films are staying away, for now, having moved into streaming out of necessity. With positive recovery underway in some countries, others are proving to be more concerning.

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What the Figures are Saying

Global box office grew by 79.3% in 2021, passing $20bn after a 72.5% drop in 2020. In 2021 the market began slowly, with many screens shut in the early part of the year. But confidence and expectation began to build in the summer as studios released their bigger movies, leading up to a strong fourth quarter as “No Time to Die”, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” brought many audiences back. However, global box office for the year was still only half of what it was in 2019 ($42bn) and while box office is predicted by Omdia to exceed $30bn in 2022, it is not back to normal levels yet. This forecast has dropped since the beginning of the year, with China’s lockdowns and the war in Ukraine contributing to the reduced global expected box office.

Once again in 2021, as with 2020, only three countries exceeded $1bn in box office revenue, compared with eight in 2019. The top three markets remained the same as in 2019 and 2020 (China, USA, Japan), and China continued its stay as the world’s largest box office market. However, the test will be whether China remains in this position in a more normal cinema year, which may not be 2022, given the lockdowns they’ve seen so far.

Most countries experienced a rise in box office revenue in 2021 following the shock closures in 2020, although Japan’s growth was a single digit. The North American market grew by 100% in 2021, as the major studios eased back into a theatrical release strategy for major movies. Of the top 10 markets, three doubled in size in 2021 compared to 2020’s level. And some countries are recovering more strongly than others so far in 2022. The UK is at 80% of the 2019 figure for the first seven months of the year, France 73% and the USA 69% (bearing in mind the 2019 figure was a very good year). However, the recovery in other countries such as Italy (43% of

... of North America’s leading 10 films were franchises in 2021

2019’s first six months) is less vibrant and indicates some resistance to recovery, although good movies do provide a stimulus even in these more intransigent markets. As an example, Italy was at 75% of 2019’s monthly figure in June 2022 by the release of “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Elvis”. However, these numbers clearly show that pre-COVID levels are not yet there. The hope of the industry, proven correct, was that the rush of blockbusters would bring back the cinemagoing habit for all audiencesalthough a difficult autumn period follows the big summer successes, due to a lull in the film slate.

Expansion Plans on Hold

3Screen growth has been impacted by the pandemic, as exhibitors had to close screens and pause growth plans. Many have gone ahead with contractually-agreed openings, deferring growth plans to a later date. Omdia data suggests that screen decline is relatively limited so far, but that is in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 and the medium term is less certain.

The number of countries that exceeded $1bn in box office revenue in 2021, compared with eight in 2019

Global box office for 2021 was only half of what it was in 2019

9 50%

In screen volume terms, the last decade belonged to Asia and Oceania. The number of screens in this region more than tripled from 2010 to 2021, from 32,311 to 112,777. This was driven by the growth experienced mainly in China, from just over 7,000 screens in 2010 to more than 80,000 by end-2021. Screen growth slowed in 2020, partly due to the pandemic’s

effect on finances but also due to near saturation of the Chinese market, although a new government five-year plan has set new targets for growth and provided greater clarity for exhibitors and the industry alike.

There are some examples of

ANALYSIS 09/22 > 15

growth in mature markets, the most striking being the UK.

Driven by the popularity of boutique cinema, the UK screen base is already back in a growth phase, although with plans softened by the effects of COVID-19. Global net screen growth has been driven by China for the past decade, and even more so in the last two years. Even if the number of net screens in China has halved during the pandemic (standing at 4,500 in 2021), net screen growth elsewhere has been negligible, with any strong growth markets balanced out by closures.

The Big-numbers Films

By mid-2022, box office levels for the major titles were working back to where they should be, with “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” nearing $1bn worldwide (the latter far exceeding the revenues earned by the first outing in 2016) and “Top Gun: Maverick” well exceeding this milestone ($1.4bn by midAugust 2022). In 2021, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” became the sixth-highest grossing films of all time on its release at the end of the year ($1.9bn). However, in 2021, there were still two Chinese films (with no international release) in the top five movies globally, which underlines that the global market was still some way off normality.

Franchises are particularly important in the cinema recovery. Nine of North America’s leading 10 films were franchises and a new round of superheroes in the Marvel canon is expected to drive the market this decade. Franchises accounted for 68% of the top 50 movies released in 2021. However, their box office presence is even higher, with earnings comprising 79.7% of the top 50 movies’ revenue in 2021, underlining again how reliant cinemas are on this product.

The Mid-Level Film Market

At mid-market level, however, the picture is still evolving, and these films are not in the market in the same way as before, with the independent sector not currently well represented in cinemas. At the end of 2021 in the USA, there was 48% of the number of films on release compared to the 2019 level (and compared to one third at the beginning of 2021) and the level has not substantially altered throughout 2022. This will impact the box office generated as much as any remaining consumer hesitancy.

Some indie projects went to streaming as COVID-19 hit, and the lead time for a film project means that they will not be back this year or maybe even next. However, the larger streaming companies have talked about moving into theatrical, where greater global prominence and cultural relevance lies, and this may indicate the return of the market’s mid-level, if somewhat altered in distributor make-up.

A Studio Overview

Film studios fared better in 2021 than 2020. Studio market share in 2021 in North America was 84.8%, the highest for some time, even if 2021 was still an atypical year. Globally, in 2021 US studios accounted for 48.7% of global box office revenue ($3.6bn) of a global gross of $10.2bn, still well down on the $26bn earned in 2019. But their penetration rate is edging back toward the normal global mark of 60%+ studio revenues, and there seem few pretenders to their global distribution throne.

Release and production volumes for key mid-market studio labels Lionsgate and STX Entertainment were well down in 2022, the latter for the past three years.

Premium Cinema and Technology

After “Chicken Little” kicked off digital 3D in cinemas back in 2005, 3D remains the single largest category of premium cinema, making up 61% of the world’s screens in 2021, although much of this is in China. 3D was not “a fad” but it is in decline - and the performance and reaction to “Avatar: The Way of Water” will be closely watched to see if this earliest premium technology has a future.

The total number of Premium Large Format (PLF) screens rose 9.9% in 2021, going past 5,000 screens for the first time and recovering from a lower annual growth rate of 4.2% in 2020. The resurgence in growth was driven by exhibitor PLF, which recorded a 15.4% surge in screens versus just 6.2% for global formats. Much of this was driven within China. The total market for 4D/IMS reached 1,966 by the end of 2021, with 4D screens accounting for the largest share (59%) led by two key brands in this area: 4DX (CJ 4DPLEX) and MX4D (MediaMation). Immersive motion seating company, D-BOX, is the largest provider, by number of screens, in this category. The growth rate of 4D/IMS between

The World’s Leading Exhibitors

AMC is the world’s largest movie theatre chain with 10,982 screens, internationally active across 14 countries. And US group Cinemark, which is very strong in Latin America & the Caribbean, has 5,957 screens across 17 countries.

Wanda is still China’s second-largest circuit at nearly 6,000 screens, after Guangdong Dadi with 7,178 screens.

Cineworld Group - who also owns Regal in the US - is the second largest global circuit with 9,296 screens over 14 countries. The company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.

Mexican chain Cinepolis now covers 19 countries and 6,359 screens. These international groups lead the market, but the level of fragmentation is still relatively high with the top 10 exhibitors accounting for 30% of the global screen base. China’s cinema circuits show no interest in growing outside of their home market, which is unsurprising as growth is still relatively strong. However, the market is likely to eventually plateau. In total, 13 of the top 20 worldwide circuits are Chinese, active only in their domestic market. Whereas all of the non-Chinese circuits in the top 20 are very focused on global growth and are present in multiple countries.

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2020 and 2021 was 2.8%.

There were around 8,000 immersive sound screens globally in 2021, with the majority housed in global or exhibitor-branded format screens, plus several standalone branded screens. Dolby Atmos, the largest provider, had 6,100 screens installed by the end of 2021.

Another area that COVID-19 has impacted and shifted is that of mobile/web-based use for ticketing. In many countries, over 90% of tickets are now being bought this way - an important development.

Where Restaurant Meets Cinema

Dine-in cinema straddles the cinema and restaurant/ hospitality sectors. This market is very much in the mainstream in the US, with major circuits offering dine-in experiences. But the US also has many specialist dining cinema circuits, in a way few other countries do. The US screen base for dine-in cinema has grown substantially in the past five years, now sitting at 8% of all US screens, with cinemas offering this as a key way to differentiate from the home environment.

No Time For Complacency

The cinema business is not out of the woods yet, and even though recovery looks positive in some countries, there remain some problem areas. The issue of windows for major movies has been resolved in favour of the cinema exhibition sector. Cinema’s ability to launch and build value for IP cannot be matched by any of the experiments tried by distributors, not least due to the increased prevalence of piracy for day-and-date releases.

However, the nature of future cinema content is still unclear outside of major releases, and it would be a great loss (culturally, as much as financially) if cinema became merely the preserve of the tentpole release. The other major issue that cinema faces is the future role of China in the global film economy. With strict lockdowns only just ending and greater governance and censorship in evidence by the Chinese government (and no sign of a relaxing of movie quotas or higher overseas returns) is there still an appetite for the potential value of that country? Or will the industry turn away from it?

All in all, it seems that the existential crisis that cinemas faced has passedbut there remains an evolutionary process that was accelerated by COVID-19. And moving along that path has well and truly begun.

COMPARATIVE MONTHLY ATTENDANCE GLOBAL: NET NEW CINEMA SCREENS THE BEST PERFORMING FILMS GLOBALLY SO FAR 2021-2022 VS 2019 2015-2021 FOR 2022 UP TO AUGUST USD(MM) FRANCE UK USA ITALY 202020182016 2019 202120172015 1,354.8 960.6 954.8 770.8 761.7 704.9 405.2 401.9 401.7 252.6 8,121 9,7089,597 4,5009,552 5,7949,303 1,967 3,3432,904 1,1892,642 4273,529 NET SCREENS CHINA NET SCREENS REST OF WORLD US BOX OFFICE REST OF WORLD BOX OFFICE TOTAL BOX OFFICE SOURCE: BOX OFFICE MOJO

The Really Local Group

Peter Knight pulls back the curtain on the Really Local Group, the ambitious company putting community cinema back into the heart of the high street. Thanks to Founder, Preston Benson, and Director of Business Development, Crispin Lillie for their time and insight here.

Cinemas, movie theatres, picture houses. Whatever you call them, they’ve been a key part of the local high street since soon after their invention, moving from fairground side stalls to fully established entertainment venues in their own right.

Initially, cinemas were little more than converted shops, but as they gained popularity they became the grand buildings we know today.

Cinema has always been at the heart of the community, something that’s still true over a hundred years into their existence. And there are numerous examples of amazing

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independent cinemas all over the world that continue to embody this position today.

Amid dramatic changes to the high street, cinemas have served audiences wherever they’ve been based - the heart of a town or city or, in more recent years, out-of-town shopping centres. But they’ve always been used to attract locals and visitors alike. Most new residential or commercial developments in any town or community will almost always include the provision of a cinema as an anchor tenant to support other entertainment or hospitality venues such as bars, restaurants, live music spaces or cafes.

The advent of digital technology has facilitated the building of cinemas in new locations that were just not possible before. Now that cinemas no longer require a specific staff-accessible projection room, it is possible to make greater and more imaginative use of any existing space. Indeed, a whole new subtype of cinema venue - boutique cinema - has grown in popularity, adapting to the changes in town centres accordingly.

An example of this particular style is Everyman, who started their first venue in Hampstead, London, in 2000. They created the blueprint for their brand of a “premium night out” by repurposing existing high street buildings and turning them into high-end destinations in a variety of different styles.

Welcome to the Really Local Group

And so to a different boutique company doing things their way; the Really Local Group (RLG). After finding an existing, often characterful, building that ticks the right boxes, RLG

Really Local Objectives

For RLG to invest in an area, the team looks at locations that are underserved in terms of accessible cinema. They work to provide a hyper-local community space that can operate in an area where a more traditional cinema business model may not succeed for various reasons.

actively engages with its local community right from the very beginning of the process, putting it at the very heart of everything they do.

Founded in 2007 by Preston Benson, with the aim of regenerating high streets across Britain, the company’s active projects so far include Catford Mews (South London), the Biscuit Factory (Reading) and the recently opened Ealing Project (Ealing Broadway, London). Revenue reached £6.9million last year and there’s a target to reach £25 million by 2025.

But RLG doesn’t “just” build cinemas. One of their aims is to be a holistic community hub, providing additional facilities beyond the cinema auditorium and its accompanying traditional food and beverage offering. RLG describes itself


Each of their bespoke venues houses a mixture of:


To be accessible to the local area by making sure that the venues are as affordable as possible (the average ticket price being between £5-8 to see a film)

To encourage and develop localism, both in terms of a unique design that aims to reflect the surrounding community, and in terms of what’s

actually on offer (some venues offer yoga or board game evenings, and one upcoming venue is scheduled to accommodate an entire public library)

To facilitate creativity in an environment where local artists and entrepreneurs can work, create and connect through performance, art and learning

A three-to-four screen cinema

A live music and comedy programme

Community spaces A coffee shop / bar

Pop up stalls selling local F&B

RLG (left and above) RLG’s newest venue, the Ealing Project 09/22 > 19 BOUTIQUE CINEMA

as a company that “creates and restores cultural infrastructure through the regeneration and renewal of the UK’s high streets.”

Such has been the growth of the company that RLG recently placed eighth in the Sunday Times’ 100 Fastest Growing Companies list, the first for a cinema exhibition company, with an annual sales growth over the last three years of 198%.

An Idea is Born

The idea behind RLG is based on the strength of cinema as anchor tenant, at the heart of the high street or a new development, which then facilitates a healthy environment in which surrounding businesses can flourish and develop. Benson describes them as “village halls for the 21st Century”.

Having friends across the country and having studied in the UK for part of his degree, he saw how many high streets had the same generic, cookie-cutter feel to them and was inspired to change that. Through a connection, he was introduced to, and discussed his idea with, The Big Picture’s John Sullivan. Sullivan saw the potential in the idea, giving Benson the encouragement and advice he needed to shape his vision and take it forward.

DIT - Doing It Themselves

Practically speaking, all building work is carried out by RLG’s own construction teams, allowing them to keep costs down (to nearly half the price). This approach also allows far more agility when it comes to encountering any problems that crop up along the way. An example of this is when, on one project, the cost of materials went up by 60% so they were able to use

Current Locations


Catford Mews was the first Really Local Group site to open in September 2019, bringing a three-screen cinema to the London Borough of Lewisham, the first in a generation. Along with the three screens the venue also has a live music space, bar, cafe and flexible community space.


In what was formerly an old Argos warehouse, the building went through a dramatic transformation to be the second venue opened by RLG in July 2021. It offers a three-screen cinema, bar, coffee shop, free workspace and live performance space.


Peckham Levels is a joint venture between Really Local Group and Southwark Council. Found in the old town centre car park, it’s home to seven floors with over 100 local and

independent businesses.


Hackney Bridge is a canalside venue close to Hackney Wick, providing a workspace and studios, a street food market (Hackney Bridge Kitchens), bars, restaurants, local independent retailers, community gardens, and an event space.


Opened in June 2022 in a former nightclub in the heart of Ealing, this location had not had a cinema for 14 years. And this venue - the third RLG location costing £2million - is already seeing great success. With 2500 memberships sold, of which 1700 were sold in advance of the opening, thousands of tickets have been sold each week (the opening week saw five sellout screenings in one day during its first Saturday in operation). Alongside the threescreen cinema, the venue has a live events space that will host comedy nights and live music, along with a flexible daytime working area.

The Really Local Group currently has the following five active UK venues (three of which are cinemas), with five more confirmed for the near future. Many other sites are in various stages of development as part of a full pipeline that will continue the company’s growth and development.
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alternatives, while avoiding problematic options. This also streamlined the process. Certain elements though - the cinema projection fit out as an example - do require specialist engagement from integrators such as Sound Associates.

But the other advantage to keeping the construction work in-house is that this helps to keep ticket prices down so RLG’s customers benefit from the lower setup and development costs.

Bumps in the Road

Like anyone trying to expand, develop or simply open new venues for business straight after a period of lockdown(s) in the middle of a financial crisis, RLG has seen its fair share of challenges. Cash flow, sourcing key items, or worldwide supply chain struggles, there’s been plenty to keep them on their toes. There is also the challenge of being a rapidly growing, new company, staffed by some with long-term industry experience and some that are brand new to it.

Resolving development challenges, while maintaining the company ethos, is a balancing act for Benson and his team, but one that is strengthened with each new successful venue opening. And, of course, this will benefit RLG in their quest to source local products (alcohol, ingredients and other produce) while developing a status that affords the buying power of a larger, more national organisation.

Future Funding

In July 2022, Really Local Group ran a crowdfunding campaign via the Seedrs platform. This raised £540,809 from 120 investors - 108% of their initial target - showing that there are plenty of people who value the idea of the company and who want to share the journey with the team.

Five more projects have already been announced by RLG, including another former nightclub, a furniture shop and a vinyl pressing plant. Some of these projects are in converted buildings, but some are in new builds - although the underlying principles of the approach that the company takes to fitting out the sites remains the same.

Ultimately, the company will have several venues all within

An Upcoming Venue Near You...

Read on for details of the Really Local Group’s upcoming five new sites: STORYHOUSE, SIDCUP

With its planned opening towards the end of 2022, this site will be called the Storyhouse. Rather uniquely, the space will not only contain a three-screen cinema and cafe bar but also a new public library. And in another twist it will be housed in a former Blockbuster Video store.


This south east London site will provide a new cultural quarter for Bermondsey, in partnership with Southwark Council, in a former Thorowgoods store.


In west London, and situated in what was formerly the Old EMI Vinyl Factory in Hayes, this planned venue is receiving a £1.2m funding boost from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund. In what will be known as The Gramophone, the venue will feature a cinema, live music venue

and interactive exhibitions, celebrating the site’s history as a key part of the global industrial trade. The Gramophone building will retain sections of the former pressing plant, an iconic industrial component of the global music trade, where grooves were stamped onto heated vinyl, producing millions of records that were shipped around the world.


In the old ‘East End’ of London, this RLG venue will provide the first-and-only three-screen cinema in Canning Town since the 1970s. A new entertainment venue for the new Hallsville Quarter, this site will open later in 2022.


Opening in 2023, RLG was appointed by Sutton Council to regenerate this former Chicago’s nightclub that has stood empty since 2013. Throwley Yard will be carbon neutral in line with the council’s commitment to reach net zero.

a short taxi ride of each other. This will provide more choice for RLG’s members with the opportunity to access a greater range of programming and film times, as well as a wide range of other, non-cinema activities.

Zhuzhing Up the High Street

There are many amazing local community-based cinemas across the country that work hard to serve their local areas with pizazz - that something special that makes an event out of leaving the house.

What makes the Really Local Group exciting is their desire to redevelop and engage with the community at the heart of the development. They don’t just see their spaces as standalone cinemas, but as larger creative hubs for everyone to engage with in different ways, through the wide range of offered activities. And it’s encouraging that RLG has such ambitious plans at a time when the high street desperately needs to be reimagined.

Really Local Group is a company with an authentic passion and energy, one that will be fascinating to follow in its growth and development over the next few years. Definitely keep your eye on these guys.

(top left) The bar at Ealing Project, (top right) Catford Mews

The Ealing Project opened in June 2022 09/22 > 21 BOUTIQUE CINEMA

Parkway Entertainment Company was started in 1983 in the UK, by Gerald and Denise Parkes. The company has grown to be one of the most successful independent operators in the country with cinemas in Cleethorpes, Louth, Barnsley and Beverley in the north of England. Sandie Caffelle continues the global series…


Parkway Entertainment Co.

About us

Parkway Entertainment Company

Parkway Entertainment has always been a family business. After Gerald Parkes passed away, his family has continued to manage the company. And each of the four cinemas has its own “personality”, loved by locals and visitors alike.

My dad, Gerald, worked in cinema his whole life, ultimately receiving an MBE for Services to the UK Cinema Industry. He sadly passed away just after his 69th birthday in 2013, and my brother, Gerrard, and I have carried on the business in the way he would have wanted. To this day, it’s still very much a family business

Gerald was passionate about cinema, joining ABC Cinemas at 16 as a “rewind boy” [whose job it was to rewind all the film used the night before - projectionists didn’t tend to do their own rewinding]. He went on to become ABC’s youngest ever manager at 21, and reintroduced live shows to his cinema, even lighting The Beatles in 1963. He even went on to do his own one-man show many years later!

More Than a Movie

We aim to provide the best possible experience for our audiences so they can watch the best new releases, both mainstream and more adventurous choices. But we believe the experience of a cinema visit goes far beyond just the choice of film and so we offer private hire, educational programmes, outdoor cinema events, live shows, stand up comedy and much more.

Live shows are such a big part of what we do because they tie in with our aim to deliver a truly theatrical experience. The Cleethorpes, Beverley and Barnsley venues all have fullsized live stages, and we hold hugely popular pantomimes (pantos) every year, as well as a whole range of live acts, comics and bands. Event cinema has also been a real asset for us, and the ability to share this content with an audience is greatly enhanced in an environment with stage lighting,

Parkway Cinema, Cleethorpes Richard Parkes, Managing Director, Parkway Entertainment 09/22 > 23


curtains, and smoke machines. It adds a touch of magic.

We take the same sort of approach to our films too, trying to create a sense of occasion. When the James Bond film, “No Time To Die”, came out we invited the Aston Martin Owners Club to visit the cinema on the opening night, adding to the atmosphere of authenticity and excitement. We’ve had time-travelling DeLoreans [the car from “Back to the Future”], the giant spiders from one of the Harry Potter films, themed cocktails, and specially designed menus as some of the elements that add to the immersive experience. And it’s always a novelty to set up a fight between the panto cast and some Star Wars storm troopers at Christmas!

One of our events that we’re proud of is our “CANS Film Festival”, where the price of admission is a couple of cans of food, donated to support food banks in the local area. We were delighted this year when Disney supported us with a screening of “Encanto”, and it was our most successful year so far.

Different Places Need Different Cinemas

Our ethos is to become a living, breathing, essential part of our local communities. This means that each of our cinemas has a very different “personality” to suit the area it’s in, but with some core principles.

We offer the traditional range of cinema snacks and treats you’d expect, as well as a range of vegan options. We pop our own popcorn on site, and work hard to find local suppliers for each cinema location so we have locally-brewed beer, craft gins, local ice cream in every cinema.


Our Cleethorpes cinema is the largest independent cinema in the UK. We’ve got nine screens and currently more than 1600 seats. It’s part of a seafront resort, with a local population which swells in holiday season with visiting tourists.

We opened in 2004 and were awarded “Cinema of the Year” in 2007. By 2019 we had won an award for redeeming more Meerkat Movies 2-for-1 vouchers than any other independent cinema in the UK - our customer base here loves a bargain!

We strive to be a strong supporter of our local community, and hold regular fundraising and charity events, as well as very successful “Senior Screen” and parent-and-baby film showings.


Our historic Louth cinema (“the Playhouse”) is only about half an hour away from Cleethorpes but is a notably different venue. It first opened as a cinema on Boxing Day, 1921, and is the oldest operating cinema in Lincolnshire. It has three screens with a mix of traditional seats and sofas, and a modernised interior with Art Deco detailing to complement the original 1935 frontage.

In Louth, we host an award-winning film club with a focus on world cinema and we were honoured to be the recipients of the “Pride of Place” award by the town in May 2013. And if you visit our Louth venue, you might even find yourself enjoying an old fashioned intermission and a tray of ice cream to choose from, if you’re lucky.


Barnsley is a former Odeon cinema, based right in the heart of the town centre. We took it on in partnership with [cinema director] Rob Younger in 2007 and together, we rescued an iconic building that had been closed for two years.

Rob previously began his cinema career here in 1979 as

The Playhouse Cinema frontage, Louth The Art Deco bar at the Beverley venue
“I have been very fortunate, as I’ve worked all my life in a job that I love.”
24 > 09/22

a trainee projectionist, just before the cinema was converted into two screens, as it is today. We reinstalled 35mm projectors and new wide screens, together with curtains and stage lighting. Since then we have installed digital projectors but retained the 35mm kit. In 2016, we modified the 35mm film kit and are now one of very few cinemas outside London that hosts 70mm screenings.

Barnsley was the first of the Parkway sites to install satellite equipment in order to screen event cinema titles, which quickly proved to be very successful. Having the live stage facility also means we’re able to book live acts and bands that just wouldn’t visit the town otherwise. We’re proud of the following we’ve built up. And the reason for the Barnsley site’s success is predominantly down to the team that Rob has built, and the personal, friendly service they offer.


Beverley is an affluent, pretty market town near Hull [northern England]. Our audience here leans more towards a selection of local beers and homemade treats, and our lovely locally-supplied coffee goes down a treat. Just like Cleethorpes, it has a live theatre, bar and private hire spaces, and our event cinema performances play a big role in enticing our frequent and loyal audience. The largest screen is also home to our live stage - named the Hayward Theatre, after our mum’s family.

Beverley was the first site we opened in 2016, three years after dad passed away. It’s a newer interpretation of our approach, where we’ve picked up a lot of the key notes of an Art Deco style cinema but set within a brand new, modern building. We’re the anchor tenant for a mixed leisure/retail site, above a row of bars and restaurants, and a good mix of retailers.

Coming Soon…

In July 2022 we signed up to a new location in Grimsby. The site is right at the very heart of the town centre regeneration, which has really struggled in recent years. The shopping centre had failed and fallen into receivership, but through a combination of government funding and local effort there’s a strong plan in place to reinvent the area.

Large empty retail units and an underused indoor market will be replaced with brand new open-fronted market stalls, pop-up food offerings, and multiple smaller leisure uses, all anchored around our new five-screen cinema and café offer.

An Exciting Announcement

And finally, a new announcement: we’re working to reopen a six-screen multiplex in Workington, which sadly closed during COVID. This is on the other side of the UK to our Yorkshire and Lincolnshire sites, based in Cumbria, so it will be the location furthest away from where we started.

It has a very similar demographic and catchment area to our other sites and offers a great opportunity for us to breathe new life into another centre that has seen better days. And if everything goes to plan, we’re hoping to be open in early 2023.

What About the Future?

Luxury style cinemas aren’t a new idea - cinemas used to have chandeliers and red velvet curtains, ironically at a time when their customers might not have even had indoor toilets at home. But the idea that the whole experience must be far better than staying in the house has always been central to the purpose of cinemas. The luxury recliner has become a sort of shorthand for the ‘new luxury’ that audiences expect, but that’s only a part of it. It’s about everything: the food and service on offer, the size and brightness of the screen, the sound. It’s even about the real basics like how easy it is to buy a ticket and find your seat.

The death of cinema has been predicted again and again… from when TV first appeared, through to the pandemic and the massive growth seen by the streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney. But reality has shown a simple human truth that people want to go out and spend time with their family and friends. And a visit to a pub, a park, a cinema is all part of that.

We know that cinemas can no longer compete only on price, convenience, or choice - it’s about the quality on offer and the shared experience. But that’s how we’ve always approached it at Parkway Cinemas.

A Westrex 35mm projector The Barnsley venue’s main stage 09/22 > 25

Claire Beswick, Founder, The Living Room Cinema

Opening a cinema during a pandemic would push anyone to their limits. But Claire Beswick did just that. Here, she shares her journey from the idea, through to the launch, of The Living Room Cinema.


The Living Room Cinema opened on 22nd April 2022

He was correct on all counts. I was a little bit crazy, but totally serious. And with no idea where to start, talking to Jerry would be a smart move.

Saying that I had no idea where to start is probably a little bit of an exaggeration. In my time in the business, now approaching 20 years, I had seen countless cinemas open, albeit from the comfort of either Odeon or Curzon’s head office, and surrounded by a team of people who knew what they were doing. This would be a totally different journey. I didn’t have the backup of a team, and my experience alone - film programming, marketing and operations - wasn’t going to cut it.

What I did know however, was that I knew the people who did know what to do. And that’s where Jerry came in.

I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

First, I need to backtrack a little to fill in the gaps - the “where”, and most importantly the “why (would I do this to myself)?”

Both go hand in hand. In 2016, when I was nearing the end of my time at Curzon, I began wondering what was next for me. Having been the head of the programming team, the next obvious rung on the career ladder was a wider operations role, encompassing programming (I’m 100% a cinema girl, a move sideways to distribution wasn’t of interest). A believer in being master of your own destiny, I also wanted to work for myself, not

for others.

I’d been commuting to central London daily for six years from Hampshire and was getting tired of the 5:20am starts, and never seeing the quite nice house in the countryside that I’d bought. I wanted to be in the cinema industry, but I wanted to be local.

As it happened, Liphook (my hometown) has no cinema within a 20-minute drive time. It also had a wonderful old car showroom built in 1907, in a prime position in the centre of town with a “to let” sign in the window. After a few calls with the agent I began talking to the owners of the site. They wanted a short-term tenant to generate a bit of rental income whilst they were obtaining planning consent for a wider mixed-use scheme on the site. Not interested in a short-term let, I enquired whether they would consider a cinema for the commercial element of the scheme. They would.

Very quickly, I was forced to learn on the job. I potentially had a space. I had to ascertain if the cinema was a viable trading business and to do that, I needed to know how many seats I could fit into that space. With the help of some former Curzon colleagues involved in cinema development, I made some key assumptions. It looked like a single screen of around 50-80 seats was possible, with a large foyer.

With a little bit of reverse engineering, I pulled together a projected P&L (profit & loss) based on these key assumptions, the rental figure that was being discussed for the space and KPIs which I based on similar independent cinemas. Fortunately, the business appeared profitable. But what about the cost of the cinema fit out? I had no clue. But I knew a man who would…

Jerry guided me through the costs of the hardware and gave me a general steer on the M&E (mechanical & electrical) elements of the project. In tandem, I had appointed McFarlane Latter, architects who specialise in cinema. They, in turn, introduced me to Lavingtons, who would later become my quantity surveyors. Initial indications were that I would need approximately £330k for the fit out of the space.

I first mooted the idea of opening my own cinema to Phil Clapp in 2015. His response has stayed with me forever...
“I think that you’re crazy. But if you’re serious, you need to talk to Jerry Murdoch at CinemaNext”. 09/22 > 27 BOUTIQUE CINEMA

The numbers were stacking up. I had a vision of what I believed the concept would be, and I had to work out how to deliver that and - crucially - how to sell it, both to potential investors and to the local area. I knew that I wanted to create a “home-from-home” experience - like watching a film in your own living room, but better. It would be a casually luxurious space. I wanted armchairs and sofas in the auditorium, a bright and airy feel to the foyer to encourage customers to hang out there all day, drinking coffee and eating cake, and quality wine and craft cocktails. With a focus on local produce and suppliers, and staffed entirely from the local area, I wanted to create a community hub and breathe life back into our somewhat outdated village. In short, I was creating a lifestyle concept, not just a cinema.

Show Me the Money

With the project almost certainly viable, I now had to raise some money. Once again, I didn’t really know where to start. I had, however, recently sold a property in London so had a bit of cash to invest myself (and, crucially, to live off while I got this project underway). One evening in Soho House, I had been speaking to a very good friend of mine, film producer Nicole Carmen-Davis, over several bottles of wine. She was immediately excited about the project and explained about a government run scheme called the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) which provides tax relief for individuals investing in what are deemed “risky” businesses. Nicole had raised finance for several film productions this way, and we decided that it was a sensible route for the cinema to take as we would be targeting high net worth individuals. My family, Nicole and some of our mutual friends put in early-stage funding, and I asked her to join the board.

I also approached my previous boss, former Odeon CEO, Rupert Gavin. Rupert and I had worked together closely on the acquisition of the BFI IMAX, and we had kept in touch after we had both moved on from the company. After a quick tour of the proposed site and a pub lunch, Rupert agreed to invest, and he would later become my chairman.

This appointment was one of the smartest moves that I would make. With the ‘validation’ of the concept and the business plan from Rupert, prospective investors I subsequently approached were confident that the numbers were robust and the opportunity a good one.

It took almost 24 months from inception to raising the required funds, and for the developer to receive planning permission from the local council. We had designed the scheme together and the developer would build a shell fit for cinema use, which we would then rent from them for 25 years.

We began designing the interior - the auditorium seats, the bar itself, the floor finishes. And we worked with CinemaNext on the auditorium design and the equipment that we would

need. Parallel to this, the developer had completed the demolition of the necessary parts of the site and had found a local firm as their building contractor. The whole process was to take six months and we were scheduled to open in September 2019.

The Liphook rumour mill was already in full force and the locals couldn’t believe that a cinema would be coming to their small town. I established a presence on social media, started communicating updates via newsletters, and attended local fairs, explaining to people walking past what we were about.

It was a week before the building work was supposed to commence on the shell that I received a phone call from the developer. Their funding had fallen through, they were pulling out. My world came tumbling down. Three years’ work and almost £100,000 gone in an instant. This didn’t look like a salvageable situation... except that it was.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

After a pep talk to myself, I spoke to the board, and we hatched a plan. The developer needed to sell: this was actually a very good opportunity for us to buy the cinema building and do the whole thing ourselves. A good opportunity - yes. A good idea? Well, given that I hadn’t done a large development project before, ever, it was idiotic, but the only way we would get the cinema open. I called the builder and the developer’s architect: they also wanted to see the project to its conclusion.

Back to fundraising we went. Some of our previous shareholders would choose to get out - we were changing the rules of the game after all. We had to replace those who wanted out, as well as finding new investors. And it would have to be individuals: we had approached every high street and challenger bank for development finance but unhelpfully, due to the complexity of our scenario and the convenient excuse of Brexit, no one would lend to a brand-new business with no trading history.

By now however, there was another dark cloud looming on the horizon: COVID-19. Approximately one month after we signed Heads of Terms with our previous landlord and distributed our brand-new business plan, the world ground to a halt. All UK cinemas were shut indefinitely. Overnight, we ceased all activity. I kept things ticking over at a low administrative level, and then threw myself into a number of consultancy projects to keep myself busy (and paid).

Slowly but surely, the world began to open up again. Prior to lockdown, local actor and all-round good egg Hugh Bonneville had reached out to me offering support and we

Hugh Bonneville, Claire Beswick, Elizabeth McGovern The Living Room frontage A place to drink coffee, do some work or just hang out
28 > 09/22


reconnected in the summer of 2020. Hugh introduced me to several local interested parties who would agree to invest, and who also pointed me in the direction of others. Things were snowballing and I had raised over half of the £750k I required.

Come November however, we were once again back under house arrest and remained there on and off for a further four months. It was at this point where we came the closest to throwing in the towel. But once again, good fortune smiled upon us. I was introduced to a financial fund who loved us and loved the project. Within a fortnight, I had closed the finance.

If You Build it, They Will Come

We began working on site in June 2020. It was a slow start. Groundworks - foundations, drainage and the like - are never the most glamorous part of a project but I hadn’t appreciated just how frustrating this stage is. Weeks went by with very little to show for it. And in a sign of things to come the cost of the steel frame for our auditorium had gone up over 20% since the original quote.

Of the whole project, I can now say with hindsight that the steels were the most problematic element of the entire build. Cost increases aside, there was a worldwide shortage of steel (and most other building materials for that matter). Productivity had ground to a halt during lockdowns, and with China still under strict kerbs the biggest manufacturers were not manufacturing. And then, to add insult to injury, a petrol shortage meant that there was a hefty delay getting the materials to us. The steel frame, ordered in June, was finally erected on 14th October 2021…

During the build The finished Living Room foyer interior The steel frames creating the auditorium 09/22 > 29

Once up, however, it was a gamechanger. Suddenly you could begin to imagine the space as a real cinema auditorium.

As with most building projects, we had our fair share of other difficulties along the way. But by far the most difficult was our new incoming electrical supply for which the timeframe from our initial conversations to the new connection was an eyewatering 14 months, and we spent our first month trading off a generator parked outside (you can imagine the fuel bills).

Our original practical completion date was the 17th December 2021. We finally opened our doors for the first time on April 22nd 2022 with the team having pulled all-nighters in the final weeks. The builders would arrive at 5am, and my codirector and I would Zoom call until the small hours. And everything had consequences: if a part hadn’t arrived enabling a tradesman to do something, I then had to call half a dozen other people to say that they subsequently wouldn’t be able to complete their work and we needed to reschedule.

My management team had joined me at the beginning of January, when we were still a significant way off completion. From an operational standpoint, there was a limit to what we could do without a completed building. Fire evacuation plans and third-party contracts all needed site visits and we were an active - and dangerous - building site. Staff couldn’t yet be hired, let alone trained. Trying to organise a marketing/launch campaign around a cinema that had no opening date, no idea of the films it would be playing, and that looked like an ugly building site was incredibly challenging. We had a website by

this point, but we were trying to sell a lifestyle concept, using nothing but words and stock photos. We had to deal with the increasing negativity in the village as the “eyesore” exterior was getting worse - scaffolding, hoarding, dilapidated old signage - and the new shop front would be one of the last things to go in to keep it pristine. I’d taken a huge risk by putting tickets on sale in March for our April opening, knowing full well that there was a strong chance I’d have to refund entire screens’ worth of tickets. But amazingly, we did open. Admittedly, it wasn’t entirely finished, but we could trade.

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of

So where are we now? The building work is still not completely finished. And the total cost of the project bears little resemblance to the amount we expected it to before the price rises took hold. But it’s absolutely beautiful. We have created something truly and uniquely special.

Our staff and our customer service, our film programming, our coffee and cocktails, the décor, even the signature scent is exactly as I had imagined it. We’ve achieved our objective of bringing the community together and repurposing a derelict building on the high street. This is a proper community venue, and the staff have become a family. The naysayers have now become our biggest cheerleaders, and we are attracting people from a wider radius than we could have anticipated.

We have been open just over four months and have had over 13,500 admissions and generated over £400,000 of revenue. We’ve had a regional premiere of “Downton Abbey: A New Era” with Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and the director, we’ve hosted Julian Fellowes in conversation and we’ve had Q&As with the directors of “Lancaster” and “Brian and Charles”. Not bad for a little 60-seat screen, eh?

I’ve since had people come up to me and tell me that they are considering opening their own cinema. My response is similar to Phil’s. It was, and still is, the craziest idea I’ve ever had. I gambled everything that I had - personally and professionally - on this one idea which looked like it was about to hit the buffers at every turn. But that was the key motivator to keep going. The leasehold-to-freehold model means that we own our own building and are masters of our own destiny. In the event of another lockdown or similar, we’re safe as we don’t have rent to pay. But most significantly, opening in September 2019 would have seen the dream last for six months before I lost the lot - including my house.

What’s next? When I dream, I dream big. This concept is scalable and successful, and my backers agree. Expect to see a brand new, small independent circuit dominating headlines.

The Liphook locals are loving the Living Room
(inset) The busy opening event

Arts Alliance Media

Founded in 2003, Arts Alliance Media (AAM) is a global provider of digital cinema software and services, offering a range of solutions, all with the aim of helping exhibitors to improve the cinematic experience for their audiences. Their portfolio includes Producer, Screenwriter, Lifeguard, MX4D, and HeyLED, and reaches over 42,000 screens worldwide, with support for several thousand screens through their network operations centre (NOC).

A Growing Portfolio

The focal concept of AAM’s software is to centralise and automate day-to-day processes for exhibitors, saving time (and sanity!), while providing a comprehensive overview of the workflow streams of the whole organisation. And AAM’s solutions

cater to exhibitors of all sizes - independent cinemas with one screen, all the way up to multiscreen multiplexes.

Screenwriter: Theatre Management System

Screenwriter is possibly AAM’s most recognisable product - a Theatre Management System (TMS) that enables exhibitors to manage all screens and content in their cinema from one

location. Acting as a central hub for content and KDM management, Screenwriter allows cinema managers to centralise their theatre’s daily workflows using smart task automation. The TMS’ functionality includes playlist creation using a drag-and-drop interface, POS integration, comprehensive control over all content and screens, detailed reporting including proof-of-play, and hardware, ingest and transfer automation.

The overall aim of Screenwriter is to simplify day-to-day tasks as much as possible, while increasing control of operations.

Producer: Enterprise Theatre Management System

AAM’s Producer is a cloud-based, Enterprise Theatre Management System, also known as a Circuit Management System, which enables exhibitors to manage content for every cinema across their organisation all from a single dashboard.

By managing their circuit centrally, including managing pre-show and feature content, and checking individual site schedules, among other tasks, they have greater network

CT profiles Arts Alliance Media, the software company approaching their 20th industry anniversary.
32 > 09/22

control and can reduce circuit-wide task duplication.

For example, using the content tab, users can view any item of content as soon as it has been ingested anywhere across their circuit. With access into every site at any time, Producer offers exhibitors thorough visibility and flexibility.

Lifeguard: Hardware Management System

Lifeguard is a cloud-based Hardware Management System that gives exhibitors the tools to build their own NOC solution to optimise hardware and reduce lost revenue; key in a postVirtual Print Fee world (VPF). For example, Lifeguard will monitor your schedules and consumables to keep you notified of any potential show-stopping issues, while searching for trends in your assets’ lifecycle to learn the lifespan of your hardware and predict and diagnose issues early.

Lifeguard presents exhibitors and NOC teams with tools to allow users to fix errors efficiently, through its ability to identify faults and provide detailed diagnoses of issues alongside the ability to plan maintenance, track lamp usage and report on playback.

MX4D: Motion and EFX Solutions

MX4D is a brand of immersive, motion EFX seating and patented 4D technology designed to enhance audiences’ movie-going experience. As the sole global cinema reseller of all MX4D solutions, AAM is the exhibitor’s direct point of contact for these specialist products and services.

MX4D’s functionality includes 10 in-seat special effects, from wind, scent, and water blasts, to back pokers, seat poppers, and leg ticklers, a (patented) EFX armrest, and a

How it all began


Thomas Hoegh, together with his venture capitalist firm, Arts Alliance Ventures, founds the company.


AAM takes its first steps into the cinema industry, helping to initiate the first-ever global digital cinema rollout, replacing 35mm projectors with digital upgrades for the UK’s Digital Screen Network.


AAM becomes a founding investor in Lovefilm and Picturehouse Cinemas (now sold to Amazon and Cineworld respectively).


AAM negotiates with Hollywood studios to secure financing for digital cinema. Later this year sees the release of AAM’s first-ever TMS as they seek to help digital cinemas schedule their screenings.


AAM completes the first VPF rollout in Europe for French cinema chain, CGR.


While managing the VPF rollout, AAM’s content mastering and event cinema departments are eventually spun into their own businesses. In this same year, AAM becomes a strategic business partner of Wanda Cinemaline.

robust control system. MX4D also presents in-theatre EFX, including snow, rain, strobe, and fog, while enabling in-house theatre transformations, such as MX4D Kids and MX4D eSports. This alternative format provides a different revenue stream, while also attracting a different demographic of customer.

HeyLED: Digital LED Cinema Screen Technology

HeyLED is a brand of LED cinema screen technology that’s designed to reveal pure colour, true black, and higher contrast and brightness. As an official international reseller of HeyLED technology, AAM is the exhibitor’s direct point of contact for the majority of Asia, Europe, and all of the Americas. The HeyLED has been DCI certified and offers a patented high pixel fill rate with a higher contrast ratio to deliver a supreme picture quality. It is also HDR ready, has a greater colour gamut and an impressive picture uniformity, meaning that the HeyLED technology is also suitable for eSports and live events. It also offers a number of advantages over traditional projection technology, such as being able to redesign an auditorium to maximise its capabilities, among other features.

The Future Vision

When a lot of focus was on post-pandemic recovery, AAM prioritised listening to their exhibitors’ needs to develop existing solutions, but also to establish three core values that will support their long-term vision for future development.

“Our vision reflects both the company’s blueprint to date and the primary objective of our entire portfolio; to continually improve audiences’ moviegoing experience,” said Dale Miller, Chief Commercial Officer for AAM. “By providing the tools to develop their cinematic proposition, exhibitors can achieve tangible, sustainable success.”

Outside AAM’s London HQ Inside AAM’s London office
12/21 > ON SITE

A View from the Top Dale Miller, Chief Commercial Officer, Arts Alliance Media

The fundamental purpose of our portfolio is to provide exhibitors with the tools to thrive. This principle has been essential to our strategy since the VPF rollout. However, never has it retained greater pertinence.

Firstly, employing a versatile theatre management solution that centralises your output and builds efficiency in cost and resource has never been more critical. It’s now an essential ingredient to postpandemic recovery and long-term sustainability. If you’re a smaller exhibitor, an intuitive theatre or circuit management platform should not be overlooked.

But to truly thrive after a generational behavioural shift, the implementation of immersive technologies must be considered. The pandemic underlined the importance in consistently driving admissions, thus making the market more competitive. So, how can you create a point of difference? Excellent customer service is now a prerequisite. Ticket and concession pricing is already competitive. Evolving into a flexible, multi-entertainment hub that explores innovative formats and technologies, including seating, will further refine the cinematic proposition.

One technology which will shape the future of cinema is LED. Any form of transition, whether it’s categorised as a PLF in the short-term or replaces projection in the long-term, will not happen overnight. The shift from 35mm to digital wasn’t straightforward, nor immediate, but it was critical for improving how the industry operated - and LED is not dissimilar.

Besides its notable visual refinements - enriched colour, picture uniformity, pure black, and higher brightness and contrast ratio - LED offers a solution to some of exhibition’s biggest challenges. HDR (High Dynamic Range) can facilitate enhanced eSports and live events, while increased brightness can subdue the impact phone screen lighting has in the auditorium. Exploring progressive ways to create an inclusive environment that appeals to new, younger audiences is imperative; a common theme from this year’s trade shows. LED not only adds to exhibitors’ repertoire of formats but presents an opportunity to increase admissions through additional seating, each working to maximise box office revenue.

2017 The company is wholly acquired by Chinese cinema technology provider, Luxin-Rio. AAM goes on to develop a series of software releases and business partnerships.


An agreement is formed with MediaMation where AAM becomes an official reseller of MX4D motion and EFX solutions.

2022 AAM announces that AMC Theatres will install TMS Screenwriter in theatres across the United States. And most recently, AAM enters the LED technology market after partnering with Shenzhen Timewaying Ltd, a sister company under the Luxin-Rio umbrella, to become an official reseller of HeyLED technology.

A Scalable Framework for Success

With each of AAM’s solutions, exhibitors will achieve one or more of the three core values; increased efficiency, reduced operational costs, and/or the opportunity to drive admissions and revenue.

Miller continued, “Our progressive software suite remains at the core of who we are. But to ensure we uphold our mission to help exhibitors deliver an outstanding cinema experience, it’s imperative we explore new and emerging markets that could further refine their offering.”

On the partnership signed with MediaMation and the deal signed with Shenzhen Timewaying Co. Ltd, both in 2021, Miller said, “It’s our objective to augment the full performance of the theatre, from centralising operations through industryleading software to introducing immersive seat effects and viewing technologies. Our growing product portfolio will ensure we become exhibitors’ one direct point of contact for circuit-wide enhancements.”

Last year, the China Film Administration issued its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) detailing their ambition to raise the number of screens in the region by 25% - from 80,743 to 100,000 - to help fulfil the country’s vision of becoming a major cinematic player by 2035. As one of the major contributors to the LED market’s growth, it should come as no surprise that the plan calls for deepening the reform of screening mechanisms. As technology develops, installations rise, and the market stabilises, so too will LED’s credibility grow as a legitimate and viable cinematic format. The evolution of this market is inevitable, and the range of available tools and technology to ensure exhibitors thrive is growing.

AAM’s Lifeguard: Hardware Management System
34 > 09/22 ON SITE
t: 020 7751 7000 e: info@chinagraph.comw: We create & cut it We create, adapt and localise promos, trailers, social, TV and DOOH. All markets, and all platforms.

Despite the current autumn film slate dip, there was lots for the industry to celebrate during...


LucyJones,ExecutiveDirector, ComscoreMovies

fter starting the year with box office lagging January 2019 by 40%, we saw a sustained turnaround through the spring and summer. Kicking off with “Sing 2”, “Uncharted” and “The Batman” in Q1, a pipeline of popular blockbusters took things to the next level since April delivered the first of Q2’s Top 10 films, “Sonic The Hedgehog 2”. From May the recovery really ignited, with “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” released at the start of the month and “Top Gun: Maverick” closing it out in style. After ten weeks on release, “Maverick” continued to record million-pound weekly grosses and entered the All-time Top 10 alongside other post-pandemic releases “No Time To Die” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home”. To have three films chart in the All-time Top 10 since reopening is a truly remarkable achievement and rewards the industry’s faith that audiences would return to cinemas. It’s clear there’s still an appetite to get out of the house and socialise.

Increasingly, this is done more in our local areas as we embrace post-pandemic hybrid working.

Since the May 2021 reopening, 46 new and redeveloped cinemas have started reporting across UK & Ireland, totalling over 150 additional screens. Almost half are single-screen sites and the vast majority - 37 - have up to five screens. The most recent opener is typical of the trend: the three-screen Ealing Project, the third site from the Really Local Group. With a café bar and event space alongside the cinema’s family-friendly ticket prices, the focus is squarely on the venue’s role as a community hub.

Screens and Sizes

Across the UK & Ireland, almost a third of cinemas are singlescreen sites, and almost two-thirds have one-to-five screens. Smaller venues are more likely to be embedded in their local communities and accessible without needing a car, a boon during the climate crisis and current oil price shock. The disruption of the pandemic has focused even more attention onto high street regeneration by local authorities, a trend that started pre-COVID and is now delivering the first completed cinema projects.

At a time when popular films like “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Elvis”, “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” played for extended runs,

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programming a single-screen cinema presented a particular challenge. The number of new titles being released each week was almost back to pre-pandemic levels, averaging fifteen releases per week in Q2.

The market is currently being boosted by the expansion in two-to-five screen venues. Box office revenue from these smaller multi-screen sites has held up better than either single-screen or multiplex venues, with two-to-five screen sites collectively achieving 88% of their ‘normal’ revenues (relative to January-July 2019). The biggest drop was seen for single-screen sites, recording 78% of their 2019 revenues, with multiplexes of upwards-of-six-screens faring in line with the national picture at 80% of 2019 levels. Looking at this as average revenue per screen, rather than collective total, to take account of new openers, sites with two-to-five screens still have a smaller deficit, versus 2019, than the larger multiplexes.

Across venues of all sizes, “Top Gun: Maverick” was the number one film. However, at single-screen sites, titles appealing to older audiences including “Downton Abbey: A New Era”, “Belfast”, “Elvis”, “The Duke” and “Death On The Nile” all ranked much higher than in the national chart. Three of these titles - “Elvis”, “Belfast” and “Downton Abbey: A New Era” - also ranked highly at two-to-three screen sites. Larger venues with upwards-of-four screens behaved very similarly to the national chart.

Alongside the feature film successes, event cinema content also staged a comeback this summer. NT Live’s “Prima Facie”, starring Jodie Comer, debuted with £1.4m on its opening night. At the time of writing, over 600 cinemas had


2021 box office was this much behind 2019’s takings

played the show on opening night or across three weeks of encores, bringing its total to £2.9m by the end of July. It performed particularly well in one-to-three screen venues, perhaps because of their more theatre-like ambience.

[Update: excluding Secret Cinema, “Prima Facie” is now number one in the All-time Event Cinema chart.] Major music events also returned this year, with live concert “BTS: Permission To Dance” playing in March, “Little Mix Live” in May and documentary, “George Michael Freedom Uncut”, in June.

Since May 2021, 46 new and redeveloped cinemas have opened across the UK

46Big and Bold

... additional screens have opened since May 2021 09/22 > 37 STATS & DATA At the opposite end of the spectrum to the intimate spaces of community and boutique cinemas, other audience segments are seeking out their own types of premium experience - and the bigger the better. The market share of IMAX ticket sales continues to grow, from 2.25% of the overall box office in 2018 and 2019, to 2.5% in 2020 and a step up to 3.5% in 2021. Seven months into 2022, IMAX share is holding steady at 3.5%, delivering £21.4m from over twenty new releases. Following “SpiderMan: No Way Home”’s huge impact in the new year, the format continued to deliver for “Top Gun: Maverick” (scoring 7.7% of its box office from IMAX screenings), “The Batman” (6.9%), “Thor: Love And Thunder” (6.7% including 3D IMAX), and “Uncharted” (6.2%). The current release schedule has 10 further IMAX releases slated for August to December 2022, culminating with December’s “Avatar: The Way Of Water”. In the build-up to the second “Avatar”, 3D is already enjoying something of a resurgence. After


falling below 5% market share, pre-pandemic, and just 1.5% in 2021 - when only “Spider-Man: No Way Home” achieved over £1m in 3D ticket sales - two of this year’s major releases have scored more sales in 3D than IMAX. “Jurassic World Dominion” achieved 8.4% of its £34m gross from standard 3D screenings (rising to 9.3% including 3D IMAX), while “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” made 7.1% of its £42m from standard 3D screenings (rising to 8.5% including 3D IMAX). Overall 3D screenings have driven 1.9% of 2022 box office revenues to the end of July, with “Minions:

The Rise Of Gru” and “Lightyear” further boosting 3D sales for younger audiences.

Reflecting the appetite for experiences post-lockdown, there has been a 6% jump in the average spend observed in our PostTrak exit poll. Interviewing takes place in the same cinemas each week with filmgoers (aged 13+) reporting their total spend including tickets, food & beverage and anything else they bought. We will continue to monitor how this spend holds up during the cost-of-living crisis going into winter, with cinema traditionally buoyant as a recession-proof treat.



38 > 09/22 STATS & DATA
BELFAST UNCHARTED 1 14 14 10 10 10 6 6 6 6 5 5 8 5 4 44 7 77 18 13 3 23 2 5 12 11 2 2 2 1 1 1 3 3 313 13 9
JOIN A GLOBAL NETWORK OF THEATRES AtArtsAllianceMedia,it’sourgoaltohelpyourcinemathrive. Fromcircuitandtheatremanagementsoftwaretoimmersive seatandviewingtechnologies,discoveryournextsolution todayandunleashyourcinema’spotential. Wefocusonefficiency,costandopportunitytodeliverinnovative theatre-enhancingsolutionsthatenableoutstandingmovie-going experiences. POWERING OVER 42,000 SCREENSWORLDWIDE SCREENWRITER THEATREMANAGEMENTSYSTEM PRODUCER ENTERPRISETHEATREMANAGEMENTSYSTEM MX4D MOTION+EFXSOLUTIONS HEYLED LEDCINEMATECHNOLOGY LIFEGUARD HARDWAREMANAGEMENTSYSTEM



rom “Metropolis” (1927) to “Tron” (1982), “The Matrix” (1999) to “Ready Player One” (2018), various visions of the future and alternative realities have been depicted in films for many years. Often dystopian in nature, we are led to believe that technological advancements in computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are things we should fear.

The term “metaverse” was first coined by the author Neal Stephenson in the 1993 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash”. But it really took off in October 2021, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially announced the rebranding of the Facebook company to Meta, signifying a paradigm shift in how we view and utilize the internet going forward. He

announced, “Today, I think we “look at” the internet, but I think in the future you’re going to BE IN the experiences”.

The metaverse can be described as a scalable network of interconnected virtual worlds focused on real time interaction where people - or their digital avatars - can work, socially interact, transact, play, and even create. Through this entirely new and more immersive user experience, the metaverse offers new opportunities which were, until now, simply pure fiction.

The metaverse is one part of a larger technological revolution, known as “Web3”, which is the next stage in the evolution of the internet, where we are shifting to a more decentralized and interoperable system by harnessing the powers of AI, AR & VR, blockchain and NFT technologies.

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The metaverse opportunity is huge. But as they say in the blockchain space, “Don’t trust, verify”. It would be easy to dismiss the metaverse and other Web3 technologies as a fad.


The entertainment industry is no stranger to change, from silent films to the talkies, to the rise of broadcast television, to the current streaming era. Accelerated by the spread of COVID-19, audience habits, as well as business practices, are in a stage of change. With studios pivoting to direct-to-consumer business models and shifting theatrical windows, the lines between TV, movies and streaming are becoming more and more blurred.

Isn’t it just a fancy 3D website? Why are people paying millions of dollars for jpegs which others can just copy and paste (known as Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs)? Are crypto tokens not just highly volatile, speculative assets with no utility? We tend to fear what we don’t understand. Yes, the market is full of speculation and blockchain startups, and not all projects will survive in the long term. Volatility naturally comes with the territory with an emerging technological revolution, like with the birth of the internet and mobile phones. But we’re only scratching the surface of the potential and true value of the metaverse; although estimates vary wildly, it is clear that its future value will be significant. Bloomberg Intelligence calculates the global revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024 across gaming, AR, VR and opportunities in social, live events and entertainment. JP Morgan believes that the metaverse will infiltrate every market sector within the coming years, creating yearly

But through change comes opportunity. The impact of Web3 technologies and the metaverse on the entertainment industry will be profound, creating new opportunities across all areas of the industry, spanning IP creation, financing, production, distribution, marketing, and exhibition.

There is an increasing number of filmmakers and industry professionals who are already adopting Web3 technologies to build new entertainment businesses, collectively known as the “Film3” movement. From decentralized production companies such as Mogul Productions, crowdfunding of film and TV productions through tokenization and fractionalized NFTs, to new digital platforms and metaverses hosting virtual events, streaming and content licensing services.

revenues of over $1 trillion. Goldman Sachs regards the metaverse as an $8 trillion opportunity. Citi Bank stated the metaverse economy could be worth $13 trillion by 2030, boasting as many as 5 billion users.

And it’s not just Facebook - other big tech companies are already making their moves. Microsoft, Google, and Tencent are all pouring billions of dollars into the metaverse. Disney Chief Executive, Bob Chapek, recently announced in a staff memo that the metaverse is “the next great storytelling frontier”.

Big brands including Nike, Adidas, Burberry, Stella Artois, and many more, are all already dipping their toes into these new digital waters. Over the coming months and years, we will see a flood of metaverse launches, each with different strategies, services, and target users.

As these virtual communities grow, so will the opportunities for companies and brands to build stronger direct-to-consumer relationships and generate new revenue streams.

Film3 is reducing the barriers to entry for content creators, by providing new avenues to raise funding for projects which otherwise may not have found backing through the traditional channels. Creativity in the industry will flourish, bringing a wave of new and varied content to cinemas and streaming services for audiences to discover.

Audiences will be able to actively participate and become shareholders in projects, as well as interact and immerse themselves in new virtual experiences of their favorite stories and characters, with the ability to purchase, own, or even trade new digital collectibles.

The term “metaverse” was first coined by the author Neal Stephenson in the 1993 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash”

42 > 09/22

Bloomberg calculates that global metaverse revenue could top $800 billion USD


It is clear the metaverse has many benefits for the entertainment industry. But how can cinemas take advantage of the opportunity?

Community is at the heart of going to the cinema. As we will spend more and more time in 3D virtual worlds, all direct-to-consumer businesses will need a presence in the metaverse to gain attention and connect with their communities. Gen Z is already living in the metaverse.

From vlogging, blogging, to establishing brands on social media, younger generations are quickly adapting to a digital-forward lifestyle, where their digital identities are becoming just as important as in the real world, and arguably will become more important in the future. Building a virtual cinema will present many benefits for exhibitors. A virtual cinema will allow audiences to navigate through the space as in real life. Interactive media billboards, both inside and outside, can be used for innovative 2D or 3D advertising campaigns for third party brands, as well as showcasing in-house promotions and the latest trailers of upcoming movie releases. Visitors can purchase merchandise (digital and physical), book advance tickets, order food and drink for in-cinema collection. All in one seamless experience. Cinemagoing is about the shared

experience and the metaverse offers the ability to create this environment. From virtual events like concerts to movie screenings, Q&As, celebrity interviews, to virtual film festivals, there’s no limit to the variety of events that the metaverse can host.

The creation and sale of blockchain-powered digital assets, such as tokens or NFTs, can be used for ticketing, or to reward consumer loyalty, similar to membership programs. Owning such assets can unlock benefits, such as discounts, access to red carpet events etc.


Citi Bank stated the metaverse economy could be worth $13 trillion by 2030


The number of metaverse users could reach 5 billion worldwide by 2030

For business-to-business, the metaverse offers a virtual marketplace, where exhibitors and cinema technology companies can network and trade 365 days a year. Cinema technology companies, like IMAX or RealD, would be able to showcase their incinema experiences within a virtual setting, with the help of VR and AR.

The time to build is now. Korean exhibitors CGV and India’s Bharti Airtel are some of the first to already build and experiment with virtual multiplexes. And the entertainment industry companies who are already leveraging the metaverse are likely to build lasting competitive advantages.

The MILC Platform (https://www.milc. global) is a new Web3 environment, aiming to become a leading business and entertainment metaverse. An integrated marketplace and social community platform connecting the professional media industry with its fans, it is the first metaverse to combine open WebGL technology with Unreal Engine 5, the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool.

The MILC platform offers a blockchain-based multimedia marketplace for professional content providers to trade licenses for movies, television, streaming, online publishing, music, gaming and art. It provides NFT-supported financing models for media projects as well as extensive small business opportunities for every market participant and user. It also offers advertisers the opportunity to interact with users and creative innovative campaigns.

The MLT (Media Licensing Token) serves as a medium of exchange contract signing vehicle and revenue-sharing medium across all platforms within the MILC Metaverse. Industry media partners include Cinema Technology Magazine, The Film Verdict, UKChina Film Collab, and the Metaverse Insider. The platform offers bespoke services to support companies wanting to build a virtual presence in the metaverse.

METAVERSE 09/22 > 43
We build & deliver it At MPS, we’ve been building DCPs for 15 years, whilst creating a delivery network to more than 3,500 cinemas worldwide. t: 020 7751 7000 e: info@motionpicturesolutions.comw:

3D in & Beyond 2022

With the release of “Avatar: The Way of Water” swiftly approaching,

Perspective is a strange concept. I tried describing it to my three-year-old daughter. She asked me one morning “Daddy, is five old?”. I explained that, from her perspective, it is indeed. A five-yearold is practically a grown up to a threeyear-old. They go to school, ride bikes, swim, tie their own shoe laces. But to a 40-year-old, a five-year-old is little. It’s a different perspective. This may sound like a very strange way to start an article on 3D, but there is a correlation. The reality of our business is that we are all held hostage to the perspective and perception of our customers. No one ever came out of a 2D screening,

1 32

The first “Avatar” film was a seminal moment in 3D history. It was not the first 3D title of the modern age (“Chicken Little” was, if you’re interested), but it was the one that brought the format to mass consumer attention.

The success of “Avatar” created some issues. Studios realised it was profitable to make 3D titles, but not enough time and money was spent creating versions of high enough quality. And customers now had a level of expectation.

This is a legacy we are living with today and one we must be cognisant of if we are to champion 3D in 2022 and beyond.

But times have changed, cinema has changed, and 3D has changed too. Only recently, I had a conversation with someone at a major studio, who told me they thought 3D was the same as it was ten years ago. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you why that isn’t

now is the time to prepare for it

where the sound was poor, or the projector out of focus, or any other number of technical issues, and made the statement “I’m never watching a 2D movie again”. However, if you apply that same logic to 3D, you know those same customers might say it was the last 3D ticket they would ever buy. They blame the faults on the format. Therefore, these next few months are the most important in the last decade for the future of 3D. This is an opportunity to reset customer perception, forget all the mistakes and issues of the past, and create a sustainable and profitable premium opportunity for exhibition. Before we get into how and why that may be, here are a few statements that are widely accepted as accurate:


A small number of excited exhibitors and 3D companies converted as many screens as possible to showing 3D films. Not all screens were able to show the quality needed and some 3D systems were used which were not up to the required specification.

Consumers were being charged a premium price for a ticket, but not receiving a premium experience in return, which created a gap between expectation and actual delivery.

the case, and you’ll be able to take some relatively easy and practical steps to improve the 3D offering to consumers, creating a sustainable, premium ticket for an experience you cannot replicate at home.

First and foremost, we need to understand the ingredients of good 3D. It’s actually a very simple formula:

INSIGHT 09/22 > 45
Great Quality 3D Content + Bright Presentation + High Stereo Contrast = Awesome 3D

Great Quality 3D Content High Stereo Contrast

I’m not going to start naming some of the films that had a poor 3D conversion. But what I can tell you is that those days are firmly in our rear-view mirror. Studios are carefully selecting the titles which they feel will give a fantastic 3D presentation. They are spending enough time and money to create quality 3D conversions, and if the content, schedule, or budgets don’t allow for this, they are not converting at all. They understand if they cut corners at this final stage of production, they won’t get a return on their investment. I’m sure there will be the odd film where this goes awry, but, thankfully, those will be the exception that proves the rule.

You may have noticed the word ‘conversion’ in that last paragraph. There used to be a narrative that native 3D (ie shot with 3D cameras) was good and conversion (ie film converted after shooting) was bad. This argument simply does not hold true anymore. Native is great - “Avatar” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” are both shot natively. However, some of the best 3D films of all time are conversions - “Gravity”, for example.

Either way, the key to this is that the movie must still be shot with 3D in mind. Ideally, a film will have a 3D stereographer working hand-in-hand with the director to consult on how each shot can be set up or tweaked to make the most of the additional depth. Conversion can even be used as an artistic tool or storytelling device. Chris Parks, the stereographer on “Gravity”, “Fantastic Beasts” and a plethora of other 3D titles, told us:

“Whether a 3D film is good or bad has much more to do with whether the 3D is contributing positively. Is the 3D distracting and drawing attention to itself? Or is it supporting the work done by visual effects, by editorial, by the lighting? And supporting the narration, the impact, the excitement? If approached correctly it can affect mood or change state of mind. It can hold or guide the audience’s attention. It can add impact to moments, or it can affect scale. It can also allow shots to be more easily understood. To feel more beautiful…

[On “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”] In London, the depth was biased towards the foreground, towards the actors. Which supported us being reintroduced to the characters. In Paris, we pushed much more depth back into the frame. To make the most of the Art Deco architecture, and to be able to enjoy

the action sequences.”

Good 3D isn’t possible without either good content or projection brightness. But the most complicated aspect is the stereo contrast.

Firstly, what is it? Stereo contrast is the amount, or ratio, of light that ends up appearing in the right (intended) eye vs the wrong (unintended) eye (the latter is known as ‘ghosting’). A low stereo contrast means more light is in the wrong place. The more ghosting, the more work your eyes must do to create the 3D illusion. If your eyes are working hard for two or three hours that can lead to fatigue, eye strain and headaches. A stereo contrast ratio of 100:1 means 1% of light is going to appear in the wrong eye as a ‘ghost’. It’s especially noticeable with bright lights on a dark background - practically, an example of this would be stars in the night sky - or on subtitles, which have a very definite straight edge and sit furthest forward in the ‘3D window’.

So, what are the elements that contribute towards the stereo contrast of any given auditoria? It’s all in the cinema’s 3D infrastructure and design, typically including:

2 3 4 5

We’ve already discussed the projector, and there’s not a lot you can do about the design of an existing auditorium at this stage (if you are designing a new cinema and you want to make sure the 3D will look incredible, please get in touch), but the other elements are incredibly important. We’ve developed some tools to help optimise your 3D setup. It doesn’t matter if you’re a RealD customer or not, if you have a system which utilises the passive 3D glasses (ie glasses that don’t require batteries), then the tests and tools will work for you. Please visit better3D or scan the QR code below.

And before we get into the specifics, the most fundamental thing you can do as a cinema operator is to go into an auditorium, sit in different seats and run some 3D content. Does it look good? Is there ghosting? Does the content look like it’s 3D? If you don’t have any content then you can download the RealD 3D ‘Imagine’ bumper from our site, which you can run on a loop as a test. If it doesn’t look right to you, it won’t to the audience.

46 > 09/22 Frankly, the artistry, skill, and endeavour of 3D professionals like Chris have improved beyond measure in the last decade. There will be films shot natively in the future, but the majority of 3D titles will be conversions. If we are to sustain 3D as a premium revenue source beyond “Avatar: The Way of Water”, then it is vital that converted films are given the same reverence. The slate is not going to provide us with eight or 10 natively shot 3D films each year, but the conversions can be just as good - if enough time, effort, and budget are focused on them.

Projector Auditorium design and layout 3D system and eyewear Screen Port window

2 Port Window with Internal Stress

The port window is often overlooked, but it can have a devastating effect on polarisation. If the glass depolarises the light, then 3D won’t be 3D. To check for this, you can run the test DCP included on our site and view it with your 3D glasses on. If the image looks like 1, you’re in good shape. However, if it looks like 2, you may need to get it replaced.

On the second image, the bright spots are the sections of the screen that no longer preserve polarisation, due to the port hole.

On a much more fundamental level, please ensure the port hole is cleaned on a regular basis and there are no streaks or residue marks on the glass, as this will have a significant impact on your stereo contrast.

Bright Presentation

The content improving in itself is all very well, but what about the technology in the cinemas themselves, I hear you cry? Let’s think back to where we were in 2009; the digital conversion was only just getting started. 3Dand, indeed, “Avatar” - was one of the drivers behind that process. I worked for a major exhibitor at the time where the number of installed digital projectors was still dwarfed by 35mm, and the digital projectors we did have were, predominantly, Series 1s with xenon lamps. We had around two or three per venue, one big screen, one medium, one small. They were a marvel but, as with all technology, things moved on quickly.

Today, we are witnessing the roll out of laser, HFR, 4K projection and all other manner of technological wonders. However, from a 3D perspective, it is brightness which is the single biggest contributing factor to quality presentation.

Those xenon bulbs did a fine job. Indeed, 99.9% of those

customers that loved “Avatar” in 3D saw it on a projector with a xenon light source. But this time around, laser projection is a whole new ball game. Bright light makes for a brighter, clearer 3D image.

Laser projection will maintain a consistent level of brightness for thousands of hours, whereas if you’re running a xenon projector, the bulb dims over time. But if you do have a projector with a xenon light source, all is not lost - far from it. Check the age of the bulb, ensure the brightness isn’t turned down, and engage an integrator to come and service it. Make sure you’re getting the most amount of light from your projector. This is true for “Avatar: The Way of Water” - but also for any 3D title.

If at all possible, you would be looking for a minimum of 4fL in 3D - remember that the 3D infrastructure (more on that shortly) will reduce the amount of light seen in each lens of the 3D glasses substantially, so starting with a brighter light source is fundamental.

Port Window 1 Good Port Window 09/22 > 47 INSIGHT

The screen itself plays a crucial role in the 3D performance, so much so that we have developed our own Ultimate Screen product - which has a stereo contrast of up to 1000:1. A good quality silver screen - or equivalent from any of the reputable screen manufacturers - should have stereo contrast of approximately 100:1. But it’s not just the type of screen you have installed. Over time screens can become damaged, damage which is not visible to the naked eye - but again, this is where our tests come into play. Run the test DCPs and look through one of the lenses. If the whole screen is black or white, it’s perfect. Now look through the other lens - if it was black before it should now be white and vice versa. If it’s not a block colour, but instead a pattern is showing, then there may be a problem. Image 1 (above) represents a screen which has not been cleaned very well. The paint has been removed and, therefore, so has the polarisation. The 3D on this screen is not going to be good. It’s one of the issues we addressed with the Ultimate Screen, which has a cleanable surface.

Next, there can be some localised damage for a variety of reasons. Image 2 has been damaged by the movable masking rubbing against the surface. Localised damage can sometimes be

3D System & Glasses

We like to think we have the best 3D systems out there. We have been developing, refining and improving 3D for more than 15 years. But the important thing is whichever 3D system you have, please make sure it is aligned correctly with the projector (again, there are test DCPs for you to use on RealD. com/better3D) and that it is clean. On that latter point, we would never suggest you clean it yourself (beyond blowing off any excess dust) although, if absolutely necessary we have a video to support cleaning the exterior (only!) of the device on our website. But do engage a professional integrator to have a look at the system and clean it routinely when your projector is serviced.

The risk with attempting to clean it yourself is that the high quality optical coatings RealD uses can be inadvertently


more harmful than degradation across the whole screen (depending on the size of the damage). If the patch of damage is large then as an object or character moves across the surface from polarised areas to unpolarised and back again, the brain suddenly has to try and work out why that object or character, which was 3D a second ago, is now 2D. And why it then switches back to 3D. Over two hours, that can cause fatigue.

But degradation across the whole screen will cause eye strain the whole time. You might feel it, but you will not necessarily be able to identify what is wrong.

And of course, screens will also lose polarisation over time - a screen that is 15 years old, apart from being 15-year-old technology, could also have potentially lost some of its polarisation as the silver coating may have oxidised. If this has happened substantially on any screen, the stereo contrast will be low and it will again cause eye strain or fatigue.

The only solution to this is a new screen. And if you want it to be ready for “Avatar: The Way of Water”, please do it sooner rather than later, to give time to identify and rectify any problems by December.

scratched or have streaks left on them. If you’re not sure, please do not chance it, and if you’re one of our customers, drop us a line.

And the other - vital yet underestimated - part of the infrastructure is the 3D glasses. Our glasses themselves have gone through multiple iterations in the last decade to ensure they provide the best possible experience. We run stringent tests to ensure consistency across all our products. Please don’t jeopardise the customer experience after spending so much time and money on the design of the auditorium, the projector and the 3D system by buying cheap eyewear. They’re worth investing in. And, of course, make sure you’ve ordered your 3D glasses in plenty of time - don’t run out.

www.cinematech.today48 > 09/22
Screen 1 Cleaned Screen Image 2 Masking

The Future

At CineEurope this year we were all treated to extended clips of “Avatar: The Way of Water” in 3D. There was a particular scene with the characters diving in and out of the water, among incredible marine life and bobbing waves. It truly demonstrated the value of the format and looked spectacular. Walking out of the Barcelona CCIB auditorium, I was stopped by multiple people from the studios and exhibitor partners who wanted to discuss that one clip - was it HFR? What light level was it? But the one thing they all mentioned was how stunning it was.

The first “Avatar” was great, but when you consider exhibitors now have an additional 10 years’ experience in showing 3D content, the technology has evolved and that’s before we even get to the film.

And if you take one thing away from this article, please let it be this:

You do not want the first piece of 3D content in many years to be shown in your cinema to be “Avatar: The Way of Water”. It’s too important a film for that. Go to RealD.

com/better3D and download the tools, tests, and content for free. Please test, please prepare, please order your 3D glasses and whatever you do, please do it early. Do it now.

The future is bright. Studios are focusing their efforts on high quality 3D conversions, so that first hurdle towards awesome 3D has been cleared. Then it’s down to us on the technology side to get the other elements in place to deliver an exciting and sustainable revenue source, carrying us through “Avatar: The Way of Water”, its sequels, and the list of incredible 3D titles the studios are working on as we speak. This is 3D’s moment - but we need to do the leg work.

Let’s make sure the perception of 3D, moving into 2023 and beyond, is that it’s worth paying the extra, because 3D is the premium format with the largest footprint in terms of both screens and seats. It is our responsibility as an industry to deliver the experience our customers will pay a premium to enjoy.



Accelerated by the global pandemic, shifts to existing trends such as the way we shop, work and spend our leisure timeincluding going to the cinema - have massively impacted our lives. This has consequently led to a significant decline in footfall on our high streets and in shopping centres. Improved life expectancy, health and well-being, greater prosperity at local and community levels, are all factors that currently seem to be at the forefront of global government agendas. “Levelling up”, business improvement districts (BIDs), the Future High Streets Fund, the 20-minute neighbourhood, “Build Back Better”, Vision 2030 are a few schemes that have sprung up in the UK to address these issues.

From the UK Government’s Levelling Up prospectus: “Preserving heritage is not limited to simply attracting visitors; many town and city centres across the UK are historic and beautiful in their own right. Maintaining these assets [...] can be

Rob Arthur, Founding Director, Paguro Ideas ArtHouse, Crouch End, London Rob Arthur talks to CT Magazine about the importance of localisation and moving away from globalisation.
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crucial for local business and supporting residents’ pride in the places they live. The first round of the Fund exemplified this through investment in the creation of arts centres and cinemas [...]”

The epitome of pandemic buzz words, localisation is very much a long overdue necessity in order to overcome many of the zeitgeist dilemmas and challenges we are currently, and probably for many years to come, facing.

It could be argued that the all-time highs we’re seeing with the cost of living, including energy, food and labour shortages, are all areas impacting cinema recovery. Triggered and magnified by the pandemic and current geopolitical challenges, these issues have their roots in globalisation.

The Globalisation Problem

Globalisation, centralisation and the influence of multinational companies have, over the years, suffocated localism in favour of cheap, often poor quality and unethically produced products. The desire for cheap goods and produce not only resulted in mass destruction of the environment, but consequently destroyed many local industries, with an ethos of “low-cost goods at any cost”.

Previously successful UK industries such as mining, textiles, steel and shipbuilding are now virtually non-existent. This resulted in a decline in northern city regions and coastal communities, currently the focus of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

The move towards a service-oriented, urban population

has been many decades in the making, with globalism and the interconnected, interdependent world of nations facing the consequences of economic, environmental, health or political policy and its consequential impacts. Rampant energy inflation, stratospheric interest rates, food supply shortages and critical industry general strikes were meant to be relics of the past or for emerging markets only! Localisation and decentralisation, if implemented on an inclusive-of-all basis, and with the right human capital, could indeed resolve many of the issues we are facing now.

A Local Hub

Local high streets and town or city centre neighbourhoods have always provided vitally important functions, most notably by being the focal point - and centre of economic activity - for their communities. They also provide job creation and retention, a main transport hub and spaces for entertainment and leisure.

But for too long, the vast majority of town and city centres have become polluted, soulless concrete jungles, which according to Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics, “…need to reinvent themselves constantly. To do that, they have to have the right human capital, the right accessibility, and the right infrastructure that can also adapt to different conditions.”

This very principle of reinvention and implementation of the right human capital needs to be applied to every single building, shop, restaurant. And it needs to be applied in the creation of dynamic, flexible cinemas for every city, town and rural area.

(top/bottom left) Regent Cinema, Redcar, (right) Reel Cinema, Rochdale (both in northern England) 09/22 > 51 BOUTIQUE CINEMA

Cinema and Community

Professor Leigh Sparks, Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling and Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) highlighted that, “One of the things that people have missed though the pandemic is the ability to go to a cinema and see a film. This is a social as well as an artistic activity, which raises questions about the types and locations of cinemas. Given they are a customer draw and can be an asset and attractor for a place and for people, there is considerable interest in cinemas and town centres.”

Cinemas can be crucial to creating that dynamism and impact through the development, improvement, creativity and innovation within communities they serve, however large or small. Yet it seems that the very core of cinema, the social and artistic aspects, have gradually been lost in translation over the past decades. Many cinema operators have adopted a “transactional only” mode that has been described as “storekeeping and automation only” with as little human and community engagement as possible. There are exceptions of course…

There is no denying cinemas are businesses and they need to be commercially viable in order to survive. But it seems that smaller chains and independent cinemas are far better equipped and, perhaps more importantly, willing to cater to the needs of their customers and the community at large by offering a more personal and inclusive approach.

Many cinema operators have for too long applied a rigid and traditional financial business model. Relying on Hollywood content and exclusively supported by centralised social media,

Survival of the Fittest

they’ve been unable to react quickly to trends such as #gentleminions [the social media craze from the “Minions: the Rise of Gru” film], combined with globally-branded food and beverage (F&B) only. Is this approach enough to reactivate and rebuild the cinema market over the next decade?

The future of cinema will need something as simple as a less scripted and more personal approach which could lead to a community-focused reinvention and rediscovery of cinemas,

Selective development of new screens, coupled with the phasing out of obsolete or under-performing cinemas, will ensure a stable and vibrant marketplace for the future. Localisation will redraw the map for cinema development more towards town and city centre locations, where there has been a 44% increase in screen numbers from 2002-2019. The key reasons to continue doing this include:

Cinemas are seen to be good, long-term tenants and neighbours and can act as a catalyst for the development, repurposing and regeneration of Retail, Dining and Entertainment zones (RDEs) within a precinct.

The largest global entertainment companies, including Disney, Universal, Sony, Paramount, Warner Bros. provide substantial marketing support on an ongoing basis to promote their content at local venues, making them relevant all year round. Which other business has such regular, continuous new product launches?

Cinemas offer an entertainment and multi-arts venue with an ever-broadening offer, driven by developments in technology, flexible distribution, new types of content and local demand. New generations of customers need to be engaged - there will be plenty more crazes (like #gentleminions) in years to come.

Flexibility: to programme a Kid’s Club screening; family afternoon visits on a rainy day; a live theatre screening; the latest blockbusters with friends; weekend date nights followed by a meal at a local restaurant; hosting of business conferences.

Cinemas need to be welcoming places, and they should have a significant positive economic and social value impact, particularly in the post-work 6-9pm slot throughout the year.

The facilitation of a broader and more sustainable trading environment.

Digital innovation has provided an opportunity to deliver greater customer choice which, in turn, will drive greater post-pandemic consumer demand. With the flexibility and quality of the latest sound and vision technology, cinemas can range in size from 400 square metres up to 10,000 square metres of rentable space.

A cinema venue will provide employment in a key industry sector, with staff then able to engage with the community to work on projects and initiatives positioning the venue as a cultural and social hub in the town centre.

The cafe and bar, Crouch End’s ArtHouse Inside one of the Regent’s screens
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after the struggle of the last two (plus) years.

Cinemas have always played a vital role in strengthening communities and diversifying a town or city centre. But a cinema alone will not transform a dead zone.

A collective approach is needed where, according to the influential UK Grimsey review, there “is a need for all towns to develop plans that are business-like and focused on transforming the place into a complete community hub incorporating health, housing, arts, education, entertainment [including cinema], leisure, business/office space, as well as some shops, embedded libraries and public spaces and embrace smart technology such as free public WiFi and wellconnected workplaces that support flexible working patterns”.

The great strength of a vibrant town or city centre is the diversity of shops, start-ups, entertainment, restaurants, bars and coffee shops and the diversity of its people. The benefits to developing a successful town or city centre can create social, environmental, economic and cultural value.

Working Together, Attracting Custom

A cinema and leisure development has been known to deliver up to an 8% increase in footfall to a destination and a 12% increase in like-for-like F&B sales. Indeed, operators need to be mindful that association with a cinema, with its prominent


Innovate to Accumulate

We know the cinema market is in a period of upheaval. Continuous innovation is essential and post-pandemic changes will see new market entrants evolve and current businesses adapt and rebuild from a base where recovery may take a decade or more. We should continue to expect notable peaks and troughs along the way. Yet a new and successful local cinema will be economically beneficial to both landlord and tenant. There’s also a highly significant level of social value (a measurable local authority investment valuation process) that cinemas deliver on, but that is often taken for granted:


Local people can access and obtain the skills needed for part-time or full-time employment in the film and cinema markets.

Employees are provided with new skills for now and the future.

Employment opportunities within the community are created.

Barriers to employment in the entertainment industry are removed for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.


Precinct or neighbourhood opening times are extended beyond traditional retail hours and offer an alternative all-weather social activity throughout the year.

Work opportunities are provided for small, medium, micro-sized businesses, social enterprises and minority-owned businesses .

Local goods and services are procured where possible.

Small, medium, micro-sized businesses, social enterprises and minority-owned businesses are supported to grow a sustainable community.


Volunteering activities that deliver benefits to local communities are carried out.

National charities are partnered with

to support local employment opportunities and environmental regeneration.

Local charities and stakeholders become partners on key themes to deliver additional benefits to the communities in which cinemas operate.

Education and training providers, industry bodies and charities work with cinemas to offer curriculum support and work experience opportunities.

In collaboration with local charities and community groups, cinemas can support and encourage the community to live healthier and happier lives.


Resources are used efficiently to reduce waste.

Air pollution, noise, vibration and nuisance are addressed and reduced where applicable, and possible, within local communities.

Sustainable and ethical procurement promotion.


Clear accountability for delivering this policy is maintained.

Social value impact is monitored and reported by using recognised independent tools.

Standards, efficiency and effectiveness are continuously improved. 09/22 > 53

local image and significant footfall, creates strategic sales and marketing opportunities for other businesses. In the right set of circumstances, cinema is an ideal anchor - but not in isolation.

Despite changing viewing habits, developers, local government and residents of towns and cities across the world generally put cinemas at the top or near the top of their wish list of leisure facilities that they would like to have located in their neighbourhood. Currently though, there is a significant disconnect in the UK and Ireland between consumer demand and total screen supply that pre-dates the pandemic. There are now more active screens than in 1950, but cinema ticket sales are back to mid-90s levels.

So long as the corporate multiplex model is focussed on larger concentrations of the population or out-of-town locations there will be an oversupply of sites and screens in some areas and a vacuum will need to be filled by regional or local operators in traditional high streets, coastal towns and rural areas. The focus of the levelling up agenda will remain on these latter areas for some time to come.

Understanding the Market

There needs to be a clear, and shared, stakeholder understanding of the strategic direction and development of the cinema market at a local and global level. This needs to take into account the major issues facing each territorial market and includes: political challenges, financial market volatility (including interest rates, and inflationary costs of production and living), supply base challenges from film release patterns, supply of projection and sound equipment, as well as innovation

to build successful and resilient business models for the future.

As an example of long-term market interest, Silverburn is a significant RDE destination on the southside of Glasgow. It saw the demise of its Debenhams store that was a key anchor tenant alongside Tesco and a major Cineworld cinema. The site was put up for sale by its owners, Hammerson, and acquired by Eurofund Group, an international real estate investment and development company, and Henderson Park, a private equity real estate firm, for £140 million, earlier this year.

According to Alberto Esguevillas, Chief Executive Officer, Eurofund Group: “Silverburn represents a fantastic opportunity to take a good centre and transform it into the leading asset in its catchment. Eurofund’s vision is to utilise our team’s strong asset management and operational expertise to unlock latent value and reposition Silverburn as the leading retail, leisure and food and beverage destination in Scotland”.

Alongside local government sector support and initiatives, the good news for cinema is that there are active investors who see and understand the short, medium, and long-term positive impacts, as well as the challenges, that investment into this asset class provides.

The market is highly resilient but it doesn’t stand still. Where we go to watch a film, or experience an event, is being redefined and upgraded in many ways. From a PLF (premium large format) screen with 500 seats, to a small independent offer with 30 seats, or a mobile screen in an icecream van or truck; is there any other business that has so much flexibility to be relevant to such a broad base of people as cinema?

The Arc Cinema, Beeston, England
#UpgradeToGalalite Follow us on: /galalitescreens Know what others are hiding CENTRE TO EDGE UNIFORMITY? Does your cinema screen have

Personality Goes a Long Way

Mustard Studio ( is a cinema and film consultancy founded by Mandy Kean & Kate Gerova.

Mandy Kean, Founder & CEO, Mustard Studio
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Hard though it is to believe, Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” is now 28 years old and still highly quotable. “Personality goes a long way” is just one of those quotes but it also works well to describe how you build character in a business.

So, what is the secret to creating personality and character when running a business? It seemed arguably less important pre-pandemic because admissions were great; the future was bright, content was plentiful, and cinemas were looking forward to a bumper year. But now, with more cinemas showing similar content (quality mainstream), other deciding factors come into play for audiences. We know, going into 2023, that price is one of those factors as everyone suffers from the cost-of-living crisis. Yet cinema has stood the test of time, offering affordable escapism. And numerous surveys show us that audiences value the big screen experience. It’s neurologically satisfying; your emotions are heightened, and the experience is more rewarding than one offered by a smaller screen. Presuming that tickets remain affordable, one of the key reasons people visit a particular cinema (“your” cinema) is the personality: the atmosphere, the vibe, the hospitality, and the buzz of the place.

The goal is, probably, for that customer to choose only your cinema. Most cinemagoers are tribal - they visit specific cinemas to fulfil specific needs. They are less likely to visit a boutique cinema as a family of four with all the trimmings (snacks, drinks, merchandise, upgraded seats etc.), than for a couple’s night out. ‘Big’ films need to be seen on big screens with sound and vision to match. Well done if you’re a cinema operator and have everything in place to meet all customer desires - there’s no need to read further.

Personality is critical if the aim is to create a loyal and regular customer. It’s not the only thing, of course - we all know people with prominent personalities and we don't want to spend a whole evening with them. But it’s about character, your USP, and your brand identity being clear enough to set you apart. And, of course, being the most hospitable cinema on the street. Building up your values and reputation can take time. All the things that cinema owners want: audience development, marketing initiatives, polished brand identity and a friction-free digital and physical customer experience, take time to hone and get right.

Still, as streamers fall over themselves to offer quality films and TV series, your cinema experience becomes a critical part of the journey. Hospitality is the driving force behind that journey, from the point of buying a ticket to whatever

comments you make when you leave the cinema.

Marketing is one of the natural bedfellows of building personality and character. But far from being a creatively strategic role, most marketers have to spend much of their time posting about films or events that are not selling, even if the event is tomorrow night for a film and filmmaker that most people haven’t heard of. When that post results in zero sales, it is not the marketer’s fault. There is a joined-up responsibility that starts with good planning. It means analysing your audience so you can better understand their needs and wants. Defining customer segments by their personality, if you will, and using the data you have to tell you how your real-time audiences are behaving. Cinemas have varying degrees of robust CRM systems, but we’re yet to meet a cinema owner entirely happy with theirs. Mailchimp [marketing automation platform] is a great - and popular - tool, but if it’s not integrated with your POS system, you’re not seeing everything.

And, even if you do have a great CRM system, a loyal audience, and an optimised digital network, it’s true to say that, at the time of writing, admissions were still yet to bounce back fully, due to the perfect storm of non-returnees (of all ages). Furthermore, a lack of buzzy titles and the popularity of streaming services mean that people wait to see a film online. And in addition to this, many cinemas used the pandemic to stop publishing their in-house magazine, so audiences often lack context for new releases, especially for more specialised titles.

The rising costs of business bills, especially in the wake of the pandemic, will inevitably mean that some things get lost or benched. When you’re concentrating on literally keeping the lights on, there will be a hierarchy of needs. Still, time and time again, the venues that put personality at the heart of what they do can make emotional connections with their customers, which develops loyalty and sustainability. Here are some things that are crucial to building up some solid character traits:

Ritz Cinema, Belper, England East London's Genesis Cinema's Grindhouse Café
“Personality is critical if the aim is to create a loyal and regular customer.” 09/22 > 57 BOUTIQUE CINEMA

Brand is not just about your logo. That is brand expression. Brand is about what you stand for and how you show it. Cinemas now have to work harder to attract admissions, and if the content is similar, then the values underpinning your brand are a helpful way of showing your point of difference. You have to ensure you’re not just paying lip service to the values you wrote down in 1994. If you don’t have a values or culture deck that you share with new employees or brand partners, is it because it’s no longer fit for purpose or because you don’t have one?

Everything is connected; once you know what your values are and how you live them, then it helps your employees to communicate your vision. It helps the marketer find the right way in with a message and enables the front-of-house team to create the best experience for everyone. Hospitality is the bedrock of the service industry and was summed up by a customer at Ritz Cinema, Belper who said that when visiting, she “felt like she was being hosted”.


Employee Value Proposition

1Brand & Values The experience encouraged her to become a cinema member and return to watch films she wouldn’t usually choose because she had developed a trust in the brand. The Manero Group, owner of Ritz Belper, has kept its magazine going, as well as a direct phone line and it has always committed to showing people their seats on arrival. Maybe this isn’t an approach all cinemas can afford, but it works for their demographic and matches their values.

Employee Value Proposition - EVP - is a new lexicon of 21st-century language. Or, as Maya Angelou put it: “People will forget what you said, and what you did. But never how you made them feel.” Employees have changed in the pandemic, and cinemas tend to be staffed with younger workforces who are, at best, ambivalent about working practices (they can always leave) and, at worst, downright critical. Moreover, market corrections inevitably occur after global seismic changes; we’ve seen this within the hospitality industry. And employees are the gateway to our most important assetthe customer - so treating their work as part of

a regulated and measured workflow is essential.

Diversity, inclusivity, and good pay are not buzzwords but should be an essential part of the hospitality industry. We employ people to make others feel good, but if we don’t make our people feel good, then we’re not setting them up to succeed. In a recent podcast interview, Nick Jones, Founder and CEO of Soho House & Co., claimed in a recent podcast interview with Stephen Bartlett (creator of the Huel brand from Dragon’s Den) that “everyone should spend a year in hospitality, like national service. It teaches you so much about life, how

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to work as a team and it gives you the ability to get on with people”.

Whilst working in a cinema, we observed a young customer services team member on the cinema floor who made a family with an autistic child feel more


Customer Experience

All cinemas want their customers to have a great Customer Experience (CX). That’s a given. But what is the manager’s idea of a great experience? Where are the cinema standards that ensure that a customer enjoys a seamless inauditorium delivery? Since the pandemic, the public can be unforgiving, and their behaviour has become more impatient and demanding. The customer experience is also underpinned by the employee experience (see #2 above). An employee who understands the direction of the organisation and is given regular airtime with senior managers is more likely to manage all the challenges customers can bring. If the management style is more tell than show, it might lead to employee disengagement and dissatisfaction, which can impact the CX.

Enhancing all the customer touchpoints, from the first digital engagement to the point they leave the cinema, is a journey in which every member of a cinema team should be involved.

Most people in the cinema industry enjoy complimentary tickets, which is one of the job’s

comfortable. She had grown up with an autistic brother and knew how to make them all feel at ease. She hadn’t been trained at work for that (arguably, all cinemas could cultivate disability training), but that family will remember that cinema. So look after your teams. They are your best advocates and ambassadors. A brand is only as good as its people, after all.

Consistency is Key

Both aforementioned cinemas are solo venues, and it’s harder to create consistency when you scale. Most circuits will have had experience of a "problem child" site that underperforms despite best efforts and that requires intervention.

However, the Manero Group is a circuit of five cinemas that has created

great perks, but stepping back directly from working in exhibition and purchasing our tickets has given us far more insight into the experience than before.

Since launching in 2020, Mustard Studio has worked with numerous cinemas and festivals, and we get asked about what we’re seeing that we like and what is translating into success, so here goes:

Being based in the UK, our love for Metrograph (a cinema in NYC) is a brand experience from afar. All their touchpoints sing from the same hymn sheet: to revive and honour old school cinema-going. We gladly read their newsletters even though we can’t watch their films, and we know we’re in safe cinematic hands. Their brand is Deco-inspired, and their restaurant is called The Commissary. Both these elements hark back to the heyday of 1930s cinema. They have created a thoughtful brand identity and journey. It’s also been coined the coolest cinema in New York, so we’re not alone in our admiration.

Genesis Cinema in east London, led by Tyrone WalkerHebborn, is an example of a cinema with a clear set of values around

consistency. Their values of customer experience, hospitality and understanding of their demographic are evident in all their venues. Perhaps it’s because their extended family manages their cinemas but that in itself says something - a tight unit that has clarity about what they are doing. And it would be remiss not to mention Discover Tuesdays, pioneered by the Picturehouse Cinema group, which took their values of championing independent cinema into an audience development programme that allowed people to discover films they might not otherwise take a chance on.

In 2021, Indiewire spoke about how meaningful the relationship between cinemas and local communities was - a relationship that money can’t buy. But much more work must be done to realise that potential with distributors and brand partners.

Personality takes time to develop and has to be coupled with purpose, but those who dare to invest can become a much-loved neighbourhood beacon that stands the test of time.

people and representation as it befits the local community, which is one of the most diverse in the country. They work with several festivals annually, and it’s not uncommon for them to have queues around the block. Their pricing policy has targeted the lowattendance days with deals. Still, on Saturday nights, you can enjoy a premium night out in one of their studios, enjoying a sofa and a tipple. Having topped the Time Out Cinema of the Year list twice in recent years, it’s a real gem that has been created by design. The attention to getting this cinema right is rooted in how the whole team coalesces with a genuine lack of hierarchy and a desire to create the best customer experience.

Ritz Belper's main auditorium 09/22 > 59 BOUTIQUE CINEMA

What a Start to Summer!

The majority of those who attended this year’s CineEurope, agreed that this event felt closer to “normal” times than it has for at least the last two years. We were at the beginning of an exciting summer, complete with slate presentations, celebrity visitors and, of course, the trade show floor.

On the (Trade Show) Floor

The trade show floor was still a little reduced in size, an inevitable hangover from the pandemic. But several new products were released for CineEurope. From warmed popcorn from premium popcorn brand, Joe & Seph’s, food ordering integration from Admit One, through to first-time-attendee company, Stay-Well, offering sustainable bamboo packaging, there was plenty to explore.

Kicking Off Proceedings

Phil Clapp (President, UNIC) and Laura Houlgatte (CEO, UNIC) presided over the opening ceremony, highlighting the key events throughout the week as well as when to look out for the different studio presentations and slates. They provided admissions and box office data from across UNIC’s territories for the last year (respectively 590 million, +36.4% from 2020, and €3.7 billion, +40.8% from 2020) with significant increases seen across Europe. Other highlights from the presentation included the launch of the sixth edition of UNIC’s Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme, along with the inaugural UNIC and Boxoffice Pro “Giants of Exhibition Europe 2022” listing.

A Selection of Seminars


The panel discussed how innovation is essential for cinemas to continue offering the gold standard in film-viewing experiences, as well as the challenge facing exhibitors having to invest in this particularly challenging financial environment.


With some audience segments still showing a greater reluctance than others to return to the big screen, this session discussed what else can be

An ICE-cold Demonstration

ICE Theatres, the immersive exhibition company, ran visits to a local Spanish cinema, Ocine Granollers, that had recently opened its own ICE Screen. There followed a first time demonstration of the ICE experience and technology. ICE Theatres provides a different type of immersive screening experience with the addition of lowresolution screens along each side of the auditorium, plus additional lighting fixtures. And the experience starts from the corridor entrance to the

done to attract a broader, more diverse audience.


Coca-Cola’s Nick Gault introduced this session, with the panel looking at how consumers are likely to adapt their leisure spending, given the rising cost of living, inflationary pressures and the war in Ukraine.


Presented by the Coca-Cola Company, the quest for sustainability continues post-pandemic, with increased investment and challenging targets.

Inside Barcelona’s CCIB

screen, which is specifically designed and branded.

To See and Be Seen

It’s been said many times but talking business in person over lunch, catching up with colleagues over a bottle of wine, or simply sitting in the same room, listening to expert discussions, is irreplaceable. And this was the most notable thing about this year’s CineEurope - you can’t beat feeling warm and fuzzy together.

See you next time at the 2023 CineEurope (19-22 June 2023).

Peter Knight reviews the June CineEurope 2022 event, after a brief October 2021 calendar slot This year’s programme of seminar talks and panel discussions covered these topics...
09/22 > EVENTS
We help you screen it Supporting cinemas, we design, sell, install and maintain cinema technologies and seating. t: 0161 477 7633 e: mne

The Ultimate Picture Palace Succeeds with Community Crowdfunder

OXFORD’S only independent cinema - the Ultimate Picture Palace (UPP) - has succeeded in its quest to become a community-owned venue. On 29th April 2022, UPP embarked on a journey to place ownership into the hands of its local community through the launching of its share scheme. A minimum sum of £280k was needed to purchase the business itself, but further funds were needed to carry out vital work to the 111-year-old building, originally built in 1911. Three months later both targets had been reached with the share scheme hitting both its minimum and optimum goals, £280,575 and £312,575 respectively.

In the June edition of CT Magazine, we shared news of the campaign and how it was the desire of the late Becky Hallsmith, the UPP’s latest owner who sadly passed away in 2018, for the venue to be firmly in the hands of its community. As a venue that has always maintained lowcost tickets and eclectic film programming, it’s known as a real gem in the community and staff and shareholders alike are delighted to have secured the cinema’s future.

BAFTA Award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter Richard Curtis, who recorded a film in support of the campaign (which can be found on YouTube).

A special guest at the launch event, Guardian Chief Film Critic, Peter Bradshaw, recounted his days at the UPP as a student. And a fly-on-the-wall film also saw Bradshaw chatting to Private Eye Editor, Ian Hislop, about his memories at the UPP (also available on YouTube).

The cinema is an integral part of Cowley Road’s vibrant cultural community in east Oxford, England. It will now continue to run as an independent business with a large shareholder membership.

UPP’s supporters celebrate reaching their target

Two of UPP’s younger audience members enjoy the big screen

After four challenging years, thanks to the pandemic and other factors, 1265 investors stepped up, after a campaign that was supported by celebrities and industry names such as CEO of BAFTA Pippa Harris; Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes; “Downton Abbey” actor Hugh Bonneville; Guardian Chief Film Critic Peter Bradshaw; and

Other generous support for the campaign came from: £20,000: Ethex Match Funding (provided by the Postcode Innovation Trust, a charity supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery). £20,000 award: The Community Shares Booster Fund (a funding scheme to support the community shares offer, funded by Power to Change, and delivered in partnership with Co-operatives UK, Locality, Plunkett Foundation and Co-operative and Community Finance).

For further information visit: owntheupp/ 09/22 > 63 >


A Summer ICTA Update

The second ICTA column comes after a busy and successful summer and trip to CineEurope, followed by preparation for our Los Angeles Seminar Series (LASS).

A Message from President Frank Tees

Hello CT readership. I’m sitting on a plane drafting this message, happy to be travelling again. I find the amount of travel I do is directly related to how well the cinema industry is doing; [at the time of writing] box office grosses are increasing and a steady slate of titles is headed our way.

The flow of grant-money-fueled improvements and upgrades in some markets has subsided. Now, preparations for the second “Avatar” movie are progressing. I would urge those looking forward to this movie, and its grosses, to consider their upgrades soon. The supply chain is improving but is still slow and strained by logistics delays and long lead times. So it’s never too early to plan ahead.

ICTA is now starting to prepare for LASS, which is a threeday seminar in January, dedicated to networking, and educational and industry-relevant programming with exposure to the newest technology trends in cinema. And we’ve just recently completed a similar series of seminars in conjunction with CineEurope.

2022 EMEA Awards Celebrations

On June 19th, we celebrated the winners of ICTA’s annual EMEA Awards at our Barcelona Reception, which takes place each year just before CineEurope commences. The awards honour remarkable new, refurbished, and classic cinemas across the EMEA region and we occasionally present a Lifetime

Achievement Award to an outstanding individual in our community.

This year, the four glorious winners were:

Classic Cinema of the Year: Le Grand Rex, Paris

New Build Cinema of the Year: UGC Ciné Cité Part-Dieu, Lyon

Best Cinema Refurbishment: Cineworld, Belfast

Special Recognition Award: Rolv Gjestland, Film & Kino, Norway

Barcelona Sunday Seminar

On the Sunday prior to the start of CineEurope, more than 100 guests participated in a diverse and fast-paced programme at the Cinesa Diagonal Mar Cinema.

John Fithian of NATO and Phil Clapp of UNIC opened the day with insights and perspectives on the current trajectory of our global industry during a “State of the Industry” Q&A. The conversation was moderated by German cinema exhibitor Susanne Fläxl who, with her charming, calm and persistent

David Hancock (OMDIA), Julien Bollee (CinemaNext), Oliver Pasch (Cinionic), Claire Beswick (The Living Room Cinema), Youry Bredewold (Dolby Laboratories), and moderator/panel producer, Grainne Clarke

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manner, had the two executives open up on thorny issues including premium cinema, streaming, and release windows, among other topics.

John F. Allen of HPS-4000 subsequently gave an impressive live-demo and presentation entitled “Sound Distortion - the Elephant in the Room”, and illustrated the need for, and purpose of, quality control and training regarding cinema sound.

This was followed by a session on cybersecurity and content security in cinema, with contributions from Barry de Bruin (Pathé Cinemas Netherlands), Jonny Whiles (Warner Bros. Entertainment), and a video contribution from the Motion Picture Association (MPA). Interesting insights, among many, included the fact that Pathé is running a continuous “coordinated vulnerability programme” with a third party provider. The MPA video contribution (available on the ICTA website) also raised awareness around the need to protect content across its life cycle. A huge thanks to ICTA Director Cathy Huis in ‘t Veld-Esser for producing and moderating this session and for contributing an introductory video.

Oliver Pasch then hosted a panel discussion entitled “Technology Trends and the Cinema-going Experience: What’s Next?”. Panelists included Carmen Pereira (MCA Group), Jan Rasmussen (Nordisk Film Cinemas), Tammo Buhren (Vandors GmbH), Thomas Boysen (RealD) and Mark Christiansen (Paramount). The panel, by its sheer size and wealth of expertise, touched on many issues that are relevant to presenting picture and sound to perfection in a cinema.

Finally, the Sunday Seminar was rounded off with 10 quickfire presentations by ICTA members covering new products and services, before a happy and exhausted audience was invited to join the awards ceremony.

Focus Sessions & the Trade Show Floor

On Wednesday 22nd June, and in partnership with CineEurope, ICTA produced two hours of educational programming on the CineEurope trade show floor.

Michelle Stevens from creative studio POWSTER kicked off the focus sessions with a panel entitled “Innovate to Engage: Adapting Your Marketing Strategy to Young Audiences’ Trends and Platforms”. The discussion with Andaç Bagioglu (Cinamon Group), Derren Sequeira (META), Martin Berg (DX) and Susan Iping (Kinepolis Netherlands) was refreshingly honest, pragmatic and insightful. The cinema industry faces a tough challenge in reaching younger audiences on a diverse variety of social media platforms but we can learn from their behaviours on these platforms. Furthermore, there was general recognition that the cinema sector should pay attention to the developments of Web3, NFTs and more generally the metaverse, to anticipate and experiment with new consumer

Phil Clapp (UKCA/ UNIC), Grainne Clarke (Empire Cinemas), Sharon Reid (Cinema First), James Connor (UKCA)

Cathy Huis in ‘t Veld-Esser (Gofilex/ICTA), Till Cussmann (Vista/ ICTA), Shaun Jones and Team Cineworld

engagement trends.

The session was followed by a panel discussion entitled “The Role of Premium Experiences in Cinema”, with contributions from Claire Beswick (The Living Room Cinema), David Hancock (OMDIA), Julien Bollee (CinemaNext), Oliver Pasch (Cinionic) and Youry Bredewold (Dolby Laboratories) and moderator/panel producer, Grainne Clarke. What makes a premium cinema-going experience was the topic, and answers included recliner seating, excellent guest service, a quality alcoholic beverage offer, as well as, of course, high quality picture and sound. The UK, where PLFs (premium large formats) as well as premium boutique cinema concepts maintain a relatively high market share when compared to the rest of the continent, was identified as an interesting market to study.

ICTA European Representative, Jan Runge, concluded the focus sessions with an exhibitor Q&A entitled “Cinema 2030: Trends in Technology, Design and the Overall Guest Experience”. Steve Knibbs (VUE International), Edna Epelbaum (exhibitor and Swiss Cinema Federation President) and Christof Paposek (Cineplexx Group) participated.

ICTA’s annual Los Angeles Seminar Series is scheduled for January 9-11, in Universal City, California.

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A Summer of (Cinema) Love

This year’s CineEurope felt like the real deal. It was incredible to see so many colleagues, happily celebrating the cinema-going experience. Great presentations from global studios all expressed their support for, and belief in, the big screen. We heard about significant investments in technology and digital innovation from major cinema companies, showing strong confidence in the future, even in the current social and economic context of uncertainty. Most importantly, we witnessed the positivity, assurance and determination of all those involved in the industry - including from the one and only Tom Cruise. And at the box office, the sunny weeks that followed delivered on their promises.

On the 1st August, the 2022 UK & Ireland year-to-date (YTD) box office surpassed the total for 2021, with over £600 million grossed in the first seven months of the year. In France, cinemas welcomed over 2.5 million visitors over the second weekend of July, bolstered by a highly successful Fête du Cinéma national audience campaign, a performance last achieved in 2015. And in Spain, the local hit, comedy “Padre No Hay Más Que Uno 3”, recorded the best opening weekend in July for a Spanish film since 2016. These national examples, combined with the astonishing results of titles such as “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World Dominion”, demonstrate how the global cinema industry is now firmly on the road to recovery. While the flow of new titles eased towards the end of the summer, major blockbusters arriving in the months to come - including the long-awaited “Avatar: The Way of Water” - should allow exhibitors to build on these positive trends.

The breadth of titles featured in the local box office top ten in the summer weeks across Europe illustrates how the craving

for the big screen has included almost all demographics. The UK & Ireland saw successful event cinema titles such as NT Live’s “Prima Facie”, as well as Bollywood productions like “London Nahi Jaunga”. In Italy, a retrospective of Hayao Miyazaki’s animes featured in the top ten for weeks during the summer. And in France, the South Korean thriller, “Decision to Leave”, grossed over €1m in two weeks. And as was the case before the COVID-19 crisis, diversity will be key to attracting and retaining audiences.

UNIC Cinema Days

Content diversity and programming will be key topics at the upcoming UNIC Cinema Days, which will be held in Brussels on 24-25 November. The event, which was last hosted in March of this year, will be comprised of two days of debates, workshops and social activities. We will also explore at length sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency, which remain high on UNIC’s list of priorities. In June, the French public agency responsible for the cinema industry published extensive research on the carbon footprint of cinemas in the country, providing a list of action points to improve energy efficiency in the short, medium and long term. In 2022, French exhibitors will be reporting their energy consumption and by 2030, they will have to save 40% on those numbers, and 60% by 2050. And this is just one local example of numerous sustainable developments we are witnessing across Europe.

The past months have certainly accelerated the adoption rate of digital technologies globally. The constantly evolving virtual habits and preferences of audiences - and the need to adapt to digital-native demographics - will also be discussed during the Cinema Days.

We hope to see you somewhere around the world soon!


In France, cinemas welcomed over 2.5 million visitors over the second weekend of July 09/22 > 67


National Cinema Day: A Celebration of the Big Screen Experience

It hopefully won’t have escaped anyone reading this article’s notice that Saturday 3rd September was National Cinema Day, not just in the UK but also - not entirely coincidentally - in the US and Ireland. For those of us lucky enough to be asked to promote and explain the event, a common question we faced was ‘why?’ (and not even ‘why now?’).

Some may remember that such events were comparatively common in the UK sector’s past; the late 1990s witnessed a series of ‘Cinema Days’, the last one seeing all tickets being offered at participating cinemas for £1. That these events were discontinued, above all seems to speak to their success. The industry saw the power of a one-day discount and was eager to explore whether it might be beneficial to introduce a more regular mechanism by which customers might be offered extra value but with a greater emphasis on incremental attendance. So, in a slightly circuitous way, those events morphed into what was Orange Wednesdays and is now the long-running and successful Meerkat Movies 2-for-1 ticket promotion.

has, for the most part, gone about its mission to promote cinemagoing out of the public gaze. But bringing together not just the UK Cinema Association and Film Distributors’ Association but also key players from both exhibition and distribution, and under the deft and creative chairmanship of Iain Jacob (ably aided and abetted by Sharon Reid), the organisation came into its own in managing the interests and concerns of both sides of the house.

A Team Effort

It has to be said the degree of partnership and co-operation between exhibitors and distributors around the day was pleasing to see, although very much of a piece with that seen at times during the pandemic.

The decision was made (again informed by learnings from the earlier Cineworld event) at the outset to focus marketing of the event on the week before, rather than give it a longer ‘run up’. This was in truth driven by finances as well as practicalities, those efforts being funded - for this first time - by Cinema First itself.

In planning this year’s event, the entire sector had gained confidence and insight from the ‘Cineworld Day’ held across Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in late February, where the response of audiences far outstripped even perhaps the company’s biggest ambitions.

But difficult though delivering such an event across one company might be, doing so across almost an entire sector is a materially different challenge and one that could only be delivered through a whole-sector approach.

Step forward Cinema First, an organisation that has been in existence in various forms from the 1990s onward, and which

National Cinema Day saw the 570 participating venuesincluding not just the major multiplex operators, but also the regional chains and a large number of smaller venues - enjoy over 1.46 million admissions. But perhaps equally importantly, a huge sense of excitement and celebration amongst audiences.

(It’s worth noting that those numbers exceed by some margin the success seen by the last £1 event in 1997).

It’s still early days and we’re analysing a number of aspects as to where we might improve future delivery, but I wouldn’t be sharing a state secret if I said thoughts are already turning to repeating the exercise in 2023.

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Sustaining the Recovery

A POSITIVE few months for the industry, culminating in the enormous success of recent National Cinema Day events around the world, showcased the demand for cinema amongst consumers. Record numbers took advantage of low cost tickets to see the latest releases, as well as old favourites, providing the industry with a unique platform to showcase the cinematic experience and build anticipation ahead of major forthcoming releases.

With the upcoming slate, now is the “be ready” moment for the industry. And that starts with ensuring that every element of the customer journey is finely tuned and most significantly for the readers of this publication, that presentation quality is at its best possible level.

Yes, there are equipment shortages that may prevent planned technology uplifts from being installed prior to upcoming releases but CTC’s mantra has always been “if you can’t replace what you have, make the best of what you’ve got” - and now is that moment. There are simple, and in some cases very affordable, steps that can be taken to improve light output and, in turn, picture quality from Series 1 and 2 projectors. In fact,

CTC produced a white paper and Tech Talk on this very subject. So, if the latest and greatest laser projector isn’t within budget or is stuck in a production queue somewhere, make sure you’ve got your existing equipment in the best state it can be.

Join our cause

Behind everything that we do at the Cinema Technology Community is a passion for ensuring that moviegoers have the best cinema experience possible. If you share that ambition, please join our community today by heading over to our site:

Likewise, “Avatar: The Way of Water” offers the industry the opportunity to re-engage the consumer with 3D. There’s a lot of work to do on that front but that starts with the industry showing 3D as best as it can. Vendors such as RealD have created a range of test materials for cinema exhibitors to check their 3D systems ahead of the next Avatar film because, in many cases, equipment has sat idle for a number of years. Further down the optical path, companies such as Harkness Screens are making test samples available for exhibitors concerned about the cleanliness or 3D capability of ageing silver screens. And if, as an exhibitor, you discover ghosting or “crosstalk” when watching your screen, there’s a CTC white paper to help you diagnose the potential cause.

Richard Mitchell (President), Graham Lodge (Vice President), Grainne Clarke (Vice President), Mike Bradbury, Sandie Caffelle, Michael Denner, John Dowsland, Peter Knight, Sarah Lewthwaite, Adam MacDonald, Saul Mahoney, Andre Mort, Markus Overath, Alessandra Pavan Bernacchi, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Simon Tandy, Patrick von Sychowski, Paul Willmott


Tom Bert (Barco), Mark Christiansen (Paramount Pictures), Brian Claypool (Christie Digital), Theresa English (TK Architects), Ruth Hinton (Vue International), Mark de Quervain (Showtime Analytics), Jan Rasmussen (Nordisk Film), Dominic Simmons (BFI), Sriram Sistla (Harkness Screens), Alice Tentori (Digima), Julia Vinokurova (RealD)

In short, there’s much to do over the coming months. By doing the fundamentals well, we can ensure moviegoers return to the big screen experience regularly, and not just for a one-off annual event.

CTC EXECUTIVE TEAM Richard Mitchell, President, Cinema Technology Community (CTC) 09/22 > 69 CTC UPDATE
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& A

CT: Please introduce yourself, your role for Comscore and a bit about your background.

I’ve been with Comscore Movies for over 17 years, through its various incarnations as Nielsen EDI, Rentrak and Comscore. I manage our London team of 10 people, covering box office reporting for the UK & Ireland, Italy, Middle East and Africa. We also manage the international PostTrak exit poll in five territories, where we interview people immediately after they’ve watched a new release to measure their reaction to the movie and why they watched it. Prior to this, I worked for a big market research agency for nine years in west London, where I still live with my cat, Tom Jones.

CT: What was (or will be) your highlight of 2022 for the industry?

If I can pick two things - one would be seeing British films like “Belfast”, “Downton Abbey” and “The Duke” performing strongly at the

A fireside chat with Lucy Jones

box office and bringing older audiences back. During the pandemic we saw a lot of European and Asian territories release successful local titles, and it’s great to see more British films that appeal across all audiences. The more often we can get people into the cinema, the more they are exposed to the trailers for the next batch of releases and they get back into the habit of regular attendance. The second thing was hearing so many reports of packed auditoriums at the

recent National Cinema Day in the UK and Ireland. Seeing the industry collaborating on such a major event brings a warm glow, and I hope it can become a regular thing.

CT: What’s your proudest achievement to date, and why?

I’d say going away to university at 18, then moving to London. I grew up in a very small town in the Midlands and I hadn’t even visited London before I got a job here. Studying economics, reading about market research in the careers library and joining the university film society put me on the path to box office analysis, after I realised I liked going to the cinema so much more than my friends did.

I’m currently planning a 30th anniversary reunion with my university housemates, hopefully Lancaster is less rainy nowadays!

CT: What’s your favourite thing about working in the industry?

Apart from the free cinema tickets? It’s the people - film people are just so interesting.

There’s always a story. I particularly enjoy attending in-person events - it was so noticeable during COVID-19 that the most enjoyable parts of work had stopped. Getting back to seeing all of our various industry partners at CineEurope, UNIC events and the UK Slate Days has really energised me. I’ve also joined the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme to help develop the next generation of industry leaders, and I’m finding it very fulfilling to be a mentor.

CT: Where would you like to be, professionally, in five years?

I want to help our clients to understand what’s happening with audiences as we come out of the pandemic. If I could spend all my time combing our data sets to tell stories across Europe and beyond, that would make me very happy. I’m also closely following the UK trials of a four-day working week - I think this is an opportunity to review the old ways of working in terms of time, location and collaboration.

Lucy Jones, Executive Director, Comscore Movies
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“Film [industry] people are just so interesting. There’s always a story.”
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