Cinema Technology Magazine - September 2019

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Studio for victory Generation It's the did reel thing Undermoves the magpie arches Planning If Ikea cinema CT interviews What the rise aAndrew ofcinema the Squeezing Cripps, Century Fox's "rented experience" means under20th the main railway advocate changeEasy‌ forline cinema exhibitors intofor London?

Produced in partnership with:

today's cinema How Coca-Cola's fizz Flatpack recliners and developers helping captured core of can meatballsthe —are what we to save thebusiness high giants street the movie learn from retail

20/11/2018 18:44 10:03 22/05/2019 14:42 04/08/2019


RB RosettaBridge™ RosettaBridge TMS acts as the intelligent, autonomous management system within the cinema; allowing you to build, schedule and control your playlists and content, while acting as the bridge to a multitude of external services such as content e-delivery, advertising, trailer exhibition, equipment health, TDL and KDM delivery. RosettaBridge is built in partnership with exhibitors and equipment vendors to create the perfect Theatre Management System.

RN RosettaNet™ RosettaNet eTMS centralises, simplifies and reduces your cinema operations by removing the need for task duplication across each site. Replacing your site based operation with a remote and singular estate level management function, for example, allows you to eliminate site based tasks like ShowPlayList creation. In RN build it once centrally for all your sites ensuring continuity of showing across your network and a single SPL build network wide. RosettaNet unlocks your efficiencies. Untitled-38 1

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Harkness presents... 90 years of great cinema experiences We’ve long been pioneers in presentation quality. For 90 years, the Harkness name has been synonymous with the world’s finest screen technology. We have a rich heritage of investing in research and development, innovative manufacturing and collaborating with other technology leaders – and our passion and dedication to improving the science of presentation quality is as strong today as it’s ever been.


Untitled-38 Harkness A41Full Page Adverts 2019_AW_V2.indd 1

That’s why we’re the number one choice across the globe, and why our customers can rely on us to provide the ultimate cinema experience.

02/08/2019 01/08/2019 10:18 10:57

Thinking of a laser installation? Let Omnex put you in the picture.

mne +44 (0)161 477 7633

Omnex CT Ad M�arch 19.indd 1

Design Cinema Differently. For supply, installation and maintenance of professional cinema technologies

20/02/2019 15:22

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08 17

The latest from around the world of cinema exhibition Cinema Tech Community’s regular quarterly update


19 23 31 34 38 43

Data: our emerging markets need it, says David Hancock Why cinema in the Middle East is an agent of change Surely European cinema is fully developed? Not so… How the African market can define cinema’s future Want a cinema under a rail line? Ask Graham Lodge China: the rise and fall of a major content piracy gang

MANAGING EDITOR: ALASTAIR BALMAIN Motion Picture Solutions Ltd, Mission Hall, 9-11 North End Road, London W14 8ST T: +44 (0)20 3026 1368 E: ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID E:

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48 52 66 70 72 76 78 82 84

Why TI’s latest 4K chipset is a resolution revelation QSC: a firm that dreams of the fully networked cinema If Apple did cinema — what we can learn from Big Retail


Want to fill up your cinema 24/7? Tune in to variety Meet innovative businesses in cinema with EU backing New tech doesn’t always come cheap. Help’s at hand The UKCA supports cinema for all — and here’s how It’s been a big year for event cinema, with more to come Work




harder? AAM’s Alessandra

Skarlatos has some advice for cinemas

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



CineEurope: so who was there, who was missing?

Patrick von Sychowski reports



Is high-quality 3D going to fly in emerging markets?

M: +351 962 415 172 E: SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed to IMIS Members. For subscription details and to read the magazine online, visit or e-mail

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04/08/2019 14:39

Dolby Auditorium Packages Deliver an unforgettable experience for your guests with flexible, cost effective packages.

Complete solutions for your imaging server, audio processing, amplification, and loudspeaker needs.

Package options include solutions for Dolby 5.1, Dolby 7.1 and Dolby Atmos immersive audio.

Tailored for all your theatre screens, regardless of their size.

Contact your local dealer or Dolby Sales Representative for more information.


Dolby, and the double-D symbol are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. Š 2019 Dolby Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Emerging markets: don’t teach new dogs old tricks… The big screen experience isn’t one homogenous entity, says Alastair Balmain. It comes in a range of flavours worldwide. T gg a ga c O.> 4> > 0 T c ii n rr y ff e of e n sa asllisso n> >a lVVsO O>LLV..O ON.. 32 01 29 6///1 1189 T hh hee e l llee eaa add di nii n n gm m m aag gza ai nzz eii n nf e eo r ff o o irrn e cm nae em ma a ii n nd du u ss tti n yd up psrrt o or y ep ss ssr iioo n 33 L22 . 3NN1 O 9

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Alk about Emerging markets and,

Being fully informed on the scale of the opportunity

for those in regions where cinema is

and the nature of the audience is the catalyst that supports

more established, it is deceptively easy

investment. And it’s not simply a case of entertaining the

to approach the subject with a degree of

masses and raking in the till receipts — as Melissa Cogavin

condescension: “Let us show you how we

points out in her exploration of the Middle Eastern region

do it in our country — we’ve been at it for more than 100

(on p23), cinema has a fundamental social role to play.

years, after all…”.

Expansion of the big screen experience is about cultural

To do so is to do a massive disservice to markets that are

When we think of cinema’s reach, all too often our

freshest, most inspiring architecture and a big screen

minds turn to Hollywood — the blockbuster releases are the

experience that is the equal or superior to anything that

behemoths that grab box office headlines, but cinema is

you will find in either the US or Europe. There’s no legacy

broader than that. As our writers explain, locally created

infrastructure baggage to handle; the audience demand

and produced content is driving cinema’s growth in many

for entertainment means auditoria are often full to capacity;

territories. There is a demonstrable enthusiasm for stories

and the potential for growth is significant.

that reflect peoples’ lives and backgrounds — and it is

Cinema Technology is proud to be a media partner with

technology that facilitates and democratises filmmaking.

both the MENA Cinema Conference in Dubai this October

Technology too is making varied content distribution more

and the Emerging Cinema Markets Conference in Istanbul

straightforward. Both aspects play straight into the hands

this November. In advance, we have a range of in-depth

of those looking to bring cinema to new audiences.

articles in this issue that explore the nature of the markets

So, when you think about emerging markets, don’t

under discussion. And you will see that they are terrifically

make the mistake of treating the subject as a one-way

varied — but as David Hancock points out in his introduction

conversation — exhibitors in established markets can learn

to our emerging markets focus on p19, information is key.

as much from new entrants as the other way round.




1 Melissa Cogavin

2 David Hancock

3 Patrick von Sychowski

Founder of the ECA, Melissa consults widely within the cinema sector. On p23, she explores the Middle East

Research director at IHS Markit, on p.19 David examines the demand for data in emerging markets

Editor of Celluloid Junkie, on p.43 Patrick tracks the Chinese authorities’ battle to break a film piracy network

SEP19_CTVIEW.indd 9

20/11/2018 18:44 10:03 22/05/2019 14:42 04/08/2019

development, not economic development alone.

hitting the ground running with the latest technology, the

Writing in this issue of CT

Produced in partnership with:

today's cinema How Coca-Cola's fizz Flatpack recliners and developers helping captured core of can meatballsthe —are what we to save thebusiness high giants street the movie learn from retail

0 9 / 1 9



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e ve n t s


n e w S ,

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g l o b a l t h e o f

U p - to - d a te


UNIC launches third Women’s Cinema Leadership programme THE INTERNATIONAL UNION of Cinemas (UNIC) — the European cinema trade grouping — launched the third edition of its Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme at CineEurope this June. A 12-month mentoring programme for women in cinema exhibition, it follows the success of the first two rounds of the programme.


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STRONG/MDI SCREEN Systems, a leader in projection





The mentoring programme will see eight talented

coating development, has announced the release

female European cinema professionals receive one-to-one

of its Premium HGA 1.7, a screen developed for the

support and development advice from outstanding women

latest high-resolution laser projectors. Premium

executives from across the cinema landscape.

HGA 1.7 has been engineered specifically for high

This edition will also for the first time see the initiative expand its reach, welcoming mentees from UNIC’s Partnership Programme to include participants from 14 different companies across 10 territories.

output projector systems that demand superior light diffusion properties. Strong/MDI’s lead chemist, Carmen Simion, explained: “Although the new screen is part of the

UNIC CEO Laura Houlgatte commented: “It’s with great

HGA family, the 1.7 coating has unique properties to

pride that we at UNIC are continuing our committed efforts

enhance light scattering and mitigate speckling.”

towards promoting more gender-balanced leadership in

The proprietary technology behind the HGA coating

the industry. We set out with the key long-term objective

results in a whiter-looking screen with an ultra-

of broadening the talent pool for leadership in cinema

wide viewing angle. Images appear bright and even

exhibition, in the hope that the

across the surface while colours in all parts of the

mentees of today would become the

spectrum are deep and rich.

Laura Houlgatte at the launch in June


Strong MDI introducing Premium HGA 1.7 Screens

mentors of tomorrow.”

04/08/2019 18:42


Movies@Cinemas and Omnex agree installation of UK and Ireland’s first Samsung Onyx Cinema LED

UK & Ireland

UK AND IRELAND CINEMA integrator Omnex has announced the agreement to install the first ever of Samsung’s ground-breaking Onyx Cinema LED screens in the UK and Irish market. The Movies@Cinemas chain has selected an impressive 10m 4K screen for its Movies@Dundrum multiplex — the flagship venue for a business that takes great pride in the technical quality of the experience it

Samsung Onyx

delivers. Working with integrators Omnex, Movies@

technologies to our audiences”, explained Graham

Cinemas has identified the value installation of a state-

Spurling, co-managing director of Movies@Cinemas,

of-the art Onyx Cinema LED can deliver for audiences. The installation will be supported by the addition of

Omnex: delivering a pioneering experience — and a first for the UK and Irish exhibitor market

The World’s First Cinema LED Screen “When I went with the team from Omnex and saw

audio design from Christie Vive Audio that provides a

these screens in action at Samsung’s HQ in Frankfurt, HIGHLIGHTS • Elevated contrast creates realistic and deep black color expression the image quality blew me away. We’re hugely excited • Enhanced luminance and low tone expression truly delivers High Dynamic Range (HDR) picture quality

soundscape to match the quality of the images.

to• be working with themsurpasses boththetoquality beofthe first toscreens give a Uniform, distortion-free presentation standard cinema

“Movies@Cinemas has always been something of a pioneer, committed to bringing the best audio-visual

• Reinforced screen achieves 10 times the peak brightness of standard projector-based alternatives • Specialized emissive LED technology upholds exceptional picture quality even at low ambient lighting levels,

radically innovative experience to UK and Irish producing a consistently brilliant content engagement environment.

audiences.”. Today’s theaters strive to expand their customer base by promoting themselves as a destination for an unparalleled viewing experience. Samsung is prepared to play a starring role in helping these theaters welcome audiences into the “cinema of the future” with its new Samsung Onyx Cinema Screen. Samsung Onyx takes theater technology to the next level by bringing 4K LED picture quality to the big screen, delivering a more powerful and captivating picture that makes viewers feel as if they are part of every scene. This also includes peak brightness (146fL), accurate color presentation and distortion-free uniformity to bring content to life. As the world’s first cinema-ready LED display, Samsung Onyx offers the versatility and premium visual environment necessary to redefine the theater experience, extend usage opportunities and wow even the most entertainment-savvy consumers.

Muvi Cinemas chooses Cinionic to illuminate screens in Saudi Arabia CINIONIC IS CONTINUING its expansion into Saudi Arabia

Film Projector Lamp Projector Laser“The Projector relationship with operate movie theatres in the Kingdom.

by announcing a strategic relationship with the Next

Muvi advances cinema’s expansion in the Middle East,

Generation Company Ltd (NG), sister company to Fawaz

illuminating screens for 33 million people in Saudi Arabia,” said

Alhokair Group, for its first cinema brand, Muvi Cinemas.

Wim Buyens, CEO of Cinionic. “We’re committed to providing







Muvi Cinemas plans to open over 20 multiplexes in Saudi

best-in-class laser solutions and services for exhibitors world-

Arabia in the next 18 months, including in Riyadh, Jeddah and

wide for a new visual standard. We are proud to be part of the

Dammam. The exhibitor is among the few granted a license to

expansion in moviegoing experiences, in new markets.”

“As an added advantage, HGA coatings are resistant a nd long-lasting. They are also competitively priced, a worthwhile investment for any exhibitor looking to maximize






Barrette, VP at Strong/MDI Screen Systems. For more information, email

008_SEP19_NEWS.indd 9

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04/08/2019 18:42

six one

product families.




QSC offers the cinema industry’s most comprehensive catalog of solutions for the entire cinema complex. Sourcing all of your cinema product needs from one catalog means you can be assured of


consistent quality and performance throughout the cineplex, or even across

accessibility solutions

all sites in a global cinema chain.

From the lobby to the theatre and everything in between, the QSC catalog provides the tools you need to match any budget or performance requirement.

media servers test equipment

network audio & video control

Š2019 QSC, LLC all rights reserved. QSC, Q-SYS and the QSC logo are registered trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries. #0643-2019

Untitled-38 0632-2019 61products red 210mmW x 280Hmm .indd 1

02/08/2019 10:28 5/9/19 11:12 AM



THE FIRST CINEMA seats certified for the Flexound Augmented Audio technology are now in mass production as the leading seating manufacturer Ferco has gained Flexound Augmented Audio certification for two of its models, Premium Verona and Premium Milano. Flexound also has its own Finland-produced model available and other manufactures and models will be announced soon. “Our co-operation with Ferco Seating is the next step in a global cinema strategy as augmented audio defies all cultural barriers. We are negotiating with exhibitors from all over the world”, says Flexound CEO Mervi Heinaro. Flexound technology offers equal sound quality in every seat independent of seat location. It improves the clarity of dialogue and enables lower sound volumes in the theatre, as less subwoofer is needed. Augmented audio needs no wearable developed

accessories out


and work


Flexound and Ferco team up to deliver in-seat audio


Cinionic strikes Laser as a Service deal with Omniplex Cinemas Cinionic, the Barco, CGS, and ALPD cinema joint venture, has announced the strengthening of its strategic relationship with Ireland’s largest multiplex cinema chain, Omniplex Cinemas, to upgrade an additional 29

undertaken in 2015 to help

theatres with Cinionic’s Laser

autistic children by adding the

as a Service (LaaS) solution, resulting in more than 40 upgraded laser locations. Through LaaS, Cinionic and Omniplex Cinemas will deliver an elevated and consistent movie-going experience for audiences across Ireland. The move to Laser as a Service means no more lamp

A perfect match: Ferco and Flexound


sensation of touch to music.

replacements for these

Now the versatile technology

theatres. The upgraded fleet

can be embedded into cinema,

of projectors benefits from up

airplane or car seats, gaming

to 30% increased light output

chairs, cushions and more.

and is an environmental choice with up to 78% less power consumption when compared to lamp projection.

UNIC elects its new board AT THE GENERAL Assembly of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC)

The LaaS solution deployed at

Board of Directors, elected for a two-

Omniplex Cinemas is

year term, are:

powered by an ALPD laser

held at CineEurope, the cinema trade

Senior Vice-President & Treasurer:

grouping elected a new board to

Jaime Tarrazón - Delegate, Federación

based services from Cinionic

serve for the next two years.

de Cines de España (Spain)

that aim to deliver

The decision saw Phil Clapp, CEO of the UK Cinema Association, reappointed as president and other key

Vice President: Kim Pedersen – CEO, Danske Biografer (Denmark)

board positions confirmed. “I would


like to thank UNIC’s members warmly

graphique Suisse (Switzerland)

for renewed confidence in me and my


Phil Clapp, “It will be both an honour

Cinema (Italy)







organisation in its efforts to continue


Vice President: Mario Mazzetti – CEO,

fellow Board members,” commented



Vice-President: Tomasz Jagiełło – CEO, Helios (Poland)

to provide a strong and influential

Vice-President: Richard Patry –

voice for the European cinema sector.”

President, Fédération Nationale des

As well as the President, the UNIC

008_SEP19_NEWS.indd 11

consistently improved image quality over time.

Vice President: Edna Epelbaum – Association

light source and outcome-

“Laser as a Service lets us benefit from reduced costs with significant energy savings. We’re excited to roll out these upgrades and continue the partnership with Cinionic,” said Omniplex Cinema’s Mark Anderson.

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04/08/2019 18:42




AAM brings eco-friendly automation to Screenwriter

Vue joins UniqueX’s Movie Transit DCP delivery network

leading Theatre Management System (TMS), Screenwriter. The latest version provides AAM’s

Unique X, one of the leading

exhibitor customers with advanced automation options and support for the newest projectors

names in digital cinema

and technology in digital cinema. “AAM actively develop and improve Screenwriter to ensure it

software solutions, has

continues to streamline essential operational services for cinemas, while also providing them

announced that Vue

with a platform for further innovation.” noted Mark Kamiyama, head of global sales at AAM’s

Entertainment has chosen to

parent company Luxin-Rio International. “We’re proud to provide a robust, user-friendly system

install its Movie Transit DCP

that allows our customers all around the world to drive efficiency and innovation.” Additional

content delivery solution in all

features available from the latest release include eco-friendly automated show stop mode that

of its 91 cinemas, a total of

automatically shuts off the projector for shows where no tickets have been sold; show trimming

870 screens, throughout the

that can dynamically remove content from the beginning of the pre-show to prevent scheduled

UK and Ireland.

shows from overlapping; and dual KDM ingestion for premium screenings where object-based

The completed

ARTS ALLIANCE MEDIA has announced the release of new features and integrations to its

audio formats are encrypted separately from the DCP.

deployment of Movie Transit will streamline further Vue’s cinema operations, integrating fully with both

CinemaNext and France’s Megarama announce agreement for 110+ laser projectors

Unique X’s Smart Trailering and Basekey KDM management solutions


which have already been successfully established across the Vue network. “Vue is dedicated to offering a premium out-ofhome entertainment experience and this demands, amongst other things, innovative and robust technical solutions,” commented Roland Jones, THE EUROPEAN SPECIALIST in

be undertaking this renewal project,”

cinema exhibitor services Cinema

said Jean-Pierre Lemoine, president

Next and French circuit Megarama

and CEO of Megarama Group. “At a

have announced an agreement for

time when moviegoers are ever-more

the sale and installation of a minimum

discerning, it is part of our strategy to

been impressed by the

of 110 Barco laser projectors at 15 of

elevate our image quality to provide

performance and capability

the cinema chain’s current sites and

audiences with the best experience.”

of Smart Trailering and

upcoming new cinema builds through

Georges Garic, SVP of CinemaNext,

Basekey, the addition of

2021. CinemaNext will oversee the

commented: “This deal, which consists

Unique X’s Movie Transit


primarily of equipment distribution,

content delivery solution is

projectors in all Megarama-branded


the next step in our drive to

cinemas in France, Spain and Morocco.

represents anticipated revenues for

“We’ve enjoyed a long partnership

CinemaNext of more than €10 million

executive director of technical services at Vue International, adding that the service complements the existing software: “We have

optimise cinema operations.”

The Megarama laser deal represents €10m of revenue for CinemaNext over the next two years





with CinemaNext and are excited to

1 2


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008_SEP19_NEWS.indd 12



over the next two years.”

04/08/2019 18:42






Streamline your day-to-day operations and minimise manual errors using the world’s most powerful, flexible Theatre Management System

Give head ooice visibility and control over every screen using AAM’s cloud based Circuit Management System

Monitor the equipment for all your screens from one Network Operations Centre in real-time to resolve any issues before they aaect shows.

Unlock new advertising revenue by ooering precision pre-show campaign targeting and selling unused inventory



Untitled-39 1


02/08/2019 11:31




Christie develops Vive Audio range

IMIS update – a busy year so far! THIS YEAR, THE International


Moving Image Society (IMIS) is

several developments in its Vive

beginning of Harkness

really starting to focus on our

Audio range, with its loudspeaker

Screens’ 90th birthday



line-up extended thanks to the

celebrations. For the entirety


launch of a new, low-profile, coaxial

of its 90 years, the company

Cook. In case you didn’t know it,



has been at the forefront of

we livestream all of our events to

sound speaker, the LS2C. At the

cinema screen technology,

our members around the world.

same time, the LA3Si and LA3i

now employing more than

This year so far we’ve had over 16


100 people in five countries.











from to





September 12th marks the


Founded by master

Designed specifically with the

draper Andrew Harkness in

designing visual effects for big-



budget features like Blade Runner



2049 and many more. All of the

the LS2C is a new coaxial

world of cinema. Just two

recordings of the livestreams are

ribbon, two-way speaker

years after the company’s

available in the Members Section

that meets the Dolby

inception, the founder passed

of the IMIS website and more can

Atmos specifications for

away, leaving the company to

be found out by heading over to

small- to medium-size

his only son, Tom.

auditoria. Similarly, the

We are also starting to ramp up





1929, Harkness Screens soon


became a leading force in the

Under the guidance of

LA3 and LA3si models

Tom Harkness, the company


offer greatly improved

developed a reputation as the

communities. IMIS focuses on

surround-sound designs

dominant name in cinema

covering the education, training

that offer performance

and connections between areas


of the moving image industry,

previous models in the Christie

from conception of ideas through

loudspeaker range.


screen production, pioneering several

production and all the way to

the use of PVC as a means to Designed for premium roles

replace heavy woven fabrics that initially made Harkness a name in cinematic circles.

distribution and exhibition. Our

Harkness today continues

communities are formed to give

ensure they deliver the right skills on

to be a leader in screen

members opportunity to focus on

the correct tools and equipment to

technology, having had

particular areas of the chain of

make sure students are employable

thousands of its large screens

development or even explore new

upon graduation.

installed in over 130 countries.

areas they’re interested in. If you’d

1 4

Harkness Screens celebrates 90 years





The company is currently

like to be involved email bryan.

been a feather in our cap and dates all

researching and developing

the way back to our accreditation of

the future of laser projection.

Finally, we are starting to

courses at the Royal Polytechnic in

The 90th anniversary

accredit courses outside of the UK

the 1930s. Currently, we accredit over

celebrations will usher in an

— we have received interest for

25 courses and have added six more

increased commitment to

accreditation in Asia and are

from the University of Bournemouth

engage with the public. This

partnering with an organisation

and one from Farnborough College.

will be done through the

in India to expand our services

production of a wide range

abroad. Our course accreditation

of online content that tells the

acts as a bridge from education

Harkness story and the story

institutions to the industry. We

of its committed members

look at applicant courses to

of staff.


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008_SEP19_NEWS.indd 14

04/08/2019 18:43

Film services since 1938. This is how we connect.

Q: Who’s empowering exhibitors in more than 20 countries with proven, reliable IP delivery and live-streaming? Untitled-3 1 JUNE 2019.indd 1 Gofilex CT ad

22/05/2019 12:47 11:55 14/05/2019

Cinionic presents

mission:possible better.brighter.laser

Discover the next chapter in cinema with an upgrade to Laser. Bring laser technology into your theater in a worry-free way, at your pace. Make the impossible happen: prolong the lifetime of your projectors and draw audiences with a superior movie experience. Visit

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02/08/2019 11:53 10:34 22/07/2019


N E W S R E E L :



Community matters…

IN WHAT IS PROVING to be an incredibly exciting year and

now developing a range of advanced courses to provide

transitional period for the film industry, CTC is rising to meet

further education.

the challenge of supporting cinematic excellence globally ,

At CineEurope, we welcomed on board our first

helping the exhibition sector provide moviegoers with the

Sustaining Members (RealD, Harkness Screens and QSC),

best experience possible, writes Richard Mitchell, president

released our report in to the causes of 3D ghosting and

of CTC; the global cinema technology community.

recorded our first podcast taking our popular “In The Pub

In March, CTC supported the UKCA to deliver its two-day

With Mike Bradbury” seminar session and turning it in to a

conference in London and released a critically acclaimed

bar side chat on all things cinema (see above). If that wasn’t

“Exhibitors Guide to Premium Formats”, helping exhibitors to

enough, CTC partnered with Celluloid

crystallise the differences between various formats around

Join our cause

Junkie to continue to enable a focus on

only web content providing its growing community with

Behind everything we do at

interview series with 12 of the leading

exclusive videos, white papers and test content. Education



women in cinema, learning about their

remains core to CTC’s vision and in early May, we hosted a

Community is a passion for

careers to date, the challenges they’ve

one-day “Creating The Best Movie-Going Experience” training

ensuring that moviegoers — in

faced and how we make the industry

course with 40 delegates. The course provided attendees

fact cinema-goers — have the

more diverse and inclusive in the future.

with useful guidance on achieving picture and sound

best experience that it is

In latter half of the year, CTC is

perfection, the importance of testing, screen brightness,

possible to achieve. If you

continuing its partnership with the

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Mumbai, providing expertise to the

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today by heading over to our

important Indian market and also


partnering with ExpoCine in Sao Paulo,

the world. Following this, CTC then launched its members-


diversity conducting a landmark video

Brazil providing educational sessions. CTC EXECUTIVE TEAM Richard Mitchell (President), Graham Lodge (Vice President), Denis Kelly (Secretary), Mike Bradbury, Sandie Caffelle, Michael Denner, Danny Jeremiah, Peter Knight, Sarah Lewthwaite, Adam MacDonald, James MacFarlane, Andre Mort, Mark Nice, David Norris, Ngozi Okali, Kevin Phelan, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Steve Rance, Jim Slater, Simon Tandy, Patrick von Sychowski, Paul Willmott.

017_SEP19_CTC.indd 17

CTC ADVISORY COUNCIL Tom Bert (Barco), Mark Christiansen (Paramount Pictures), Laurence Claydon (Consultant), Brian Claypool (Christie Digital), Theresa English (TK Architects), Nicolas Hamon (Kinepolis), Roland Jones (Vue International), Dominic Simmons (BFI), Russell Smith (Motion Picture Solutions), Debbie Stanford Kristiansen (Novo Cinemas), Alexey Vinokurov (RealD)

We are hosting our third annual awards night in London, addressing the key topic of what exhibitors should do with their ageing Series 1 and early Series 2 projection equipment and publishing a range of standardised test materials for event cinema. 0 9 / 1 9


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22/05/2019 14/05/2019 11:52 11:02


king e c o l m Un er


A key constraint on growth of cinema in emerging markets is lack of box office data. IHS Markit’s David Hancock explains that, without data, finding a way ahead is tough

out a map . . . ith w

arkets? N m g ot n i g

T’S THE SUMMER of 1991. Boris

a small outfit called Pixar ‘to make and distribute at least

Yeltsin has been elected President

one computer-generated animation movie’ — “Toy Story”.

of Russia, in South Africa apartheid

Amidst these momentous, world-changing events, consider

is being dismantled and, in Poland,

the small… a young research analyst in his first job needs to

Lech Walesa is the newly elected

find out information on a range of large media groups and

president. On the communications

countries. There’s no internet, a fax is the best there is. He

front, internet is now available to unrestricted commercial

sends out 150 letters to press and communications officers

use and the number of computers on it reaches 1m during

around the globe and waits for annual reports to come

the year; Microsoft releases MS Dos 5.0; “Terminator 2” rules

back by post. The process takes weeks, a lot of paper and air

the North American box office and Disney signs a deal with

travel by postal services. Yes, that young researcher was me.

019_SEP19_HANCOCK.indd 19

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Moving on 28 years, the same process would take less than a day, using no paper and no air travel. Information is easier to obtain, and there is an abundance as governments, organisations and companies share more and store more. This applies to the film sector as much as any other. Film agencies have become more willing to publish key film and cinema metrics in a consistent and regular way, making markets more transparent to outsiders. This is a process that research firms like mine have helped and encouraged in various ways over the years. The reason we encourage this is not only self-interest so we have more accurate and timely data, but more importantly because it is vital for the industry as a whole to have high-quality and up-to-date information for use by investors, professionals, film agencies and strategic co-ordination bodies. Industry development happens because of a belief in growth, underpinned by good decisions. These can’t be made without understanding the competitive position of a sector at the beginning point. There are still a great many countries that do not have a regular and credible data collection system in place for the film industry. In one Eastern European country with a sizeable number of cinema screens, which I will not name, you could find out the number of admissions to the circus in a given year but not the total visits to the cinema. Given the potential for investment in both of these entertainment forms, this seems a skewed sense of data priorities. As I allude to above, there is little excuse for ignoring the basic information needed for cinema in an age of elevated access to information. When I hear of countries being talked up as the next big thing in the world of cinema, the first action I take is to see what data is available. If there is very little — and what there is in the public domain is confusing — that country is unlikely to make it to the next level of development in the short to medium term.

ossible ING p e ST TH IR outsid F r THE side o is in o m d o rs fr see or investo nt to is to s a ly w a y n r a t et a coun f the f mark form o rstanding o some usually e und untr y o n c a a ll have in gain ay we erent e to ial inh hat m t t n s r te e e o p rativ p to oth just im t d , it’s o t re n e a mark comp n. It is tand a rmatio s ties r fo ri e in o d h n t re mo ta to u nce au a a t d r o d ata p o d o p a the im have g tting u sure of e as a S e h . it y m r dust ney. If also a that in is nd m o a e n e lu o a v e im t h plac takes t a hig a re h n u t t a c c ly ru is like ation infrast inform , then it t, h e n c n e u o S m d t inves been sector. t n e h te t n la on ck yme t placed to unlo h and emplo d e g lm t ra e grow trong fi be lev nomic vel, a s o le c y’s l e r t ra g n u u t a co creatin t a cult s. t reflec ities. A n a n io h u t s t r s n e o opp a stori social te pes te s a it re d c n y ry sa reot indust allenge nge ste s also and ch to cha a y m it e c a culture in ap fe etter. C s the c lity of li r the b a fo u This ha s q n g io in t y k p t a e ri o m rc e a pri ment, and pe s y not b tertain a e n e m m e o a c nd in provid ral are e cultu lasses a nt. c e h T le m r. d in te bet ing mid r paid enterta h grow fo but wit r desire te a a gre comes

David Hancock is Research Director, Cinema at IHS Markit and President of the European Digital Cinema Forum.

OUTSIDE OF SOUTH AFRICA, African nations such as Nigeria (population 196m), Ethiopia (106m), Egypt (99m), Tanzania (59m), Kenya (51m), Uganda (44m), and Algeria (42m) all represent potential returns for producers and distributors if a cinema infrastructure can be put in place — preferably alongside a sustainable local film production sector. Africa has a population of 1.2bn, compared to Europe at 740m and the US at 327m. While it is not realistic to expect similar levels of screen density and cinema-going any time soon as levels of both are currently low in the majority of countries, the potential is clear. Without data collection and reporting structures, this growth will not occur. It’s imperative that authorities in these countries, those representing supra-national interests in these regions, and companies seeking to operate in them, grasp this opportunity to develop modern cinemas by urging the creation of better data and information. I would say this, wouldn’t I? Well, yes, I would. I’ve seen the transformative effects of data and information. Countries may face other challenges, some of which seem (and may be) more pressing, but the film and cinema sector can help solve some and alleviate others. Setting up such an information infrastructure is the best place to start.

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THERE IS MUCH FOCUS on untapped markets for cinema, as the industry seeks to grow. The obvious ones, such as Saudi Arabia, are widely discussed, but there are

A GOOD EXAMPLE IS South Korea, which took a

countries in the Middle East, Latin and Central America

decision to grow its cinema sector in the 1990s. Once

and South East Asia which are untapped in the truest

the policy had been outlined and growth began, the

sense, offering a huge potential for box office. Arguably

country found it could only move to the next level of

the most under-developed, in cinema terms, is Africa

development once it had set up a box office collection

with over 50 countries, most with under-developed film

system. Initially resisted by both cinema circuits and

and cinema infrastructures. IHS Markit tracks around

distributors as it would mean sharing information, the

1,500 modern screens on the continent, of which just

resulting system has laid the foundations for one of the

under half are in South Africa. Of them all, only a handful

world’s biggest cinema sectors — ­­ and Korean cinema

of African countries has any cohesive data collection,

companies are now also investing on a global level.

harmonisation and dissemination provision in the field

When China began its short and relentless march to

of cinema. Most will have a central statistical agency,

being the world’s largest cinema market (by screens) a

and global bodies such as the World Bank and IMF (and

decade ago, one of the first acts of the government was

companies such as IHS Markit) can supply demographic

to establish a ministry responsible for its growth and

and economic data, but most lack a culture ministry

regulation. Funding policies adopted led to high levels

or film agency as a co-ordinating body. Political will to

of investment and the rapid growth we have witnessed,

create a data infrastructure may, understandably, be

but the body also began to collect and release data on

missing. The downside of not having any accurate and

the sector for the first time. Admittedly, there have been

timely data over a period is that potential investment in

teething issues with this data — but from a position of

that country is unlikely to be forthcoming.

zero data, the current situation is a marked improvement.

019_SEP19_HANCOCK.indd 21

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The Middle East:

A market with vision In the context of emerging markets, few are embracing cinema as keenly as is the Middle East. Melissa Cogavin explores the rapid growth of the sector in a burgeoning — and premium — region


WENTY YEARS AGO, pre-internet and

structural reform, something unimaginable only a few years

Whatsapp, researching cinema activity

ago; each state — mainly constitutional monarchies — has

in the Middle East would have been

laid out aggressive plans which have seen cultural barriers

complex, possibly quite inaccurate and

lifted, rules relaxed and an embracing of consumerism on

certainly decidedly vague, buoyed up

unprecedented levels. Across the seven member countries,

by anecdotes and conjecture over hard

investment on education, infrastructure, retail and leisure is

facts. The region was difficult to navigate as a westerner,

being executed on a colossal scale. As a result of this more

mired in political tension and tradition and, in the case of

liberal agenda, opportunities are opening up and this is good

Saudi Arabia, cinema as an art form was until recently subject

news for the workforce, education, young people, women,

to a 35-year ban entirely.

technology, retail and each members’ GDP. The effects are

In a radical shake up, and facing some hard truths about

being felt right down to the kind of film you can go and see

reducing its reliance on declining oil reserves (the official line

at your local cinema in the region, and who was involved in

being ‘lower oil prices prompting fiscal tightening and

making it and who serves you the popcorn.

diminished government accounts’), the Gulf Cooperation

The trickle-down effect of Vision 2030 on the region (see

Council (GCC) member states are ushering in unprecedented

panel overleaf) has seen unrivalled and rapid development

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THE MIDDLE EAST A fast-growing cinema market, with a keen eye on the future, the Middle East region is seeing unprecedented change

of new cinemas in a burst of creativity not experienced in

Vox your dinner comes from a ThEATre by [Gary] Rhodes’

established markets such as Europe. In Dubai, whose journey

restaurant. At Reel Cinemas’ Platinum Suites in its 26-screen

began around 20 years ahead of much of the rest of the

flagship cinema in Dubai Mall you can enjoy Egyptian cotton

region, the architecture alone is astonishing; the city has

covered pillows, cashmere blankets, literally hundreds of

emerged from the desert, limited only by the imaginations of

staff members — cleaners, cashiers, ushers, security guards

architects and the deep pockets of developers. No planning

ensuring the auditoria are spotless, the drinks ice cold, the

regulations and listed building status to worry about here.

food delicious, all served with a smile and perfect English. It

The skyline is one jaw-dropping, gleaming, towering work of

was dazzling; if this is Dubai, what will the Kingdom of Saudi

art after another. The same is true for the shopping malls and

Arabia (KSA) be like in a few years? The carbon footprint is a

the cinemas within.

worry, granted; but the young population takes the climate

In April, I saw for myself how high-end the cinemas are in

crisis seriously with new developments having a zero-carbon

Dubai, without exception. Roxy Cinemas has cornered the

footprint. “We are much better than India or Indonesia,” I was

market in the boutique experience; one site showcases lavish

told, a little defensively. Clearly it’s all about perspective.

English country house style décor inside a 1.2km-long shipping-container BoxPark development. One 40-seater

Entertaining a youthful population

auditorium contained $10k reclining Chesterfield seats. At

Across the GCC region (which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,

Novo Cinemas near Abu Dhabi I saw cream leather recliners

UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman) new-build cinemas in

with a built-in iPad to order freshly cooked high-end food. At

shopping centres are taking place, and existing malls are

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The bistro at the Roxy Cinemas’ development in the Dubai BoxPark mall — dressed up as an English country house and quite unlike a standard multiplex

31/07/2019 11:26



being retrofitted with state-of-the-art cinemas in Saudi to cater for a disproportionately young population — 75% is under 35. With women now allowed to drive for the first time, a ban on cultural attractions is somewhat

Above, Roxy’s CityWalk cinema in Dubai;above right, the Sony 4Kpowered La Mer Picture House on Dubai’s waterfront

Vision 2030: the Saudi way ahead You may have heard the phrase “Vision 2030” bandied about but what is it

limited — there’s a lot of appeal in getting out of the heat and

and how does it affect the cinema industry? Mohammad bin Salman bin

going shopping. It’s the main pastime in the Gulf. All the big-

Abdulaziz Al Saud (known locally as MbS), King of Saudi Arabia, is a high-

name operators are investing in Saudi. Adon Quinn, general

profile monarch with progressive plans. In the policy brief outlined by the

manager of Muvi Cinemas, the country’s first homegrown

Middle East Policy Council the list of initiatives is ambitious and exhaustive.

chain (the licence owned by UK operator The Light) told me

The first details were announced in April 2016, but the extent of the change

that its first cinema, a 15-screen retrofit to an existing mall,

that is proposed makes Brexit look like a walk in the park. Here are just a few

opens next month in Jeddah. Over the coming two to three

topline plans:

years they expect to open eight further locations within the next eight months, and an astonishing 250 screens within

The curbing of subsidies and resulting changes to the compact between

two years with the creation of new malls across the territory.

the Saudi population and the royal family

An interesting upside to such late development is that best

Restructuring to accelerate government decision making and efficiency

practice is being applied routinely in the KSA thanks to

Establishing two Councils to oversee government strategy

everywhere else having had to learn from its mistakes.

Examining state-owned sectors as candidates for privatisation

Muvi recently organised a pop-up cinema on the beach in Jeddah. Four showings in one evening took place of a first-

Public investment fund restructuring to increase investment resources and allow the fund to manage new types of assets;

run movie at a beachside screen complete with protective

Strategic transformation and establishment of the country as a leader in

wall to prevent piracy, bean bags and a café. The first show

industries other than oil and gas;

was at 7.30pm, the last at 2.30am, and each show had an

Forming strategic partnerships and enhancing Saudi Arabia’s trade links

occupancy rate of 90%. In this case the featured film was

with nations worldwide and increasing exports.

from Hollywood, but Egyptian films are an even bigger draw

The creation of a society in which all enjoy a good quality of life, a healthy

in this region. Adon told me, illustrating the point about the

lifestyle and an attractive living environment

country being totally underserved by cinemas: “Occupancy is routinely 85-90% in cinemas here. You have to book 3-4 days

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in advance to see anything.” Obviously, a tipping point will

their own movies. They’re now investing in other films. That’s

occur at some stage where saturation of the market is the

unrecognisable from 15 years ago. What’s happening in the

most likely disruptor but that is clearly a few years away.

KSA today mirrors what happened in the UAE back then.”

Even Kuwait, one of the most religiously conservative

Leila also made the point that national pride among

countries is seeing rules relaxed and development in earnest.

young audiences is an important driver in the surge in local

Mike Thomson of The Big Picture knows the country well.

film production. “There’s a return to self,” she explained. “It’s

“The National Cinema Company had a 50-year exclusivity

an expression of: ‘I’m a global citizen but I am also an Emirati

deal that ran out six or seven years ago — up till that point

and I appreciate my roots.’ There used to be a theory here

they had the market to themselves,” he told me. Skilful

that to be modern you had to be western. It’s not like that

negotiation aside, I asked him what that meant for growth.

now. You can be modern in an Arabic country.”

“Obviously there is competition coming in the shape of

So culturally the region is developing fast, but so far,

Grand, Vox and others, and that in turn has meant that the

event cinema hasn’t really been exploited. The big chains are

NCC has had to review its offering,” he explained. Without

aware of it and some are more invested than others, but all

competition, the multiplex offer is decidedly dated and the

see the potential of bringing additional programming to

boutique experience is yet to reach Kuwait, so a big revamp

complement Hollywood and homegrown content. In Saudi

is underway, seeing a rise in standards across the country.

Arabia and Kuwait no event cinema production has made it

There is clearly opportunity in this territory for operators with

onto screens there yet; however one of the elements of the

big dreams and money to spend — much like its population.

Vision 2030 initiative has allowed concerts and theatrical

A burgeoning homegrown slate

events to be permitted in public for the first time, lifting the ban on mixed crowds, dancing and singing in public.

The ambiance is luxurious and the experience often a tailored and more intimate one — not so much the big screeen experience

Local film production is also seeing a dramatic uptick in the region, so competition for screen time may soon be an issue. The GCC region includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman

Leila Masinaei is the driving force behind the MENA Cinema Forum, now in its second year and taking place in Dubai this October. She explained that there have been three key perception, education and demand, and she sees this phenomenon rolling out across the region over time. “There was a point in time in Dubai when we had maybe one or two arts centres across all of the UAE. There’s been a dynamic shift; 10-15 years ago theatre, film and art were viewed as nothing but hobbies, fun careers. There has been huge investment from the government and these days if you’re an


recent developments that affect local film production: Egyptian cinema is a huge crowd puller. Occupancy is often as high as 85-90% in the region — and booking ahead is essential


Auditoria sizes are often quite small in the region. A 40-seater is not uncommon

actor, it’s a profession that’s taken seriously now. “The second is education. The Sharja Performing Arts Academy is newly opened — it’s a palace and 100% funded by the government of Sharja.” Investigating the academy online, you can see its palatial setting offers BA courses in acting, theatre and film production and, according to Leila, it is one of the best-equipped, most advanced centres in the world. For those who don’t know the region, Sharja is one of the Emirates alongside Abu Dhabi and Dubai itself. Finally, Leila explained that the effect of the Vision 2030 initiative of the KSA has done a huge amount to bring investment and talent to the region, raising the standard of local film production and increasing demand. “The speed of film production has increased. The number of titles, regional and national collaborations is increasing year-on-year. Recently I have met a handful of people from seven or eight organisations who began by self-distributing 2 6


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“The multiplex offer is decidedly dated so a big revamp is underway in places like Kuwait, seeing a rise in standards”

Rapid change — and little resistance

so much smaller, but these days it’s the same market share as

The pace of change is eye-watering. What might take years of

the whole of the US. A $10m box office for both Hollywood

debate and round-the-houses negotiations in parliament in

and Bollywood content is common.”

the UK can be decided overnight. “You plan your life with the

He went on to applaud the work of cinemas themselves.

possibility of disruption here,” Leila explained sagely. “Wars,

“Credit to exhibition in the region — it’s a part of the world

alliances, infrastructure changes things quickly. Change is a

that is willing to work collaboratively with distribution and

constant here and it’s rapid. We understand that. Normal life

they will listen to us. Why? Because they are hungry for our

will continue, with a new set of changes.” With the expectation

business, they see the opportunities as much as we do. They

of change, the resistance to it is removed, so rapid change

have a great appreciation for the bottom line.”

can be facilitated. One of those changes is immigration.

The increasing profile of women is something that came

Avtar Panesar, VP of special projects at Yash Raj Films — one

up again and again. John Sullivan of The Big Picture told me

of India’s leading film studios — explained that in 2004 Dubai

that in Saudi Arabia the workforce is well-educated, engaging

alone represented just 6% of the company’s international

and enthusiastic. They are young and fully supportive of the

business (by comparison, the UK market was 35% and the

reforms taking place. The ratio is also refreshing; 50:50 male/

US was 30%). “People said I was mad to invest in Dubai at the

female, even at management level. Kuwait paints a much

time, but I felt there was an opportunity.”

more traditional picture, with men in management positions,

Around that time, the UAE was experiencing an explosion

and more visible roles in general — and that looks set to stay.

in its Indian population; it was 1m in 2004, it’s now 3m. Avtar’s

Kuwait isn’t trying to compete with any of its neighbours in

hunch proved correct — now the UAE accounts for 30% of

being the most progressive (the big reserves of oil there are

Yash Raj Film’s international business, so clearly content in

likely to be a factor), though there is a definite sense of that

this region is diverse. It can’t be just a numbers game though,

taking place elsewhere in the region.

can it? Avtar laughed. “Not at all. In the Emirates, marketing

“In the UAE, the picture is the same but women

and distribution costs are much lower because the place is

are considered thought leaders, pioneers,” Leila told me.

023_SEP19_MIDDLEEAST.indd 27

At $10k per seat, these Chesterfield recliners illustrate the lengths that cinemas in the region are prepared to go to get the luxury right

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Censorship? Easing restrictions Censorship is also being affected by this shift in attitude. I can vividly recall in the early 2000s sending the Saudi censor board a VHS copy of Disney’s U-rated animated feature “Atlantis” for release on DVD. Featuring a watery cast dressed mainly in modest swimwear, any suggestion of flesh came back from the board edited out. The result was a nonsensical 12 minutes of footage. Unsurprisingly, “Atlantis” never got a release in Saudi Arabia. The Vision 2030 edict is now lifting censorship restrictions to facilitate trade and compete with its neighbours in the region. The sense is that Saudi Arabia wants to be seen in censorship terms as liberal as the UAE so in turn the UAE is having to work a little harder to stay one step ahead. That isn’t to say that it’s anything like as liberal as the West and every piece of content still needs to pass through a strict censor board. But the shift is noticeable. Perhaps it’s time to revisit “Atlantis”.

compete for product from the West to distribute amongst the other chains themselves. At present there is only one distributor — Front Row Filmed Entertainment — that is in the enviable position of hoovering up all the business, but there is plenty of room for healthy competition. It seems inevitable that this will take place over the next few years. Local offices for major studios may well spring up as they see the potential in investing in the lucrative Arab market. There will be a sweet spot, where the number of cinemas just services the swelling population — there is a danger it may eventually tip over into saturation. But all this seems a long way off and as Adon Quinn reminded me, “Let’s just speed to market while the going is good.” All of this activity, the liberalisation of trade, the embracing of diversity, the huge state investment and the education of the workforce is going to be a force for massive positive change in the region. Dazzling though this all is, there are caveats. These are still sheikhdoms. Perceived

accomplishments applauded in the UAE.”

freedoms may not quite be as they seem. Doing business

Room for competition, not over-saturation

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here is different. There are cultural, political and ideological differences between the West and the GCC to be mindful of,

There are gaps in the market; distribution has yet to take hold

but the opportunities are extensive and exciting — and for

in the GCC as a standalone business, and the cinema chains

creative industries, the next ten years will be captivating.


The luxury vibe, as typified by Reel Cinemas’ Platinum suites. Is the A/C a little chilly? Take a cashmere blanket

“High-profile women leaders are encouraged, and their

In the coming 2-3 years Muvi expects to open eight locations in KSA in the next 8 months, and an astonishing 250 screens within 2 years

in 2004, Dubai represented just 6% of India-based Yash Raj Films’ international business (the US accounted for 30%). Dubai now accounts for 30% of its business


31/07/2019 11:26

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Europe: still a land of opportunity


Though Europe is widely regarded as one of the most developed of cinema markets, as Guillaume Branders explains, there is still growth potential, despite perceptions.



N JUNE, UNIC published its

territory to another, testament to the region’s

annual report into cinema

inherently fragmented nature. Most strikingly,

trends in Europe, accounting

record-breaking figures were registered in the UK

for 1.29 billion admissions

— the highest level of admissions since the 1970s

and €8.1 billion in box office

— while German exhibitors suffered one of their

revenues in 2018 — close to a

worst ever years. Perhaps most interesting, in the

quarter of the global theatrical market for films. As

context of emerging markets, is that these figures

always, performances varied widely from one






T O P 1 0 U N I C T E R R I T O R I E S I N T E R M S

IN ADMISSIONS (2008-2018) 40%




200% 240%

280% 320% 360% 400%

Bosnia and Herzegovina


North Macedonia


















* Cinema-going figures for Montenegro and Serbia are combined due to local distribution practices.


1.29 bn


cinema admissions in Europe last year according to UNIC’s annual report


billion Euros in box office revenues recorded for the same periord according to UNIC

Admissions figures in the UK were the highest since the 1970s

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emerging global markets, delivered by Christof Papousek, CFO of Cineplexx, one of the leading cinema operators and key investors in the region. With extremely low admissions per capita — with for instance 0.1 annual visits in Albania or 0.6 in Serbia, compared to the European average of 1.5 — there’s no doubt there is more to come for local cinemas. More broadly, various Eastern European countries are worth pointing out when it comes to identifying emerging

EUROPE With a total population in excess of 700 million, there are still territories the cinema business should consider “emerging”

markets in the region. While they can arguably be considered as more mature markets than those mentioned previously, there has been almost constant growth in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia in recent years. First of all, these territories have all managed to break their all-time admissions records in either 2017 or 2018. The outstanding

continues to increase steadily, underlining the potential for

example is Romania, where admissions increased by 252%

growth in many European territories.

since 2008 — despite a surprising lack of successful local

Among these, the Baltic States have delivered impressive

content and the lowest level of screen density in the EU. This

results for the past few years. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania all

last point illustrates that the cinema industry in many of

enjoyed growing admissions and box office in 2018 — and

those territories actually had to rebuild itself from scratch

these last two have done so consistently for the past decade.

following the closure of most cinemas towards the end of

Leading this trend is Estonia, where admissions have more

the USSR and in spite of sometimes

than doubled since 2008, hitting an all-time record of 3.6 million in 2018. As a matter of fact, the country is right behind France and Ireland when it comes to admissions per capita, with 2.8 annual visits to the cinema per inhabitant. One of the main reasons — together with an increase in state support — is continued success of local productions. The most popular films in Estonian and Lithuanian in 2018 were local productions — the comedy “Class Reunion 2” in Estonia and the historical drama “Ashes in the Snow” in Lithuania. That

“One of the main reasons behind Estonia’s growth is the continued success of its local productions”

inexistent local support. It didn’t stop operators from investing significantly across the region: for instance, 124 screens opened in the past decade in Bulgaria alone, a 132% increase of its screen population. And most recently, Samsung announced the opening of an Onyx LED screen in Romania.

being said, low screen density in the region indicates there is

Still powerful in combination

still significant potential for further growth in years to come.

In 2017, Russia managed to become the leading European

The Balkans’ rise

territory in terms of cinema admissions — just ahead of France, which regained the top-spot in 2018 — with over 212

Another region worth highlighting is the Balkans. Cinema

million tickets sold. Twenty years ago, in 1997, there were only

was one of the many sectors damaged by the conflict in the

55million cinema-goers in Russia (compared to 148m in

region, which only formally ended in December 1995 — a few

France). In the same period, Turkish cinema operators went

weeks after the first edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

from attracting 17 to 71 million people to the big screen.

Since then, cinema-going has been recovering at impressive

Today, both territories still register admissions per capita and

pace. Focusing on the past decade, admissions increased by

screen density levels below the European average. While

395% in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 278% in North Macedonia

analysts might focus interest on the markets of Africa, the

and 197% in Serbia and Montenegro (figures for both are

Middle East and South-East Asia, one should not ignore the

often combined due to local distribution practices). There as

combined potential of many European territories. Did

well, the success of local content can be highlighted as an

someone say European cinema was dead?

essential factor. In 2018, the Serbian film “South Wind” led

Guillaume Branders is senior industry relations and

the box office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and

research manager at the International Union of Cinemas

Serbia, helping the latter increase its box office revenues by

(UNIC). Learn more about UNIC and download its latest

an incredible 19.9%. We were delighted to have a presentation

annual report — with detailed cinema-going data for 2018

focusing on Serbia during CineEurope as part of a session on

in Europe — by visiting

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C I N E M A - G O I N G I N T H E B A L K A N S A N D

B A LT I C S I N 2 0 1 8 ( S E L E C T E D T E R R I T O R I E S )







Bosnia and Herzegovina












Screen Density








































Box Office Revenue 2018

BO change from 2017

2018 admissions (millions)

BO change from 2017

admissions per capita

national film’s share

B A LT I C S 0 9 / 1 9


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NOS multi-screen operation in Mozambique trades close to 100% occupancy



Middle East








North America

Latin America


1 in 10 children born by 2050 will be Nigerian, going by current trends

Africa: Infrastructure Rob Arthur explains why most markets in which cinema is underrepresented — notably Africa — are far from the unsophisticated territories many envision. In these markets, cinema will often see the latest technology deployed from the outset — not the upgrade path experienced elsewhere.


HEN ORGANISING A conference or

A conference to represent a community

event, there are always memorable or

Later this year, the Emerging Cinema Markets conference

ground-breaking opportunities. The

(19-21 November, will focus on the

first ECM Conference, held in Istanbul

continent of Africa, Turkey (our host nation) and New Europe

in late 2018 aimed to deliver a

(the Balkans and former Soviet states), Central Asia and the

conference that would enable debate,

Gulf Cooperation Council states. In combination, these

discussion and insights into markets never previously

states present a market opportunity of 1.7billion people

showcased at international film and cinema trade events.

currently served by just 6,850 active

Some have referred to them as “the underdogs”, but that’s missing a key global issue: 70% of worldwide economic growth is forecast in emerging markets.

Booming populations and prosperity The growth in the middle class and urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace; with population growth occurring as a result of longer life expectancy and improved quality of life.

“Africa accounts for around 16% of the Earth’s population, but a nominal amount of the global box office”

cinema screens. Our aim at the ECM conference is to spotlight market opportunities and discuss the positives and challenges to market entry. Film and cinema development cannot work in isolation from other cultural, country or regional factors. Cinema in emerging markets

Some already large cities in Africa are expected to increase

needs support to overcome significant barriers, which are

their population by up to 80% by 2025, with 10 cities alone

generally not discussed at other industry gatherings —

contributing more than US$50billion per annum to the

including investment and development funding and

world’s economy. How about some perspective in the

setting up a territory or company for growth.

context of emerging markets? That’s approximately the

The conference is turning into a community whose aim

equivalent to the total gross domestic product of countries

is to share common goals; develop cinema infrastructure;

such as Serbia, Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan.

and enable growth in each market. #ECMIstanbul aims to

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6% 16% 20% Africa covers 6% of Earth’s total surface area

Africa accounts for 16% of the global population

Africa covers 20% of the planet’s land area

A View from the top Rory Stewart OBE, former UK Department for International Development Secretary At the Africa Financial Services Investment Conference held in London in May, the UK’s former international development secretary, Rory


of the world’s population will be from Africa by the end of this century

93,000,000 IMAX, which has seen great success in Africa has one screen per 93,000,000 people on the African continent

Stewart, discussed Africa’s growth: “There is a strange sense that you lurch from an incredibly optimistic positive vision of where Africa’s going, to suddenly going to the absolute opposite of people being very gloomy… Clearly in that tension between these two principles, between the incredible potential of Africa and people’s sense of frustrations, is something in the centre of

& opportunity under-representation.

Big, but not in box office terms… yet

be unlocked. And part of that problem is the question of how you unlock finance and how you unlock money in the centre of those economies… One in ten children born by

shine a light on the prospects, capacity and requirements for emerging cinema markets, and the scale of the

this problem which needs to

A comprehensive market study of Africa, by country will be delivered at





potentially by the end of the century as much as 40% of

ECM2019. It will identify key

the population in the world

If we are talking under-representation, then the first place

market-by-market macro and

could be African. And of

to start is in Africa. Africa is the world’s second largest and

industry issues and provide

course, that means that the

second most-populous continent. It covers six per cent of

insights into delivering a

labour force that is going to

Earth’s total surface area and is home to 20% of its land area. With more than 1.3billion people and a median age of

growth strategy for the continent:

power the global economy potentially by the end of the


century will be African, and

With only 1 screen per 1 million

to provide the markets for our

As was highlighted by Luis Mota, director at NOS Portugal at

people, it represents a significant

goods are going to come out

last year’s ECM18 conference, their multi-screen operation

opportunity, but at what risk? Can

of Africa… [Navigating the

in Mozambique trades close to 100% occupancy! Some

Africa be the next China or India?

development path] is going

96% of the available screens in Africa are situated in 15 key

There is no single solution for the

to be about people with

growth territories where 62% of the population lives. IMAX,

continent, but countries can be

experience of a particular

which has seen great success in Africa, has one screen per

clustered by language, culture and

country. We’re not kidding


ourselves that because you spent a lot of time in Benin

from now unless the opportunity on the continent is further


Who are the developers and funders

Zambia. It’s on making sure

analysed and subsequently developed. Having attended

interested in supporting the

we trust those people, with

several gatherings of investors into the African region during

development of cinema?

the right type of trust, to stick

the course of the past year, it is striking how many are

Will there be studio or national film

actively looking toward the continent with a high degree of

distributor support for cinema

19.4 years, it accounts for around 16% of the world’s human population, but a nominal amount of the global box office, principally as a result of limited access to cinema screens.

93,000,000 people across the continent. Currently, many African countries have zero cinema infrastructure, and that may still be the case a decade on

positivity and optimism.


the consumers who are going

you’re suddenly an expert on





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31/07/2019 12:06

Key differentiators in emerging markets: Five key differentiators which will enable the success of emerging markets, and that will be a focus of attention at ECM2019 this November are:


MARKETING TO CUSTOMERS Mature markets in Western Europe and North America have an ageing demographic. Emerging markets tend to have a younger population with


an appetite for technology and stories. They demand a different approach.

The cinema market in Africa has considerable potential — but it is reliant on a carefully tailored development strategy


LOCAL CONTENT Those principles are important in Africa as they are in all

From Nigeria to the Middle East, there is a burgeoning local content

emerging markets. Emerging cinema markets are moving

market which is growing in its sophistication.

from being “immature” to highly developed at a rapid pace,


and that can take the industry by surprise. They are the new frontier, and their world is different. New territories and new


cinemas that use new digital technology blended to global

The price of a cinema ticket is different in emerging markets than in

content providers and connected to international supply

mature markets, but it has to be. Visits per capita are low or non-existent;

chains can create new opportunities and possibilities. Laser,

income levels and infrastructure are sometimes limited; but if the Top 15

LED, HDR, 5G are all on the horizon — not upgrades, but all

territories in Africa can achieve one visit per head of population that will

brand new from day one, and all in the most modern of

require 6,250 new screens and 625,000 new seats. At a $5 ticket price over

signature architectural developments, achievements that

$3.5 billion of new box office gross is achievable. Developments have to be

are rarely possible or deliverable in mature markets. While each emerging cinema market is unique, there are common goals which enable development of best

high quality but offer value ticket pricing, such as in India and China.


practice from those with years of experience to those about


to join the industry. #ECMIstanbul is about listening,

Technical support usually arrives when there is scale, but to be off screen

learning and sharing — certainly not about telling.

for a week and unable to afford a simple repair to a sound system because

Rob Arthur is founder and director of the ECM Istanbul

of the cost of the engineering, will have a significant and highly detrimental

conference. Find out more at

impact on revenue; consumer and investor confidence. Support in alignment to development is a pre-requisite for growth.




The host nation for ECM2019, Turkey is at the forefront of delivering 6,850 active cinema screens are currently in operation on the African continent

effective legislative policy to secure a better (and less turbulent) market. Film and cinema are essential components to a successful economy. With government support, a higher level of transparency, trust and integrity can also be delivered which enables investment. It is not un-common in Africa or Central Asia, as current examples, for studios to include operators in their booking schedules only on condition of providing auditable nightly

70% 3 6


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returns to ComScore or other authorised box office trackers. Film and 70% of worldwide economic growth is forecast in emerging markets

Cinema can provide national recognition, a sense of pride and “soft power” for government. The development of infrastructure e.g. film studios; enables a place for stories to be shared in cinemas and provides a creative platform for local language to flourish as is happening in Kazakhstan.

31/07/2019 12:06

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02/08/2019 10:38




How do you fit a three-screen cinema in the railway arches that lead to one of London’s busiest stations and still deliver a quality experience? Sound Associates’ Graham Lodge has the answers.

ATTERSEA POWER STATION has been a genuinely iconic part of London’s skyline for many years, frequently appearing in photos, album covers and paintings, but few know anything much more about the power station and its history beyond its four impressive brick-built chimneys. The coal-fired power station was built between 1925 and 1941, creating the distinctive silhouette still present today. The power station operated for just 37 years until it was decommissioned in 1978. Shortly afterwards it was awarded Grade 2 listed status, protecting the important architecture. Despite many proposed regeneration projects over the years, nothing really happened and the site fell into an increasingly worrying state of disrepair until around 2012 when a Malaysian company started on regeneration scheme that involved knocking down and rebuilding the four chimneys. The project is due for completion in the next couple of years. One of the key problems with Battersea as a leisure, accommodation and business venue was the lack of transport facilities. The main trainlines from London’s Victoria pass right by the power station but the nearest station is Battersea Park — a 15 minute walk from the power station. Luckily, an extension of the London Underground’s Northern line is also due to be completed in a couple of years’ and there will be a tube station in the heart of the development. There have been plans and schemes proposed regarding multi-screen cinema developments as key parts of the 3 8


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regeneration project since the late 1980s but now that Apple has confirmed that it will be occupying over 500,000 square feet of space in the main power station building, there was nothing left for any multiplex operator to develop.

A rather special venue Though there was no space in the main development, fortunately the main railway lines coming out of Victoria did present a unique opportunity for a local operator to create something rather special right next door to the power station. Stephen Burdge, MD of the lovely three-screen Olympic Cinema in Barnes came to an agreement with the Battersea Power Station Company to develop three cinema auditoriums in three adjacent railway arches directly beneath the train lines coming out of Victoria — the Archlight cinema. The other arches in the locality already offer a range of restaurants, a microbrewery, bike hire and other small businesses that bring vitality to a newly developed residential area, so three cinema screens would fit in very nicely. Stephen is always keen to have the latest technological advances in his cinemas so when Sound Associates was appointed to supply, install and commission the projection and sound systems in the cinemas, we were asked to design a completely automatic three-screen venue with Dolby Atmos in every screen, laser projection and the ability to run a multitude of different non-cinema sources such as PowerPoint presentations and, naturally, event cinema in any or all of the three screens. The arches themselves were not enormous to start with,

038_SEP19_BATTERSEA.indd 39

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at around 9.1m wide, 5.2m high at the peak and 12m deep, but the first thing that had to happen was to minimise noise entering from outside — things

The construction of the isolated steel frames for sound insulation

because of the low level of maintenance required,






because and




compared to an equivalent xenon

like the 150 tonnes of train that passes over the arches every

lamp-based projector. Getting hot air

few minutes. Luckily, acoustic experts had done a wonderful

out of what is effectively an acoustically

job and constructed an isolated steel frame within the brick

sealed brick tunnel was quite an

arches and the frame is completely floating off the ground

undertaking — the only way to get power, ventilation, network

on isolating rubber blocks. This takes up quite a lot of space

cables and all audio between the three screens involved a

and the actual auditoriums are around 8.1m wide, 4.1m high

rather tortuous route: coming out to the front of each arch,

and 9.7m deep — sufficient space to accommodate two

across a bit and then back in again.

60-seat cinemas and one 40-seat cinema by the time the foyer had been constructed.

Now to the technical specs…

Squeezing in Atmos under the arches The Dolby Atmos designs were complicated — I don’t believe anyone had (or has since!) installed Dolby Atmos in a railway

Projectors in the venue are all Barco DP2K-10SLP units with

arch and there was a lot of discussion between Sound

Dolby IMS3000 media blocks fitted to allow for the Dolby

Associates and Dolby over where speakers would be located

Atmos decoding. The sound systems comprise of QSC Q-Sys

along the sides of the arches that would satisfy the strict

network audio systems that handle all the 35+ channel audio

Dolby Atmos guidelines while remaining practical and safe

streams coming from the IMS3000 and supply the switching,

for customers watching films. Luckily, once the positions and

EQ and systems control required and feeding the QSC Q-Sys

angles had been agreed, the designers of the internal finishes

amplifiers running speakers provided by Flare Audio.

in the auditoria came up with a set of angled acoustic panels

Each screen has an individual Q-Sys Core 110c running

For normal DCP playback there is a Rosetta TMS system

and 8-channel Q-Sys amplifiers running all the stage, sub

that handles the scheduling of trailers, adverts and features

bass and surround speakers — all squeezed into an 18U-high

playing on all three screens and there is a LANsat box from

equipment rack mounted directly under each projector.

MPS for receipt of content. For day-to-day operations, the

The screens (installed by Powells) are all matt white masking with close-over proper tabs as well — an amazing achievement in such a small space. Laser light source projectors were selected primarily

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The complex shape of the auditoria presented a few challenges when it came to meeting the Dolby Atmos specifications

that effectively hid the surround speakers.

all audio switching and routing and there were up to five 4-

miniperf and have multi-stop top, bottom and side moving

The Archlight’s exterior sets the tone for what is now an attractive and inviting place for locals to go and watch a film

Rosetta looks after the three screens with little or no intervention from the cinema managers. All automation commands from the IMS3000 server go via the QSC Q-Sys cinema sound system that handles not only all the audio needs of the Atmos sound system but it

The automated operation of the venue can be handled all from one iPad interface

01/08/2019 13:21

AV • Live Events • Production • Audio • Video • Broadcast

also controls all the automation requirements like curtain and masking control, volume, lights etc. The cinema manager can monitor the sound in each auditorium from a central office and also see sound levels on an iPad display. The Q-Sys system allows different playback systems to have different EQs for non-DCP playback and allows for multiple microphones to be used in each auditorium with feedback suppression built in — a handy facility when presenters not used to using microphones are involved! The health of the entire system is constantly monitored by Q-Sys and if anything was to go wrong, it can send Sound Associates technical support an email asking for assistance — no remote NOC required and this often allows us to react to an issue

Goodbye virtual print fee, hello Medialease!

before the site is even aware of it. As an example, the site experienced a handful of ventilation issues in the first few days of operation due to hot weather, but we were alerted to the rising temperature in the projection pod and could get the site to take remedial action before the problem took the projector off-line. Q-Sys also handles all the non-DCP cinema signal routing that has been installed, allowing a laptop to be connected in any screen and routed to all other screens if needed, or for a central Blu-ray player to be sent to any screen with audio decoded by the IMS3000 in each projector. NonSync music is stored on each Q-Sys core in MP3 format and the manager can create playlists for different feature films to ensure the music is appropriate to the feature shown. The finished cinemas blend into the surrounding arches and now that awnings have been fitted to the front of each cinema arch, it is an inviting place to go and watch a film. Sound Associates is proud to have been so closely involved. The Archlight cinema pushes the boundaries of innovation, engineering and new sound and vision technologies. We look forward to the next challenge!

Nothing lasts forever When it’s time to upgrade your digital projector to the latest technology, Medialease can help, providing affordable specialist asset finance. And unlike the VPF, we promise it’s straightforward!

To find out more, please call us on 01327 872531 or email @medialease

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the a, but d n i h C ss in d stan busine asingly har wski g i b re ho t is onten king an inc k von Syc g the c d e t a c in Pira s are t ects. Patri to in catch ation e i t i r o it er t auth s arch s they wen or piracy op t i t s maj again he length ding a t n i s e m c r tra ste als ma crimin


cinema projection server No. A15591 was letting pirates make pristine HD copies the very same day that new releases opened in cinemas. The piracy tracking team within China’s

Central Propaganda Department’s Film Technology Quality Inspection Institute even had a nickname for the server: ‘Ghost No. 1’. It was their job to find it — and stop it. But the criminal gang had found a way to exploit a flaw in the server architecture that made it untraceable. In June 2014, Mr Ma Mou registered to operate a drive-in cinema in Anshan City — a steel-town in northern China twinned with UK’s Sheffield — together with his former


classmate, one Mr Ma Mosong. But situated as it was just

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8,000 June 2014, Ma Mou registers a drive-in cinema, starting the network


By 2017 there were over 8,000 “on-demand cinemas” in China, not all of them legitimate

Ma Mosong confessed to having made more than 200 pirated films in a 2 year period



In February 2019, it is estimated that “Wandering Earth” had been watched 5.262 million times illegally online on mobile sites and the Twist Film & TV app

50,000 Ma Mou paid CNY ¥50,000 for a first gen pre-DCI digital cinema sever in 2017

west of North Korea, the northern climate with its winds

digital certificate of its server and downloaded the account

and dust, was not conducive for drive-in theatres. So Ma

and password for the KDM storage server.

Mou and Ma Mosong dreamt up new business plans for

Thus Ghost No.1 was back in business with a newly

their “Two Horses” criminal gang. (The surname “Ma” is also

cloned security certificate with serial number A03783. Once

the Chinese character for horse.) They joined forces in 2015

the watermark was forensically extracted from the pirated

with a local business partner and fixer, Huo Molei, to add on

video file it would not be traced back to Ghost No. 1, since

a screen to the drive-in that could show new release films.

the invisible watermark in the image would reveal the

First, get your hands on the content

registered origin of the playback equipment based on the TDL. With the equipment issue resolved, it was time to get

Around this time private cinemas (a.k.a. “micro cinemas” or

their hands on some content. The ‘Two Horses’ checked the

“on-demand cinemas”) were starting to take off throughout

Maoyan ticket app for the three

China, most of them legitimate, but many of them also lax to implement regulations relating to IP protection. To obtain first-run releases a pirate high definition camera recording would be required, but this was a risky thing to do for each cinema release. So, in 2017 Ma Mou paid CNY ¥50,000 (USD $7,235) for a first-generation pre-DCI digital cinema server, a model built by GDC Technology with the serial number A15591 from a man named Huo Mou Lei.

“Rather than sell DVDs, the Two Horses gang targeted private cinemas with their pirated content”

upcoming releases with the highest audience scores. They then partnered with Wang Moufei, head of projection at a multiplex in Anshen City, who became their supplier of DCPs taken from hard drives sent legitimately by distributors. For this, Two Horses paid him CNY ¥500-1,000 (USD $75-$150)

This was the server that had been identified the year

per month to borrow hard drives for up to 10 films. Back in

previously as the source of pirated films. As such, it was

Ma Mou’s studio the gang used professional HD cameras

consequently officially blacklisted on Trusted Device Lists

and sound cards to record the films and used video editing

(TDLs) for the creation of the security keys (KDMs) that

software to tweak, correct and sync the finished film file.

unlock content legitimately on authorised cinema screens worldwide. Ma Mou purchased a server that was effectively

The pirate cinema network

useless. This is where Huo Mou Lei stepped in to help resolve

Rather than selling physical copies (DVDs) or streaming

the problem of how to get pirated copies from the server.

them online, Ma Mou and Ma Mosong decided to target

He contacted a technician named Liu, who had knowledge

private cinemas. By the end of 2017, there were estimated

of how to “clone” a server certificate. Liu gained entry to a

to be over 8,000 such “on-demand cinemas” across China,

cinema in Tang County, Hebei Province under the pretext of

many of which did not respect copyright when it came to

“equipment maintenance”. There he secretly copied the

competing for customers. The gang adopted the traditional

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The gang that couldn’t pirate straight marketing method of contacting the heads of shadowy

With the biggest blockbusters slated for the Chinese

private cinemas, introduced their business, then offered

New Year Festival the pressure was on for the Two

them a pirated sample to play. In reality, they “established a

Horses to deliver. On 27 January this year, Ma Masong

black industrial chain of pirate cinema film production,

paid for three hard drives containing the latest films,

distribution and encryption management,” in the words of

including “The Wandering Earth,” from a multiplex in

Zhang Zuoliang, deputy director of the Public Security

Anshan, Liaoning Province. At the same time, the Two

Administration of the Ministry of Public Security.

Horses had ramped up their publicity campaign for

Knowing that there is no honour among thieves, Ma

the New Year releases that would be made available in

Mou and Ma Mosong ensured that their pirated films did

pristine HD copies. One of the private cinema operators

not get re-pirated by establishing a system similar to that of

who was lured in by the publicity campaign in mid-

legitimately licensed cinemas to monitor offline use by

January was Xiao Mouping, the operator of a private

adding watermarks, encryption, and transmission to the

cinema in Hengdian, Zhejiang.

networked disk storage. “In two years, we’ve made a total of more than 200 HD pirated movies,” suspect No.2, Ma

When Xiao Mouping loaded the encryption software,

Mosong, confessed. Advertising and communication was

ironically he discovered a loophole that enabled the

done over WeChat — reporters were shown an exchange

pirated film to be copied again. The software was not

between the pirate gang and a private

registered and it lacked a patch,



meaning that Xiao could use this

about the cost of equipment for his

vulnerability to download a new

13-room private cinema. The Two


Horses contact replied, “The monthly

promised by the pirates, all eight

fee is ¥3,000 yuan (USD $434). The first

of the big releases were delivered

time you have to buy an encrypted

on the afternoon of New Year’s

disk. Encrypted disks will be delivered

Eve to Xiao Mouping and all other

by a courier, and the per-room cost is

franchisees. On 4 and 5 February,

¥500 yuan (USD $72), you can re-use it

Xiao Mouping re-recorded the

later. Then the usage fee is ¥100 yuan

pirated films and sold it on to six

(USD $14.50) a month. No, the

further private cinemas. That’s

encrypted disk can be returned, with

when the spread became quite

a refund of ¥300 yuan (USD $43).”

uncontrollable through an initial

Private cinemas that purchased these

Baidu cloud-sharing link.












advertised them to customers with:

Seeing their films spreading like

“When you watch a movie, two people

wildfire online the distributors of “Wandering Earth,” “Bonnie

only need ¥98 yuan (USD $14.18),” thus working out cheaper than a cinema. For the next 13 months, until July 2018, they built out their pirate network of private cinemas through WeChat groups. Once private cinemas had signed up and been connected, they authorised pirated films to be played via remote control software. According to Beijing News, “Two Horses colluded with a Shanghai technology company to

Police take the Two Horses ringleaders into custody — bringing to a close China’s most prolific content piracy network

Bears: Blast into the Past” and “Integrity” issued a joint take-down letter on the evening of 12 February to a mobile sites/app called Twist Film & TV accused of hosting the films. By this time it is estimated that “Wandering Earth” had been watched 5.262 million times online, “Integrity” 738,000 times and “Bonnie Bears” 1,059,000 times. The app charged a micro-

encrypt their pirated movies. It is no small irony that the

payment for access to the films, as well as placing

head of this tech company even applied for a patent for

adverts for gambling and pornography sites within

his encryption technology. There was even an invisible watermark for each private cinema, to trace the source of any re-pirated pirate copy.

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the film image itself. Meanwhile, Ma Mou and Ma

On screen on the day of release…

Mosong must have been watching the online re-

The private cinemas were thus unable to spread the films a

pirated spread of their laboriously pirated films

second time and had no choice but to pay a monthly CNY

through gritted teeth. More importantly, they must

¥20,000 (USD $2,900) franchise fee. Though they got access

also have realised that their entire criminal enterprise

to film copies early, Ma Mou banned private cinemas from

was about to crumble. On 13 March, the police started

screening films before they had been released in legitimate

a series of raids on private cinemas and, among those

multiplexes. If the film was first shown in a legitimate

investigated, the Zhongshan Public Security Bureau

cinema in the morning, pirate cinemas would have a copy

homed in on a private cinema called “Pony Pictures.”

ready to go around one or two o’clock that same afternoon.

Zhou Xiaomou, the operator of Pony Pictures, then

The industrial scale of this operation is as breathtaking

admitted that he ran an illegitimate cinema showing

as the finesse with which everything from sales, distribution,

films from a pirate distribution network.

promotion and billing was handled. At its height the gang operated a distribution network that encompassed 330

The two Ma’s distribution platform infrastructure and

private cinemas in 20 provinces. Each one of these had

technology came from a Hong Kong, Macao and

been equipped with HD film sources, playback devices and

Taiwan-registered company in Suzhou, to the west of

encryption technology, in addition to the mechanisms for

Shanghai. The company had agents across China and

collecting franchise fees, equipment service fees, per-film

elaborate advertising websites. At the time of their arrests it had a presence in 200 cities across mainland China and comprised more than 800 private cinemas, which, between them, operated more than 10,000 screening rooms. On 19 March the order was given for

Ghost No.1 — the pre-DCI compliant server at the heart of the Two Horses piracy network

fees and more. Yet it was this highly elaborate control system that became part of the pirate gang’s undoing. This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on

the Zhongshan Task Force to go to Suzhou and Shanghai under the coordination of the Provincial Public Security Bureau. Taking down the criminal enterprise began the following day, culminating in the apprehension of Ma Mou and his top accomplices. After the success of the operation, a press conference on 29 April brought together law enforcement and the affected film distributors. Li Jingsheng, director of the Public Security Bureau, told the assembled reporters about the pressure to smash China’s biggest-ever film piracy ring, “We had to solve the problem this time. To solve the problem from the root cause, the focus was on finding the source, so this time we proposed to chase the source, check the chain, fight the first evil, and destroy the network.”

that server A15591 was not DCI-compliant that enabled an illicit content piracy ring to flourish. Somehow, the

However, for all the accomplishments of Chinese

operational and logistical industry standards designed

authorities in closing this piracy network, the larger

to distribute and playback content securely were

question remains whether this could ever happen

manipulated. They were exploited in a fashion that was

again. More specifically, could we see a Ghost No. 2 or

unforeseen and which took numerous resources to

even 3 or 4?

uncover. Unless lessons are learned from a case in which one digital cinema server led to copyright infringement on

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Pirating content from a DCI-compliant server is

an industrial scale, many more “ghosts” may turn up to

theoretically impossible. However it wasn’t simply

haunt the industry at some point in the future.


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Series 4 projection: The magic of mirrors Inside the latest projectors, a radical overhaul of the chipset at the heart of digital cinema has taken place. Peter Knight examines the details of Texas Instruments’ new .98” 4K DMD chip — and its deployment in Cinionic’s ground-breaking Series 4 projectors.

ESPITE THE BEST EFFORTS of Cinema Technology to deliver the lowdown on all the latest technology, every now and then there’s a new

The family portrait: the line-up of new Series 4 projectors from Cinionic

seen a great number of changes from those early days. Sometimes these changes are minor improvements, while at other times it may be far more significant. The first DCP projectors were essentially Series 0 projectors; the first that

development that occurs that doesn’t

most cinemas acquired were Series 1s; and Series 2 projectors

necessarily achieve the prominence it deserves to garner

saw the introduction of 4K chips among a number of other

within the industry. Two such technologies came along at

incremental changes.

once when Cinionic released its Series 4 projectors at

Many of these “series” evolutions come down to the next

CinemaCon earlier in the year. As part of its launch, Cinioic’s

developmental change of the DMD chips that are at the

Tom Bert gave a technical talk explaining to the assembled

heart of the DLP projector and the improvements introduced

audience about the radical developments inside these

by their manufacturer — Texas Instruments (TI). In 2013, TI

ground-breaking new projectors. Understand the true extent

announced the launch of the improved .98” 4K DMD chip.

of the development that the Series 4 projectors represent

This saw them achieve the seemingly impossible — they

and you may begin to appreciate the significance of this new

managed to fit four times the number of mirrors onto the .98”

technology and why it’s a masterstroke that has seemingly

chip than they had previously. In short, instead of more than

passed many in the industry by.

2 million mirrors, they managed to achieve more than the

The latest DMD chips

critical 8 million mirrors required to achieve true 4K resolution. To understand the significance of the ability to add such

It is 20 years since the first DCP projectors started to appear

an elevated number of additional mirrors to the DMD, first it

in cinemas across the world and in that time, we have already

is necessary to understand how the chips themselves

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work. DLPs work by reflecting the light from the light source.

Use of the same form factor as in previous chipsets means the latest Series 4 projectors can utilise a similar “chassis” as in previous models

Each of their chips has many thousands of mirrors, every one of these can individually move many times a second. The light reflected from these constantly moving mirrors forms the image which is subsequently projected on to the screen. A 2K DMD utilises 2,211,840 moving aluminium mirrors, with each of these representing a single pixel in the final projected image. Each mirror is suspended over address electrodes by a torsion hinge between two posts. Depending on the voltage polarity that is applied, each mirror will either tilt to the left or to the right. When light is applied to the complete DMD, only the light redirected from a mirror tilting to the left

movement for each of the mirrors, there is an additional roll

is projected, thus an image can be created.

movement required. It is this roll movement that enables TI

Enter the 4th dimension With its new ‘Series 4’ chipsets, TI has had to change the

to put four times the number of mirrors on the same-sized chip. It is also why there are now so many 4K projectors available in other industries and applications.

fundamental way that it makes the mirrors move. The new

Without question it is clear that the majority of projectors

chips are called .98” 4K TRP and they have effectively added

in the future will come as 4K as standard. The chipset was

roll to the way in which the mirrors move. What does that

initially released at CES in 2013 to great fanfare with the idea

mean? Now, instead of a simple binary on and off tilt

that it would bring greater brightness through better optical

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The new Savoy Grantham – A Series 4 showcase On Thursday 18 July, the new 700-seat, five-screen cinema in

Screen 1 of five is a Premium Large

Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK, opened to much fanfare. The Grantham

Format auditorium that boasts the

Savoy will be the chain’s fifth cinema in its Midland’s-based network,

latest laser 4k digital projection

with a sixth due to open in Doncaster in coming months.

combined with a Dolby Atmos sound system. This screen has 186

There was a significant mix of local councillors and VIPs there to

seats and is the largest, with the

celebrat, together with a wide selection of the UK’s cinema exhibition

auditorium equipped with the first

community. It was quite the party atmosphere at the opening

in the UK of Barco’s latest Series 4

reception held in the spacious box office and concessions area.

RGB laser projection technology. The projection system will be complemented by 28 separate surround channels of sound in

The Cinema Quarter is the first new town centre development in

addition to left, centre, right, and subwoofers behind the screen.

Grantham for more than 30 years and — apart from the cinema itself — the building will house a new centre for the University of Lincoln, as

“We are extremely pleased to be including the first Barco Series 4

well as space for two restaurants. It is adjacent to South Kesteven

laser projector in the UK,” declared Savoy’s MD James Collington on

District Council’s headquarters and a 300-space car park. Previously,

the opening night, “and this will be complemented by Dolby Atmos

the nearest cinema was 19 miles away — a long stretch for the locals.

immersive sound to launch our new Vertex 4K format in screen 1.”

and power efficiency. According to the original press release,

lasers are actually infrared lasers with a second crystal used

the TRP chipset has the ability to produce up to 100% higher

to double the frequency and halve the wavelength to provide

brightness on a frame-by-frame basis, while also consuming

green light. The infrared is then filtered out so that it is only

up to 50% less power. This 2013 announcement heralded a

green light that is output.

whole slew of new pico projectors that have become brighter with a higher resolution, despite their small size, with the

Series 4 Cinionic projectors

ability to run more efficiently — often on battery power.

Alongside NEC and Christie, Cinionic is one of the first cinema

This reduced size aspect represents one of the major

manufacturers to make use of this new chipset from TI and it

advances of the new 4K chip — a smaller chip requires smaller

has coined the Series 4 moniker for its product range from

components to work meaning that the final cost of the

Barco. For Cinionic and Barco, this is more than simply a new

product is correspondingly more affordable. While this article

4K chipset that uses the same form

focuses on Cinionic’s use of the 4K chip (and the phrase


“Series 4” is a marketing term mainly in use by them), it is

(conveniently allowing for the use of

worth noting that both Christie and NEC also use the TI DMD

many of the same components and

chipsets and have themselves launched new ranges of

designs across a whole range of

projectors that make use of both the new TI .98” 4K chipset


together with the development in laser light levels.

technology will deliver an unmatched

How laser light is developing









cinema experience for moviegoers today, future-proofed for tomorrow.

“In tandem with chip developments, technology in laser light has also developed at rapid pace in cinema”

In tandem with developments in the chips used in projectors

The Barco Series 4 models from Cinionic have specifically

for professional applications, laser light technology has also

focused on four areas. The company describes them thus: a

developed at a fairly rapid pace within the cinema sector. To

brilliant image; being ready for tomorrow today; fit & forget;

begin with, the green laser colour of the RGB was expensive

and Barco EcoPure.

and difficult to create and that is why frequently blue light is used which is then altered to create the green colour — this is

A brilliant image…

especially so with laser phosphor projectors. However, several

The Barco AIM (Active Image Management) technology

companies and research groups have found new ways to

guarantees flawless images through the implementation of

create the green laser that is its own distinct colour, in the

Barco patents on image control, processing and driving,

same way that red and blue are. The most common green

enabled through the years of experience in cinema. The new

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Pioneering work: Omnex engineers install the latest Barco projectors at Savoy Grantham

04/08/2019 12:41

The other four auditoria at the Savoy site have all been equipped with laser projectors and KSC amps. One of the advantages of installing laser equipment from the beginning was that there was no requirement for extracts to be built into the projection room, just the ordinary air conditioning system. To illustrate how proud the company is of the projection technology installed in its new site, James Collington gave a short presentation, thanking those that had helped with the construction of the cinema as well as a question and answer style session that featured Simon Tandy, MD of the cinema integrator Omnex which was responsible for the installation, and Kevin Marckwick, a technology advocate from the Uckfield Picture House, in Sussex. The pair talked in-depth about the merits of the projection system chosen for Screen 1. And the first film shown in the venue’s new Screen 1? An anniversary edition of “The Matrix” — an appropriately futuristic title that still looked fresh 20 years after its original release. brilliant image aspect delivers the integration of a number of Barco patents that mean the 4K RGB image is now compatible with both white and silver screens, broadening its suitability for a range of applications. The projectors’ all come with Barco AIM (Active Image Management), all are

The Series 4 unit delivers the technology for an in-house premium large format at Savoy’s new site

really does benefit from this maintenance-free longevity. According to Cinionic, there is four times less maintenance required than in other series of projectors and the maintenance itself is more predictable.

laser-based, and offer Barco Colorgenic which delivers the

Efficient, too…

full P3 colour space and more than 98.5% of Rec. 2020, for an

Manufacturers are also conscious of the need to make their

extremely wide colour gamut.

products increasingly energy efficient, a requirement that is

Ready for tomorrow…

virtuous for both the cinema and the environment. In the days of the film projector, it was usually necessary to have

One of the key difficulties for both manufacturers and buyers

three-phrase power supplies in the projection room. These

alike is knowing what features they may need in the future,

days, the efficiency of the new DMD chips coupled with

and with cinema this will often depend on what the


filmmaker may want. The new Series 4 projectors have been

consumption and requirements are greatly reduced, to the

designed to support High Dynamic Range (HDR), High

point that it is possible to run a Barco Series 4 projector from

Frame Rate (HFR) and immersive audio. This adaptability is

either a single phase or three phase socket, depending on

described in the projectors as Barco AIM (Active Image

what is equipped in the projection space already.

Management) — for the buyer, it should deliver a degree of peace of mind for future requirements.

Fit and forget…







Cinionic has gone a step further with the Series 4 projectors — they have introduced an eco-friendly 3 watts/ hour hibernation mode so that the projector can be put to sleep, using virtually no power, but can nevertheless allow for

With few dedicated technical people in cinemas these days

remote support, maintenance and content ingest to take

and an ever-growing requirement for staff to do more than

place conveniently overnight while in this state. The

one job, the requirement simply to install equipment and

integrated projection system delivers an industry-leading 9.5

more or less leave it in situ is great. The Barco Series 4

lumens per watt for an energy-efficient performance, always.

projector has Fit & Forget thinking behind it, that means that

Cinionic say this allows for more than 50% savings compared

it is designed specifically to withstand more than ten years of

to typical xenon projectors.

constant use, without loss of performance. This is particularly relevant for boothless environments where the projector

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QSC: Striving to deliver the networked cinema With its roots in rock and roll, QSC has been a stalwart name in high-performance amplifiers for many years. But today its range extends far beyond audio, into a fully managed theatre operation system. Cinema Technology lifts the hood on a processing powerhouse.

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F BARRY ANDREWS’ motorbike had not broken down on the street in front of Pat Quilter’s amplifier shop in 1968, QSC might never have happened. Pat was building guitar amplifiers for the budding rock and roll industry, and

with his innate skills, could offer much needed mechanical assistance. Though Pat had the technical genius to build high-performance power amplifiers, he lacked the business acumen to grow QSC into a world-class, global organisation. Fortunately, Barry and his brother John did. For over 50 years, QSC has developed the technology that powers immersive cinema, live performance audio and digital collaboration and meeting experiences worldwide. A recognised innovator in the design and manufacture of highperformance loudspeakers, digital mixers, power amplifiers, audio processors, cinema solutions, and Q-SYS softwarebased audio, video and control ecosystem, QSC thrives where technology and audiovisual experiences intersect. QSC expertise is evident in its advanced manufacturing and quality control processes. The company manufactures many of its products in its 81,000 square foot, state-of-the-art

From top, QSC’s founders Barry Andrews, John Andrews and Pat Quilter

facility, in Costa Mesa, California. Utilising a complement of demand planning, parts procurement, operations and logistics, computer-controlled precision assembly, and rigorous testing and control, the QSC facility is designed with build-to-order flexibility, giving the company unprecedented ability to respond to customer needs while keeping both parts and finished goods inventory at well-maintained levels. Select partners in Asia provide additional manufacturing. QSC has earned the trust of customers and partners worldwide with awardwinning sales, service, and support teams QSC Corporate Offices are located on 51,000 square feet which include a stateof-the-art manufacturing facility as well as, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Technical Support, and Service. Additionally, QSC has offices in Boulder, Colorado, San Luis Obispo, California, Sinsheim, Germany, Bengaluru, India, Weybridge, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, with sales and support staff located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. QSC maintains a local warehouse and distribution facility in Corona, California, with other facilities in Tennessee, Netherlands, and China. Employing over 600 people, QSC is seen as a great place to work, attracting the talent from all over the world. The company strives to provide a casual fun work environment where people are excited to bring forth their best. Indeed, QSC is a seven-time recipient of the Orange County Register’s “Best Place to Work” award. One of the hallmarks of QSC is to have a vision, and continue investing in the future. Beyond their passion for delivering high-performance products and longterm commitment to customer relationships, QSC is devoted to building a brand known for unmatched quality and reliability. To learn about QSC products and technical support, visit:

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The QSC Product range For the first 25 years, the company’s focus was building reliable, high-power amplifiers for sound reinforcement applications. These quickly gained a reputation for reliability and outstanding sonic performance. Movie theatre technicians learned of the superiority of the amplifiers and soon QSC became the amplifier of choice for cinemas across the US during the 1980s. Today, the company estimates that QSC amplifiers are installed in more than half of the world’s cinemas. It wasn’t until 1990 when QSC hired its first product applications engineer, a young projectionist and cinema

processors deliver optimised DSP equalisation to QSC QSC’s processors often now do the job of multiple bits of hardware, simplifying installations

loudspeakers to maximise the audio performance and simplify installation.


technician, that the company took a serious look at the Cinema market. Having worked for National

Since amplifiers were the first “core competency” of the

Amusements and then Ballantyne Strong, Barry Ferrell

company, it’s no surprise that QSC continues its dominance

knew what would work in the projection booth, and ultimately, how to create cinema products genuinely optimised for the industry. That “from the trenches” perspective is a hallmark of the QSC Cinema team — today, nearly every member of the team has an extensive background in cinema. Their experience covers the spectrum from running projection booths to entire theatre operations, as well as the development of cinema-specific products. In fact, this deep, hands-on experience in cinema operations inspires many of QSC’s best technological innovations. One example of such innovation is DataPort connectors, which allow a single cable connection between the

QSC built its name on amplifiers — and they are still at the heart of its business today

processor and amplifier to carry audio, control, and monitoring. Every QSC product is full of features that make installation quick and easy — usually inspired by a QSC Cinema team member who has suffered through using gear from manufacturers with less empathetic motivations.




A View from the top Barry Ferrell, senior vice president, QSC Cinema Business Unit


innovation has led to what QSC claims is the cinema

Barry has been involved in cinema his entire working life,

industry’s most comprehensive catalog of cinema

starting as a projectionist while earning his electrical

solutions. Over 140 products fill the pages of their

engineering degree, writes Peter Knight. In 1988, Barry

catalogue — it’s a lot of products, so the catalogue is

went to work for the well-known Strong company as a

divided into six product families.

projection pre-wire supervisor. He was responsible for integrating projection and sound systems for both 35mm and 70mm applications and would assemble and test the


entire system made up of components from a variety of

Cinema processors are becoming more complex, with a

manufacturers before shipping to the theatre site. This

greater level of functionality, often replacing a number of

dramatically reduced time spent on site installing the

separate boxes with a single piece of hardware. QSC offers

systems. It is this experience of dealing with a variety of

four series of cinema sound processors, all of which interface

different connectors and outputs that helped to drive

easily with its DCA and ISA Series power amplifiers, and

design decisions at QSC.

provide complete signal processing and crossover, with

When Barry was hired at QSC in 1990, QSC was mainly a

many models also offering booth monitoring. QSC 5 4

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in cinema power amplifiers to this day, with three series of 2-, 4-, and 8-channel amplifiers, specifically designed for

QSC offers a wide range of loudspeakers for behind the

cinemas. QSC’s DCA Series has been an industry standard

screen, surrounds, and subwoofers.

for over 20 years and can be found in the majority of the

Its passive, 2-, 3-, and 4-way screen speakers all deliver

world’s projection booths. The newer DPA Series is a class D

the same hallmark QSC sound quality for rooms of any size.

design, which is available in 4 and 8 channel models, and includes DSP for loudspeaker signal processing and other functions. A special version of DPA, called DPA-Q, is intended for use with the Q-SYS Ecosystem and is used most frequently for immersive sound formats with the

The addition of USL to the fold in 2017 brought a range of test and measurement equipment in-house

The SR Series surrounds fit the bill for rooms from 5.1/7.1 to the largest immersive or PLF applications. They also offer both single and dual-driver subwoofers, including the massive SB-15121 21-inch “earth-shaker,” to reproduce the lowest of the low frequencies.

Q-SYS Core processor.

The loudspeaker range covers all applications and auditorium sizes

MEDIA SERVERS AND TEST & MEASUREMENT In 2017, QSC acquired Ultra Stereo Labs (USL), the highly regarded cinema processor manufacturer based in San Luis Obispo, California. While some may have perceived this as an easy way to reduce competition, in reality, QSC was able to absorb a cadre of extremely talented engineering resources, and add several critical product categories to its catalogue. In other words, this was a strategic and calculated acquisition. Not only did USL make some of the best and most useful cinema test and measurement products, but they had already proven to be a leader in the early days of IMBs. Having an IMB, or IMS, in the catalogue dovetailed neatly with the growing acceptance of Q-SYS for Cinema, the company’s network audio, video, and control ecosystem.

general-purpose amplifier manufacturer. The widescale

other business units, so the company is able to share

acceptance of Dolby Stereo in the 1980s became a huge

knowledge, learnings and understandings from other

growth accelerator for the amplifier business. Soon, QSC

areas to build and develop products that work within the

Model 1400 amplifiers became one of the most popular

cinema environment, and within the same ecosystem.

models, as they were sold to Dolby who pre-wired the

Part of the value of this View from the Top feature is that

systems before sending them to the cinemas. Barry’s role

it is aimed at the future. Barry sees the development of

at QSC in the 1990s helped him to build direct relationships

Cinema On Demand growing, where there are smaller

with cinema owners and operators through attending

auditoriums entirely rented out by the customer, and the

industry events and tradeshows. This led to the formation

film is transferred over the network to the auditorium

of the Cinema business unit. During the film days, QSC

server. This is where the new QSC products such as the

manufactured everything after the processor (B chain),

CMS-5000 Cinema Media Server come into play, as the

while in the digital days (now) QSC supplies the whole

server has a network speed of 5-10Gbits that allows the

chain, including the sound processor. In fact, QSC has

film to be delivered over the network in just a few minutes.

become one of, if not the largest suppliers of processors for digital cinema systems.

Another key part of our discussion was the “Networked Cinema”. The network is the backbone of the cinema, and

Barry has been able to draw on his considerable

Q-SYS is positioned as the solution to control and

projection room experience and on the challenges and

integration. Barry sees huge importance and value in the

frustrations of installation and integration. QSC has two

network, and shares insights on continued product

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Hands on with the CMS-5000 Media Server At CinemaCon, I had the opportunity to get my hands on the CMS-5000


Media Server in a demonstration at the QSC booth, writes Peter Knight. The server comes with an internal solid-state drive along with a 10G fibre port, which means it is possible to ingest a feature while in playback at an incredible 5-8 minutes. The current average is half an hour or more — meaning the CMS-5000 provides significant time savings. As a freelance projectionist, I am used to going into projection rooms with a variety of equipment, so it has become second nature to use existing software. For me, this was the test of the QSC server — could I build and use the interface without help or information from the QSC team? The short answer was yes. It was effortless and straightforward to build a playlist and utilise the playback feature. Following the demonstration, I spent another half an hour discussing small changes I felt would make the interface more user-friendly with the product manager and developer. Overall, I enjoyed using the CMS5000 and look forward to seeing the product in cinemas worldwide.

development efforts that reflect the shift in AV. The

2009 and was initially aimed at the largest and highest

networking of things will continue, along with the ability

performance systems.

to integrate and control from one place.

parks, airports, and cruise ships, where hundreds to

QSC has a comprehensive vision of a family of

thousands of channels must be processed, routed, and

technologies where all components are designed to work

controlled with absolute reliability. The power of the Q-SYS

as a system, with seamless and simple integration. Today,

Ecosystem goes far beyond its ability to serve as a cinema

cinema content is essentially data, and much of it is

processor. The flexibility of Q-SYS allows it to include many

already delivered on a network.

other important functions and subsystems within the

Network operation

centers or NOCs monitor many cinemas. With a cinema

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Early adopters included theme

modern cinema complex.

site, there is often a network for systems such as point of

The introduction of immersive audio formats and QSC’s

sales, ticketing, on-screen advertising, and building

creation of smaller Q-SYS Core processors made Q-SYS the

functions such as HVAC, lighting, and other operations.

ideal solution for Premium Large Format Cinema. More

QSC has been a leader in networked audio technology

recent product additions, like the DCIO (Digital Cinema

going back to 1996 when QSC was the first licensee of

Input/Output) hardware interface and DPA-Q amplifiers,

CobraNet. Peak Audio invented CobraNet as a way to use

have made Q-SYS a cost-effective choice for the entire

standard Ethernet networks to route digital audio. This

multiplex, including the 7.1 screens. Q-SYS control and

standards-based approach is evident in the Q-SYS

monitoring is now available for all screens, not just PLF

Ecosystem where they have continued with Ethernet for

rooms. With the launch of the CMS-5000 Cinema Media

the Q-LAN network and Intel processors running Linux for

Server, Q-SYS has an integrated, end-to-end solution from

audio processing and control. Q-SYS was launched in

the server to the loudspeakers; all of it controlled via Q-SYS.

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NETWORK AUDIO, VIDEO AND CONTROL Unlike many manufacturers, the Q-SYS Ecosystem is the only truly software-based ecosystem that offers audio, video and control processing, networking integration plus remote monitoring and management in one tightly integrated solution. Cinema complexes, like any other business establishment, are migrating their operations towards a software-based network infrastructure, the Q-SYS Ecosystem helps to ensure the best user experience while reducing design and deployment risks and costs.

Accessibility equipment is a growth sector at QSC

ACCESSIBILITY PRODUCTS As part of the USL acquisition, QSC was also able to add a full range of Accessibility Products to its catalogue for hearing and visually impaired moviegoers. In the US, it is estimated that there are over 50million people with hearing loss and almost 8million with visual impairment. Statistics are likely to be similar around the world. Many of these people have given up on going to the movies because they can’t fully enjoy the experience. Across an entire cinema chain, that can be a lot of lost revenue for a theatre operator.

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E V E N T S It’s a strange CineEurope when the show’s biggest hit isn’t new technology or a Marvel film but fresh coffee, Patrick von Sychowski reports

CineEurope: go for popcorn,



in the

attendance was slightly up, it felt quieter and more

subdued at CineEurope this year, not least given the absence of Sony and Lionsgate. Fox’s takeover by Disney was made physical with the parent of Marvel et al also taking over the coffee meeting cube in the CCIB’s foyer. After a year of mixed fortunes (record highs in UK but lows in Germany), exhibitors were confident of a good 2019,





expectations for the show.

Sunday, the new Monday The week kicked off informally on the Sunday with the half-day ICTA seminars and award ceremony. IHS Markit’s Charlotte Jones provided the slides and numbers demonstrating that




stable, recent screen growth outlook is positive’ and in particular the ‘number of UK sites reflects positive momentum’ for the industry. This 5 8


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40% Six years ago media spend on digital for film marketing was around 5%-6%. Today it is 40%.

silver bullet isn’t subscription offers. Continuing to engage with CineEurope, the European Commission sponsored




audiences as well as access issues, but also hosted several small, innovative companies on its trade show stand that might not otherwise have been able to come to Barcelona to meet potential clients (see pages 72-75). UNIC’s CEO Laura Houlgatte took over opening ceremony duties from

Cinema risks losing younger audiences to digital distraction

, stay for coffee...

(the re-elected) president Phil Clapp, with a strong message that “Cinemas are not only here to stay — we’re here to grow and to bring audiences

Paramount’s Mary Daily feels the need for speed in the slate show

together all over the world to share an unmatched big screen experience.”

Coke’s new caffeine kicks No company brings as much to

point of regional strength was echoed

large geographic footprint, with a

CineEurope as Coca-Cola, but this

by Comscore’s Arturo Guillen on

keynote on emerging markets from

year the delegates had an extra

the panel, “The healthier the local

Comscore’s Guillen and ‘A Focus on

reason to be thankful, in the form of

product, the healthier the [cinema]

South Africa’ by Avalon Group’s CEO

a different brown beverage on the

market.” UNIC’s Guillaume Branders

Aboobaker ‘AB’ Moosa, followed by

Costa Coffee stand. Coke’s European

explored futuristic technologies like

Serbia. There was a large number of

channel director Oliver Delaney, in his

AI and VR, though few had strong

non-European exhibitors at the show,

second year at CineEurope, suavely

immediate implications for cinemas.

and not just because of the meeting

hosted two great seminars, while the

“Big data” was examined by Cinema

of the Global Cinema Federation.

red and white booth continued to

Intelligence’s Claudio Tenescu (260Gb

A major theme was the talk of

grow as everyone’s favourite hangout

of annual data, no less!), while CEO

the ‘second digital revolution’ on the

(thanks to behind-the-scenes efforts

Debbie Stanford did a star turn on the

executive roundtable of the major

of Blue Stocking Partnership’s Prill

panel session with Novo’s diversity

exhibitors (Vue, Event, Cinepolis) and

and Sarah), as well as being the

of content (Hollywood, Bollywood,

key studios (Disney and Universal).

closing night (afternoon) sponsor.

Arabic and Malayalam films). “I don’t

“Exhibitors and distributors have a co-

The first Coke seminar asked the

run cinemas,” she noted, “I run event

responsibility in promoting films,”

audience whether they were ready for

and entertainment hubs.”

noted Disney’s Tony Chambers, “once

the digital revolution. The panelists

ICTA’s awards to Cineplex’s Ellis

studios have delivered a quality

certainly were, with Uber Eats present

Jacob and Stockholm’s Bio Capitol

product and marketing campaign.”

in over 520 cities, covering 220,000

were particularly warmly applauded,

And all that in a changing media

restaurants and hitting an average

after which many hurried from the

landscape — “Six to seven years ago

30-minute delivery in just three years.

Hilton to the beach pavillion where

media spend for digital was just 5%-

With Hoyts Australia, UberEats is

UNIC’s board of directors spent the

6%,” observed Universal’s Duncan

already delivering cinema snacks to

afternoon cooking up a paella storm.

Clark, “today it is 40%, in some cases

the home, though sadly not yet by

60% and for some markets for certain

drone. A multi-country survey by Coke

titles it’s been pure digital marketing

examined attitudes to three new

With prompt 9am starts every day for

to target customers.” Cinepolis CEO

ways of ordering food: pre-order

panels, CineEurope laid claim to a

Alejandro Ramirez warned that the

online, digital kiosks and order to seat.

The main event…

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Seminars, sangria and sun

Disney’s “Lion King” perfectly demonstrated how the circle of life draws new generations to old content

With just eight slate presentations (compared to 12 two years ago) there was more time for seminars — and companies on the trade show said traffic was more steady. There seem to be

The second day’s sustainability

more seminars than ever with the venue next to the trade show floor seeing a good audience

seminar delivered positive messages,

for most, despite occasional sound issues.

but only once UNIC’s Laura Houlgatte pointed out that the EU is phasing

“Technology is driving cinema, it drives streaming, [but also] drives infringement,” observed Liz

out disposable plastic faster than

Bales, CEO of BASE at the start of “Film Theft - Where are we?” panel. Movio’s Sarah Lewthaite

previously expected. “Sustainability is

seem to be the only one to stick to her data guns, when at the ‘Industry Roundtable: From

not something that just sits in a corner

Customer Insight To Admissions Growth’ the moderator Marine Suttle seemed to throw the

of our company,” noted Coca-Cola’s

panel a curve ball by asking whether it wasn’t really ultimately about gut feeling. (Data says ‘No’

sustainability director Teresa Noor-

— and helps make better informed decisions.) The panel on mini-theatres and on-demand

lander. Costa’s head of sustainability

cinema (chaired by yours truly) heard from people like Theresa English who revealed how a

Oliver Rosevear revealed how simple

10-screen multiplex by TK Architects had just 300 seats, despite featuring two PLFs. UNIC

measures can reduce the use of straw,

launched the third edition of its successful Women’s Cinema Leadership mentoring scheme.

cups and napkins while saving money.

Behind the scenes Celluloid Junkie’s Helen Budge was busy interviewing women cinema

In fact, coffee was the unexpected

leaders about their experience for the video series by CTC, which also threw an impromptu In

star of the show, with long lines

The Sangria Bar podcast With Mike Bradbury (now available on SoundCloud). “There’s no

forming at the trade show stand for

industry like the cinema industry,” said Celluloid Junkie’s 2019 Top Woman in Cinema Mariam

Costa Coffee, now that it is part of the

El Bacha, “Nothing more entertaining but you have to work hard and be resilient.”

Coca-Cola Company. With branded coffee having already proved a hit for

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The closing ceremony saw awards bestowed on everyone from big and established Paramount

UK exhibitors, continental colleagues

veterans to small next generation Estonian cinema managers. For the fourth year in a row

are now also discovering the financial

Disney picked up the award for the biggest hit in Europe for its “Avengers” monster hit.

uptick of offering coffee before, with

“Avengers: Infinity War”, that is — “Avengers: Endgame” will no doubt give Disney a fifth win next

or even after the popcorn. Over 3,000

year, unless it is upstaged by “Lion King” or “Star Wars IX”. As much as Disney saved European

cups of various hot beverages were

cinemas in the first six months of 2019, even one great studio cannot save the whole industry.

served from the Costa stand (with

As everyone toasted the success of 2019, thoughts were already turning to 2020 and beyond.

recycling provided next to it) in two


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> Cinemas beating Vue and co, with the installation help of the UK and Ireland integrator Omnex. Powster launched




Everyman, while Vista was everywhere and its new party venue proved a hit. GDC Technology had a major signing









Golden Screen Cinemas. Indeed, the presence of the Southeast Asian exhibitor was a further sign of the global reach of CineEurope. Next door to GDC, people could try their VR bongo skills at Ymagis’ Illucity Corner. Meanwhile, Korea’s CJ 4DPlex sneak started the show with a demonstration of its ScreenX and 4DX technologies at a Barcelona cinema that included a glowing testimonial from Cineworld. Who was quietly doing the most business? In all likelihood it was the many seat manufacturers that were demonstrating innovations such as built-in wireless charging for their premium recliners. And finally… the popcorn machine from China looked the spitting image of the Cretors machine at the opposite end of the trade show floor.

Studio Slates Which studio came to show their slate at CineEurope and who didn’t was as much of a topic of conversation as the trailers, clips and films that were and a half days and a further 800+ at

projectors, but decided to spread

shown. Notable in their absence were Coca-Cola’s Oliver Delaney compered two seminars, including a session on sustainability — a much-needed concept that the cinema world needs to embrace

the self-serve Costa Coffee machine.

the love between Cinionic/Barco and

And don’t blame Coca-Cola that this

Christie. Cinionic also went all-laser

year popcorn was served pre-packed


in both bags AND buckets outside the

Christie became a re-seller for AAM.



QSC and Harkness affirmed their

Equally, don’t be surprised if next year

continuing commitment to their apps

there is Costa coffee there too.

and technology platforms. Dolby

this way is publicity and advertising

Cinema is expanding in the UK with

money well spent. Also absent were


Industry moves





Odeon, who also announced its 20th

Despite many press releases few

Luxe cinema. Meanwhile Samsung

genuinely surprising announcements

kept a low profile, though the first

came out of CineEurope this year.

Onyx LED screen in the British Isles

Cineworld put in a big order for laser

appeared in Dundrum, with Movies@

058_SEP19_EVENTSv2.indd 61

Laura Houlgatte, UNIC’s CEO opened the show, saying: “Cinemas are not only here to stay — ­ we’re here to grow”

both 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures, the former now nestling in between Pixar and Marvel in Disney’s slate-of-slates, while the latter was taking a year out both here and at CinemaCon to see if promoting films

eOne and Lionsgate (apart from Rhian Johnson’s Agatha Christie-ish “Knives Out” footage), as well as the odd




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Universal vied with others to present a diverse, ambitious range of content — in this case, largely successfully

Studios’ CEO did join the European Commission-sponsored panel that examined untapped audiences. The biggest show in town was Disney, of course, and the studio did not disappoint with the surprise appearance of Tom Hanks in person! In Barcelona! No video clip “Sorry I couldn’t be there,” of Hanksy, but the real thing, there to promote “Toy Story 4” (screened on the Thursday). The audience applauded him like a movie star that has earned their cinemas hundreds of millions over the decades. Fox was acknowledged with clips for “Ford vs. Ferrari” and “Ad Astra”, as were Fox Searchlight and Blue Sky, before the multi-year slates of Disney Animation (“Frozen II”) and Live Action (“Mulan”), Pixar (two original films) but no new clips from “Stars Wars: The Last Skywalker”, before an ensemble

In town to promote “Toy Story 4”, Tom Hanks received an enthusiastic welcome during the Disney slate

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of singers and dancers took to the stage to remind everyone that “Lion King” is set to be the summer’s biggest hit. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Disney is still untangling the Fox

01/08/2019 14:42

distribution responsibilities in most of its European territories. No small task! The Universal slate ended with a


cheeky dig at Disney’s habit of positioning all its titles in a timeline between now and forever — but then reminded exhibitors in the audience

The Costa stand proved popular — 3,000 cups went in just 2.5 days

that “one studio alone will not save your cinemas,” and that what was needed was a broad and diverse slate of films. And that is exactly what Universal brought to the party at Barcelona, ranging from the highoctane action of “Hobbs & Shaw” (a.k.a. “Fast & Furious 8½”) to the refined English snobbery of “Downton Abbey”. Director Paul Feig did not attend this year, but sent greetings from London where he was busily

8/12 Only 8 slates were shown at CineEurope this year — against 12 two years ago

Sadly there was no Helen Mirren on

to provide mid-budget commercial

stage to repeat her ‘“F**k Netflix”, but

films for cinemas, but its slate was

WB is clearly still looking to cater to

underwhelming, with “21 Bridges”,

older audiences with films like “The

“Greenland”, “Hustlers” and “My Spy”

Good Liar”, as well as Very Serious

not creating much of a stir. “Shaun

Drama films from Ed Norton and Ben

The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” and

Affleck. Warners then doubled down

“The Secret Garden” from StudioCanal

editing “Last Christmas”. Universal also

on horror, with “Doctor Sleep” (a

were both charming, while UniFrance

showcased plenty of animation to

sequel to “The Shining”), “Annabelle

gave a masterclass in how a trailer can

give Disney a run for its family money,

Comes Home” was the Monday night

condense the plot of an entire film,

with “Abonimable”, “Trolls: World Tour”

screening and not least director Andy

thus avoiding the need to see a grim

and “Minions: The Rise Of Gru.” No

Muschietti previewed two scenes

French father-son football drama.

“Bond 25” footage (having introduced

from “It: Part 2” using Facetime.

the cast and locations, the presenters said, “now you know as much as us,”) but more thesps in catsuit pre-CGI singing “Cats” tunes. Universal also provided two of four films screened: the well-received “Yesterday” and the sweet, if foul-mouthed, “Good Boys”.

Exhibitors on the tradeshow floor reported good numbers, arguably thanks, in part, to a limited number of studio slate presentations

Trying to fill the gap left by Fox

With large, diverse studio slates

and Sony was rumoured to have been

aiming to be the biggest after Disney,

nixed for a preview by QT himself), it

it was once again Paramount’s turn to

was the first time that a slate was

convince attendees it had turned a

presented by the Event Cinema

corner and would churn out hits. It

Association (ECA). Vue’s Tim Richards

mainly came down to two films: Ang

shared early tales of event cinema

Lee’s HFR sci-fi action “Gemini Man”

challenges, and then Grainne Peat

It was with new-found confidence

and stunning aerial footage from “Top

kept the show on the road with more

post-”Aquaman” that Warner Bros

Gun: Maverick”. CEO Jim Gianopolous,

labels and trailers than even Disney’s

rolled out its slate of DC films, with

also in town to hand out an award

Master Slate could muster.

some behind-the-scenes shots and

to his colleagues at the closing

The big fear for next year isn’t that

interviews of “Wonder Woman 1984”

ceremony, came on stage to declare it

Sony won’t be coming back, but that



was a “time of growth and renaissance”

another studio might choose to stay

Fantabulous Emancipation of One





at Paramount. By next year, it can’t be

away too, because even more French

Harley Quinn)” (out in 2020) and an

‘next year’ any longer.

films and event cinema won’t paper

extended look at the new “Joker” film.

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STX bravely wants to continue

over such a large crack.

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IF APPLE OPERATED A CINEMA... Just what would a cinema designed by Apple look like? How would a multiplex by McDonald’s feel? These questions were tackled in a workshop by Prill Brewin and Patrick von Sychowski at the most recent UNIC Retail seminar.


T’S A PARLOUR GAME that people in the cinema business like to play: “What would a cinema look like if it was operated by ‘X’”, where X is anyone



from Apple to Zara. What underpins


this question is always the desire to

build loyalty through its Prime subscription, but has moved

understand what leading retailers are doing right and how

into physical retail with Whole Foods and the cashier-less

cinemas could learn from them. We selected six very

Amazon Go. It was even rumoured to be interesting in buying

different retail brands and studied what made them

the Landmark chain to go with its Amazon Studios film and

unique and a success. We then presented these findings to

TV production. Amazon Warehouse fulfils orders rapidly

several teams of exhibitors to decide what aspects could

using a combination of humans and robots, but it recently

help create a better cinema of the future. Here is a summary

increased pay to above $15/£10.50 per hour — above

of that research and the workshop findings. 6 4


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THE I-EVERYTHING MAKER has the highest spend-per-square-metre of any retailer in the world and is a by-word for pricey design excellence and quality. But how would its iCinema look? Apple stores generate 28% of Apple’s total $230bn annual sales. Apple Retail is not a channel to market but as “Apple’s largest product”, where “the hardware is the architecture of the store, the software is what happens inside the store.” “Today At Apple”, a program launched in May 2017, offers interactive classes at stores worldwide. “Our whole concept was: How does the store become more like a town square? …almost a community hub,” said Angela Ahrendts, head of retail at Apple until February this year. No traditional check-out, instead staff double as cashiers and order fulfillment. Store associates are hired for empathy, not sales skills THE BELGIAN ETHICAL fashion store launched in

and staff are instructed to “enrich people’s lives by telling [them] something they don’t know.” There is a philosophy, too: a “store” needs to be a storehouse of engaging experiences, ideas



with a dose of humanity. The customers’ first impression is important, but so is the feeling they have when they leave. So Apple trains on both the hellos and goodbyes to

The A-P-P-L-E customer service model was based on luxury hotelier Ritz-Carlton’s Steps of Service guidelines:

2015 and might not (yet) be a global name, but it is popular with Millennials. “All our brands have a story to tell, a ‘Juttu’” (‘story’ or ‘anecdote’ in Finnish). The stores are designed to do slow shopping in


with products shown by style, not brand. Juttu


through a magazine’. You can also wander over to

Approach customers with a personalised warm welcome; Probe politely to understand the customers’ needs;

the food corner, ‘Jummy’, for organic food.


Present a solution for the customer to take home today;


describes the experience of visiting as like ‘flipping

Juttu puts creative designers in the spotlight every season. They have the chance to experiment

Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns; End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

with their own pop-up space in the store. Juttu fans can devour letters and pixels in JUTTUgram, a genuine newspaper featuring news, styling tips, fun facts, op-eds, interviews with designers, and more.

ensure there are good

The #ikkoopbelgisch (I Buy Belgian) campaign


encourages consumers to discover local brands and



look forward to returning.

show some national pride;

minimum wage. At Amazon Go you scan your Amazon app upon entering the store, grab anything off the shelf, which cameras and sensors record. Walk out of the store and payment is automatic; Amazon’s 4-star Store in NY’s Soho district features a ‘random’ selection of goods, with 4-star or higher customer ranking. Exceptions are made for “new,” or “top-selling,” goods regardless of rating, giving a similar experience to Amazon’s website. It features lots of Amazon own-brand goods, with ‘Prime Price’ only available to Prime Members. Digital price-tags sync with online prices. Amazon [physical!] Bookstores in Seattle and Manhattan have a curated selection of books, based on online reviews. Wholefoods cross-sells Amazon devices (Alexa, etc.), with special deals for Prime members.

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NO NEED TO SELF-ASSEMBLE your own Löxury recliner, because these days a lot of the ‘Curator of People’s Lifestyles’ focus is on the eating experience and sustainability. Did you know that Ikea is one of the top 10 global food retailers? The concept is simple: ‘force’ customers to walk along a path past all goods/sections, the idea being small buys (affordability) and long stays. Play areas where parents can leave children help. Ikea’s Space10 lab in Copenhagen invites a range of people from the worlds of art, design, and technology onto different research projects that result in a range of prototypes, exhibitions, events and workshops. Ideas from the innovation lab include: tomorrow’s meatball, urban farming, recycling/upcycling,





Lidl and Aldi

THE GERMAN LOW COST food retailer has taken the UK and US by storm, but it is far more sophisticated than just “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap”.

harvesting furniture, air-improving windows. IKEA replaces a third of its product lines each

Lidl scores highly in customer satisfaction in the UK despite its low

year. ‘Designing beautiful but expensive products

prices, rivalling Waitrose (luxury) and Iceland (frozen food). The sensory

is easy, whereas designing beautiful products that

reality of Lidl’s entrance is that bakery, produce and flowers are all within

are inexpensive and functional is a huge challenge.’

10 feet of the shopper. At Lidl, there is no thinking about brands, BOGOs

Constantly cutting the costs of its products is key:

(buy-one-get-one[-free]), deals, price comps, coupons, sudden endcap

sales prices were reduced from 1999 to 2009 by

promotions or in-aisle shopper marketing. Instead Lidl shoppers love the

around 2% each year. Average spend is almost the

combination of low prices, high-quality items and even limited choices,

same in every country in which it is present and

saying they find it easier to shop there than at a typical store.

the best selling lines of products are the same

Lidl uses assortment, merchandising and design to look more like a conventional supermarket than a discounter. Yet on a market basket

everywhere (viz. Billy bookcase).

6 6


CEO Anders Dalvig says that: “customers must

comparison, Lidl comes up 23% less expensive on private label than even

be even more integrated in the sales process,

Walmart. Lidl’s premise is that once consumers realised the quality of



their fare and unbeatable prices, they would give up old brand loyalties.

perception of an improved service level.” Ikea

WIGIG (when it’s gone it’s gone) stock-keeping principles or ‘revolving’

leverages use of mobile technology to alleviate

familiar brands and goods ensures Lidl encourages browsing. It uses a

customer pain points rather than simply creating

combination of aisles (familiar to everyone), pallets (suggesting bargain

something “cool”.

prices ‘straight out of a warehouse’), and waist-high displays (like street-





In 2006, Ikea’s KPIs showed that the difference

market displays. Yet it only has 1/10th of the selection of comparable size

between the best and worst performing stores

regular food stores. Lidl keep things moving with intriguing product and

was more than 100% — so their goal is to try to

display changes supported by a weekly brochure highlighting upcoming

move all stores up to the level of the best 25%;

seasonal offers based on scarcity (‘get it now or it’s gone’). High rotation

Ikea invests in wind farms in Scotland (catering

on limited shelf space creates the potential to surprise shoppers on every

for 30% of UK stores’ electricity needs), it sources

trip. Lidl create a sense of urgency and newness and delight and discovery

certified wood from 48 countries, and it launched

that keeps shoppers in again and again and again.

Ikea Recovery in 2002 to re-use old furniture. By

Lidl and Aldi are multi-capable retailers who can convey value and

2020 IKEA will run 100% on renewable electricity.

relevance to multiple shopper groups. Lidl (and Aldi) overcame barriers to

It sold one million vegan hot dogs in two months

entry in new markets by establishing themselves rapidly in second-tier

(USD $0.75 each) — 15% of its meatballs are veggie.

sites, being ‘good enough’ at the start, and building from the basics.


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THESE DAYS IT IS an automated kiosk asking customers if they

captured via this platform for personalised marketing and

would like fries with that. The restaurant chain that is a byword for


fast food and quick service is reinventing the process and the place

In 2018 McDonalds launched its New Global Restaurant

whereby people come to eat their Big (Vegan) Mac — all from

concept that serves everything from its different franchises all over

sustainable packaging, of course

the world: in Austria, they serve warm curried noodles, in China, a

Under the terms of a McDonald’s franchise, McDonald’s owns

purple taro root pie, in Japan, a golden, panko-crusted Ebi shrimp

or leases the site and the restaurant building. The franchisee buys

burger: thus leveraging its global food footprint to create an

the fittings, the equipment and the right to operate the franchise

Instagrammable experience.

for 20 years. The franchisees are at the heart of the business, too.

McCafe’s major focus is on specialty coffee that introduces a

Much of McDonald’s innovations came from individual franchises

quality drink at a low price point (with a full-time barista pulling

responding to customer demands: the Big Mac, Egg McMuffin,

espresso shots to order). Central to the concept is de-mystification

Filet-o-Fish, Hot Apple Pie, McFlurry, Drive-thru’s and Playlands.

of the coffee hype of some of the larger coffee chains with viral

McDonald’s started 2018 by launching its $1, $2, and $3 menu

advert. McDonalds is also working with Starbucks to re-think the

aimed toward its value-conscious customers. Catering to as many

disposable paper cup. By 2025, all packaging on customer

people as possible is critical: in December 2017 the company

products will come from “renewable or recycled sources,” or

launched its vegan burger in Sweden and Finland after successful

sources certified by environmental organisations. McDonalds will

trials, to ensure that all its customers have a choice.

make recycling an option at all locations globally by 2025.

McDonald’s is currently revamping its stores to create

Just like cinemas, McDonalds has a challenge to get Millennials

“Experience Of The Future” restaurants, which will have self-serve

and Gen X:ers to come to its restaurants. Visits to McDonald’s by

kiosks and table service. McDonald’s mobile ordering and payment

people between 19 and 21 years old have fallen by 13% in recent

system continues to expand, and the company uses the data

years. This is driving the need to offer healthy, ethical food options.

So what can cinemas take from all of these findings? Well, there’s a lot to learn, but the reality is that the ‘Cinema of the Future’ can learn from multiple elements. It could be a cashier-less experience [as per Amazon Go], but with staff thanking you as you leave [à la Apple], with a popular vegan hot dog offering [think Ikea] from a local pop-up vendor [just like Juttu], but only on a short-term basis [like it is in Lidl] as something different will come along next month — although there’s always coffee to go [there’s always McDonalds…].

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Do cinemas offer sufficient variety throughout the day? Arguably not, says CT’s Alastair Balmain, who explores some of the ways in which modern cinemas do more to get a wider range of customers in to experience a variety of entertainment that stretches way beyond standard on-screen fare.


T’S SAID THAT IF you can remember

in a venue that is open at all conceivable hours of the day.

disco-dancing to the sequin-studded

The Grand is a listed site in a densely populated residential

retro tribute act Dr Glitz and his

area of London, so there are limits to what the owners can

Fabulous Flirtations on any given

get away with in the scope of the licensing laws — please

Saturday night in the late 1990s or

leave quietly to avoid disturbing the neighbours — but

early 2000s, then you were probably

there’s frequently a packed crowd day and night — as this

never really in London’s Clapham Grand — the self-styled

month’s Rugby World Cup is sure to demonstrate.

“palace of modern variety”. Odd, then, that I have strong

The Grand has a schedule of live screenings for the key

and enduring memories of the sun just peeping up when

matches, with kick-off times at anything from 3.45am on a

emerging bleary-eyed from the depths of a theatre that has

Saturday night (perfect for Kiwis and Italians in the late-

seen more business-oriented wardrobe changes than a

night club crowd) through to 9.15am on a Sunday morning

Beyoncé concert…

(ideal for Tongans and England fans looking for a collective

A true temple to entertaiment, the Clapham Grand is a

rugby experience before church). These big screen events

Grade-II listed venue that’s played host to everyone from

are set to keep the venue filled from late September to

Jerry Springer to Jamiroquai via Laurel & Hardy and Charlie

November on Sunday mornings at a time when respectable

Chaplin. Established in the early 1900s as the New Grand

people — cinema staff included — are more normally found

Theatre, over the course of the past century it’s seen service,

in their pyjamas.

among other things, as a bingo hall, a nightclub, a comedy club and a concert venue. In recent years, it’s retained its

From lunch to last orders?

enduring music and variety flavour, offering an eclectic mix

The popularity of a wide-ranging programme serves as a

of regular DJ nights, alcohol-tinged “Bongo’s bingo”, drag

reminder to cinema owners and managers that life exists

act conventions, comedy festivals and boxing bouts, but,

outside of the traditional opening times, particularly if your

significantly for these pages, it has

programme explores cinematic milestones and sporting

reverted to one of the more lasting of

events that, due to their length or international timezones,

its former incarnations — a cinema. Formerly a full-time movie palace — as the Essoldo from the early 1930s to the 1960s — the Clapham Grand has gone full circle, now squeezing into its packed programme regular cinema nights. Characteristically raucous and somewhat camp, this summer the

“Big screen events will keep the venue full at a time when respectable people are more normally in their pyjamas”

inevitably fall outside of standard working hours. Cinema has a long-held tradition of screening into the night (see the “Marathon mania” panel below), but if the cinema managers’ objective is to increase occupancy at quieter times outside of the obvious early afternoon to 10.30/11pm window — what could be quieter than 3am on a Sunday? — it’s clear that you need to seek out alternative audiences and alternative content.

crowds rewrote the stars singing along to “The Greatest

In most cinemas, the concept of kids’ programming

Showman”, booed the baddies in “Shrek” and rediscovered

(and silver screen sessions) are well-established, with

their inner Disney princesses at screenings of “The Little

screenings starting as early as 9am and reduced ticket

Mermaid” — all followed by a suitably themed club night.

prices aiming to lure in stressed parents and frugal

What’s this got to do with regular cinema? Put simply, it

pensioners. As the father of children with an enthusiasm

demonstrates the scope for a genuinely varied programme

for movie-going, these sessions are, in my experience, often

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“Grenade!” E-sports hits the target Major sporting events, in particular, are a natural for

If anyone doubts the production values and budgets lavished on today’s

cinemas as they deliver identifiable, readily targeted

gaming titles, then consider HD staples such as Forza Horizon, Call of Duty

audiences. In the past, Formula 1, Wimbledon and other

or Assassin’s Creed on the big screen. The concept of e-sports in the cinema

major sporting events have all found their way onto the big

is an increasingly familiar one — thanks to the technology behind live event

screen — with mixed success. Notably in the UK in 2012,

delivery, major gaming competitions such as the League of Legends World

Cineworld ran a series of Olympic screenings across a huge

Championships have successfully been broadcast to multiple audiences

range of sports — the live event server LANsat delivered the

internationally, with big-name sponsors like Coke promoting viewing

BBC’s red button feed into sites with the support team

parties in metropolitan venues. Start times are often early in the morning

changing the programme as events switched to offer a true

(or past midnight, if you prefer) as the host nation for these events is often

variety throughout the day. More currently, Novo Cinemas

typically the US or Korea, and running times can stretch well beyond

in the UAE served up a series of special screenings for the

standard film running times. That’s incidental to hardcore fans.

World Cup Cricket this summer. Why did it work well? A strong multi-national ex-pat population clamouring for a

The sector is in a high growth phase — two years ago IHS forecasted that

communal get-together, coupled with a relatively benign

6.6bn hours of e-sports video would be viewed per annum by 2018, up

time-zone difference between the UK and the Middle East.

from 2.4bn hours in 2013. In 2015, Vue created the UK’s first physical arena for online games enthusiasts; converting part of one of its key London

Democratisation or diversification?

venues into an e-sports arena, seating 600 across three stages. But while

In recent years, enterprises such as GoGoCinema and

watching others play is a draw for some, for others actually taking part

OurScreen have sprung up promising to “democratise” the

with your character up on the big screen is compelling.

cinema, liberating the schedule to deliver the content that specific audiences want to watch, when they want to

Last October, the Dell Gaming Esport Cinema opened in Bangkok — billed

watch it. Similarly, event cinema has delivered new

as the world’s first dedicated e-sports mixed-use theatre, designed to fit

demographic groups, many of whom are pleasantly

traditional screenings alongside e-sports. With a 4K-capable 14.6x6.1m

surprised by the nature of the modern cinema venue. My

screen, Dolby 7.1 and stadium seating, it can seat 60 contestants alongside

own parents are regular visitors to their local cinema now

200 spectators. The venue can be hired exclusively for teams of gamers

— 10 years ago they wouldn’t have given a trip to the cinema

with an all-day pass for 200,000 Baht (£5,000) (10am-10pm) or a half-day

a moment’s consideration. Having been lured in by live

pass for 100,000 Baht. While it may sound like the preserve of larger chains,

theatre, ballet and opera — often at times that are

“bring your own console” offerings are a staple for smaller chains like Savoy

convenient for the recently retired — the experience and

Cinemas and independents who offer dedicated screen hire at affordable

quality of the venue impressed them so much that they

rates. Bring your own kit and they can hook it up to their state-of-the-art

now whizz back to catch appropriate films like “Mamma

projection and sound systems turning SuperMario into a cinematic event

Mia 2” and “The Favourite”. And that’s the point. Cinema is a

in its own right.

place of variety and that variety can be used to sustain and grow attendance. Diversification not just of the programme, but of the types of use the venue and its technology are put to can fill seats at awkward times of the day (or night).

faintly disappointing, programming unremarkable content in exchange for a reduced ticket price. It’s a compromise

Enter the Rec Room…

that does cinema few favours, often with low attendance

Taking the idea of diversification of the cinema to the

and little atmosphere. Arguably some venues would do

extreme, in the past three years in Canada, the Cineplex

better to focus their efforts elsewhere — children aren’t the

chain has been launching its “Rec Room” ventures. These

only ones that will bounce out of bed for the big screen.

bring the idea of the variety hall right back to that

One chain to grasp this is Vue. You can still catch its Mini

exemplified by the Clapham Grand. These new venues

Mornings screenings at 10am for £2.49, but it’s ground-

blend live entertainment, sports and gaming experiences

breaking “This is not a cinema” campaign shows the

under one roof. Each location devotes approximately half of

diversity that cinemagoers can expect on its screens —

its square footage to dining and live shows and the other

whether that’s event cinema, e-gaming, or sports fixtures.

half to amusement games and attractions, including VR

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themed experiences such as “Star Wars: Secret of the Empire” (Your mission: recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Disguised as stormtroopers, you will be transported with your friends and family to the molten planet of Mustafar. Grab your blaster…). Most Rec Room locations feature large outdoor patios with skyline views and each ranges in size from 40,00060,000 square foot. They include large format projection, which is primarily aimed at sporting fixtures, e-gaming and the screening of cult classics rather than new releases. As important are the live shows, bars and restaurants, virtual reality and gaming arcades that fill the space, several of which have been retrofitted from multiplex locations.

In October last year, the Dell Gaming Esport Cinema opened in Bangkok — billed as the world’s first dedicated e-sports mixed-use theatre


experiences where you can immerse yourself in cinema-

Cineplex’s Rec Room locations feature mixed use spaces, including big screen projection and each ranges in size from 40,00060,000 square foot.

2015 Vue created the UK’s first physical arena for online games enthusiasts in 2015

Rec Room ventures devote around half of their area to a mix of dining and live entertainment offers

In 2012, Cineworld ran a series of Olympics screenings across a wide range of sports

But is it cinema? Not in the traditional sense of Screens 1, 2, 3, 4… So does it offer attractive variety and scope for a diverse range of customers? Certainly. Does it provide a blueprint for cinemas elsewhere? Perhaps — but it certainly offers an alternative model that illustrates the demand for a range of modern, socially-focused options to suit different audiences at all times of the day and night.


IHS forecasted that 6.6bn hours of e-sports video would be viewed per annum by last year, up from 2.4bn hours in 2013.

Marathon mania The concept of 24-hour cinema is nothing new to schedulers, as

saga. The viewer that could stomach the most would take the

many will attest following midnight screenings of anticipated

crown. Take a bow Jim Braden — he breezed through the back

events like the release of “Avengers: End Game” in April. Some

catalogue, followed by nine repeat screenings of the first of the

sites embrace it more evidently than others, though, finding

current trilogy. His prize? A seven-year movie pass. “By the eighth

audiences happy to take the big screen experience to the max.

and ninth viewing, I zoned out, and the movie just washed over me” he later told “The Hollywood Reporter”. No kidding.

Mention “cinematic marathon” and you think of the classics. “Star Wars” and “Back to The Future” are episodic works that

In the UK, arguably the front-runner, when it comes to movie

spring to mind. Inevitably an all-nighter might attract a niche

marathons, is London’s Prince Charles Cinema, which describes

(some might say nerdy) audience — but that’s the point. A small,

its carefully curated cinematic tours de force for the hardened

hardy group of fans seeking a big screen experience is often

cineaste as “butt numbing”. And why not? Their purpose is to

sufficient to fill an auditorium, justifying the operators’ time.

celebrate film culture and to show on-screen the rich threads that can be found within a specific genre or series of films. So, if

Few but the most dedicated would have signed up for the retina-

you’re up for it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t catch all 720

burning torture of Alamo Drafthouse’s “The Marathon Awakens

minutes of the PCC’s Disney Pyjama Party (pyjamas non-

Sweepstakes” in Austin, Texas, in December 2015. A competition

essential, but advised — as is a toothbrush). Including seven

to celebrate the launch of “The Force Awakens”, the rules were

classics from “Pocahontas” to “Lilo & Stitch”, start time is a very

stringent: watch all six preceding “Star Wars” films back-to-back,

reasonable-sounding 9pm — until you realise the finish time is

followed by repeated screenings of the newest episode in the

9am. Start training now.

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Backing European film The EU’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme supports innovation to deliver greater visibility of European films. Sara Gayarre highlights some of the nascent enterprises and technologies that the programme is fostering within the cinema arena.


remain the same in the new programme 2021-

content industry is undergoing one of its most

2027, in which investment and support to new

significant transformations, which brings a new

technologies will be a crucial part.

era of opportunities for European storytellers and audiovisual industry entrepreneurs. Given

Promotion not production

this new reality, the success of the European

European films have traditionally had less

audiovisual industry will depend on three core

visibility than their US competitors. This is partly

pillars: fostering new business models, take-up

because, in Europe, support has been focused

of disruptive technologies, and development of

on production rather than promotion. Thus,

new forms of diverse storytelling and promotion.

MEDIA is currently working to shift attention on

Progress in these areas will benefit the whole of

to promotion to reach wider audiences in

the value chain, from production to distribution

Europe and beyond. In this context, Creative

and promotion, as well as access to finance.

Europe MEDIA decided to use its stand at

Creative Europe MEDIA, the EU’s programme

CineEurope 2019 to feature several cutting-edge

to support the European audiovisual industry, is

digital businesses looking to provide goods and

well aware of the challenges this new era brings

services to cinemas and their suppliers.

and is helping the sector to deal with some

CineEurope is the perfect location for such

of the technological issues faced by the film

activity: 3,500 industry representatives from

industry. Among other actions, it does this

distribution and exhibition right through to

through funding assistance for the development

technology and concessions suppliers attended

of innovative solutions and by encouraging

to discover new methods of driving attendance.

collaboration with an emphasis on technology.

This brought a great opportunity to the thirteen

The programme helps SMEs and start-ups to

SMEs and start-ups that were selected by MEDIA

be more experimental when developing new

to showcase their projects, network with peers

technologies by allowing them to create

and find investors and partners to take their

disruptive innovation rapidly. This approach will

ideas further. Here’s a taste of their work…

Promoting European Films for them to ‘leap-frog’ ahead of other international content Fassoo, a Berlin-based company, is a successful beneficiary of

indexed, saving time, money and improving the quality of the

Creative Europe MEDIA. Their initial project — handily entitled the

metadata produced. In doing so, it was also hoped that this would

Multi-Language / Multi-Modal Automated Film Tagging Service

lead to the creation of an automated multi-language video tagging

Project — was supported with €60,000 for the development of a

platform and an online information repository for European film

proof-of-concept of an AI, machine-learning-powered algorithm, a

productions, which would help to stimulate discovery, marketing,

platform and the API needed to enable filmmakers, production

promotion and distribution of such content.

companies, VOD platforms and broadcasters to upload film files to an automated platform. The content metadata could then be automatically tagged and

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Due to the limited resources of many independent filmmakers and production companies, Fassoo envisaged delivering not only critical monetary and time savings, but also offering a standardised

01/08/2019 14:35

approach to increasing the visibility of films. Enhanced film data

technology company (FilmDoo) working with a highly specialised

and metatags can be used to improve both offline and online

leading non-film company (PAMA Technologies) to innovate jointly

curation and programming. It was envisaged that sales agents,

and to create technology that will benefit the film and wider media

distributors as well as VOD platform providers would be able to

industry. These solutions play a vital role in ensuring that European

access the Fassoo software to discover relevant film-specific

films are not left behind in a rapidly evolving film distribution

information critical to the promotion and marketing of European

marketplace and potentially provide an opportunity for European

films outside of their natural physical and language borders, both

films to ‘leap-frog’ ahead of other international content if they are

within the European Union as well as abroad.

developed properly.

The creation of Fassoo is a good example of an experienced film

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More info:

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Enriching content online in a legal but effortless way Already available and live in some of the biggest news groups in Europe, and with more than 200 million hits in 2018, isnotTV is an AI algorithm that connects newspapers with the cinema industry. The algorithm scans millions of online articles, and injects ‘content snippets’ when a specific movie is mentioned, without any extra effort or action for the journalist or blogger. This means that, by way of example, if a journalist talks about Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, isnotTV adds the description of the film as well as all the relevant details together with the legal options to watch it on TV, streaming or in cinemas. The goal of this European company is to make legal content consumption easily available for big, small, new and classic movies alike. This becomes increasingly relevant for nonmainstream productions and ‘on demand cinema’ where users gather to watch niche movies, filling theatres all around the world. Overall, a clear winwin for all, which underpins legal conceptions across Europe for small and big productions alike. More info:

At CineEurope, the Creative Europe MEDIA stand gave fledgling tech companies the chance to engage with a range of cinema industry professionals

CINN App is just one of 13 SME companies that has benefitted from EU funding in the cinema technology arena

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Going mobile for greater audience development CINN App is an audience development tool to better

create tailor-made movie marketing campaigns. CINN

capture today’s consumers. Currently only available in

App is a unique two-sided marketplace for the movie

Austria (but scalable to new countries), CINN App can

industry with common goals — increase cinema

be downloaded free and users can see all films available

admissions and collect first-hand smart-movie data

in their city and create so-called “cinema events”. As

from the user. The ultimate goal is to track a user’s

soon as someone creates a cinema-event with the CINN

journey from the moment a trailer was consumed to

App, users from the same area get a push notification


and can join the event, browse participants’ profiles

mechanics to increase ROI. CINN App has been

and enjoy the movie together on the big screen.

downloaded more than 2600+ times in Austria (only





Besides cinema-goers, it has benefits for exhibitors,

Android). From April 24, 2018 to June 18, 2019 CINN App

who can partner with CINN App to make cinema events

users have created 679 cinema events, using the App.

at their location more attractive and draw users to their

The startup is looking for investors to launch in other

sites; and for distributors, who can use smart-data to

countries. More Info:

01/08/2019 14:35

Reminding cinema goers not to miss their favourite films Staying in the domain of mobile applications, TrailerApp aims to increase numbers of film viewers demonstrably. Trailers are the key source of data for moviegoers but the potential to employ them is

Savoy Systems Cinema Box Office Software Specialists for Independents

slight and rates of recall of those seen in the cinema remains low. TrailerApp aims to increase a trailers’ advertising impact by equipping cinemas with beacon technology. On leaving a venue, cinemagoers receive an overview of trailers shown before their feature. These can be viewed, evaluated and placed on a list. When the film is launched, the user receives a push message with a link to the local cinema’s online ticket office. Individualised

100+ Independent venues in the UK are using our software, Oscar We’re based in the UK, and so is our 24/7 telephone support We’ve been supporting independent cinemas for over 10 years Mobile-responsive online booking ensures you don’t miss out on customers

appeal, along with convenience and




TrailerApp’s unique selling points, offering a way to tie-in customers. Trailerdata collects user data and creates a profile of individual preferences,



Choose between Cloud-based or Server on-site, with access from anywhere 20 million tickets sold, and counting


analysed and made available as market research data. Trailerdata contributes to market transparency and offers distributors and cinema owners efficient film evaluation and commercialisation. In-app advertising offers the means to inform cinemagoers about relevant films. More info:

Conclusion These are just some of the many examples of new business and tools available in the market. At MEDIA, we will continue our dialogue with stakeholders in order to understand the industry and its challenges and to adapt our support to their needs. Meanwhile, we will also continue working to achieve our goals of strengthening a competitive audiovisual industry and contributing to promote European diversity. For more info:

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Call us on +44 (0)115 714 1486 01/08/2019 14:36


The Northampton Filmhouse, born from a successful redevelopment of two established arts venues

Medialease: Helping you pay the price of success CT often focuses on innovation, but that comes at a price. We meet Paul Robson, MD of Medialease, a finance specialist helping cinemas fund technological ambitions.



prospect of further industry-wide financial support now that

movie-going experience: is the goal of

the Virtual Print Fee has run its course. So alternative funding

those on the technical side of cinema.

options are needed — and Paul’s model is based on arranging

Indeed, Cinema Technology magazine

finance from a panel of approved funders.

extols the virtues of new systems and

“We’ve provided finance for many projector upgrades

products that hit the market — but less

and digital cinema projects across the UK,” Paul explained.

often do we discuss how cinemas can expect to pay for it.

“Whether that’s to a chain, an independent or simply for a

Medialease is an asset finance company offering a range

screening room, our technical knowledge and experience in

of options for those looking to provide audiences with the

the sector helps us to provide appropriate finance deals that

benefit of the latest technologies. These include medium

fit the demands of the industry.”

and long-term rental, on and off-balance sheet leasing and

Many cinemas used the VPF to upgrade to digital but no

hire purchase. It has financed technology in the broadcast,

projector lasts forever. A lot of the projectors were installed

post-production and live events sectors for nearly 20 years

using the scheme a decade ago will soon need upgrading —

and in recent years has also specialised in finance for cinemas.

and Medialease can provide affordable solutions to allow

As well as providing cinemas with projectors, media servers

cinemas to change their projectors before they reach the

and other kit, the company works with broadcasters, post-

end of their shelf life. Monthly payments provide certainty

production houses and events companies, supplying editing,

and transparency in terms of cost. Suppliers often have

grading and audio equipment, and 4K cameras and location

special leasing offers only available through certain channels

playout equipment for major sports broadcasters.

and offered through finance providers such as Medialease.

Founder and MD of Medialease, Paul Robson started in

Significantly, for cinema operators at whatever scale, is the

his first finance job in 1994, working for a captive manufacturer,

realisation that access to technology is not necessarily

which led to him working as a broker in the VFG Video Film

restricted by cost but can be enabled by finance. The

and Grip rental house. Paul then set up Medialease in 2003,

practical case studies outlined on the page opposite show

recognising the demands placed on cinema operators as

examples of different venues achieving their goals with

they face an array of new technology but with seemingly little

affordable and realistic financial support

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Artrix, Bromsgrove

Northampton Filmhouse

Artrix is an arts venue in Bromsgrove, UK. It hosts theatre and

Royal & Derngate is a long-established venue for the arts based in

dance performances, live music, live comedy and cinema

Northampton, UK. Formed from the merger of two venues, the

screenings. A one-screen cinema forms part of the complex.

Royal Theatre opened in 1884 and the Derngate Theatre opened

When the time came to upgrade its projection equipment to

in 1983. A £15m redevelopment project, completed in 2006,

4K picture quality, Artrix approached CinemaNext, one of the

incorporated the Royal and Derngate theatres and provided

larger technology installers in Europe. The projector chosen

additional studio spaces and rehearsal

was Sony’s SRX-R510P, which is geared towards independent cinemas. It provides 4K picture quality, is easy to maintain and has great durability. Once Artrix had chosen its projector, they approached Medialease to agree the finance to fund it. The company has worked with many cinemas to finance new equipment, so was quick to approach specialist lenders and agree a deal. The final arrangement gives Artrix certainty about its set

“On a business level I’m a firm believ er the importance of bringing local cinemas into the digital domain”

monthly payments and made upgrading their projection equipment achievable.

space. Then, in 2013, the Northampton Filmhouse was opened as a onescreen digital cinema at the venue. The Filmhouse proved to be so successful that it was decided a second screen was required to maintain and increase the diversity of the arts-based and current box office programming

to accommodate greater visitor numbers. In April 2017, the second screen at Northampton Filmhouse

The Sony projector was installed in March this year. Since

was opened in a similar ‘cinema in a box’ style, sitting alongside

then, audiences have enjoyed watching the latest releases

the original cinema. When equipping the second cinema with

and live screenings with clearer, higher-definition picture

projection equipment, the Filmhouse approached Medialease

quality. Improvements have also allowed for an increase in

for finance, who approved funding of two new Christie projectors

cinema programming to include regular Saturday matinee

and two new media servers. As a result, the latest kit ensures that

family films, a Baz Luhrmann mini-season and the latest new

the viewing experience at the Filmhouse is second to none and

releases and screenings of live theatre and dance events.

the modern kit delivers reliability.

The Palace Cinema, Malton, North Yorkshire Jeremy Powell, the owner of The Palace Cinema in Malton, North

visit from the local licencing police officer, who turned out to be a

Yorkshire, first fell in love with cinema while helping a school

great supporter of local businesses. He took one look around and

friend run the Winscale Film Club. Around the same time, he saw

asked: “Do you think you could fit a bar in here?” The idea stacked

‘The Greatest Show On Earth’. The combination of those two

up and, soon after, Powell’s fortunes took an upward turn.

things fed his dream of owning his own ‘picture house’ — an ambition he would one day achieve.

A free NEC 800 (formerly the IS8) digital projector arrived via the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network initiative, shortly

After a near miss in his late 20s while pursuing an engineering

followed by a conversion to twin screens. A second NEC projector

career in TV and radio, Jeremy spotted The Palace Cinema in 2002

— plus an upgrade from 35mm to digital — funded with asset

whilst working on an outside broadcast. It had all the basic

finance from Medialease, improved matters further. “Seeking out

requirements: a screen, a projector and some seats. But it was

asset finance was done out of necessity,” admits Powell, who was

looking careworn. Still, Powell took a deep breath and put his

introduced to Medialease by Arts Alliance Media.

money where his dream was. “I thought I could mend it,” he says. “I also thought I understood business, but now I realise I didn’t.”

As Paul Robson explains. “As soon as we took the call from Jeremy, I wanted to help. On a business level, I’m a firm believer in

His idyllic vision of second runs and classic oldies was not

the importance of bringing local cinemas into the digital domain,

working. He admits to being naive about film booking and

since it enables what is a micro-business to offer other creative

acknowledges it took a while before he realised that running a

services to local consumers and to industry. I was also keen on a

successful independent cinema is about booking films that pay,

personal level as I am passionate about old school cinemas

not the ones that you — the owner — think the public should want

surviving — not least in Malton, which is a lovely market town I’ve

to see. But those early struggles were soon forgotten, thanks to a

known all my life as my father was born and bred there.”

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Technology that drives accessibility Bringing the big screen experience to a wider audience was the motivation behind the UK Cinema Association’s Technology Challenge Fund. Chief executive Phil Clapp gives an update on its progress.



ever-present risk of film theft, cinemas have spent the past

hard over a number of years to make

decade and more telling customers to put their mobiles

the big screen experience as accessible

away, and encouraging cinema staff to be on the look-out for

as possible for disabled customers,

those using phones in the cinema. Second, everyone is aware

making continuous improvements to its

of the annoyance caused to other audience members when

physical infrastructure as well as adjustments for those with

someone uses their phone to text, browse (or sometimes

sensory impairments and, more recently, those on the autism

to take a call!) during a screening. And thirdly, anything

spectrum or with degenerative conditions like dementia. The

which adds further to the complex workflows observed by

general approach in the UK has been one driven not solely by

distribution colleagues is unlikely to be warmly welcomed.

the relevant legislation, but also by a desire to share and build on a growing body of best practice across the industry. While





The UK Cinema Association is currently working through these security and operational implications with its members


and distribution colleagues, and is hopeful that an agreed

significant progress across the sector, accessibility still remains

way forward can be brokered. But these things can take time.

an area where ever-increasing audience expectations present

And it was time which prompted the association last

an ongoing challenge. But it is also one area where the latest technologies can offer innovative — and often elegant —

October to launch its Technology Challenge Fund.

solutions for cinema operators. To take one example, in recent

Stirring the crucible of innovation

years audio description (AD) for blind and visually-impaired

Having waited a considerable while for the market to offer an

audiences has been delivered through the provision by each

acceptable solution for the delivery of ‘closed captions’ for

cinema of specially adapted headphones and receivers.

deaf and hearing-impaired audience members — subtitles

While this has undoubtedly made the cinema a more

visible only to those who need them — the association

accessible experience for many, several years on and much of

decided to step in and stimulate innovation in this area. Doing

the kit is approaching the point of replacement, this at a time

so acknowledged the business opportunity that this audience

when many disabled customers are more keen than ever to

represents — currently one in six of the UK public identifies as

take control of the solutions offered to address their needs.

having some form of hearing difficulty, a number which it is

In response, a number of app-based solutions have been

estimated will rise to one in five by 2025. But it also recognised

developed, where the customer typically pre-downloads the

that approaches to date — based as they are on the provision

AD track onto their own mobile device, ready to ‘sync’ with

of ‘open captions’, visible to all audience members — are

the film soundtrack on arrival. Although arguably a more

perhaps unlikely ever to deliver the number and range of

elegant way of delivering this solution, these approaches do

subtitled screenings necessary to meet demand. For the

present a number of issues. First and foremost, mindful of the

plain truth — hard though it may be — is that the general

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audience does not ordinarily like films projected with open captions, with audiences for such screenings being typically a fraction of those for the same film in the same auditorium at the same time, albeit without subtitles.

A dilemma to resolve So most cinema operators face the dilemma of wanting to do more, but knowing that the greater provision of subtitled screenings, particularly at busy times, will result in them taking a box office ‘hit’. The desire to find a closed caption solution which would make all screenings potentially accessible to




audiences without asking those audiences to choose between subtitled and non-subtitled

current operational practices, or came at significant cost (in

screenings is not a new one. Over a number of years, several

terms of changes to the projection room or user equipment)

solutions have emerged on the market, mostly relying either

was in general subjected to particular scrutiny. The latter

on a secondary screen or more sophisticated subtitling

group was clear about what it wanted to see from any

glasses devices. But to date, issues of user experience,

solution, specifically something which was inclusive, not

operational ease and cost have meant that none has gained

singling out audience members as a result of disability and

widespread traction.

applicable across the widest possible range of film releases.

Conscious of increasing pressure on its members to

Support for the fund was divided into specific tranches.

deliver more in terms of subtitling (and of the potential

As we enter phase two of that process, a significant amount

economic impacts of doing so under the current approach),

has been allocated to each of three short-listed solutions, the

the UKCA sought through the fund to open the conversation

aim being (where relevant) to develop a prototype ready for

up to a wider array of potential partners than had been the

further ‘field testing’.

case before, with an offer of development funding to the best

Two of those solutions – from the German company Great

or most promising solutions. In the end, almost 20 proposals

& Starks and from the National Theatre, rely on a subtitling

were received, some from existing players in the ‘cinema

glasses solution (albeit in slightly different ways). The latter is

space’ but many more from individuals or organisations new

already active in the theatre sector. The remaining solution,

to these issues. Accordingly, the solutions proposed varied

from the UK company Screen Language working with the

widely in terms of approach and feasibility.

German Fraunhofer Institute, while a little further away from

In identifying the most promising ‘runners and riders’, the

development, offers an interesting take on the secondary

association was able to call on input not just from an expert

screen approach, albeit without it is anticipated any

panel of colleagues from across the cinema industry, but also

significant need for investment by the cinema operator.

a user group, convened by Action on Hearing Loss — in

We look forward to providing further updates on the

partnership with whom the association had launched the

Technology Challenge Fund and on developing our approach

fund — and consisting of a number of deaf and hearing-

on delivery of audio-description over the coming months.

impaired cinema-goers (amongst whom were some of the most outspoken critics of the industry’s approach to date). The expert panel looked at the different proposals from a viewpoint of operational and economic feasibility — anything which required significant adjustments to be made to

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Event Cinema: A big screen staple After her first year in the role, the ECA’s MD Grainne Peat reflects on the buoyancy of the sector.



Box Office admissions from more than 10 different territories

broke records for event cinema, taking

(including the US, Australia, Russia and France). It includes a

over £6m at the box office. CinemaLive’s

range of insight from content providers, vendors and cinemas.

“Take That – Greatest Hits Live”, returned

(For a copy, email

to the big screen, taking over £2m. It is

currently the highest grossing event cinema of 2019 and the

Amsterdam for the annual conference

seventh biggest title ever. While overall box office across the

Collatiing and sharing data will be at the heart of our annual

industry saw a dip in the early part of the year, we’re now

conference that takes place at the EYE Film Museum in

seeing growth in all areas, especially event cinema. National

Amsterdam on Thursday 10 October. We envision a wide

Theatre is having a strong year with “All About Eve” and “All My

discussion around the need for a universal (and agreed)

Sons” (the third and fourth highest grossing titles of 2019) and

categorisation of event cinema to help get better transparency

there is still more to come.

of performance. There is no doubt that the sector has evolved

Our sector made its stage debut at CineEurope, delivering

and is mainly defined by content and/or by methodology of

a landmark presentation to a full house. The hour-long show

release — even within these categorisations, it is not always

was rich in content, with exclusive announcements and

clear what is considered to be ‘event cinema content’. This is a

personal messages from well-known stars. With a keynote

much-needed discussion that the ECA is best-placed to steer.

from the CEO of Vue Entertainment, Tim Richards, the show

In partnership with UNIC and EDCF, the ECA has launched

saw content providers take to the stage to deliver an enticing

a survey into event cinema. It’s purpose is to gain a better

range of titles for European cinemas. With presentations from

understanding on issues relating to technical delivery and

Dutch, French, Italian, American, Australian and British

marketing of our content. The survey will be shared through

entities, it showcased the diversity of event cinema.

the networks of the ECA, UNIC and EDCF, with a link available

Also in June, in partnership with Comscore, the ECA

on the ECA’s website. This will help develop understanding

launched its first Annual Report: 2018 was a successful year,

about how event cinema performs — frequency, ticket prices,

particularly in the UK, and with a refreshed globally focused

delivery methods and issues — and to understand how the

association, it is an exciting time to provide a united voice in a

ECA can support members with marketing and delivery.

fast-changing industry. Our annual report demonstrates the

The conference will present a wide range of topics for our

importance of collating and sharing data and trends. While

community, and a fantastic opportunity to network with

there is a lot that can be refined for future editions, it was a

members and colleagues across Europe. For details, visit

valuable and welcome fact-finding mission to pull together

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Work smarter, not harder Operating efficiently isn’t just about cutting costs, as Alessandra Skarlatos, marketing manager at Arts Alliance Media explains.


T CAN BE DIFFICULT to justify investing

you professional services that let you focus on your customer


experience instead of the technical details for your growing





flexibility, or corporate culture — but financial institutions are beginning to

range of software and hardware solutions?

assign such “intangible assets” real cash

The pursuit of efficiency in the workplace

value when estimating what a business is “worth”. It isn’t as

As a workplace, a cinema is challenging, with deadlines,

easy to prove as the ROI on your latest marketing campaign

last-minute changes, and complex technology. It’s more

— but your company values, employees, and ability to weather

important than ever that exhibitors ask themselves whether

changing market conditions have a direct impact on your

they are keeping pace with changing consumer behaviour by


choosing to work smarter, or work harder. One of these

Exhibitors, like any business, should evaluate their goals

options is sustainable, the other is only a temporary solution.

and values regularly and assess whether they reflect day-to-

Contrast these two film bookers: one spent all day chasing

day operations, and their longer term strategy. Interrogating

every site in the chain after a feature was updated mid-

priorities you communicate to employees can reveal a gap

release. The other spent a few minutes using their Circuit

between what you’re doing now and where you’d like to be.

Management System (CMS) to update the feature and

This practice should extend to analysing your relationship

publish the playlist centrally. Who worked harder?

with, and attitudes towards, the technology and services you

Operational efficiency is about more than cutting costs. It

invest in. For instance: does your business rely on employees

is about making sure your company can react to situations

with a ‘can do’ working attitude? Think about how your

quickly, unhampered by lumbering processes accumulated

technology partners empower them; do they offer training

over years. Translated into objectives for your technology,

that encourages your staff to become more self-sufficient?

exhibitors seeking efficiency should pursue software solutions

Does head office incentivise site managers with bonuses

that reinforce a culture of flexibility, deft decision-making,

based on concessions revenue? Consider what their working

and simplified process. In practice, you could engage in

day looks like; how long do they spend on back office tasks

anything from centralising your playlist-building using a CMS,

that could be automated? Does your software help prioritise

to linking your loyalty scheme data to your email marketing

revenue generating by removing repetitive admin tasks? How

campaigns. Your staff can only be in so many places at once,

do technology partners help you protect your competitive

and if weighed down by too many tasks, they won’t be able to

advantage; whether as an art house cinema, a cutting-edge

give any of them the attention they need. In the long term,

innovator, or all-in-one entertainment centre? Can they offer

that creates more problems than it solves.

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cinema_technology_Layout 1 10/05/2019 12:33 Page 1

THE GLOBAL CINEMA TECHNOLOGY NETWORK. CTC, is an independent, not-for-profit trade organisation providing valuable resources to the global cinema industry. From digital marketing and e-ticketing through to interactive lobby displays, projection and sound equipment, accessibility and experiential technology, CTC understands the importance technology and indeed the way in which it is utilized can have a profoundly positive effect on the moviegoing experience. CTC engages in a number of activities aimed at educating and improving the cinema experience. These include training courses, lectures and seminars, technical handbooks, educational visits, networking events and the industry leading Cinema Technology Magazine.





Produced by JACRO


Years in Cinema

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O P I N I O N 3D technology — an emerging success? RealD’s John Trafford-Owen considers the impact a new wave of 3D can have in emerging markets


OR THE PAST DECADE, “Avatar” alone

The wheat among the chaff

has held the coveted title of highest

From a content perspective, it is a constant battle to ensure

grossing movie. All good things come to

sufficient time and focus is given to the use of 3D as a creative

an end — “Avengers: End Game” is the

tool, and that sufficient money is spent on the conversion (if

new kid on the block. Maybe it will reign

indeed the film is converted). Each year a few movies deliver

for a decade, maybe only until jedis arrive at Christmas, or

the must-see 3D event. “Alita” and “Lion King” show what the

maybe we will have to wait for James Cameron to finish his

format is capable of, and I can’t wait to see what Ang Lee has

sequel, but let’s think back to when we first visited Pandora,

done with “Gemini Man”. We need to convince the customer

and the heralding of a new three-dimensional dawn. “Avatar”

why every film should be seen in a premium way.

was 3D’s coming of age. The modern version of the format

Filmmakers start the process, advocating the 3D format,

may have started with “Chicken Little” in 2005, but “Avatar” in

distributors continue that journey, through studio marketing

2009, was the 3D extravaganza that delivered, casting aside

messages and creation of 3D trailers. Exhibitors have a huge

memories of green-and-red glasses and nausea.

role to play. Programming at peak times, opening 3D box

Films that followed aimed to cash in on the craze and

office at the same time as 2D and playing trailers when

released hastily converted versions that didn’t stand up to the

available. Equally important are the fundamentals: the best

experience audiences had enjoyed with the Na’vi. Cinemas

auditorium, the right screen, system, glasses and projector, as

scrambled to install digital projectors and 3D systems

well as providing optimum light levels for the content — even

without considering whether the architecture of the auditoria

thinking about the porthole glass. There is much that

suited the technology. Customers won’t tolerate this kind of

contributes to the overall success of 3D’s performance in any

approach for long. If a moviegoer sees a poorly made 2D film

given market — and the responsibility falls on us all.

on a dark projector, they don’t say “I’m never watching a 2D

Emerging markets have none of the baggage inherent in

movie again”. When it comes to 3D that’s exactly the reaction.

trying to grow too quickly without full understanding of the

Emerging markets are in a great position to learn these

technology. 3D is mature, but laser projectors offer exciting

lessons. Premium experiences should be just that. They help

opportunities to give audiences the experience that “Avatar”

generate incremental revenue, increasing ticket prices and

first delivered. There is no legacy of disappointment or poor

spend per customer, but a value exchange must be present.

content, only anticipation of what the format can deliver. It is

Customers must walk out of a premium show and feel it was

one of the most accessible premium offerings in terms of

money well spent. If a consumer can’t understand why they

investment and can blow the minds of consumers. Emerging

handed over more cash to watch that movie, it’s not

markets have a huge role to play in the future success of 3D

something they are likely to do again.

and together we will make the most of this opportunity.

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