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Netflix & cinema Enter the 5G DCP

Could the streaming Can the super-fast giant and exhibitors infrastructure transform be of friends? thethe waybest we send films?

001_DEC18_COVER.indd 001_COVER_JUNE19.indd 11

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Studio moves forthing victory Generation magpie Planning It's the reel CT interviews What the rise Andrew of the Cripps, Centurymeans Fox's "rented 20th experience" advocate forexhibitors change for cinema

Produced in partnership with:

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


six one

product families.

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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.

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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

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#BeTheLite

They can imagine. They can feel. Together, let's make them see too. As we at Galalite celebrate 60 years of innovative cinema screen technologies, We pledge to share our proďŹ ts to aid the visually impaired and spread awareness about preventive blindness. Join our initiative for helping those who can only Imagine, See. Visit imaginesee.org to know more

In association with info@galalitescreens.com www.galalitescreens.com

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C O N T E N T S C I N E M A T E C H N O L O G Y > VO L . 3 2 N O . 2 > 0 6 / 1 9

NEWS

07 08

CT’s view: Alastair Balmain on the burning subject The latest from around the world of cinema exhibition

FEATURES

17 20 24 29 34 38

Digital cinema at 20: an indepth look at its origins Michael Karagosian on one of the earliest digital demos David Hancock on today’s experience economy Will 5G networks transform content delivery to sites? What the latest DCI specs mean for direct view LEDs Melissa Cogavin on the reel thing: Coke and the movies

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

www.cinematech.today

005_CONTENTS_JUNE19.indd 5

44 49 60 62 66 70 74 78 86

Peter Knight listens in on a new sub-woofer in France CT explores the history and range of NEC’s projectors Saudi’s Cinema Build KSA forum is laying foundations

34 38

How Blitz-CineStar make cinema big in the Balkans Jacro: a modern business with a rich history to back it Apps: Harkness is having an impact on the small screen After 54 years in the booth, Fred Fullerton has seen it all Jim Slater reviews a new work on projection in Oz Danny Jeremiah puts the case for Netflix as a positive

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

EVENTS

54

CinemaCon was a muted affair this year — Patrick von

Sychowski ponders the reasons why

58

The UKCA conference in April drew a strong crowd…

Peter Knight reports on proceedings

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

0 6 / 1 9

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


c t

v i e w

Digital projection: it only seems like yesterday… Who would have thought that 20 years had elapsed since the introduction of digital projection? Time has a habit of passing quickly — best stop and reflect a while, says Alastair Balmain

www.cinematech.today T g gm m a gaagzai nz ei nf eo r f o c irn e O . 4> > 0 1 26//1 189 T hh ee l leeaaddi ni n cm i nae m a i n d u s ti n r yd upsrt or y fep s sr ioof e n sasliso n>a lVs O> LV.O3 L2 . 3N1 ON. 2

MEANWHILE...

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Netflix & cinema Enter the 5G DCP

Could the streaming Can the super-fast giant and exhibitors infrastructure transform be of friends? thethe waybest we send films?

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Studio moves forthing victory Generation magpie Planning It's the reel CT interviews What the rise Andrew of the Cripps, Centurymeans Fox's "rented 20th experience" advocate forexhibitors change for cinema

ime flies when you’re having fun. It

world the Rank Organisation is remembered as a towering

only seems yesterday that George Lucas

giant that, at its peak, so nearly rivalled the major Hollywood

gifted Jar Jar Binks to a largely astonished

studios. The role the R&D team at Rank Brimar played in the

world. It was actually 20 years ago, which

development of digital was a case of what could have been.

makes me feel rather old, but, more to

Sadly the Rank Organisation divested its cinema interests

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today's cinema How Coca-Cola's fizz developers arecore helping captured the of to thebusiness high street thesave movie

Though it took the support of others to get digital

imagination — that still feels pretty fresh in my mind. Two

projection across the line, the final battle for supremacy

decades on however and it seems a valid moment to reflect

(Hughes-JVC vs TI’s DLP technology) was a dogfight in the

on the work of the visionaries that brought digital to fruition.

best tradition’s of Rank’s “Reach for the Skies”. Today, we

As Patrick von Sychowski and Michael Karagosian write

take the dominance of DLP technology for granted, but only

on pages 17 and 20, the story behind the launch of digital

a few short years ago others were battling to be top dog.

cinema had plot-lines as good as any space opera or action

And where are we now? Laser projection, direct view LED…

thriller. But what really makes this a compelling tale is the

some even talk about that “Star Wars” favourite: holographic

quality of the cast involved — there was a whole raft of

projection. Technology never stands still. Think of that CD

characters all striving to achieve the great technical leap

player in your car’s dashboard. Once it was a cassette player,

forward. As I write this from my kitchen, I have a decidedly

before that an eight-track. That CD slot won’t be in the car

tenuous personal connection to one of the names that

you buy tomorrow (nor will the internal combustion engine),

crops up in this chapter of cinema’s history since our garden

but music will still be played — and the same is true of film.

overlooks the “Lord Rank Playing Field”. J. Arthur Rank is a

The technology may develop, but the yearning for engaging

figure remembered fondly in our village and in this part of

stories and the cinematic medium itself stays the same.

the world as a patrician landlord, a keen shooting man and a generous supporter of local causes, but in the cinema

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

just as things were getting really exciting.

was the first time digital projection truly captured the public

1

2

3

In military terms, pioneers lay the paths the rest of the brigade follows. Cinema should cherish its own pioneers.

1 Adam MacDonald

2 David Hancock

3 Patrick von Sychowski

A digital cinema specialist and CTC committee member, Adam finds out how apps transform movie-going, p.70

Research director at IHS Markit, on p.24 David examines the changing experience economy and its impact

Editor of Celluloid Junkie, on p.17, Patrick goes back in time for a focus on digital cinema’s 20th anniversary

www.cinematech.today

CTVIEW JUNE 19.indd 9

ing ap sh

a em cin rn de o m the

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the point, it seems incredible that “The Phantom Menace”

Writing in this issue of CT

e th I: II

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e ve n t s

CT NEWSREEL

n e w S ,

v i e w s

&

i n d u s t r y

r o u n d - u p

g l o b a l t h e o f

U p - to - d a te 8

Los Angeles

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QSC Brings ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to life for a blockbusting premiere AUDIO SPECIALISTS QSC WERE proud to provide

course of six days. The result was a

sound for the spectacular world premiere of “Avengers:

premium movie theatre despite the

Endgame” on 22 April at the Los Angeles Convention

acoustic challenges of a concrete-

Center. Guests at the blockbuster’s premiere enjoyed a

enclosed exhibit hall. The theatre seated more than 2,000

stunning presentation of film in Dolby Vision and Atmos

guests using temporary stadium seating. Q-SYS, a software-

using QSC loudspeakers, amplifiers, and signal processing

based audio, video and control ecosystem, provided the

featuring Q-SYS in a custom-built auditorium.

distribution and processing backbone for the installation.

xxxxx

In total, the installation consisted of 102 loudspeakers,

“Everyone attending the premiere was impressed with

29 subwoofers, and an estimated 800,000 watts of power

the superior quality of the sound and picture, which fully

with over half a mile of networking cable. Jon Graves from

immersed them in the cinematic experience,” said Michael

QSC and his team set up and tuned the system over the

Kern, VP special events production at Walt Disney Studios.

DCM extends partnership with Unique X IN APRIL, THE UK’S leading

DCM’s Campaign Planner and Sales

cinema advertising entity, Digital

Booking system, for campaign

Cinema Media (DCM) announced

delivery, direct into each cinema’s

the renewal of an agreement with

scheduled showtimes. The DCM-

Unique X to provide advertising

Unique network will continue to

and distribution services. Using

provide over 100,000 advertising

Unique’s Advertising Accord ad

playlists to UK exhibitors on a

management

the

weekly basis, with DCP content

platform integrates and automates

software,

delivered to sites over Unique’s

the advertising workflow from

Movie Transit network

Cinionic’s Series 4 laser heads to CineEurope Barcelona

www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 14:06


>

Unique X expands SE Asia footprint

NEC laser projection for Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont

UNIQUE X, A LEADING digital

NEC LAST MONTH ANNOUNCED the

laser projectors, and seven NC1700L RB laser

cinema software solutions provider,

completion of a partnership with the French

projectors for mid-sized screens. This was

recently announced the expansion of

cinema integrator ADDE to deploy its digital

supportd with a range of lens options.

its operations in South East Asia with a

cinema projectors in Les  Cinémas Pathé

“France has long had a love affair with

Gaumont’s (LCPG) La Joliette cinema in

the cinema screen, but even here cinema

Marseille.

has suffered from competition from other

The agreement will see Unique X

new deal with expanding Indonesian cinema chain, Cinemaxx.

LCPG, the  leading chain in France,

media,” said Mark Kendall, head of business

install RosettaBridge TMS, RosettaNet

selected NEC  to provide a total of 13 laser

development for digital cinema at NEC.

and Basekey KDM solutions across all

projectors in this new site. ADDE installed

“Cinema is fighting back by creating a range

47

three NC3541L  4K RB laser projectors,

of stunning experiences for movie-goers,

incorporating a total of 239 screens.

designed to power the

and one of  the most important factors will

premium

always be the quality of imagery projected

conglomerate

format screens, as well

up on the screen.”

recently received investment from

as three NC2041L  RB

www.digital-cinema-nec.com

Mexican exhibition giant, Cinepolis, to

A modern venue, and with modern RB laser from NEC

and

large

of

Cinemaxx’s

sites,

currently

Cinemaxx, owned by the property Lippo

Group,

has

fund its expansion plans. As Cinemaxx’s number of sites and screens expands,

Marseille

the combination of Unique X solutions will deliver significant efficiencies by enabling central management and automation of cinema operations. “Cinemaxx has an ambitious vision to build Indonesia’s most preferred cinema group. Unique X’s innovative solutions offer us a way to streamline our operations across all screens and support us in delivering a consistently premium experience to our guests,” said Gerald Dibbayawan, CEO at CIneamaxx.

Unique

X’s

range

of

solutions already support more than 25,000 screens in over 70 countries www.uniquex.com

CINIONIC HAS ANNOUNCED IT will be showcasing the Barco Series 4 Laser Projection and Laser as a Service at this year’s CineEurope.

Check out Series 4 laser projection at CineEurope

For the second year, Cinionic is the

deliver 4K, RGB-Laser, as well as being

CineEurope’s projection partner, giving

ready for 4K 120fps high frame rate,

the best image quality to every studio

high-dynamic-range

presentation

Barco

and

screening.

008_NEWS_JUNE19.indd 9

Colorgenic,

for

onboard

wide-color-

company will be

gamut capabilities. Cinionic’s Laser as

showing the first

a Service (LaaS) product is designed to

four

extend the life of Barco Series II

models

www.cinematech.today

The

and

projector the

projectors and deliver benefits of laser.

new Barco Series

in

LaaS offers streamlined operations

4 line-up. These

and reduced expenses.

Series 4 units can

www.cinionic.com/CineEurope 0 6 / 1 9

>

9

22/05/2019 14:06


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22/05/2019 11:59


C T

NEWS IN BRIEF

Shanghai

N E W S R E E L

>

THX forms strategic PLF relationship with Cinionic Renowned for the certification of world-class cinemas, THX has announced the launch of its THX Ultimate Cinema — the Regency

Westwood

Village

Theatre in LA. The company is working closely with Cinionic — the Barco, CGS, and ALPD joint venture — to deliver a new visual standard with enhanced services and tech solutions,

Wanda opens world’s first all-LED multiplex with Samsung WANDA CINEMAS, CHINA’S LARGEST film distributor and cinema operator, recently partnered with Samsung and Harman Professional Solutions to create the world’s first all-LED cinema multiplex. The Shanghai ARCH Wanda Cinema features Samsung’s Onyx LED screens in each of its six premium auditoriums. By providing so many Onyx cinema screens in one location, Wanda Cinemas’

bringing the THX Ultimate Cinema

experience

to

consumers. This PLF cinema

The world’s first all LED multiplex — setting the bar high for exhibition?

integrates Barco’s dual-laser system, which delivers a 4K resolution image, with CGS remastered content exclusively

Shanghai ARCH location raises the bar for premium multi-function cinemas.

shown at this location. The

The Samsung Onyx screens in each of Shanghai ARCH Wanda Cinema’s

Regency

Westwood

Village

theatres are supported by Harman audio systems. JBL Sculpted Surround cinema

theater is home to some of

speakers, subwoofers and surrounds bring movie soundtracks to life and the

Hollywood’s most lavish red-

speaker systems are powered by Crown DCi-N amplifiers and optimised by BSS

carpet premieres.

160 digital audio processors. https://displaysolutions.samsung.com/

Emerging Cinema conference to stage second outing

Sale and leaseback of 17 US Cineworld sites announced In May, Cineworld announced

SUCCESSFUL

exhibitors and content providers from

the signing and completion of

inaugural Emerging Cinema Markets

the region the chance to come

a sale and leaseback deal for

conference in Istanbul last November,

together at #ecmistanbul to explore

17 of its US-based multi-screen

DCS Events has announced its 2019

developments and innovations that

cinemas, totalling 251 screens.

conference will return to the city on

are central to the industry today,” says

The sale is consistent with

19-21 November. The organisers have

Rob Arthur, founder of DCS Events and

Cineworld’s existing business

confirmed the agenda will feature a

partner at The Big Picture consultancy.

model of operating a pre-

mix of presentations from experts in

“With growing saturation of established

dominantly leasehold estate.

the cinema, leisure and property

markets

of

As part of the deal, Cineworld

sectors, with special focus sessions on

alternative platforms for viewing films,

is selling its cinema sites to

Turkey, Africa, the Balkans, Central

the need for the industry to discover

subsidiaries of Realty Income

Asia and other emerging countries.

growth territories is vitally important.”

Corporation for $286.3m and

There will also be an update on the

www.ecm19.com

leasing

FOLLOWING

A

and

the

proliferation

them

back

under

Gulf Co-operation Council cinema

15-year leases on customary

industry hosted by The Big Picture

terms.

Cinema Consultants. “ECM2019 will provide industry stakeholders including trade suppliers, www.cinematech.today

008_NEWS_JUNE19.indd 11

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C T

N E W S R E E L

>

Harkness launches new Clarux XC 290 3D/2D screen technology

our previous high-brightness Clarus

company Harkness announced the

product without compromising on

launch recently of the latest addition

any aspect of the visual performance

to its industry-leading Clarus XC screen

thus providing exhibitors and indeed

Visual Data Media acquires Soho Digital Cinema

family — the Clarus XC 290.

movie-goers

incredible

In April, Visual Data Media

viewing experience. Clarus XC 290 also

Services announced that it has

LEADING

SCREEN

Clarus XC 290 is an improved high

with

an

performance 3D/2D

acquired Soho Digital Cinema

screen that combines

(SDC), the leading provider of

high reflectance with

digital cinema mastering and

outstanding levels of

distribution

performance

acquisition

that

services. enables

The Visual

includes rich colours,

Data to add digital cinema

sharper clarity, wide

mastering

viewing angles and

distribution to its service suite.

deeper 3D depth. Its

As with its existing broadcast,

technology

allows

streaming and VOD offerings,

exhibitors to improve

Visual Data can now offer

both

every step in the digital cinema

2D

and

3D

Customers

as never before.

companies

“Clarus XC 290 is the result of significant development

allows exhibitors to improve on screen

in

brightness

Clarus

screen

cinema

content supply chain.

cinema presentation

our

and

coating

by

up

to

20%

Delivering an incredible viewing experience: Clarus XC 290

(in

can

of

both

now

take

advantage of SDC’s D-Cinema services including Screenfast,

technology,” explains Matt Jahans,

comparison to a traditional silver

director of cinema technology at

screens) whilst still improving light

Harkness, “Through this step-change

distribution.”

platform, as well as having

in technology we’re able to improve

www.harkness-screens.com

access to Visual Data’s wide

its

award-winning

cinema

cloud

digital

distribution

range of media distribution services. “Visual Data and Soho Digital Cinema had worked

Understanding Netflix – new report launched Netflix is very much at the fore-front of

and we saw clear synergies

management consultancy, The Big Picture

cinema exhibitors’ and film distributors’

between our two companies,

has published a recently commissioned

minds. Never before have we seen the

with

report,

distributor

product and service offerings

“Understanding

Netflix’s

Global

complementary

traditional

exhibitor

relationship

so

disruptive

and adjacent or converging

Sychowski, Editor of Celluloid Junkie and CT

streaming technology makes an impact. It

markets,” said Symon Roue,

contributor. This report aims to explain what

comes at a time when global box office is on

MD of Visual Data Media

is driving Netflix, its relationship with

the ascendancy; at a time when we are in a

Services. “The acquisition is a

Hollywood, its motivation in the recent

golden age of technology options and

positive move for all of our

“Roma” controversy”, how it is ‘dividing and

opportunities; and when the diversity of

customers, enabling them to

conquering’ on national levels and what

audience and of cinema offers is increasingly

master

cinemas can do to counterbalance the

broad”.

deliverables from one place,

growing power of Netflix.

The report is available free on request from

significantly streamlining the

The Big Picture – https://the-bigpicture.

distribution

com/contactus.php

saving time and money.”

Picture, says, “The impact and strategy of

>

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008_NEWS_JUNE19.indd 12

and

our

Cinema Strategy”, compiled by Patrick von

Rob Arthur, senior consultant at The Big

1 2

together on several projects

THE SPECIALIST EXHIBITION-FOCUSED

aligned,

as

and

distribute

process

all

while

www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 14:26


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C T

N E W S R E E L GDC showcases SR-5400 and SR-6400C media servers

IMIS update – a busy year so far!

GDC HAS EXPANDED its “SR Series”

SR-5400 Series is capable of playing DCP

2019 kicked off with a bang

Standalone IMB product line to include the

content in 4K 3D and 4K at 60fps, compatible

for the International Moving

SR-5400 and SR-6400C, revolutionary media

with

Image Society, writes COO

servers designed for advanced cinematic

including SR-5400B for Barco, SR-5400C for

Bryan Cook. In January the

imagery. The series will be the centrepiece of

Christie, SR-5400N for NEC.

society celebrated a year of

the company’s showcase at CineEurope.

the

new

DLP

Cinema

projectors

SR-6400C is capable of ground-breaking

growth with its ‘Post-Holiday

The products won the Catalyst Award for

playback at 4K 3D and 4K at 120fps, and

After Party’ at the Phoenix

Best New Technology of CinemaCon 2019 for

compatible with the new Christie projector

Artist Club in London, one of a

its ultra-reliability and innovative FAST

featuring

series of regular get togethers

(Flexible Architecture Stable Technology)

CineLife+. SR-6400C can also playback 4K at

the society has planned.

engineering design featuring the world’s

240 fps in 3D mode with the Cinity Cinema

highest bitrate and frame rate.

System.

In February IMIS honoured

RealLaser

illumination

and

all the accomplishments and achievements of its members and others in the industry with our 88th Annual Awards Ceremony and our Annual

CinemaNext equips Les 7 Batignolles with Sphera

Bernard Happé Lecture (see

CINEMANEXT, THE SPECIALIST in

below). This year’s lecture was

exhibitor services has announced the

presented by the BBC’s Phil

launch of its Sphera premium cinema

Layton, head of broadcast

concept at the new Les 7 Batignolles

and connected systems, with

complex in the 17th arrondissement

Andrew

principal

in Paris. The cinema boasts the

technologist. They discussed

Cotton,

second Sphera auditorium in Europe

recording,

after that at Village Cinemas in The

production

and

broadcast of the wedding of

Mall Athens in Greece.

The Duke and Duchess of

“We chose this concept because

Paris

Sussex, a landmark in both

we considered it the most advanced

UHD and HDR broadcasting. The BBC plans to implement the technology further.

premium offer, combining the latest A premium offer that delivers the wow factor: Sphera

existing technologies. The wow factor of the Sphera auditorium means we can offer our audiences a moment of escapism. One in five moviegoers currently chooses Sphera, making it the most popular auditorium at our cinema.”” explains Dorothy Malherbe, manager of the 7 Batignolles cinema. The Sphera auditorium at Les 7 Batignolles features 352 seats and a 15m-wide wall-to-wall screen. It is HDR and EclairColor HDR-compatible thanks to

The 88th Annual Awards Winners were:

the latest generation 4K 3D projectors

Technical and Scientific Achievement

Simon Reeve

in the booth. The Dolby Atmos sound

Award – Logmar Camera Solutions:

Fellow: Angela Gordon

system is reinforced by a powerful

The Magellan 65mm Camera

Fellow: Franz Pagot

subwoofer benefiting from the latest

Outstanding Contribution to the

Honorary Fellow: John Carmack

developments in energy transducer

Industry: Amma Asante

Honorary Fellow: Alejandro Iñárritu

technology (see pages 48-50). Acoustic

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Honorary Fellow: Bob Saenz

walls equipped with dynamic ambient

Christopher Nolan

Honorary Fellow: Shane Hurlbut

lighting and an entrance hall concept

President’s Award: John Mahtani John Tomkins Natural History Award:

1 4

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008_NEWS_JUNE19.indd 14

specific to Sphera finesse the design. www.societyinmotion.com

www.spheracinema.com

www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 14:26


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sit

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P R O G R E S S

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P R O G R E S S

three years later the American Motion Picture Academy choose the DLP technology to project that year’s Oscars. While it was only used to show brief clips from “The English Patient” and that year’s other winners on the big screens in the Kodak Theatre, TI had arrived in Hollywood. It was no ingenue that had just stepped off the bus, however. TI had been preparing for the big screen for years.

Pioneering Hollywood days If Hornbeck and Critchley were the fathers of the DLP ICK MCCALLUM, THE FILM’S larger-than-life

technology then its midwife was the small plucky and

producer, trumpeted, “This is a milestone in

aptly named Entertainment Technology Consulting (ETC)

cinematic history... Like the introduction of

company. Matt Cowan and Loren Nielsen were the pair who

sound and colour, these digital screenings

negotiated the long and delicate journey of getting Texan

represent the beginning of a new era in film

microchip engineers to win the trust of Hollywood studio

presentation.” But the battle for this ‘new era’ had in fact

executives and creatives.

started long before the opening salvo had been fired, with

In the early 1990s Matt received a telephone call out of

the ‘Star Wars’ digital opening very narrowly avoiding being

the blue from Brian Critchley. “I’ve got something that I want

pushed into historical second place by an ambush screening

you to see. Get on the next plane over to Manchester and I’ll

of a rival film, from a rival studio using a rival technology in a

show it to you.” That ‘something’ was DPI’s implementation

cinema, just across the river in Manhattan.

of TI’s DMD technology. The prototype device that Matt saw had a resolution of just 864 x 600 pixels (roughly SVGA) and

The Rank outsiders

produced just 1,000 lumens of light output. If it was a camera

It was Brian Critchley, appointed in 1986 to the post of

rather than display technology, it would equate to 0.3

technical and new ventures director of the cathode ray tube

megapixels. Yet Cowan saw the potential and understood

and valve manufacturer Rank Brimar, who raised a

that this technology was headed for the big screen.

somewhat troubling question for the sister company Rank

According to Loren Nielsen, “Rank Brimar had the original

Laboratory: “What are you going to do when film is gone?” he

idea of using a DMD to make a projector, pairing the device

asked. The search for an answer eventually took him to a

with its lamps.” Yet developing a projector and convincing a

research

lab

wide constituency of cinemas, directors of photography and

in Plano, Texas, which belonged to the well-known semi-

film distributors to abandon 100 years of analogue film were

conductor company Texas Instruments. The team there

two very different tasks. Critchley knew the former could be

under Dr Larry J. Hornbeck had been experimenting with

achieved out of Plano TX and Manchester UK, but the latter

ways to deform mirrors to create an analogue lens. Originally

would require somebody that could take it to the heart of

envisioned as fibre-optic repeaters, these Digital Micromirror

movie making — Hollywood. And this is where Matt and

Devices (DMD) showed very early potential for pixel-based

Loren’s quest began.

image reproduction.

When Loren left her job at Technicolor and joined Matt

In the UK, the Manchester-based Digital Projection

at ETC in 1995, Rank had been continuously working on

International (DPI) division formed by Rank in 1987 began its

enhancing the DLP technology to the point at which, by late

R&D and by 1991 Rank Brimar was sufficiently convinced

1995, Cowan felt “the quality was good enough to show to

to sign a deal with Texas Instruments and the US Defense

the Hollywood people”. But before a single frame could be

Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA): TI would

projected Matt and Loren needed to get their hands on

develop the DMD chip while Rank would develop the

Hollywood films to use as demo material and then undertake

projectors, optics, circuitry and other pieces of the system.

the complicated process of grading the digital version of the

But the work proved complex. “Rank’s interest was cinema,”

film in order to make it look as it would when projected

stated Critchley. “Therefore we needed a device that was

on 35mm film.

bright, had high image resolution and deep [colour] bit

In 1995 Matt began setting up what would be the first

depth. But at that time TI couldn’t make a device with all of

digital colour timing post-production suite. Calling it “colour

those characteristics.”

timing-by-walkie-talkie”, Cowan had to set up an intercom

By 1994, the first prototype projector was ready. Just 1 8

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D  LP PROJECTION TIMELINE Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology that finally became the preeminent digital cinema technology was years in the making…

1977 versions of the same clip where one colourist was at the controls in one room and the other was looking at the picture in the other. After tapping into Loren’s extensive Rolodex of Hollywood contacts they had secured permission to use clips from Universal’s ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘The River Wild’, as well as support from Warner Bros’ Tad Marburg.

Dr Larry J. Hornbeck at Texas Instruments starts work on reflective Spatial Light Modulators (SLM)

640 x 480 resolution device, Cowan and co. managed to achieve 16ft/L, but on a screen just 16ft (5m) across, using the European television standard PAL resolution (625 lines) running off a D1 Sony professional video tape decks. Nevertheless this was an improvement over what Hollywood executives were used to seeing, which was film mastered for the native NTSC television format, thereby causing the jerkiness that is visible when viewing film-based material on

selected so that we didn’t have ones with deep, dirty, murky blacks stuff.” The first major demonstration and test of Hollywood’s reaction to the new technology was the 29 February 1996 demo at the Universal Sheraton hotel in Los Angeles. Once Universal’s studio’s legendary head Lew Wasserman had agreed to come along, “everybody significant decided they

Garrett. As he himself observed, “there’s only going to be one chance to get this right.” Smith was joined in this mission by two men freshly arrived from Texas (Instruments): Doug Darrow and Paul S. Breedlove. With his clean-cut looks, Doug fitted right into Hollywood and got on well with both Matt and Loren, while Breedlove was clearly not made for the off-screen viceridden Hollywood. Neither a smoker nor a drinker, Cowan remembers that Breedlove was the type who would not even pass along a beer bottle from one guy to another if they

1987

into TI’s board and say, ‘trust me, I’ve got this really great idea

Hornbeck devises the first ever Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) chip — the basis for future work

sure how big it’s going to be or when it’s going to happen,

24fps with no interlacing and with a 200:1 contrast ratio lot of work to make black look good and clips carefully

to anyone, it was going to be electronic imaging veteran

continues, “he was the magic guy. He had the ability to go

a US television system. Here the projector showed truthful between the darkest and lightest area of the image and “a

between creatives and the new digital projection technology

were out drinking. Yet when it came to handling TI, Cowan

Thinking big? Start small… DLPs initial big screen outing was deliberately small. On a

Paramount could trust the task of handling the interaction

1992 Rank Brimar projects the first images on a 3-chip DMD system

to do some wonderful stuff in Hollywood. We’re not quite but I need some resources — and he managed it.” The Universal Sheraton semi-public demo was followed by several one-on-one demos with studios, cinematographers and directors, primarily driven by Garrett out of Paramount. The AMC Burbank multiplex was one such setting where studios

“Developing a new projector and convincing cinema to abandon 100 years of film were two different tasks”

were

invited over three to four days and would come in groups of two to six to see what was still an optics board host

with of

a

things

bolted on, rather than what you would view as an actual projector. The blacks in the image were a particular issue, but since

had to show up too,” Cowan remembers. The first time Loren

neither TI nor ETC were “trying to do anything with the

saw the demo was in the set-up the day before. “It looked

technology at this point” in Loren’s words, “so nobody felt

fresh, it looked new, it didn’t look like the video we were used to seeing,” she remembers. The outcome was, according to Matt, “a belief that this was a technology that could do what was necessary to break digital projection into cinema.”

Enter Smith, Darrow & Breedlove What was needed now was more films. So Loren picked up the phone and called the person that would be the singlemost important studio person for the following two years, Paramount’s Garrett Smith. “Garrett started bringing in cinematographers,” Loren explained, “and that was a really key development. Because getting the directors of photography involved provided some real credibility.” If www.cinematech.today

017_DIGITALAT20_JUNE19.indd 19

1996

threatened.” TI next invited the key Viacom/Paramount

The first products enabled by DLP technology came to the market in early 1996 — the first major demo of the system was held in LA

two LearJets in August 1998, for a demo of its new 1280 x

executives to its headquarter in Plano, Texas, flown over in 1080 chip on a large screen. Also flying over were Owen Roizman and Vilmos Zsigmond, president and vicepresident

respectively

of

the

American

Society

of

Cinematographers (ASC). “That demo we felt was a success,” Doug Darrow remembers, “but we needed to do better.” Having shown it to key inside people from Hollywood, the teams at TI and ETC knew that word would leak about the work that was going on, so the next demo would have to be large and public. This was the 1998 demonstration on the big (52-54ft 0 6 / 1 9

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Remembering Digital Projection at ShoWest 1999 Michael Karagosian Industry consultant and creator of Cinepedia.com There at the very dawn of digital projection, Michael Karagosian recalls his firsthand experience from the booth of a 1999 demo of the rival digital technologies that pitted the new order against the old. While walking through Bally’s in Las Vegas during

1000

P R O G R E S S

across) screen in Paramount studios. “The demonstration was to prove that we could put a cinema-credible image up onto the big Paramount screen,” Matt remembers. Unlike the previous outing for the technology, “this demo was sideby-side with film. Paramount wanted to satisfy themselves that they could replicate the look-and-feel of film.” And screening clips from films such as ‘Grease’ and ‘The Truman Show’ did just that.

DPI’s early prototype projector managed to achieve 1,000 lumens of light output

A trip to Skywalker Ranch Dave Schnuelle had been tracking projector development for many years as part of his broad remit for George Lucas’ technology certification division when he came to see the Paramount demo. Loren remembers asking Dave directly as they sat in the Paramount theatre, “When can we show it to

CinemaCon this year, I was reminded of the first public

George?” Having previously always replied, “That’s good,

demonstration of digital projection held in the hotel’s

keep working on it,” this time his reaction was “There’s

Jubilee Theater some 20 years earlier during the 1999

nothing wrong with that picture.”

ShoWest. The audience received a glimpse of the

“We managed to get 15 minutes of George’s time in

future that day, but there was a very different story

December of 1998,” says Schuelle, which was about as

taking place in the projection booth. The day before this 1999 demonstration, I made my way to the projection booth with Clyde McKinney, my business partner in Cinema Group and CinemAcoustics. It was projector set-up day, the day before the demonstration was to take place, and I was hoping to get a preview. In the booth were three projectors: a

0.3 If DPI’s early projector had been a camera, it would equal 0.3mp

generous as Lucas was going to be with his time at that stage, given that he was putting finishing touches to the then much-anticipated first episode of the new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. The whole demo was 20 minutes, but nobody was prepared to guarantee that Lucas would even sit through the whole thing. “Don’t take it personally if he leaves the room or walks out early,” they were told. The night before, Lucas’ producer Rick McCallum came

Kinoton film projector, a prototype DLP projector from

to look at the demo set-up. Schnuelle recalls “The one I

Texas Instruments, and a Hughes-JVC D-ILA projector.

remember he was looking at was “The Truman Show”. It ran

The Hughes-JVC was memorable for its massive size,

for about 10 seconds and he leapt up out of his seat turning

not unjustly compared to a refrigerator. For one enamored by technology, this was quite an array. My early career was in semiconductors, and while I didn’t have direct experience in imaging

1996

DPI’s management bought their company from the Rank Organisation

around, looking at the projection port and says ‘What is this? What is this??’” Schnuelle convinced him that this was digital and not a piece of film. According to Darrow, who was watching the scene from the back of the theatre, expletives came flying out of McCallum’s mouth; he was convinced

devices, I had more than enough experience with the challenge of operating silicon over temperature to wonder how digital projectors would hold up in real-world use. On my far right was the Hughes-JVC. When I arrived in the booth, this was where all the action was. A crew of engineers were standing over it, projecting test pattern after test pattern into the auditorium. Each pass would lead to a flurry of adjustments, then the process would repeat. I must have been there for an hour, observing this repetition and waiting to see the TI projector in action. The crew working on the Hughes-JVC had no time to chat. But the TI guys had lots of time. I began to think they had the wrong end of the deal for setup, because I never saw them project an image. They laughed and said they had plenty of time to setup during the others’ breaks. I wasn’t sure if this was arrogance or truth. Clyde and I went back to the projection booth the following day about an hour before showtime. The auditorium would soon be packed with ShoWest attendees to see, for the first time, two very different digital projection technologies pitted against a quality film print from the Kinoton. But today the TI guys weren’t so relaxed and

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P R O G R E S S

that digital was good enough to show George. The following morning was the annual THX get-together. George Lucas cheerful. There was a flurry of activity around the TI

arrived through a side door to the theatre with Rick and a

projector. Apparently someone had tripped a power

few other key people. Having allotted quarter of an hour to

cable and blew out one of the boards…

the 20-minute reel, they ended up watching the whole reel and staying an hour-and-a-half in total, mainly talking to

Now here was a real test. A digital projector was down,

Darrow and Breedlove from TI. George Lucas was impressed,

and a critical public demonstration was about to take

but would he commit to releasing his latest “Star Wars” in

place. Could they get it back up and re-aligned before

digital? In February, Dave Schnuelle got the telephone call

showtime? I was thinking of the prior day’s litany of

from from McCallum saying, “we want to do the film on four

tests with the Hughes-JVC. Surely had this happened

screens.” However, it was not quite the news that ETC and TI

to that projector, it would have been left out of the

had hoped for. The screenings could not just be on the TI

demo? To my amazement, the TI team, Harold Milligan

system, McCallum explained, because Lucas did not want to

and Steve Krycho, made the repair in record time, did a

be seen to be showing favouritism to a particular technology

quick setup, and pulled off the show without a glitch.

or solution. According to Schnuelle, Breedlove did not want a shoot-out, but Lucas was adamant; it had wto be screened

There’s a lot to be impressed about with the DLP

on two competing digital technologies. One was TI’s DLP,

technology. It’s unique in its ability to modulate light

the other was the Hughes Aircraft company’s Image Light

digitally without an analog conversion of the signal,

Amplifier (ILA) projection technology developed with JVC.

and

the

technology

is

inherently

stable

over

temperature, which is important for eliminating color

A shoot-out in New Jersey

drift. At the time though, I wasn’t well-versed in the

Perhaps even more worrying for TI and ETC at the time

technology behind DLP. What impressed me that day

was that there was a business team behind the Hughes-JVC

was that the DLP projector could be repaired and up

technology that was gearing up to roll out the technology:

for a show in short order.

CineComm. Lucas and McCallum had been in touch with them and

I remained in the projection booth for that first show

this nascent start-up saw the

and didn’t get the full benefit of comparing image

forthcoming digital “Star Wars”

quality of the two digital projectors against film. I

screening as the ideal launch

did see enough, though, to be

platform for its pitch to Hollywood

convinced which technology

for converting cinemas. What was

would eventually drive the

supposed to have been a triumph

industry to digital projection.

for TI getting to showcase its

I ran into Harold Milligan years

Fact File

later and we both recalled the

technology by screening a first-run major Hollywood blockbuster had now become a shoot-out between two very different and competing technologies.

“excitement” of that day. We

Michael

had quite a laugh. Sadly, when

Karagosian

writing this piece, I learned

The idea was to have one pair of cinemas on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, each equipped with both systems. CineComm’s presentation took place at Loews’

that Harold had since passed

A consultant in

Route 4 Paramus multiplex while TI’s presentation was at

away. I think of what would

entertainment

Loews’ Meadows 6 in Secaucus, both in New Jersey. In Los

have happened had the DLP

technology,

Angeles the CineComm digital screening was to take place

projector been pulled from

Michael played

at Pacific Theater’s Winnetka Theater, while the TI

several roles in the

presentation was at the AMC’s Burbank 14 Theater — where

were many pioneers behind

digital projection

TI had already held many of its previous demos for Hollywood

the

digital

rollout. The author

people. Because of the time difference, the cinemas on the

cinema technology, and TI’s

of Cinepedia.com,

East Coast would end up being the ones to open the digital

Harold and Steve are counted

he is engaged in

version of “Episode 1” first. George Lucas’ announcement

among them.

bringing HDR to

that “Star Wars: Episode 1” was going to be released in digital

cinema.

caused major waves both in Hollywood, the trade press and

that

2 2

“George Lucas was impressed, but would he commit to releasing his latest “Star Wars” in digital?”

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even with the wider public. One of the major reasons why it became a ‘deathof-film’ talking point was because

Hughes - JVC ILA specs

digital the same week that the film opened across the world. For one thing, the schedule of getting both the two projector systems ready, mastering the film and preparing the theatres

George Lucas took the opportunity to

between the go-ahead in February and the film’s premier on

announce at the same time that he

19 May was simply too tight.

on digital cameras. According to Cowan, TI spent close to $1million getting “Episode 1” ready for digital release, because it had to spend a painful three weeks colour timing it, with Hughes-JVC most likely having had to spend a similar amount. Everyone involved knew that not just a paying public, but the eyes of the industry would be on the outcome. It was around this time that TI got wind that they would be facing competition from JVC on more than

hardly registered. Matt, Loren, Dave, Doug and a small army of TI engineers and cinema installation staff were working all

Resolution

out to get the film ready in their two locations. They were getting good support from people such as Ted Galliano,

2,000 x 1,280 stated, with a claimed contrast ratio of 1,000:1

head of post-production at Fox. They were not just trying to prove that digital could play alongside film, but that their

Size + Weight

system was better than the rival system down the road. Finally, all 60GB of finished and graded film arrived on 20

184 x 142 x 147 cm 759kg

HDDs that would play off a Pluto-array. The night before the

Price

first showing there was a preview for journalists, many of whom fell over themselves to praise the new technology. “I

$250,000

releasing its film “An Ideal Husband” in digital. TI saw the inherent risk in releasing a film by a rival studio around the same time as “Star Wars”. “We aren’t going to upstage George,” was how the company declined the request. Unperturbed, Miramax then turned to JVC, who had no such reservations about serving more than one Hollywood master. Quoted in the “New York Times”, the president of Miramax’s Los Angeles division, Andrew Gill said that the company had chosen a traditional film, a period piece with subtle cinematographic touches, so that audiences would understand that the method can be used with any movie. “‘An Ideal Husband’ is the antithesis of a digital movie,’’ he said. But it was transparent that Miramax was trying to upstage Lucas’s efforts in New Jersey and Los Angeles. Miramax also deployed two systems, one at Clearview Chelsea 9 in NYC and at the Laemmel Sunset 5 in LA, with the film set to open on the same day as the “Star Wars” digital screenings.

Finally pressing ‘Play’ “Star Wars: Episode 1” was never going to start screening in

017_DIGITALAT20_JUNE19.indd 23

additional time or even the negative reviews of the film

Image light amplifier through a CRT scanner

one front. The company was approached by Miramax about

www.cinematech.today

To the people preparing the digital screenings, the

Technology

TALE OF THE TAPE

would be shooting the next “Star Wars”

have seen the future... And it is AWESOME!” wrote David Creighton at iDexter. Some of the assembled journalists even filmed the digital version and the film print of it screening next door, with the jitter of the print being the most noticeable thing to set it apart from the steady digital image. On the morning of 18 June everything was ready for the first public screenings in New Jersey, when word reached the CineComm team that they were about to have their world-first scuppered by their own JVC colleagues in New York. The Clearview Chelsea 9 cinema in Manhattan showing “An Ideal Husband” was putting on an earlier morning screening. CineCom’s Doug Olin remembers it as a “bizarre little horse race who would be first screening [a digital film] to a paying audience. To mess with us, they [Miramax] were going to start 11am, so they could claim to be first.” Olin and his colleague Russ Witner contacted their cinema’s manager and got the go-ahead to start the screening at 10:50am. Over in the Seacaucus multiplex, the TI/ETC team did not know out about this intra-JVC one-up-man-ship and thus started the film at the previously agreed time. Though TI lost the race to be a digital cinema ‘first’ by quarter of an hour, the technology eventually won the battle, and is today found in the majority of cinema projectors worldwide.

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T S F O P UF L T R S O WY

MAGPIE-ING

A M E N I C

IN

A

he g t ly, n i on tab nd mfor a b o ly a gly c ins. g n i n la s si rea rpri t, exp c in Su ki t is ion? Mar a S th pt rld bscri at IH o a w d su ctor n i e n sit tal a h dir r o t ren arc ibi xh ur of , rese e ma favo cock e n ci s in an he ood id H t v es f g do ip o t. Da w h u Ho ners ns o OU MAY HAVE READ recently that r ow it tu IKEA is looking into leasing home s a furniture and kitchens to customers, rather than selling them outright. With

a trial starting in 30 countries, the logic is simple: the global giant (IKEA uses

almost 1% of the world’s commercial wood supply) is in a position to do something to help the environment and — more pertinent to this article — consumers are both more transient and can less afford buying houses and equipping them from new each time they do. This is known as the circular economy. The decline of ownership is seen in other areas: the car market is fuelled by the growth of the PCP, a form of leasing in which the customer has the option to give the car back at the end of the deal, using the value in the car as a deposit for a new one. In the UK, 60% of music revenues are from subscription services. Globally, streaming remains the driver of recovering music revenues (third year of growth after 15 years of significant revenue decline) and grew by 2 4

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41.1% in 2018 to account for 38.4% of all music revenues.

and other social spaces in the absence of shops. In the UK,

Non-linear streaming TV services, on subscription models,

the coffee shop sector has registered its 20th consecutive

build on channel-based pay TV bundles launched 30 years

year of growth, now worth over £10bn in sales. Social spaces

ago and are now disrupting established TV markets globally.

are sought after, and cinema needs to build on that, creating

The end of ownership coincided neatly with the

more attractive spaces, with more vibrant designs.

financial crash of 2008. Mortgage debt and credit card debt

Which leads us into subscriptions, the latest buzz word

to pay for ‘stuff’ that was intended to maintain a lifestyle all

for our industry, triggered by the move to this model in the

came crashing down, making the world a significantly

TV world and the rise (and fall) of MoviePass. While these

poorer place. Younger urban people now use Uber instead

schemes have been around for two decades in the cinema,

of owning a car, they rent a bike, stream or download films,

the disruption caused by MoviePass and the subsequent

music and TV, and have a monthly subscription to a book

launch of exhibitor-led schemes to counteract this have led

service. In a digital age, renting (or temporary ownership if

to a near assumption that they are here to stay and will take

you prefer) is not seen as a lower class of solution but a

off in the same way subscription streaming services have.

practical way to live and afford life’s necessities and luxuries.

There are key differences between a subscription for a

These movements signal the end to an economy driven by

service in the home and one for a service out of the home,

ownership of things, to one where payment for usage or

however. Subscription services for cinemas certainly have a

regular subscriptions are the main economic models.

place, but the main point for me is that most people don’t

Commentators have dubbed this the ‘Post-Stuff age.

go to the cinema sufficiently to warrant such a service. The value needed to attract mass visits is not possible in

The growth of social spaces

the cinema world (say $9.99 for an all-you-eat package),

In a world of subscriptions, the circular economy, usage

where the ticket price is the main unit of division between

instead of long-term ownership, and higher levels of

exhibitor and distributor and a number of revenue-sharing

transience, where does cinema fit in? I contend that it fits in

technology services. In the US, frequent moviegoers make

very well. There is still a need for real social interaction, even

up 12% of the population but account for 49% of the tickets

more so than in the past it could be argued, which cinema

sold. These users are likely to be younger and own more

has always provided as a core service. As retail moves online,

tech products compared to the overall population including

high streets are increasingly populated by coffee houses

video streaming devices.

GLOBAL RECORDED MUSIC INDUSTRY REVENUES

(Scource: IFP Global Music Report 2019) 17

Physical

Streaming

Digital

Perform. Rights Synch. Revenues

16 15 14 13 12 11

US $ bn

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

2006

2007

2008

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024_HANCOCK_JUNE19.indd 25

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

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MAGPIE-ING

T O TA L C O N S U M E R S P E N D I N G B Y D E L I V E R Y T Y P E : G L O B A L (Scource: IHS Markit)

Digital Media

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2 0 1 9 (F )

13.2

16.8

23.8

34.0

46.5

56.5

Pay TV VOD

6.0

5.8

6.0

6.2

6.6

6.9

Phys Media

25.9

21.0

18.6

15.8

13.7

11.7

Theatrical

36.1

38.3

37.6

39.4

41.7

44.1

Total

45.1

43.6

48.4

56.0

66.8

75.1

sense, while cinema is the major value creator for films, it sits more in the leisure sector than media. The leisure sector is evolving too, bringing in social media, experience and socialising. It also may include multiple elements not just a single one, such as cinema with a meal or drinks. Technology plays a role in several aspects of this evolution. The modern leisure sector is about experience and providing value for money for that experience. This doesn’t mean cheap, quite

1%

the reverse sometimes. The experience offered can be a IKEA use around 1% of the world’s wood supply for its products — and now you can lease those instead of buying them outright

premium one but it needs to be perceived as good value. I’ve talked about the experience economy for several years, but it’s not my term. Credit goes mainly to B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, academics at Harvard Business

60%

School in 1998, and it applies to cinema in both the digital In the UK, 60% of music revenues are from subscription services instead of pure sales

economy where it sits and the modern leisure economy. Lip service has sometimes been paid to the cinema experience as a concept, but it needs to provide an experience on many

This underlines a key fact: there’s a high crossover

levels: from booking tickets to being immersive, high-quality

between high-volume cinema attendees and those who

entertainment. This doesn’t just refer to technology, though

stream content. So, while subscription models for cinema

that is a lot of what I look at and talk about and it is important.

could account for a significant part of admissions (and they

The whole concept revolves around making cinema a

will need to be priced so as not to lose too much revenue),

premium space for film viewing, differentiating it from the

they aren’t relevant to cinema-going frequency. Subscriptions will look after a cinema’s best customers. That is vital, but they will impact revenues for both exhibitors and distributors. The trade-off for more secure revenue streams may well be less revenue from ticket sales, though extra concessions spend could make up for it. This will

“Periodically, cinema needs to justify its existence — and I believe that this is one such moment in time”

require buy-in from studios and distributors to make it work.

Cinema: a sector that sits apart

home and differentiating if from other leisure options, while building on the social and communal hub it provides. The success of “Avengers: Endgame” is a robust answer to the question often posed to me: “When is cinema dying?” The right film in the right venue will work, bring people together and create a global experience, let alone a national one. Periodically, cinema needs to justify its existence and I believe this is one such moment in time. The cinema space needs to offer comfort, design, experience, sensations and a differentiated space from the home. The signs are good for cinema as long as it positions itself within the evolving dynamics of a number of other sectors surrounding it and

So, in this post-stuff world, where and how does cinema fit

doesn’t forget its core strengths for its customers. Be big, be

in? Cinema has always sat apart from other media. It hasn’t

bold, be premium, be modern, but above all stay Cinema.

demanded a user’s investment in technology or consumer goods, does not involve buying a physical product and what

David Hancock is Research Director, Cinema at IHS Markit

is played on screen is not governed by the individual. In this

and President of the European Digital Cinema Forum.

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www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 13:48


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22/05/2019 12:06 6-2-2019 8:54:24


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5G NETWORK

5G: Can cinemas wish fibre a fond farewell? The rollout of 5G could radically impact content distribution, explains Patrick von Sychowski — just look at Norway…

O

CTOBER LAST YEAR and UK telecom provider EE decided to show off the speed of its rural 4G network with a headline-grabbing stunt involving a flying cinema (check out ee.co.uk/ cinema). This so-called 4GEE cinema

was suspended 100ft in the air above a former RAF base in England’s South Downs, with 20 students from the Goodwood Flying School shown a film streamed via 4G onto the big screen and even popcorn delivered by drones. Apart from certain design flaws — there was no toilet for the strapped-in viewers, for instance — this publicity stunt was somewhat overtaken by technical reality when Norway launched the world’s first 5G cinema this year, and in a regular multiplex no less.

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5G NETWORK

Located in the newly revamped of Storo Storsenter shopping centre in the Norwegian capital, the 14-screen Odeon Oslo was always set to be the flagship of the AMC-owned Odeon Cinemas Group in Norway. It is the largest multiplex in the Scandinavian nation and also the first in Norway with IMAX, Dolby Atmos is in 13 of the auditoriums,

it

features

4K

laser

projection throughout, a lounge area as well as VIP ‘Luxe’ recliners. It was the cinema that enabled the Odeon Group to overtake rival Nordisk as the largest cinema operator in Norway. While still very much in their infancy, 5G networks are far more than just even faster versions of the 4G telecom that powers many of today’s smartphones and mobile devices. 5G is seen as a paradigm shift, having a transformative effect on everything from autonomous vehicles and drones to telemedicine and ubiquitous cloud storage access. With speeds of 10-20 Gb/s, 5G networks operate as fast as fibre optic, without the wires. With a low latency of less than

also provides wifi in the cinema lobby to its customers using

a millisecond, 5G is increasingly seen as playing a key role in

the 5G network. Odeon also envisions enabling future

mission-critical applications. It also uses less energy and

applications such as live-streaming of events and eSports

offers more affordable devices for the so-called Internet of

with multi-player gaming (see interview sidebar with Ivar

Things (IoT). Yet while many mobile applications are envisioned, stationary communication will also happen.

A focus on customer needs Odeon Oslo began testing 5G delivery as part of Telia Norway’s own 5G test network in the Nydalen outskirt of Oslo last year. Telia Norway had

“Odeon envisions enabling future 5G applications such as live-streaming of events and multiplayer eSports”

Halstvedt, head of Norway for Odeon). “Using 5G instead of traditional internet lines is giving us higher capacity than we’re used to,” Jon Einar Sivertsen, CCO at Odeon Norway, told ZDNet at the launch of the test. “We have redundancy via normal lines, so we’re not dependent on the 5G network now. But it’s been shown that

previously deployed 4G to all of its base-stations and

5G is giving us download rates we normally wouldn’t get.

Narrowband IoT. But rather than just rolling out 5G and

We transfer the movies to local servers, so playback happens

then seeing how it gets used, Telia Norway wanted to start

locally, even though we’ve tested live streaming, which also

with its potential future customers. “We’re starting the 5G

works excellently.”

development from a customer perspective, and exploring

Telia Norway stated that the test has achieved a

use cases and service scenarios first, and developing the

performance of 2.2Gb/s and response times of between

technology from that,” said Abraham Foss, CEO of Telia

seven and eight milliseconds, compared to 40 milliseconds

Norway in a statement.

or more for 4G. However, the Telia-Odeon Oslo test is a ‘non-

Telia Norway’s 5G network went live with two base

standalone 5G’ variant, whereby signaling traffic for setting

stations in mid-December 2018 and Odeon began using it

up the data channel is carried by 4G in the 1,800MHz band,

fully in January 2019. As well as downloading DCPs, Odeon

but the data traffic itself is carried over the 3.7GHz band by

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EE in the UK showcased its 4GEE cinema last year to illustrate the strength of its network in rural areas… But simple country folk would rather now have a robust, super-fast 5G network, please

www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 11:23


Interview with Ivar Halstvedt, head of Norway, Odeon Kino AS

How did the Odeon Oslo 5G trial

For all practical matters we can use

come about?

the 5G as an internet connection.

It is an extension of the cooperation Telia and Odeon has on the media

How does this trial fit in with other

side, Telia has used cinema for on

initiatives by Odeon/SF?

-screen advertising and its recently

The Norwegian cinema industry has

acquired broadband division, Get,

always been keen to use technology.

has sponsored one of the auditoria

Odeon Oslo has an 80% share of

and used both on-screen an digital

customers buying tickets online, all

ad space to communicate with its

digital and with no need to print

customers. As both Get and Telia

tickets. The cinema itself is highly

have used Odeon as a part of their

automated with everything from

marketing mix before joining forces,

digital screens, lights, doors and TMS

the idea came up to use Odeon Oslo

all automated.

as a launch for their 5G test. Do you see 5G working for others

5G. Even so, it is a remarkable world-first. And with telco

How have the results been so far?

in Norway and around the world?

We have tested live streaming with

With speeds we see in Odeon Oslo, it

excellent results and also transferred

can replace fixed lines, especially in

DCPs via 5G. We also provide a

sites with an old infrastructure. It also

separate open WIFI for customers on

gives room for development of live

this technology.

events and in-cinema e-sports where there is not only delivery of a signal

rival Telenor having launched its 5G pilot in Kongsberg, an hour’s drive from Oslo, perhaps the local Krona cinema

Would it not be easier and faster

but also a response. 5G makes it

could be the second 5G cinema in the world.

to deliver DCPs via fibre?

possible to have multiple players at

5G promises to be a significant and viable alternative to

5G shows superior speed to the

multiple locations while, at the same

fibre broadband for many cinema locations. DCP delivery

typical fibre delivery, and there is no

time, streaming to other locations in

has steadily migrated from hard drive and satellite delivery

change of complexity in operation.

high quality.

to broadband, as prices have fallen and speeds have increased, even in previously challenging markets such as India. While satellite was not always an option for many citycentre cinemas, due to roof access for satellite dishes,

cinema trade organisation FILM&KINO. The Odeon Oslo 5G

broadband too can be challenging depending on distance

is thus just the latest in a long line of cinema-technology

to the exchange, which affect installation cost and speed.

firsts for Norway. Odeon Oslo is, however, not the first

5G promises to do away with such restrictions, due to the

instance that the telecom network has been used for DCP

easier infrastructure cost of base station deployments.

distribution and delivery. There is a cinema in the far north

The fact that a cinema in Norway has become the first

of neighbouring Finland (that shall remain nameless) which

in the world to embrace 5G for DCP delivery should not

is too remote to be connected to fibre-optic broadband

come as a surprise. The country was the first in the world to

and also too far to readily accept hard-drive delivery. So,

switch over all of its cinema advertising to low-end digital

instead, DCPs are currently sent there over the local 4G

projection, thanks to cinema advertiser CAPA and solutions

network — but only at night so as to avoid overloading the

provider Unique Digital, in the early part of past decade.

network during the day when the network is used by

Based on this, it then became the first country in the world

regular consumers. It might not be as spectacular as the

to switch over all of its cinemas to DCI-grade digital cinema,

4GEE flying cinema, but it is a practical solution that works

helped in large part by the DVD-levy fund administered by

for now. At least until 5G rolls out in Finland too.

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5G NETWORK

N  OKIA PREDICTIONS FOR 5G IN 2020

10

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nd co

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1 millise

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10, 000

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M2M

16

number of cities in China that Unicorn are looking to build 5G pilot projects

Ultra-low cost Machine2Machine (M2M) networks

In the USA Verizon has already started operating 5G networks in Chicago and Minneapolis

10 years M2M battery life, giving networks that can operate automatically without human intervention 5G around the world While much recent media discussion around 5G has centred on restrictions imposed by the US and others on the Chinese technology supplier Huawei due to concerns regarding communication security, 5G is still being readied for launch in most Western and Asian countries. The first test deployments are being seen this year with commercial availability expected in 2020. Handsets from the likes of Apple, Samsung and others are expected to feature 5G capabilities. Initial tests are mainly focused on major telecom markets (Korea, USA), where Samsung and Qualcomm are based, and in territories associated with dedicated telecom equipment manufacturers such as Huawei (China), Ericsson (Sweden) and Nokia (Finland). In the US, Verizon has already started operating 5G networks in Chicago and Minneapolis, with the Moto Z3 the

Meanwhile China is expected to be the global market

only consumer handset currently available to use with the

leader for 5G deployment and equipment. “Along with the

service and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G going on sale now.

state-owned telecommunications operator, China Unicom,

Sprint will follow in May for some US cities, while AT&T is

which is expected to build 5G pilot projects in 16 cities

accused of misleading consumers with its recent claim to

including Beijing, Hangzhou, Guiyang, Chengdu, Shenzhen,

be launching 5G that was actually closer to 4G in speed. But

Fuzhou, Zhengzhou, and Shenyang, is China Mobile which

with Apple not expected to release a 5G-capable iPhone

will reportedly deploy 10,000 5G base stations by 2020,”

until 2020, there is not expected to be much demand for 5G

Lifewire noted in April. The speed of China’s deployment is

from consumers until then. This leaves open the opportunity

mirrored in neighbouring Korea and Japan, where 5G is due

for commercial partners, including cinemas, instead.

to be showcased widely during Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

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Ivar Halstvedt from Odeon Kino AS, Norway’s transport minister Jon Georg Dale and Telia Norway’s Abraham Foss count down to the launch of Norway’s first 5G cinema

www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 11:24


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20/02/2019 15:22


D C I

S P E C S

Direct view LED screens:

Taking the lead for DCI? Technological evolution in digital cinema led to the creation of the Digital Cinema Initiatives. Now, nearly two decades on, further innovation has prompted a raft of new specifications. Gary Feather, CTO at NanoLumens, creators of LED visualisation solutions, examines developments.

F

OR ANYONE THAT WORKS in the cinema industry or the digital display industry, it is more likely than no that they will have heard the acronym “DCI” floating around. DCI is

shorthand for the Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC, a united endeavour from several of Hollywood’s biggest studios, aided by visionary thought leaders from the movie-making side and brilliant technical experts from the technology side. The DCI venture exists, in its own terms, “to establish

The origins of DCI

and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform

The impetus to create a cooperative body between the

and high level of technical performance, reliability and

biggest movie studios was initiated by Tom McGrath, who

quality control.” In other words, DCI wants to standardise

at the time was an executive with Paramount. McGrath had

digital cinema requirements so that content is created

held several influential positions in a few major studios by

and displayed uniformly and at as high a level as is

the time he reached Paramount and he held nuanced

practically possible.

views on how the industry might evolve. Now a seven-time

The studios involved in the formation of the DCI

Tony Award winner, McGrath had always fostered an

were Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Sony

appreciation for the vividity of live performance. This

Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Universal

liveliness was something he felt the film industry had yet to

Studios, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros.

capture, and so, in 1999, McGrath applied to the US

Dolby is involved as well. 3 4

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Department of Justice for anti-trust waivers so that his

The direction of DCI

studio could work with others to create more true-to-life films. Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC was formed just a

Evidenced by the rise of luxury cinemas, customers have

short time later in March 2002, marking the beginning of

indicated they are willing to pay a higher price for an elevated

the end for traditional film as a medium for presentation.

experience. The premium segment is the fastest growing

The intimate tether between the abovementioned

portion of the cinema market, but display performance has

studios and DCI makes conformance to DCI specifications

failed to keep up. This is where DCI fits in. Dramatic

a virtual (though still technically voluntary) requirement

improvements off screen have not been mirrored on it.

by software developers or equipment manufacturers

Arguably,

targeting the digital cinema market. Their message is

headroom to do so. While almost 200,000 DCI-compliant

clear: this is the direction cinema is going, it’s time to get

projectors (most of which are DLP-based) have been sold

on board.

since 2002, the technology solution many see as headlining

www.cinematech.today

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D C I

s p e c s

200,000 the future is direct view LED; an emissive not reflective projection technology. Newly unveiled LED technologies are capable of brightness levels more than 10x stronger than any projector, with the ability to capture deeper blacks too. Unlike a projector, which obviously projects full images onto

200k DCI-compliant projectors, most DLP-based, have been sold since 2002

65%

of DCI compliance relates to security — the remainder covers image quality

a screen, images on LED screens are comprised of thousands of individual light-emitting diodes each generating colour and brightness. An LED display can create true blacks simply

What’s new in the DCI specs?

by turning off diodes, producing zero nits; a projector, which

The DCI released a “Statement on Technology Evolution in

must project some light, cannot. This ability to hit brighter

Digital Cinema” in March, giving further background on its

and darker signatures expands an LED display’s dynamic

draft specifications on HDR and direct view displays (released

range to a point where DCI-compliant direct-view LED

in November last year). This update, “DCIx”, aims to account for

displays can accommodate HDR video and support PQ

the new visual capabilities of emissive LED displays, including

levels from Dolby. By exposing images multiple times, HDR

more challenging targets for peak luminance, uniformity,

technology attempts to make digital images more true to

colour space, diffused and spectral reflectivity, contrast ratio,

life with greater bit depth in shadowy areas and in blown-

and a range of other performance metrics.

out bright areas. In other words, a camera records the same

While the specifications focus mostly on visual output,

image at different exposures and brightness and software

another field of DCI specifications concerns how content is

blends them. It can make films appear more lifelike.

secured. In fact, 65% of DCI compliance relates to security, the

Giving audiences an experience that vividly mirrors what

rest covering image quality. Transitioning films from physical

they might see in the real world is a mission DCI is committed

reels to digital reels eliminates logistical expense, but renders

to. Direct view LED is the next step towards that objective.

content susceptible to security breaches. DCI specifications

The road ahead won’t be without its bumps however. As a

govern security of studio vaults where films are stored and the

leading provider of direct view LED display solutions with an

integrity of how films are sent out, but they also dictate how

eye towards their cinematic use, NanoLumens knows well

content is received. Movie data is received by media blocks: a

that while digital cinema has come along impressively, there

secure physical part of the device playing the film, be it a

are still challenges facing the primary actors in this drama.

projector or LED display. Manufacturers of such blocks face DCI compliance testing — all this testing can be a drag on progress, but it is imperative to

Specifications: learn to walk before we run

the DCI’s greater mission that cinema

quality

is

beyond

Currently, only a few companies perform DCI compliance testing. Each of these labs tests just two

compromise. Insiders believe

or three display systems a year over the course of a 20-30 week test period at a cost of around

the digital market may expand

$200,000. Tests are based on each lab transforming their knowledge with DLP chips, projectors

rapidly with a shift from DLP to

and screens, and they do not yet test for more advanced HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision

LED and DCI to DCIx.

specifications. Technology evolves faster than our ability to standardise and certify it — digital

Transitioning cinema onto

cinema is still proving it can walk before it runs. However, DCI is working tirelessly to bring highly

direct view LED will alleviate

desired images to moviegoers. Current specifications give guidance on creating a DCP from a

many issues, raising the ceiling

collection of files — the Digital Cinema Distribution Master (DCDM) — as well as the specifics of

of the moviegoing experience

content protection, encryption, and forensic marking. Specifications also establish standards for

beyond its current capability. It

decoder requirements and the film presentation environment itself, such as ambient light levels,

may take time, but DCI exists

pixel aspect and shape. Even though it dictates what kind of information is required, the DCI spec

not simply to improve cinema

does not include details about how data in a distribution package is formatted. Formatting of this

now but also to expand where

information is defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). Both

cinema goes in the future. The

the industry and the technology are complex — total uniformity requires painstaking attention to

ideal experience is of a story

detail. Specifications will only grow more detailed as time goes on.

well told and LED canvases are fast advancing how it’s done.

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www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 08:59


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22/05/2019 12:30


COCA-COLA

IT’S THE

REEL THING! Coca-Cola’s love affair with the movie industry It may just be a fizzy beverage, but the cultural giant that is Coca-Cola has stamped itself on the film world almost for as long as the movie industry has existed. Melissa Cogavin explores the impact the drinks giant has had — and continues to have — throughout our movie theatres.

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www.cinematech.today

21/05/2019 10:09


D

ANNY BOYLE’S NEW FILM ‘Yesterday’ imagines a world without the Beatles. Impossible… it is almost as impossible to imagine a world without Coca-Cola. In 2019, our pop culture is defined as much by movies as music and Coca-

Cola is synonymous with the movies. Unpicking the reasons and circumstances for this means going back almost a century. From its origins as an “invigorating medicinal antidote to ill humour” in an Atlanta pharmacy in 1886 to a gigantic monolith of a company supplying 200 countries, a sterile blurb on its website detailing the shift into cinemas makes it sound as if it was part of a well-planned global initiative. The reality is one of happy accidents, good timing and successful partnerships — and of a company with an uncanny ability to identify zeitgeists and position itself as a champion of social progression, often very courageously. Oliver Delaney, European channel director for cinema at Coca-Cola in London explained that the alignment with the movie industry was “part of a marketing strategy that we wanted our brand to be associated with cinema-going. Brand teams in the 1920s saw cinema as something people loved, and they wanted the brand associated with it. It wasn’t about selling drinks in cinemas, it was about Coke in films and around movies, being associated with that.”

Outgunning Koca Nola At this point there were several copycat colas on the market; Koca Nola was most notable, but My Coca Co and even Celery Cola did well for a while. Coca-Cola was placing its product in and around movies and movie theatres from the early silent pictures onwards; nobody else attempted that. Ground-breaking initiatives include a Charlie Chaplin 3D silent movie for which guests were provided with CocaCola-branded cardboard 3D glasses upon entry. We have the benefit of the long view to make sense of the rise of the brand’s association with the movies; we can see now that the increasingly loud noise of the Temperance movement was in its third wave by 1893 in the US. The cinema was an antidote to all that awful drinking, rooted in all sorts of dark motivations to suppress minorities (ironic that we are now falling over ourselves to equip cinemas with alcohol licences). As Prohibition was sworn into law in the US in 1920, the movie industry was entering its welldocumented Golden Age. Coca-Cola benefitted massively from a perfect storm. Justine Fletcher, director of heritage communications at the World of Coca-Cola museum in www.cinematech.today

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COCA-COLA

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Coca-Cola’s connection to the cinema business is inextricable and can be traced right back to the earliest days of cinema

Atlanta, Georgia, agreed it was a case of fortuitous timing;

balance was a massive success considering its maverick

prohibition of alcohol and a booming film industry helped

approach and total inexperience as a movie-maker.

the synergy between Coke and the movies considerably. Coca-Cola’s presence in cinemas at that stage was

Surely the temptation to plant Coca-Cola logos in the

and a clear strategy about product placement came much

background of the movies it produced was overwhelming

later. “We didn’t start from that perspective; it started from

at this time? Delaney wasn’t so sure. “We probably

seeing cinema as a way to work and build our brand and

consciously didn’t because they knew people wouldn’t

associate ourselves with an amazing evening out,” he

appreciate it. It’s all about: what’s the right film? Does the

added. “Our relationship didn’t start with selling Coke, it

placement fit with our brand? Does it fit with their film? Is

was about brand partnership celebrating cinema-going.”

it done in a way that is natural and inobtrusive?” front of Molly Ringwald in “The Breakfast Club” for example

Coca-Cola took its partnership with movies so seriously it

— and the dream next level in which the product itself

actually bought a major studio, Columbia Pictures, in 1982.

becomes integral to the narrative. Get it right and, from a

Incredibly, Diet Coke was just weeks from being released

marketing perspective, it can be an amazing part of the

onto the market. There are few companies that would

film. Sometimes it even becomes a part of film history

consider branching out into two completely new areas

and an instantly recogniseable scene. Think of Superman

simultaneously, but the decision-maker behind the move

getting smashed into the Coke sign. ET opening a can of

was unfazed. Fearless and ambitious, the newly elected

Coke. The scene in which Will Ferrell’s Buddy chugs a two-

chairman and CEO Roberto Goizueta (a Cuban refugee

litre Coke bottle in “Elf”. Justine Fletcher smiles. “Coca-Cola

who arrived in the US 22 years previously with $40 in his

is part of Americana. It’s a cultural leader.”

pocket and $100 worth of Coca-Cola shares) stunned his

Coca-Cola’s initial foray into the cinema industry in

board at the time, saying: “We’re going to take risks. What

the 1920s led to an ongoing and remarkable series of

always has been will not necessarily always be forever.’’ He

campaigns over many decades with the soft drinks giant

added, ‘’Nothing energises an organisation like speed.”

aligning itself to various social causes. Fletcher told me,

its limitations in an unbelievably unpredictable and high-stakes environment, Coke took a step back at the time when it shrewdly

“Coca-Cola took its partnership with movies so seriously it actually bought Columbia Pictures back in 1982”

“The drink isn’t as important as the message. It’s about bringing people together.” Utimately this was, of course, intended to shift soda, but the campaigns were so sensitively produced and the tone exactly right that, while Coca-Cola has attracted criticism at times, it is vastly disproportionate to the goodwill the brand has attracted.

On the right side of history During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Coca-Cola

assembled a dream team of CBS, HBO and Columbia

was seen on the right side of history time and again, with

Pictures and created Columbia Tri-Star. Their combined

ads featuring happy black and white people sitting side-by-

expertise over the following seven years produced a

side on segregation benches nursing a Coke, for example. In

remarkable stable of box office hits: “Ghostbusters”,

the 1970s, as the Vietnam war raged, one iconic campaign

“Stripes”, “The Karate Kid”, “Tootsie” and “Stand By Me”,

stood out. Spoken of in reverent tones in the Coke building

culminating in a Best Picture Oscar for the seminal,

as ‘Hilltops’, you will know it better by the lyrics: “I’d Like To

groundbreaking bio-pic “Ghandi” in 1982. Their TV work is

Buy The World A Coke.” Fletcher explained: “It’s about

less critically acclaimed but it certainly paid the bills:

bringing people together. That is the message of Coke.”

“Diff’rent Strokes”, “Wheel of Fortune”, “The Young & The

Delaney warms to this. “We’ve taken some bold moves

Restless”, “Days of Our Lives” and “Jeopardy!” were all

and sometimes that is criticised; you’re not going to please

household names syndicated worldwide.

everyone, but being progressive means you need to have a

By 1989 Goizueta concluded that a ‘back to basics’

viewpoint on the world.” Doing it right therefore, as with

approach was appropriate and a refocus on what the

Hilltops, means your brand becomes part of our culture,

company knew — the drinks industry — was required.

which must be the ultimate ambition for a marketeer.

Columbia was sold to Sony, netting a tidy $500m profit for

Understatedly, Delaney added, “Sometimes it can backfire.”

Coca-Cola; with hindsight, the company’s ownership on

In 2017 a big budget, big name ad produced by rival

www.cinematech.today

042_COLA_JUNE19.indd 45

There’s product placement — a can of Coke on a desk in

From fans to film-maker

Recognising

Making Coca-Cola an intrinsic part of the moviegoing experience saw a conscious effort on the part of the brand’s marketeers

Putting Coke in the picture

limited to point of sale in the lobbies, Delaney explained,

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COCA-COLA

Pepsi attempted to capitalise on political turmoil on both

Capturing the past and the future

sides of the Atlantic. It centered around a clumsy reference

Though civil rights may be on the back-burner for now;

to a globally identifiable recent photograph of an African

another big initiative from Coca-Cola is back in cinemas

American woman standing up to police. So dramatically

now. The Coca-Cola Freestyle machine again captures the

did the resulting ad backfire it caused Pepsi to apologise

zeitgeist sweeping the US — personalisation of food.

publicly and remove it altogether. It’s still on YouTube,

Harking back to the glory days of the soda fountain, but

though, littered with thousands of thumbs down and ironic

with a modern twist, the concept offers consumers 165

comments — a stark reminder of how not to do it. In

Coca-Cola products as well as custom flavours. Packaged

summary, Kendal Jenner in designer jeans leads a protest

in a Pininfarina-styled machine with 1950s retro touches,

march. Her route barred by a police blockade, she reaches

the system is decidedly modern at its core. The press

for a Pepsi from an ice bucket, hands a can to a handsome

release tells us it “transmits supply and demand data to

cop preventing her progress. The officer snaps open the

both Coca-Cola and the owner including brands sold and

can, takes a slurp. Smiles erupt, Kendal is a hero, the officer

the times of day of sales.” Customers drinking from

lets her pass. All’s right with the world. You can imagine

Freestyle machines are in control of what they drink, and

the online reaction. Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin

their tastes are driving the future of the brand. Coke has

Luther King and an activist herself, summed it up in a post

harnessed this technology in a contemporary take on

retweeted thousands of times: “If only Daddy would have

branding those 3D glasses for Chaplin’s movie, offering

known about the power of Pepsi.” It’s a thin line between

branded specialist drinks as a movie promotion, such as

supporting progressive change and virtue signalling.

specially designed drinks as part of a “Captain Marvel” tie-

Coca-Cola doesn’t always hit the right note either. A recent change in Saudi law giving women the right to drive

in. More are due for “Dark Phoenix” and “Star Wars”.

saw the company criticised for launching a hammy ad in

Tapping into the eSports arena

the kingdom that features a father and daughter cooped

Coca-Cola also continues to promote event cinema in its

up in a hot car on a deserted road, the daughter crunching

support of eSports. Further to a three-year association with

gears, the father gritting his teeth. They bond over a Coke

League of Legends, Coca-Cola recently signed a deal with

and the tension melts away. It’s a fine line indeed.

Blizzard, whose Overwatch game earned Blizzard $1bn in

Forty years ago bringing people together was enough;

its first year of release. Delaney is convinced. “The cinema

these days social media is an incredible leveller and brands

industry is multifaceted, so it’s not just retail. eSports has

must be accountable at all points or risk boycotting, loss of

been an area that is still untapped for cinema.” But with

credibility and ultimately revenue. Now you need to have

40m players online last year, isn’t cinema an irrelevance for

an ethos and shout about carrying this out. Not too loudly

the players and more widely, the gaming industry?

though, for fear of being accused of virtue signalling.

“What we’ve seen through the events we’ve done is

Delaney was frank. “You still need to be kind of the fun,

that there is a real group of consumers out there willing to

sexy brand you’ve always been but you’ve also got to be a

sit in a cinema for five, six, seven hours at a time. They will

brand where, if people really dug into every part of your

eat and drink the whole time they’re there. There is a huge

business, they would still feel comfortable buying you.”

opportunity with eSports.” Brandon Snow, chief revenue

Single-use plastics = ecological lunacy learned lessons in response to customer calls to remove

there is “an even more global and diverse group of fans.”

plastic straws last year, which seemingly took the entire

Coca-Cola is doing a credible job sustaining both the

drinks industry by surprise. Delaney explained this led to a

planet and itself in the 21st Century, that is clear. For a

doubling down internally at Coca-Cola to commit to its

company this large, with a 133-year history, the brand

pledge for a ‘World Without Waste’, promising by 2030 to

remains surprisingly relevant, innovative, scandal-free and

reclaim one bottle for every one Coke sells. “That we will

is tackling pressing issues important to the young with

essentially reclaim everything is great, but given how

commitment and passion. With a foot in the future and a

many drinks we sell this is a huge task.” He added, “It’s

keen eye on its own heritage in cinema, it seems to do

important to maintain trust particularly among young

what it promises on its Twitter feed: “Spreading optimism,

consumers who are motivated by the environment. If you

one bottle at a time, or maybe two bottles to share”.

don’t take action on it you’ll be doomed.”

So long as they’re recycled.

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042_COLA_JUNE19.indd 46

Targetting cinema exhibitors directly has been part of the company’s strategy for years

and Overwatch is a perfect pairing between two businesses that share common values.” He also agrees that, in cinema,

>

What could be more glamorous than a starlet grabbing a bottle of Coke on set?

officer of Blizzard agrees. “The union between Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s current focus is on sustainability. The company

4 2

Coca-Cola actively engaged film audiences, hosting screenings as here on snowy streets in Peterborough, Ontario in 1953

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042_COLA_JUNE19.indd 47

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SUB WOOFERS

AUDIO THAT DELIVERS HAMMER BLOWS TO THE With the ability to reach infrasonic frequencies as low as 18Hz, the Thor subwoofer from MAG Cinema deploys innovative technology to deliver an immersive bass experience. Peter Knight listens in.

OPPOSITI 4 4

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048_MAG_JUNE19.indd 48

www.cinematech.today

21/05/2019 10:21


HEN YOU GIVE YOUR product the name ‘Thor’, you need to be pretty confident its performance lives up to its name — especially if the product is a professional-grade subwoofer whose purpose in life is to deliver a new type of bass and exceptional sound pressure. Launched two years ago, the Thor subwoofer is from MAG Cinema, a Ukrainian-based audio specialist with a wide range of solutions for exhibitors. Incorporated into the Thor subwoofer is M-Force technology which includes a patented moving magnet linear motor structure from the

Fact File

Italian pro-audio amplifier manufacturer Powersoft. Instead of having a lightweight coil moving in a fixed magnetic field, it has a lightweight magnet in the middle of two huge fixed coils. The manufacturers say this delivers a strength

About MAG Cinema MAG Cinema

A collaborative effort For a number of years, MAG Cinema has worked alongside

company offering

Powersoft to deliver a variety of different products for

cost-effective

professional audio. So it was clear who MAG Cinema should

sound solutions.

turn to when it came to the development of breakthrough

It has existed for

equipment for premium experience cinema installations. The goal of the Thor subwoofer design was to achieve

Many of its

ultimate precision in the reproduction of the low-frequency

cinema products

effect track, which provides the basis for the immersive

were created in

cinema experience. In the eyes of the team at MAG Cinema,

collaboration

traditional cinema subwoofers — based on wound voice coil

with installation

transducers — are limited in their performance in the infra-

providers to be

low spectrum, lacking in terms of sound pressure levels

reliable and

(SPL), have a lower frequency threshold, and generate a

competitive.

great amount of distortion. Looking for an alternative

www.mag-

approach, MAG Cinema’s engineers turned to the M-Force

cinema.com

technology from Powersoft. M-Force is a unique transducer

TION? 048_MAG_JUNE19.indd 49

drive a huge diaphragm with unprecedented control.

is a Ukrainian

over 20 years.

www.cinematech.today

factor 20x higher than conventional designs, and allows it to

that uses a moving magnet linear motor structure to generate sound frequency oscillations. This solution has a power output capacity that exceeds that of a traditional transducer, allowing the use of a bigger reinforced diffusor (30in in diameter) to create unparalleled SPL figures. Another prominent feature of M-Force technology is the use of acoustical feedback to adjust for moving system

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21/05/2019 10:21


SUB WOOFERS

non-linearities

was achieved, rising to 125Hz, with a total distortion level so

and

low it allowed perception of subtle cinema track features

exterenal

environmental

not typically revealed by traditional cinema subwoofers.

influence.

Announced at CinemaCon in 2017, the Thor subwoofer

Implemented by

has proven to be a popular product with 25+ screens across

DPC (differential

10 countries already installed. This technology does not just

pressure sensor)

have an application in cinema or other similar situations, it

and

has been used in other applications too. The nature of the

extremely

low-latency

vibrations that the subwoofer creates, mean it is the perfect

processing of the

system to reproduce the experience of an earthquake — as

digital signal, this technology helps to ensure precision in the reproduction of the input signal. The external cabinet of the Thor subwoofer was created specifically to add to the benefits of the M-Force system. Based around a transmission line design, the system’s frequency range has been extended down to 18Hz (-3dB),

Les 7 Batignolles, recently opened and fully equipped with a Thor sub in its premium auditorium

used in a visitor centre in Iceland. The experience uses the bass drivers to agitate concrete parts of the floor, similar to an earthquake. Given the speaker’s ability to reach these depths, it is likely that the technology will have practical uses elsewhere, too.

while being capable of attaining a peak SPL of 145dB — 2dB

Fact File

below the level of a Formula 1 car drive-by at full throttle, which should satisfy most audiences. The cabinet is heavily reinforced to withstand the enormous pressures generated by M-Force, while at the same time being made slim enough to fit into tight behind-screen spaces.

At the practical end of Thor’s hammer?

About Powersoft Established in

The low-frequency reproduction is a matter of how big

To test the theory in practice for Cinema Technology,

1995, Powersoft is

the volume of air is that can be moved. The M-Force product

Peter Knight hopped on the Eurostar for a trip to Paris

an Italian

allows for high efficiency in a smaller footprint together

to experience the Thor subwoofer. The system has

company with

with a reduction in distortions and minimisation of power

been installed in a brand new seven-screen cinema,

over 100 staff. Its

compression effects. With a nominal power of 5000W, Thor

Les 7 Batignolles complex in the 17th arrondissement,

roots were in the

is a self-powered system with Powersoft’s M-Drive amplifier

an area of Paris significantly redeveloped in the past

development of

providing all the controls, monitoring, and protection

decade, thanks in part of the city’s bid to host the 2012

energy-efficient,

needed to drive a highly advanced transducer.

Olympics, writes Peter. Opened in December, the site

high-powered

In testing, the results achieved by the Thor design were

includes one 352-seat PLF auditorium into which the

amplifiers . The

impressive. As stated previously a low frequency of 18Hz

Thor subwoofer has been installed as a fundamental

group boasts a

element of the entire sound system supplied by MAG

worldwide sales

Cinema. It sits to the screen’s left, and — displaying its intentions clearly — is fully visible to the auditorium (i.e. the

network and

black screen skirt is deliberately not covering it). Consequently, during the demonstration it was possible to see

service centres in

clearly the activated vibration of the cone. The cinema played some trailers and Dolby Atmos content to illustrate

over 80 countries.

the system’s capabilities, and to allow us to experience the full quality of the sound.

www.powersoft.it

The bass this system produces is quite different to what you might ordinarily experience when in a cinema or a similar audio-driven environment. Obviously it is a challenge to describe something so physical in words, but it was notable that there is a lack of harshness in the way you experience the bass in comparison to what you might hear and feel with traditional subwoofers. This is smoother — almost velvety in its feeling. The best way to describe it would be to compare it to something like drinking a smooth, perfectly formed cup of coffee instead of instant coffee. The two are quite different. You feel the bass in your body, but not in a harsh way. It is both effective and settled at the same time. Watching a movie is an engaging experience that can only be its best if all the audio effects can be heard in the way they were originally created. In my view, for its lowfrequency audio and infrasonic elements in particular, the M-Force system has been successfully incorporated to give better results than a number of conventional low-frequency effects subwoofers. A slim design that packs a punch

4 6

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048_MAG_JUNE19.indd 50

www.cinematech.today

21/05/2019 11:19


The Future of Laser Modularity

18-20 June 2019 Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona (CCIB) Suite C

Incorporating NEC’s best-in-class Laser technology, the modular NEC NC2402ML projector delivers an outstanding movie experience and new standards of installation and servicing, ideal for any theatre.

Captivate your visitors with a flexible choice of 18, 22 or 24,000 Lumens light modules and 2K or 4K resolutions incorporating RB laser technology that delivers crisp, almost speckle-free imagery. You can even extend your savings using lenses from your NC2000 Series projectors. (Full range of options available soon)

For further information please visit www.digital-cinema-nec.com

Untitled-4 1 NEC_AD_Digital_Cinema_NC2402ML_297x210.indd 1

22/05/2019 12:18 13/5/19 12:22


THE ULTIMATE INFLATABLE MOVIE SCREEN

info@airscreen.com · www.airscreen.com · +49 251 60 90 250

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10: 17: 03 32

www.cinematech.today

22/05/2019 12:50


PROJECTORS

NEC: keeping the customer satisfied A strong culture of customer support ensures NEC builds long-term partnerships with cinemas, as Peter Knight discovers at its UK service centre

“Better Products, Better Service,” was to provide customers

19th century, when in 1899 it was

with world-class products and dependable service. The

founded as Nippon Electric Company

notion of follow-up service didn’t take root in Japanese

Ltd — changed to NEC Corporation in

businesses until a full half-century later, whereas NEC had,

April 1983 — as Japan’s first joint venture with foreign

from the beginning, embraced a concept that developed

capital. NEC was established by Kunihiko Iwadare in

into what is now called customer satisfaction. In cinema

association with the US firm Western Electric Company (a

terms, NEC entered the sector in 2003 and has more than

name well known in cinema from the early days of 35mm).

11,000 digital cinema projectors installed in Europe, Middle

The basic aim of the company, expressed in its slogan

East and Africa alone.

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053_NEC_JUNE19.indd 53

EC TRACES ITS HISTORY back to the

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21/05/2019 10:57


PROJECTORS

More than just projectors NEC is more than projectors though, it offers a range of products tailored to the cinema space…

LED SCREENS In November 2013 NEC installed a huge 107m2 LED screen on the Odeon Leicester Square (see previous page). Used to market films showing in Screen 1 and for premieres, it is one of the largest displays of its kind in a public square. The huge display is flanked by two 18m2 NEC LED displays. The whole digital canvas looks as good today as it did when installed over five years ago. The NEC 10mm Nichia LED module is designed to deliver uniformity of brightness and colour, with realistic skintones, across the

NEC’s projector technology and range

entire screen. Not surprisingly it can be a challenge to get

As with Christie and Barco, NEC makes use of the TI chipset

uniform colour consistency of images across a display of

for its projectors and has a variety of products to meet the

this size and it is a major achievement for NEC. Being such

needs of a venue, no matter its size or requirements. With 11

a large display it has an interesting set of challenges: it

cinema projectors in its range, NEC can offer a projector for

must be seen from multiple locations and angles in a

any size screen up to a massive 32m. Its smaller projector

variety of different weather and light levels. No matter

products (the NC1000 and NC1201L) support boothless

where the viewer is standing, they will experience bright

operation. NEC’s Cinema Silencer Housing, designed to go

images delivering up to 6,000cd/m2 brightness, and

in the auditorium, works alongside its boothless products.

Creative signage by Beaver Group with NEC screens at the recently opened Showcase Cinema in Southampton, on England southern coast

excellent viewing even in direct sunlight. An ambient light sensor ensures optimum brightness whilst minimising power consumption and with a high lumen to watt ratio.

DIGITAL MENU BOARDS AND SIGNAGE

A View from the top Alain Chamaillard (head of cinema, EMEA & CIS, strategic and vertical sales),

NEC also produces menu boards and displays for digital signage posters and integrated systems for cinemas.

Our Japanese heritage guides our ethos, placing the customer at the

Sensor-driven solutions using NEC leafengine (unified

centre of operations. A culture of respect and reliability permeates the

sensor/software connectivity) make delivered content

organisation making NEC a trusted partner for the long-term. Our

relevant to the viewer and pertinent to certain conditions.

principles might make our sales methods more conservative than our

This content-aware signage maximises opportunities for

competitors, but we prefer to nurture a partnership working with our

revenue generation, enhancing the messaging according

customers to gain a complete understanding of their needs.

to the time of day, seasonal conditions, dwell time and

As a global organisation NEC is well-positioned to deliver a full service

audience demographics. NEC works with partners such as

for multi-national clients whilst responding on a local level. We work

Beaver Group to specify and deliver the elements needed

with leading systems integrators and cinema chains who require a cross

to create an immersive experience to engage with visitors.

border service yet with a single contact point to support multi-national

Integrated digital signage networks link all areas in the

operations. As the only display manufacturer able to supply and support

venue, building a connection with audiences who respond

the broadest range of technologies, we offer cinema-wide solutions.

with increased loyalty and buy-in. Operators benefit from

We’re not just in the theatre, but on the façade, in the foyer, the bars and

increased efficiency, maintaining fresh, engaging and

lounges, the ticket office, the back office and the concessions stand.

relevant content according to the audience demographic. 5 0

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053_NEC_JUNE19.indd 54

www.cinematech.today

21/05/2019 10:57


360°

11,000

Over 11,000 DC projectors installed in Europe up to now

With the advent of laser, everstranger requests come in to NEC, including a recent enquiry for a project that can turn through 360˚

Most new NEC projectors are now single rather than three phase.

RB laser: typically 1/2 the energy use of xenon.

NEC Launches new modular NEC NC2402ML At CinemaCon, NEC launched a new projector

OTHER BENEFITS OF NC2402ML INCLUDE:

to its range, the NEC NC2402ML, the world’s

Virtually zero maintenance – no lamp and no

first cinema projector to integrate a modular

filter replacement costs, no maintenance

laser light system with a projector head. The

personnel costs and no lamp stock due to

modular approach enables venues to plug-in

the innovative Laser Light engine.

the appropriate light module based on the

Lower TCO – highest reliability, maintenance-

required brightness. This functionality allows

free operation, low power consumption and

projectors to be adapted according to screen

up to 30,000 hours life; the Laser Light source

size. The NC2402ML bundles NEC’s NP-02HD

results in a significantly lower overall cost.

projector head with the modular 24,000lm

Sealed optical engine – minimising dust and

The NC1700L projector was the world’s

light module out of three swappable light

smoke ingress, consistent performance is

first RB Laser projector to be DCI

modules (24,000lm, 20,000lm and 18,000lm).

assured and no special maintenance is

compliant. Designed for theatres with

Having all in one box, the modular approach

required.

mid-sized screens of up to 17m wide,

makes it quick and easy to achieve the desired

A host of integrated features – optional built-

the RB laser light source produces

light

and

in 2TB screen server, 2 x 3G SDI Interfaces,

colour and brightness that surpasses

scenarios. The unit uses RB laser technology,

HDMI interface for alternative content,

traditional laser phosphor projection

providing crisp, almost speckle-free imagery,

advanced

systems. As with most projectors

combining benefits of RGB laser technology

functions with NAS support.

manufactured currently, the NC1700L

with lower costs.

NC1700L: World’s first RB Laser DCI projector

output

for

different

screens

network

and

built-in

GPIO

has been designed to be both flexible and easy to install, requiring no exhaust system.

NC3541L: World’s Brightest RB Laser Up to now, laser sources for premium- and large-format screens have tended to require full use of RGB laser sources. The NEC NC3541L is a 4K projector using an RB laser which takes advantage of both laser phosphor and RGB laser technologies. The result is a powerful unit which delivers benefits in terms of cost, operational efficiency and image quality. This projector manages a 35,000 lumen level of brightness and can be used for screens up to 32m.

Back on screen, fast From the beginning, NEC understood that, for a cinema, getting back on screen as soon as possible was vital. Early discussions with cinema owners led to the establishment of hubs right www.cinematech.today

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The new modular NC2402ML combines the advantage of a swappable light module with RB laser technology

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PROJECTORS

NEC supplies the Queen Mary 2 The Queen Mary 2 cruise liner was launched in 2004 and can carry up to 2,600 passengers across the Atlantic, but you may not know that there is a 475 seat cinema on board. When it was being built in France in 2004, the Queen Mary 2 was on the cusp of the digital cinema age and was fitted with two Christie 512 digital projectors and an Ernemann 35mm projector, all in a compact projection booth that serves as the control centre for lectures and the planetarium. The cinema is towards the bow and occupies three of across EMEA in the UK, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Germany. These allow parts to be delivered anywhere in six hours — within an average of 4 hours — to

Renewing prisms: part of NEC’s commitment to long-term service

the 14 decks in height and about threequarters of the ship’s width. The cinema screen is 13 m wide and capable of showing 3D. Now the screen is illuminated using NEC’s NC3240S-A 4K projectors, each with 9kW lamphouses, running at 108 amps. Below the projectors are mounted GDC

most locations (subject to weather and traffic!). So if a

3D servers with Dolby 7.1 surround sound as standard. Several seating areas

cinema discovers an issue first thing in the morning, it is

have audio loops for the hard of hearing.

possible it can be back on screen by the evening. The hubs are open 16 hours a day, with the German one open 24/7. The rapid hub service is an extra service available to any customer who wishes to pay for it, otherwise parts come

come into the service area and are broken down into their

from the Amsterdam hub, which operates normal working

component parts. They are then cleaned in a sterile

hours, meaning, typically, next working day delivery.

environment before the reassembly and realignment

Inside the European Technical Centre

process takes place. The cleaning can take a bit of time, to remove the build up of dirt completely. Reassembling the

NEC’s technical centre has been in its current building in in

prisms requires the use of a special clamp that allows for

Telford in the UK since 1999. Opened as a manufacturing

the finest of adjustments across six different planes of

plant for desktop monitors, the centre is now used as a call

access. The technician has five cameras and a pixel-perfect

Alignment of refurbished prisms is made to the finest tolerances across six planes

centre for non-cinema products, as well as being the main EMEA cinema support centre for all of the NEC partners. These partners are able to access support via email and telephone. As many of the partners and staff at the cinema support centre have worked together since the beginning, it is often described as feeling like a big extended family.All parts swapped out of NEC projectors by its partners are returned to the warehouse. Each is checked, and if it failed under guarantee is returned to Japan, otherwise it is refurbished and reconditioned to be able to go back out. If the cost of repair is too high, it is recycled. Consequently at the support centre, there is one of every model of every projector manufactured held in order to test out parts. The warehouse also keeps a supply of loan equipment for use across Europe for demo purposes.

Refurbishing prisms Since 2017, the team in Telford has been able to refresh and recondition projector prisms for any of their projectors — the only site outside of Japan to offer this capability. Making it possible to extend the life of all NEC projectors, the prisms 5 2

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monitor on hand to ensure the alignment is precise. Once the prism is refurbished, glass washers are glued into place to stop the settings being changed. The glass washers are secured using UV glue which must be kept at a specific temperature and an exact weight. The whole process is a continuous cycle and takes about eight hours, although in reality it takes longer as a result of having to send reports and information to different parties. To give an idea of how useful this service is, one Portugese ten-screen venue is currently going through the process of reconditioning the projectors in all of its screens. Similarly, a set of the first cinema projectors that NEC installed in Hatfield, England, are still in use today having been refurbed, and in Blackpool 16 years later, still producing the required 14ft/L output. This ability to service and refurb means that cinema operators can look to upgrade the projector in their largest screen, and then roll their remaining projectors down, via a refurbishment programme, leading to the extended life of the equipment. Or they can simply look to refurbish their projectors, selling the older ones on to another user for whom such a refurbed projector might make a more economically rational purchase. From the refurbishment process NEC is able to recycle 67% of all material with the remaining 33% being incinerated, producing electricity. The emphasis on service and longevity here is key — NEC sees refurbishing and reusing as a good thing. It will often sell a new unit and gain a new customer if an older one is sold on at the same time. Smart thinking.

www.nec-display-solutions.com

PPO OIINNTT SSO OUURRCCEE SSEERRI IEESS

www.pulz.co.in www.pulz.co.in

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E V E N T S

E V E N T S The gala that is CinemaCon usually sees razzamatazz filling the halls — but this year things seemed a little muted. Patrick von Sychowski reports

CinemaCon 2019: Uncertainty

W

ITH NO EARTH-

is Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century

shattering

Fox ­— which closed on 19 March, less

demos

and

a

than two weeks before the show —

generally

Cineworld swallowing Regal, or even

positive

Box Office Magazine taking over Film

domestic and global box office

Journal International. The net result is

picture, albeit with several underlying

fewer studios showing off films, fewer

worries rumbling in the background,

exhibitor

CinemaCon 2019 often seemed like a

participating and smaller stacks of

silver cloud in search of a dark lining

trade magazines in the halls of

­— or maybe it was just a wait-and-see

Caesar’s Palace. Disney opened its

year.

slate presentation with a spirited

At the end of the customary post-

representatives

“Two-Great-Studios-Together”

clips

keynote press briefing, NATO’s John

reel,

Fithian berated the assembled press

“Frozen 2” or “Star Wars IX” footage,

corps for having spent half of their

let

allocated hour on asking questions

appearance. [“Dumbo” disappointed

about Netflix to him and the MPAA’s

and

Charles

Rivkin,

whilst

not

but alone

disappointed any

though

with

on-stage

“Captain

no star

Marvel”

once

overcame fan-boy hate, it was no

mentioning that the US had its best

“Black Panther”, thus leaving Q1

box office year ever in 2018. Are

down year-on-year while all waited

cinemas so spooked by streamers

for “Avengers: Endgame”.

that they don’t believe their own good fortune, despite certainty that another

great

cinema

year

lies

Studios: now you see ‘em, now you don’t

4 Fresh from winning 4 Oscars for “Roma”, the presence of Netflix loomed

out CinemaCon, citing evaluation of whether the many million spent on putting together a show in Vegas could be spent better targeting exhibitors. Sony Pictures might be back next year, but it was telling that Amazon Studios also did not sponsor its

customary

Thursday

lunch

More worrying was the absence of

(though it did screen “Late Night”).

The first cause for concern was

Sony Pictures, the first time a major

Amazon had earlier threatened to do

industry consolidation, whether that

Hollywood studio had decided to sit

away with the release window for its

ahead?

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>

clouds the horizon in Vegas

films,

after

several

of

them

underperformed on the big screen. With Netflix’s recent four Oscar

Bright lights over the Vegas strip, but the mood in the halls didn’t seem to have quite the same sparkle

New Line’s ‘The Good Liar’ that, “I love

Boys”, as well as a dollop of Brit films

Netflix; but f**k Netflix.” You can catch

(“Last Christmas”, “Downton Abbey”

her latest film in the cinema.

and “Yesterday” — performed live on

Warner Bros. delighted exhibitors

the Colosseum stage by star Himesh

with trailers and footage from “Joker”,

Patel). All assured the crowd that the

streaming giant had just become an

“Godzilla: King of Monsters”, “Detective

studio will continue its winning

official member of the MPAA. This is

Pikachu”, DC films and not least “IT:

streak. “Audiences will show up to

why perhaps the biggest applause

Chapter 2”. Universal cranked it up

original

and headlines of the show were

with “Hobbs & Shaw” duo Johnson

filmmakers as well as franchises,”

reserved for Dame Helen Mirren

and Statham making it personal on

Universal

declaring on stage while promoting

stage, before “Pets 2”, “Ma” and “Good

affirmed. Paramount appears to be

wins for “Roma”, there was a palpable nervousness,

particularly

as

the

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from Donna

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E V E N T S

staging a much-needed comeback, with “Rocketman” hoping to emulate the $900m success of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but also “Terminator: Dark Fate” (Arnie and Linda on stage!), “Sonic the Hedgehog” (Jim Carrey throws popcorn on stage) and “Dora the Explorer.” Lionsgate’s “Long Shot” was one of three films screened together with WB’s “Blinded by the Light”, with Springsteen thus joining Elton John, George Michael, Lennon-McCartney and the Country of “Wild Rose” in providing musical film inspiration at the show. “The Greatest Showman” clearly has a lot of green-lighting to answer for. Meanwhile the only studio hand-out was Paramount’s “Rocketman” t-shirt. Some delegates were heard to grumble that the goodie bag was nothing more than a sugar holder, but less tat also means less waste. #sustainability [Ed: Amen Sony Digital Cinema, as its PLF

head of digital cinema Bob Raposo

offer is known, was launched during

talked up the brand and Sony’s broad

but off-site to CinemaCon at the new-

knowledge of entertainment tech,

build Las Vegas Galaxy Theatres

but was vague on technical details.

major premium large formats (PLF)

Luxury+ Boulevard Complex in the

There was also no discussion about

announcements. Jumping the gun

expanding Boulevard Mall. Sony’s

Sony’s LED screen at the show.

to that.]

Premium everywhere CinemaCon saw no fewer than three

Sony launched its new PLF offering at the nearby Las Vegas Galaxy Theatres Luxury+

somewhat the new-ownership THX

Meanwhile, Christie announced its

announced its THX Ultimate Cinema,

new brand Cinity Cinema Systems

which was mainly a branding exercise for the partnership between Cinionic

How about Dolby and IMAX?

partnership with GDC Technology and Huaxia film, which will push to

(Barco) and China Giant Screen (CGS).

At CinemaCon, key players in the premium large

showcase Ang Lee and Paramount’s

While the former will launch at the

format sector, Dolby and IMAX, had a seemingly

“Gemini Man” in 120fps 3D.

Regency Westwood Village Theatre

contrasting presence.

There were announcements from

in LA later this year, the CGS PLF was

Dolby trumpeted 200 Dolby Cinemas opened

key immersive seat manufacturers,

already showcased at Regal LA Live

world-wide with 200 more committed and more

including 4DX, MX4D and D-Box, all

the weekend before CinemaCon by

than 200 theatrical titles mastered in Dolby Vision

proving the format’s enduring appeal,

Todd Hoddick & Co. It claims already

and Dolby Atmos. More than 4,800 Dolby Atmos

but nothing quite on the scale of

to have the world’s second largest

auditoriums have been installed or signed in 90

Cineworld’s announcement about

PLF install base after IMAX and thus

countries, with the format no longer just found in

4DX

ahead of Dolby Cinema — and offers

PLF auditoriums and 50 multiplexes world-wide

signed with CJ4DPLEX last year. It

10 year guarantees. Yet Barco’s light-

being all-Atmos.

was clear that premium in its many

and

ScreenX

deployments

only

IMAX, meanwhile, maintained a relatively low

shapes and forms was a key theme

demonstrated at the Fox lot in LA

profile at the event, but it is continuing its global

for CinemaCon and the continued

with no commitment on when it will

and China deployment, as well as showing more

evolution of the cinema experience.

ship, due to the DCI’s prevarications

local and non-mainstream films (“Free Solo” and

Meanwhile GDC’s GoGoCinema gave

over HDR/EDR

“Apollo 11”).

a glimpse into the potential future of

steering

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> Will

Palmer

made

the headline-grabbing sponsorship announcement that exhibitors using

A host of topics and issues

its Movio Cinema saw a $227m

Comscore’s Arturo Guillen was a super professional

collective uplift in their box office

speaker during the opening of International Day,

revenue in 2018, with a goal of 100m

highlighting the strength of local content around

targeted subscribers that could add

the world and the emergence of new markets such

another billion dollars to the global

as Western Africa. Event CEO Jane Hastings

box office. Movio’s parent company

highlighted

Vista was at the show in force with a

fragmentation, while affirming that franchises still

huge booth and some 100 attendees

pull in audiences. TV host of “Bar Rescue” Jon Taffer

from the various group companies:

had some tough love for cinemas to get into shape.

Veezi, Powster, Numero, Flicks and

It was also a CinemaCon at which diversity was

challenges

of

consolidation

and

competitors

recognised as a strength, with the success of

such as Compeso, Jacro, Ticket and

“Black Panther”. “Captain Marvel” and “Bohemian

Admit

somewhat

Rhapsody” plain to see. Overdue recognition was

overshadowed, but were not without

bestowed on several women who’d been working

their clients or new products.

away diligently for years, from the Passepartout

others.

Inevitably One

its

were

award for Paramount’s Helen Moss to the Ken

$227m

Movio Cinema exhibitor customers saw a $227m collective uplift in BO in 2018

Mason award for Christie’s Susie Beiersdorf. As always, no summary can do justice to everything at CinemaCon, not least as for all the shared screenings, it is still a subjective experience based on meetings, private demos, networking

film

drinks and things-that-stay-in-Vegas. There was a

selections and ordering of movies like

feeling of numbers being down and a wait-and-see

cinema

with

crowdsources

you would from Uber Eats.

Subscriptions and data While it has amazingly still survived, there was very little sign or talk of MoviePass at the show, with the likes of AMC, Cinemark and even Alamo

More than 4,800 Dolby Atmos auditoriums have now been installed or signed in 90 countries

4,800

approach. With VPFs expiring many exhibitors were more interested in extending the life of existing kit rather than buying new — the trade show was dominated by recliners, with comfy seats still the hottest ‘technology’ in cinemas.

Drafthouse having launched their own in-house subscription schemes with

great

uptake.

MoviePass

competitor Sinemia threw a big party at the Omnia to highlight its B2C SubGen white label service, which several exhibitors both in the US and Asia are using to operate their own subscription services. In addition, Influx was at the show with its own Infinity

subscription

service.

Fandango and Atom Tickets were mostly busy reporting record presales

of

“Avengers: Endgame”. Movio’s CEO

Dolby promoted its dominant position in the premium sector

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E V E N T S

New horizons for the big screen

UKCA Conference, London

H

ow often have we

industry gather to discuss the broader

entitled “TECH: New horizons for the

all heard that it is

subject. The event was held over two

big screen experience”, the event was

technology that is

days in a fitting venue: Vue Westfield, a

held in partnership with the Cinema

transformational

state-

Technology Community (CTC). The

cinema-

of-the-art 20-screen multiplex seating

organisers’ aim was to bring clarity to

going experience? And how often has

nearly 3,000 cinemagoers in the heart

many of the areas of innovation and

that

of

in

statement

exclusively

to

the been

sound

directed

and

vision

technologies? In an attempt to take the discussion beyond the auditorium, the UK Cinema Association’s (UKCA) annual conference in March saw nearly

Sound Associates’ Graham Lodge discusses the definition of the premium cinema experience

400 professionals from across the

a

explore challenges and opportunities

2.6million square foot megalith to

they represent, including those to the

urban regeneration — and current

cinema-going public.

Westfield

Shepherd’s

Bush,

holder of the title “Europe’s largest shopping centre”.

The conference looked into areas including ticketing, signage and retail

With the main theme of the

that all form a critical part of the

conference focused on technology,

customer journey. To give a rounded

What else was on the agenda? Skills for technology: The industry faces an

and modelling technologies available today

ongoing challenge in ensuring staff have

that can optimise customer journeys

the skills to manage rapid technological

through buildings, helping to understand

innovation. In this session the CTC’s Paul

how to keep customers safe, where best to

Wilmott (from the independent Saffron

place signage and how to design

Screen in Essex) and Gareth Ellis-Unwin,

concession spaces to minimise queues.

from ScreenSkills — the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative

Technology for accessibility: There has

industries — provided details on how

been a growth in recent years in the use of

cinemas can develop the skills required to

assistive technology, making cinemas more

manage technological change.

accessible to disabled customers. But key challenges remain; in 2018 the UKCA

5 8

Technology-assisted lobby design:

launched its Technology Challenge Fund,

Understanding how a building performs

inviting proposals for viable ‘closed caption’

can have positive effect on profitability and

solutions for the hard of hearing. Three short-

the experience the cinema-goer receives. In

listed applicants (National Theatre, Screen

this session, CTC’s president and VP of

Language and Greta & Starks) presented

marketing at Harkness Screens, Richard

their take on solutions that could provide

Mitchell, showed the potential of simulation

more accessibility to disabled cinemagoers.

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A spotlight on a major refurb Duncan Reynolds from the Odeon Cinemas Group gave a highly anticipated presentation on the transformation of the Odeon Leicester Square cinema. Featured in the March 2019 issue of Cinema Technology, the transformation has seen Odeon create a blend between the Art Deco heritage and the high-tech experience of going to the cinema in 2019. Duncan outlined some of the major challenges, from asbestos removal through to the installation of latest laser projection.

view, the majority of the panel sessions

MacGuffin: the technological golden

had representatives from exhibitors as

goose competing tech providers all

well as technology suppliers.

clamour for, without appreciating that

You’ve got technology? One of the primary sessions centred

Networking galore in a thoroughly modern cinema

What is premium? Graham Lodge, managing director of the equipment supplier and installer

audiences don’t necessarily value or

Sound Associates gave an entertaining

perceive the difference between a

20

cake-themed presentation on the

Vue’s multiplex at Westfield In London’s Shepherds Bush is a 20-screen site

what that actually means, how they

regular egg and a golden one.

concept of ‘Premium Experiences’ in

around Cinema Technology and the

Ruth’s presentation suggested that

Audience. It focused on the truism

what audiences really care about kicks

that, no matter how amazing the

off with the Great Expectation (being

technology deployed may be, the

inspired to see something on the big

majority of the audience doesn’t really

screen at a convenient time and in a

care about it. Ruth Hinton from Vue

convenient location), the Big Screen

effect, how much call is there for

Entertainment referred to this as the

Moment (great sound and picture, in

cherries on top of the “standard”). It

comfortable

enjoyable

was a timely presentation since the

snacks and drinks and no distractions),

CTC also launched its new guide to

then the Afterglow (the memory of

Premium Large Formats at the event.

how great it was to come to the

The new 40-page guide for exhibitors

cinema and to be engrossed in

summarises many of the large and

something to the exclusion of the

luxury formats around the world.

seats,

with

outside world). So, while the audience

they present to cinemas and the evidence for audience demand (in

At the end of the day…

interactions there is the potential for

At any conference, delegates take

technology to improve the experience.

away different outcomes, gleaning

Making cinema customer-centric

what is of relevance to their situation

is a key focus for exhibitors like Vue,

or, in this case, their cinema. There was

and this in turn marries up to

plenty of discussion and the presenters

the application of customer-centric

were engaging and informative. They

cinema technology. For users accessing

offered a range of insight around the

such technology as the Uber app, the

core subject of technology. Crucially,

experience is straightforward — no

major themes included the fact that

need to think about the technology, it

owners of smaller cinemas will make

is a case of tapping on your phone and

investment decisions as they need to

will be true of the cinema. As Ruth explained, “People don’t care about your technology. They don’t need to”.

062_UKCA CONFERENCE_JUNE19.indd 63

work, the challenges and opportunities

may not recognise it, in all of these

a car arrives to pick you up. The same

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large and luxury formats, highlighting

The UKCA event pulled in a big crowd of professionals from around the country

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E V E N T S

Saudi Arabia: laying the cornerstone

Cinema Build KSA Forum

A

MARK OF THE

drawn from 30 countries headed to

The first movie theatre opened in

potential for the

the two-day event to learn more about

Riyadh just over a year ago in April

emerging

the infrastructure for entertainment

2018 and there are plans in place for

being built across the Kingdom.

about 30 movie theatres to be opened

cinema

market

in Saudi Arabia

Current estimates suggest that

in 15 cities around the kingdom within

was the number of attendees drawn

the entertainment sector as a whole

five years. Vox Cinemas, a subsidiary of

in from more than 30 countries to the

requires SAR 267billion (£54 billion) to

the UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim, was

inaugural Cinema Build KSA event

build a suitable infrastructure in the

awarded the second licence to open

country, with expected investments in

cinemas

the entertainment sector to reach

company plans to invest SAR 2billion

SAR 18billion (£3.6billion) annually,

in 600 screens over the next five years.

hosted in Riyadh. Organised by Great Minds Events and supported by the Saudi government’s General Authority for Entertainment, more than 300 potential local partners and attendees

Local partners and overseas industry participants headed to the event hosted in Riyadh last April

according to a 2018 report from Flanders Investment and Trade.

in

the

kingdom.

The

A clamouring for cinema An eagerly enthusiastic population is expecting to see 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens around the Kingdom by 2030. With a population of more than 32million (the majority of whom are under the age of 30), Saudis spend more than £20billion annually

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Honouring grassroots support The organisers held an award ceremony in which various attendees were honoured for their support in driving development of cinema in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Kamel Mohamed, CEO of East Delta Saudi Co Ltd presented a memento to GCAM’s CEO Badr Al Zahrani, to honour his support for the event. Dr. Kamel also presented mementos to VOX, Carnival, Empire, Cinepolis, and MUVI (Fawaz Alhokair) in recognition of their continued efforts to drive growth of cinema.

on tourism and entertainment abroad. This makes the argument to allow movie theatres opening in the market compelling, and it is expected to be worth up to $1bn in annual box office

Cutting the ribbon on an event that was, in effect, cutting the ribbon on an entire industry in Saudi

cinemas, multiplexes and malls in

Masinaei, managing partner at Great

various territories, many of which will

Minds Events said: “The world is

have relevance to the Saudi market.

witnessing Saudi Arabia’s confident

A focus on repurposing Sessions

prominent

of the ban on cinema open doors to

need to create a platform to gather

international speakers and industry

untrodden grounds for investment

experts discussed the investment

and lucrative revenue streams for the

opportunities, business collaborations

Kingdom and entertainment sector

and future partnerships in Saudi as

stakeholders. We envisioned growth

well

opportunities in the entertainment

experts, the Cinema Build KSA Forum found a willing partnership with its government supporting partner. Cinema Build KSA Forum took the

300 Plus potential Saudi partners from 30 counties attended the two-day event

as

through

by

cinema design

25

social and economic reforms. The end

sales by 2030. Considering the crucial entertainment, construction and tech

led

steps toward an unprecedented era of

competitiveness and

innovative

sector in KSA, hence our eagerness to

theming. Given the lack of existing

organise the Cinema Build KSA Forum

key

cinema sites in the territory, there was

to represent a global platform and

stakeholders to discuss latest trends

a particular focus on redesign of

bring key participants together. We

and techniques in the creation of

existing entertainment hubs such as

are proud to see our vision materialise

world-class

event

shopping malls to embed cinemas as

into reality.”

revealed insight into a wide range of

a key way to allocate complimentary

initiative to lead the local cinema industry,

bringing

together

cinemas.

The

new building solutions and equipment that is being rolled out in future

600 The screen count VOX is planning to invest in over the next 5 years

No fewer than 25 prominent cinema industry professional led session at the conference over the two days

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064_SAUDI_JUNE19.indd 65

attractions for maximum profitability.

A roster of strong names

During the event, Sunil Puthan

Partnering with Cinema Build KSA

Veettil, managing director of Carnival

was an impressive number of high-

Cinemas

profile entities from entertainment,

outlined

his

company’s Saudi

construction and technology, notably

Arabia: “Carnival envisions operating

VOX, Cinepolis, AMC, Empire, Carnival,

around 300-plus screens over the next

Fawaz Alhokair Group, MUVI Cinemas,

five years. Our mission is to bring a

Jeddah

high-quality movie experience closer

Management,

to people in this country. For this, we

Design Novel Architecture. The Forum

have made a study of all the provinces

is a part of the MENA Cinema Forum

and identified suitable locations. Our

series which has an increasingly strong

idea is to set up entertainment centres

reputation and brand exposure in the

in these provinces and to make the

region and internationally. It offers an

Carnival name synonymous with the

unparalleled experience and the all-

cinema across the country.”

important networking opportunities.

future

expansion

plans

in

Commenting after the event on organising Cinema Build KSA, Leila

Park,

Compass TK

Project

Architects,

and

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E V E N T S

Blitz-CineStar: exhibitor of the year

CineEurope’s top cinema

O

NE OF the most

a total of 145 screens and nearly

progressive

23,000 seats. It is one of the company’s

chains

in

the

to

continue

to

bring

a state-of-the-art movie experience

month

throughout the region, with a series of

be

recognised for its work when BlitzCineStar

objectives

Balkans will this

receives

CineEurope’s

upcoming projects.

“International Exhibitor of the Year”

A brand with value

award.

Blitz-CineStar is the major innovative increasingly

force in the local exhibition market,

vibrant cinema-going culture in the

continuously upgrading its services,

region, the Blitz-CineStar chain, with

not only in terms of implementing

23

Celebrating

an

innovation for cinema, changing the

former

cutting-edge technologies, but also

Yugoslavia, will receive recognition for

through the introduction of a series

delivering

movie-going

of branded consumer services which

magic to audiences. The award will be

have made it into one of the most

presented to Hrvoje Krstulovic, co-

recognisable brands — the CineStar

founder, as part of the CineEurope

brand

awards ceremony hosted by the

Superbrands awards within Croatia,

Abbott added: “We are delighted to

Coca-Cola Company on Thursday, 20

including a Superbrands Exclusive

see

June, at the Centre Convencions

award, and several consumer awards

CineEurope this year. The award

Internacional

sites

throughout the

Barcelona,

best

the

Barcelona

Spain.

Each

itself

has

received

Blitz-CineStar: a progressive pioneer in the cinema industry

movie-going experience in the Balkan region. They’ve proved to be a pioneer in the industry and we congratulate all on this well-deserved honour.” UNIC’s

seven

CEO

Laura

Blitz-CineStar

Houlgatte-

recognised

at

(CCIB)

in

including winning three Best Buy

acknowledges their highly committed

year

at

Awards, notably the Best Buy Award

efforts towards enhancing the Big

Millennials 2018.

Screen experience across the Balkans

CineEurope, this coveted award is

and is a celebration of the cinema-

given to an exhibitor whose growth,

Last year, the company’s 15th

accomplishments, new developments

anniversary was marked by winning a

and market leadership make them a

prestigious ICTA award in the category

Reacting to the announcement,

standard-bearer for the industry.

New Build Cinema of the Year, for its

Blitz-CineStar’s Hrvoje Krstulovic said:

going culture in the region.”

first

CineStar 4DX Mall in Split, the biggest

“We are delighted — it will be a great

multiplex, CineStar Zagreb in 2003.

cinema site in Croatia’s coastal region

honour to receive such high industry

CineStar Zagreb remains the largest

of Dalmatia.

recognition on behalf of our team.”

Blitz-CineStar

opened

its

multiplex in the former Yugoslavia

“It gives us great pleasure to

CineEurope 2019 takes place 17-

with 13 screens and 2,940 seats. The

present this award to the Blitz-

20 June at the Centre Convencions

CineStar chain currently has a further

CineStar chain,” said Andrew Sunshine,

Internacional Barcelona (CCIB). Find

22 multiplexes (including forthcoming

president of the Film Expo Group.

our more and to register, head to

sites in Banja Luka and Belgrade), with

“Blitz-CineStar has built a culture of

www.filmexpos.com/cineeurope

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SAVE THE DATE

19th - 21st NOVEMBER 2019 www.ecm19.com

Untitled-4 1

22/05/2019 12:09


E V E N T S

India’s foremost exhibitors’ expo

BigCineExpo, Mumbai

T

the

international

HIS

AUGUST,

economies, the Indian entertainment

BIG Cine Expo

sector plays an assertive role and, at its

returns again to

heart, Mumbai is renowned as one of

Mumbai

the

for

a

most

vibrant

entertainment,

fourth outing of

financial, and commercial hubs in the

tradeshow

country.

and

The Bombay Exhibition Center’s

convention in a new location, Bombay

Hall 4 will see Big Cine Expo all geared

Exhibition Center. BigCineExpo is a platform for the

up for yet another big year, drawing

cinema exhibition market in Asia and

manufacturers and suppliers from

India and this year, it promises to be

North America, Europe, and Asia to

yet another interactive event that will

exhibit their products and services.

deliver value to single-screen cinemas,

Professionals attending Big Cine Expo

multiplex cinemas, B2B stakeholders

2019 will include theatre owners,

of cinema and entertainment. Billed as the world’s secondlargest international tradeshow and convention, BigCineExpo provides a

Such initiatives are really helpful for entrepreneurs in the cinema industry and ancillary businesses.”

Big Cine Expo bills itself as a platform for discovery — and the chance to make connections

design consultants, system integrators, equipment

manufacturers,

project

managers, major studios and content distributors and single-screen and

platform for discovery, innovation,

Powering the disruptors

collaboration and networking for the

Echoing the filmmaker’s comments,

representatives from across Asia, as

exhibition industry in India. The two-

Kamal Gianchandani, chief of strategy

well as for India.

day event, being held on 27-28 August

at the PVR cinema chain, explained

To find out more about the event

consists of different programs such

what he aims to get out of the event:

and to view the upcoming schedule,

as new product displays, technology

“Big Cine Expo provides a platform

head to bigcineexpo.com

demonstrations and presentations,

for

studio presentations, seminars, panel

networking for the exhibition industry

discussions, awards program, special

in India. It powers the disruptors and

events, film screenings, networking, a

integrators by bringing them together

well-attended trade show, and more.

ceremoniously every year. It is a must-

discovery,

collaboration

attend convention, and we’re proud

entities unite together, socialise and

to be continue our partnership with

share their thoughts at BigCineExpo,”

the organisers.” Home to one

really looking forward to attending

of

this year’s event and to witness some

fastest-

great work and innovative concepts.

emerging

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the

world’s

cinema

entertainment

and

“Domestic as well as international

says filmmaker Subhash Ghai, “I’m

multiplex

The schedule features a wide range of elements that explore the breadth of Asia’s cinema market

www.cinematech.today

21/05/2019 11:14


EXPERIENCE CINEMATIC GRANDEUR AT ITS BEST

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Untitled-4 1

22/05/2019 12:20


H I S T O R Y

90 years serving the cinema As Jacro reaches its 90th anniversary in 2019, CT interviewed the company’s CEO, Alan Roe, to discuss his great-grandfather’s legacy and the PoS powerhouse that his family business has become.

Jack Roe, founder of the eponymous company, with his wife Maude

F

EW BUSINESSES in the cinema sector

digital signage, apps, websites etc. We provide a complete

can state that they’ve survived more

end-to-end IT system so that cinemas can install once and

than threequarters of the length of the

get on with running the venue. If they want to sell tickets

medium. Jacro is one such company

online and learn about the demographics of their customer

­— and one with a great reputation that

groups, or send a push notification to customers who

has weathered many of the changes of

opened their app in the past 24 hours, or instigate a stock

the movie-going world over the past 90 years and thrived in

audit on all items over the past 30 days — then they’re all set.

multiple areas, whether that’s reconditioning film spools in

It’s amazing the demands put on the PoS nowadays.

the 1950s or delivering state-of-the art point of sale (PoS)

Really, cinema PoS systems stopped being ‘PoS’ systems

systems today. CT caught up with current CEO, Alan Roe, to

years ago. Each year customers send in more development

learn more about the company history and modern outlook.

requests than the previous one. It’s a question of filtering,

How did it all start?

not to say we’ve forgotten our roots — at the peak of film

On my great grandfather Jack’s marriage certificate it states

projection, Jacro was producing splicing tape for hundreds

‘Cinematographic Engineer’, and that is dated 1913, Alan

of millions of performances per year. We still manufacture

explains. My grandfather (his son) told me that he started

film splicing tape and leader — we don’t sell so much now,

his own business in 1929 servicing the studios on Wardour

but we like to support the film industry that remains.

Street. At first, Jack was servicing projectors on the kitchen Jacro logo came about — he wanted something because

What was it like growing up in Jacro, how did it affect your career decisions?

the studios all had logos on their shirts in the table tennis

It was always around us — from the tea chest of nuts, bolts

league then. My grandfather was so young, he was just a

and bearings in the stores to the glowing green screens of

runner, getting the beer but apparently not drinking it. Jack

the computers. We would pack boxes in the school holidays

once worked for projector maker J. Frank Brockliss — I still

and manufacture products when an extra pair of hands was

see that badge on projectors occasionally, less in booths

needed. There were dark days too — decades ago when my

now, more in lobbies as curiosities. Whenever I see it, I always

father collapsed from exhaustion, or when we had a major

wonder, “Did my great grandfather install this projector?”

customer refuse to pay over what was probably, at that time,

table, and the business grew from there. That’s how our

Fact File

combining, prioritising and executing those requests. That’s

What’s changed over the years?

our largest-ever sale. The industry was supportive though. All but one supplier responded to say they understood, and just

Every few years the business transforms, so it’s hard to know

waited until we were paid before they knocked on our door.

where to start really. Prior to WWII, we had a contract to

That says a lot about our industry and the people in it.

Alan Roe,

represent one of the new US 35mm projectors in the UK, but

Our parents worked hard, evenings and weekends — so

CEO, Jacro

that fell through when war broke out and Jack’s sons were

many that it became normal. There are easier ways to make

called up. He started selling supplies because people kept

a living than a family firm, but there’s something exciting

Not only is Alan

requesting them. They’d ask for things that didn’t exist so he

about being able to have an idea on Monday and see it live

CEO of the family

got them made — that’s how we ended up in manufacturing.

by Friday. And celebrating 90 years is fun too. It’s the support

firm, he is also

By the late 1930s, we had an office in Dublin, and we were

of the 25 people that work with me that make it worthwhile.

president of the

shipping old cinema equipment to India — even the Exit

We’ve a great team, including many I’ve known since I was a

signs, everything was going.

child. I’ve been impressed by the flexibility of some of my

International Cinema

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Technology

What does JACRO do now?

Association

We focus on cinema IT systems now — cinema ticketing,

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colleagues — how our distribution and purchasing manager Jonathan Worthing, in particular, has transitioned with the company is spectacular. From shipping and receiving to www.cinematech.today

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H I S T O R Y

The conversion was more work than any of us could have predicted. It seemed like endless years of long days and weekends. I don’t regret it, but it was certainly a learning experience.

What about the future? Years ago, my grandfather predicted that we’d see characters step out of the screen without the A rank of 35mm projectors in the engineering workshop at Roe House hint at the company’s roots

audience having to wear glasses, so I’d love to see that one day. Peter Ludé was telling me recently about technology that captures photons from all angles and projects them back out from a plane. (Ed: See our focus on holographic projection, March 2018). Theoretically it’s impossible to tell

installing projectors, then IT systems and video editing, purchase ordering and trade show management. And he still has more hair on his head than I do.

Automation in the cinema used to be about switching relays — the ITdriven world is a little different now

recently — they still manufacture cinema products, but their

have still not put together serialised content — something

companies soon. We know that sequels work, and we know

US — it was brutal. Dealers across the country disappeared,

chatting with booth equipment supplier Goldberg Brothers

With my content hat on, I’m staggered that the studios

feel like we might see that in cinemas from some streaming

I witnessed most of the transition from our operation in the

sure if anyone is left from Neumade, Wolk, LaVezzi etc. I was

window, which is a fascinating concept and technology.

that provides a fresh episode every 4-6 weeks, for example. I

What about when cinema went digital?

maybe two dozen. And plenty of manufacturers too, I’m not

the difference between the screen, and looking through a

The modern face of Jacro — a mobile dashboard giving customers all the data they demand

primary business now is hardware for barn doors.

the shape of the new release curve and of the heavy investment needed leading up to a new movie. It would be interesting to see a curve with multiple (albeit probably diminishing) peaks from serialised content, and see how the ROI compares to the traditional single picture. In terms of software, every day we are developing new

We required a total transformation to become entirely

enhancements and features, so really all that we do now is

reliant on our IT business. The good news for us was first that

build and prepare for the future. I wonder what other forms

35mm supplies were the last thing to dry up — projectors could be reconditioned, parted out and so on, but supplies

Did you know?

were still needed and, second, we had already diversified into IT systems and writing software back in 1983, owing

of entertainment might be entering cinemas — we’ve seen huge event cinema ticket sales in recent years, and eSports is selling out in some cinemas, so I’m left wondering what

Back in the 1950s

else might compete for screen space in the years to come.

largely to my mother’s experience with computers. So when

post-war years,

It’d be great to see even more forms of content — cinemas

the end was in sight for major 35mm distribution, we really

metal was in short

are so beautiful and capable, and so loved by those that

focused on the IT products and have been constantly

supply in the

own, run and attend them, that I’d love to see even more

investing in features for several years. So today everything is

UK due to the

types of content and events available to them. There are

flipped on its head — the 35mm business is supported by

rebuilding efforts.

some great minds out there, so I feel like there will be more

the IT side, which is fitting as we all have a passion for film.

At the time, Jacro

to come that we don’t know of and haven’t thought of yet.

reconditioned spools for use in the cinema and Ron Roe (Jack’s Son) could knock a spool back into shape as a panel beater would on a car — and it would look like new once finished.

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22/05/2019 13:59


cinema_technology_2018_Layout 1 30/07/2018 22:57 Page 2

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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.

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JOIN OUR COMMUNITY THE GLOBAL CINEMA TECHNOLOGY NETWORK

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22/05/2019 12:54


A P P

T E C H

Screen tech of the future? There’s an app for that… In the firm’s 90th anniversary year. Adam MacDonald meets Harkness Screens’ Mark Ashcroft and Richard Mitchell to discuss advances that this established technology outfit has made outside of its better-known screen manufacturing.

M

OST OF US TAKE FOR granted how much apps are now a part of our lives. Like the phones they live on, they are now intrinsic to daily activity. Indeed, according to Statista, there were over 5million apps available on all platforms

at the end of 2018. Apps are big business — so perhaps it is no surprise that a more traditional cinema business should look at this technology market for future growth. Harkness Screens will be familiar to many as the worldleading screen technology company, but the story behind the development of its innovative apps and the way in which they are transforming the market is perhaps less well known. Mark Ashcroft, CEO and Richard Mitchell, VP of global marketing and commercial development, have been pioneering the creation of ground-breaking innovations that are (re)shaping the way our industry approaches and implements design and installation. We look back at their relatively recent software development that created one of the industry’s leading platforms and how these tools are helping drive Harkness and the wider cinema technology industry — and ultimately improving movie-going. 7 0

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Richard Mitchell VP global marketing and commercial development

large degree, the same thought process sat behind our premier tool, the Digital Screen Modeller. We wanted to be able to illustrate what moviegoers would experience in terms of image quality

Harkness

is

well-known

for

manufacturing

from any seat in any size auditorium from any given

screens for the cinema industry. When did the

technology configuration (projector, lamp, 3D system,

business first have the idea for an app?

screen) and how, with careful optimisation (such as

Harkness has always been progressive; before we

curving and tilting the screen), that experience could

moved into developing the first tools of the Digital

be greatly improved. The other software tools we’ve

Screen platform, we were innovating by creating

developed were borne out of a desire to share our

tools in the ‘digital space’. Our former CEO Andrew

knowledge and expertise to drive better outcomes

Robinson had the vision to see that digital technology

for movie-goers. It’s why we’re all here — to give

had a role in the middle of a significant transition

viewers that “wow” experience and showcase content

(35mm to digital). So we created the ‘Digital Screen

as close to the artistic intent of the director as possible.

Selector’ tool to help exhibitors specify the best lamp,

Many readers will be aware of, and use, some of

projector, 3D system and screen for an auditorium

your apps, but what does the full line-up include?

whilst showcasing indicative operating costs.

We have a suite of five apps dating back to April 2013

It was a smart move with great foresight ­— so what

and the launch of the Digital Screen Modeller up to

drove development of the apps we see today?

the most recent Digital Screen Planner from 2016.

Although many consider us to be ostensibly a “screen

Across iOS and Android, these have been downloaded

manufacturer”, we are in reality a technology business.

over 15,000 times — remarkable given the small niche

You only have to look at investments we’ve made in

our industry occupies, at least in terms of personnel.

recent times outside our core screen products, from

In order, in 2013 we launched our Digital Screen

the Digital Screen Checker through to the Curolux

Modeller and Digital Screen Archiver (our presentation

monitoring range (headlined by Qalif products), and

monitoring database utility). In 2014 came our Digital

our digital surveying expertise to understand how

Screen Calculator (in essence our replacement for our

committed we are to developing technology.

original Digital Screen Selector tool). Then 2015 saw

Prior to Harkness, I spent nearly seven years in the

Digital Screen Verifier released (a light-measurement

construction industry with a leading software and

app for iPhone) and in 2016 the Digital Screen Planner

service vendor. I saw an enormous technological shift

(for defining the technical elements of screen

from drawing or drafting in 2D to designing in a

specification such as size, shape and weight).

collaborative 3D environment. This involved building

When Harkness introduced the Digital Screen

owners/operators through to architects, structural

Modeller back in 2013 it felt revolutionary to many.

engineers, M&E engineers and civil engineers. That

Despite being so simple to use, there was clearly a

collaborative environment was designed to help

lot of work that went into it and it is a cornerstone

drive better outcomes from buildings by gaining a

of much that you’re doing today. Can you tell us

more holistic view of the project before it left the

more about its development?

drawing board, allowing for cost and risk reduction,

We’ve been lucky to have a fantastic development

less waste and faster project delivery. With software

team. They bought into our vision, understood our

such as Autodesk Revit, it was possible to showcase

science and methodologies and turned them in to

the benefits of 3D in making informed decisions. To a

digital realities. If you think back to 2012 when we first

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A P P

T E C H

started developing the Modeller, real-time 3D rendering on an iPad or Android device wasn’t as simple as it is today due to processing power available. That’s without the complex science that sits in the 3D environment we created. We knew early on that we were making a breakthrough – not only in terms of the accuracy of the Modeller, but also in terms of bringing a product to market that was a ‘game-changer’, offering customers a wealth of information not previously available in such an intuitive and simple to navigate way. The Modeller immediately allowed customers and project teams to have an in-depth and consultative discussion with us about their approach to auditorium design and technology specification and, importantly for us, screens and screen

Harkness has shifted from purely screens to a more holistic focus on technology

design and how that optimisation could improve presentation quality. You clearly believe in these apps and the team developing them with you, but what about ‘host’ technologies — the tablets and phones on which they work? There are so many variables, how did that affect your thinking? Host technology has been pivotal. It would have been impossible to deliver our app platform had technology from the likes of Apple not been as robust as it is. We take for granted how incredible these devices are. There’s several thousand times more processing power in a base-level iPhone than NASA had on the Apollo program — and that sent man to the moon and back only 50 years ago! Developing tools for different platforms has also proved to have its own level of complexity. One of the questions we’re most frequently asked is “when is the release of the Digital Screen Verifier on Android?”. It remains the most difficult technical challenge. When we developed the Verifier in 2015, with the intention of democratising brightness measurement to a non-technical level for exhibitors, we developed some ground-breaking IP to allow us to measure light on screen, however our ability to transpose that technology from Apple

Apps like the Digital Screen Calculator make the complex simple

iOS (where it worked well) across to the Android platform proved virtually impossible because of the complexity of calibrating the app for the plethora of Android devices (there are hundreds if not thousands!) and indeed the onboard cameras. It remains a huge challenge — it may need another technological leap to make it a reality. It’s clearly been, and continues to be, an exciting time to be part of the progressive work and development at Harkness; any final thoughts? What we’ve created over the past six years has been unique and beneficial both to Harkness and the cinema industry. At times we’ve challenged ourselves and the limits of technology available and found ways to achieve our aims even if, on the face of it, they’ve seemed impossible. Behind those tools is an outstanding and skilled team and, importantly, a visionary CEO and board of directors who have continued to support our endeavours in developing these tools.

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Mark Ashcroft CEO, Harkness

other applications and we are creating a new group within Harkness to fast track this and other assets What new developments are you working on now? Launching this month will be a new suite of microsites

The development of apps has progressed under

to support customers with information and online

your leadership; did you have strong views on this

ordering. These are linked to our existing website but

before starting with the company?

are designed to be “lite” and easy to navigate on

Harkness was 84 years old when I joined — now I find

mobiles. The style and nature of the content will

myself researching 90 years of the company’s history.

provide thought leadership across screen discussions.

It’s inspiring to be part of that rich heritage. I was keen

I’d categorise our approach as providing easily

to explore the material science at the core of how we

accessible resources that allow cinema spaces to be

manage light and make screens. My experience with

optimised using existing and/or new assets. By 2020,

Sola Optical and Zeiss Visioncare set me up for

there will be 20,000 Harkness screens under three

investigating how Harkness Screen Technology could

years old in over 120 countries. Those locations will be

be developed to be the world’s best optical surfaces.

showing movies on the best screens; the auditoriums

Our R&D team probably think I have too many ideas

will have been fully optimised to give the best image

about next-generation screens so are pleased I’m

quality. Our apps have allowed customers to optimise

focusing on user experiences through digital assets!

design, generate return on investment, specify and

Walking into Harkness, I was surprised to learn

monitor light and sound levels, measure moiré and

each screen is bespoke; I refer to it as a combination

laser speckle, test for environmental damage, auto-

of art and science. The challenge was to capture that

generate maintenance scheduling and more.

global knowledge and ensure it was available to all.

Leaping forward, we’ll be investigating how apps

I’d been fortunate to spend seven years in a senior

and other digital assets can assist in upgrading the

position at the US retailer Party City, and my thinking

end-to-end quality of our screens, including digital

was directed to customer experiences in-store and

inspection, monitored transportation and installation.

online. Our online presence has taken time to develop

The microsites will support the apps that will be at

but as we approach our 90th celebrations I can say,

the heart of a ‘myHarkness’ approach. Managed well

we’re embarking on some new, exciting digital assets.

this will add to the relationship Harkness has been

Have competitors in the screen business followed

able to share with customers for decades to come.

your lead in developing apps?

It’s clear Harkness is more than a ‘screen company’.

There are an increasing number of sites promoting

What are your thoughts on the positioning of apps

cinema screens and some have a good look and feel.

within the business?

Our own is a treasure trove of resource and advice. On

The incidence of digital in cinema is exponential. At

a number of sites, there are what we would describe

Harkness we’ve reviewed how we manage existing

as calculators. Perhaps we are slightly different in that

and future digital assets and over the next 18 months

we try to give the user access to all combinations of

we will move to an integrated platform for all existing

equipment. Every week I discover other possibilities

and future apps. This will give the user experience

in the Harkness databank; not copies of competitors

added value. Professionals will be able to use these

but new ways to support cinemas. Two years ago we

tools to give cinema-goers the best presentation

started to use reality capture to measure screens; the

quality; maximising the full potential of all the assets

technology developed now appears to have many

in the cinema. The screen as ever is front and centre.

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PROJECTION

From arc lamps to laser:

A projectionist’s journey

Fred running the projection booth at Disney’s preview theatre in London — a role he’s enjoyed for the past 20 years

I

Since the 1960s, Fred Fullerton has been a feature in some of the best cinemas — including Disney’s own one. This June he says goodbye after 54 years in the booth. CT tracks his time in the business.

T WAS THE SUMMER OF 1965, when

the classic grounding for a future projectionist. There was an

the tills were alive with the sound of

air of modernity in the cinema, including the projectormatic

Julie Christie ringing up the box office,

automation system that worked by putting a small piece of

and a young Fred Fullerton — aged just

foil strip on the edge of the movie at the appropriate place

15 — landed his first job in the cinema,

near the end of the reel. This foil, on making contact on a

leaving school and starting as a

pick-up device would complete a circuit. The projectormatic

probationary projectionist at the Gaumont Cinema in Dingle

drum would move one line, which was pinned up to hit a

South Liverpool, in England’s north-west. Thanks to his age,

micro switch which started the incoming projector. The next

Fred clutched a signed letter from his mother allowing him

pulse would revolve the drum to the next line, which was

to work with X certificate movies. The cinema was installed

then programmed (with pins) to hit the changeover shutter

with a pair of the best-looking projectors ever — Gaumont

and sound changeover micro-switches, continuing on

Kalee 21s with elephant (foot) base and lightmaster carbon

throughout the movie. Futuristic stuff.

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Leaving Liverpool Jumping to the early 1970s, and a move up to Lancashire saw Fred in the Focus Cinema, Skelmersdale. Formerly known as the Oscar Cinema, the American Academy complained over the use of the name, so it had to change. Fred’s flash of inspiration produced “Focus Cinemas”, for which he was paid £70. Nice work if you can get it… Fred enjoyed his time at the Focus, apart from one ghoulish period in 1973 when they played “The Exorcist” for three weeks. While that in itself was not unusual, strange activity that started in the venue at the same time certainly was. So convinced of poltergeists were staff, that a member of the church was brought in to exorcise the cinema. Moving into the 1980s and Fred headed south in England to the Odeon Reading as chief projectionist, staying there for two years. It was a typical cinema of the time with many long-standing staff. The Odeon Reading was equipped with the ability to run “double head”, whereby the picture and sound are not married together — a feature often found in preview theatres. Apart from running double head films to trial audiences, Fred also previewed “Out of Africa”, giving him the opportunity to meet Sir Richard Attenborough, as well as Alan Parker when he ran “Mississippi”. Staying inside the Odeon fold, Fred soon got the opportunity to move to the West End where he became the chief at the Odeon Haymarket (now owned by Vue). The Odeon Haymarket had old Victoria 10 projectors and mainly wanted a job at the city centre cinema, the 2,000-seater Odeon on the London Road. It often ran roadshow 70mm films alongside live stage shows, including playing host to an up and coming four-piece called The Beatles. Opposite the Odeon was the Gaumont that ran continuous shows all day.

ran arthouse material, including “The Last Emperor” in A move to the West End saw Fred in the Empire Leicester Square, as well as the Odeon Haymarket

70mm which Fred found a visually breath-taking work. A move to the famous Empire Leicester Square soon beckoned, as technical manager of the Empire and Plaza (Piccadilly). In his 10 years there Fred met most of the big

Five minutes away was the Futurist (part of ABC cinemas)

directors — Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Lewis Gilbert,

also playing 70mm roadshows. And across the road from

Tony and Ridley Scott to name just a few. They showed a

The Futurist was the huge ABC Forum running continuous

number of 70mm films at both the Empire and the Plaza.

shows. Beside the Futurist was the independent Scala

The Empire was the first cinema in the UK to have Dolby SRD

cinema, with xenon lamps — one of the earliest cinemas to

installed for “Batman Returns” and later the first cinema to

use xenon. Also in the city centre were the Jacey, the Majestic,

have DTS installed for “Jurassic Park”.

the Essildo and the Tatler News theatre. It was a projectionist’s

The Empire hosted a large number of the big premieres,

mecca and, over the years, Fred worked in several venues

including the Royal Film Premiere for “Titanic”, shown on an

including the aforementioned Odeon and ABC Cinemas.

epic scale in 70mm. In preparation for James Cameron’s

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PROJECTION

showstopper, the Empire closed for three days of rehearsals with both the director and the producer on site.

Welcome to Mickey’s own movie theatre In 1999, Disney was building its new UK head office building in London’s Hammersmith. Fred was approached to run the state of the art preview cinema as chief projectionist. It is a role that, on retirement, he will have done for more than 20 years and a job that is one of the highlights of a long career. Unsurprisingly, Fred has seen a lot of industry talent come and watch a movie in this theatre over that time. He is quick to thank his boss Garry Rosen for his great support, saying that together they made a great team on the many highprofile presentations they ran. While Fred has been in his role at Disney, projection technologies have evolved. Having started with 35mm projectors on changeover, this quickly transferred to digital projection. Fred is enthusiastic about new technical innovations: “Digital brings with it a whole set of rules that had to be learnt

His name in lights at the Empire Leicester Square and meeting the greats in Reading; below, fresh-faced at 15 years old

“I’ve met and worked with many amazing people in a 54-year career. I had a wonderful time in cinema”

digital — sufficient change for most people. He had an amazing time, working in normal cinemas, 20-minute changeovers and 70mm 20-minute changeovers — both with carbon arcs. In the early days if a film was in scope, so was the trailer, so the team had to manage changeovers constantly during the advert and trailer reels. Equally if the main film was in 70mm, the projector had to be converted from 35mm to 70mm as well as being laced up during the first reel. It was a different time, but through it all Fred says “I’ve met and worked with many amazing people in a 54-year career. I am blessed — I’ve had a wonderful time in our industry.” And what is Fred going to do now that he is retiring? Go to the cinema of course.

as you went along,” he says “As well as all the digital changes, I’m a great fan of Dolby 7.1 sound that the theatre is equipped with. When that setup is perfectly EQ’d, it is the best sound that you can have in the cinema.”

The business of change Fred’s working life has found him always in the vanguard of an industry in transition — and his passion for the art of projection saw him serve on the CTC committee for more than 19 years. He has also been a member of the Projected Picture Trust for nearly 30 years — reflecting the fact that he started in the days of carbon arcs and changeovers in vast theatres. In his working life he has seen the sub-division of cinemas into smaller screens, the introduction of xenon lamps, the new-fangled multiplexes, single working and 7 6

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Nitrate Nomads: celebrating Australia’s cinema pioneers Jim Slater reviews a work by BKSTS member Daryl Binning charting the lives of hardy cinema showmen down under.

L

ONG-TIME MEMBER OF the BKSTS

— Daryl is keen to know of any competing claims! As well as

Daryl Binning from Western Australia

the touring cinema shows, Allan Jones (1902-1982) had

came to visit Europe with his brothers

permanent cinemas in three towns, ran four drive-in

this spring. He called in on me, giving

theatres, and from 1974 ran a cinema museum in Busselton.

the opportunity for a good ‘catch up’

“Nitrate Nomads” is an important contribution to

about cinema. Daryl has ‘been there, done everything’ over

Australian film history, and I found it eye-opening to read

his lifetime, from projection and exhibition in cinemas and

the accounts of the challenges faced by the early pioneers

drive-ins, to cinematography, to producing award-winning

and the details of the technical equipment used and the

documentaries and undertaking assignments for Walt

way this developed to overcome difficulties. The book is

Disney, the UN and the Australian Defence Department, to

aimed at cinema history buffs and those who have seen

manufacturing cinema equipment. He also presented me

the cinema business develop. I was particularly interested

with an early copy of his new book, ‘Nitrate Nomads’, a

to read about Australian manufactured projection and

labour of love, it will be of interest to some CT readers.

sound

equipment

with

names

like

Markophone,

It is certainly different — a detailed history of cinema

Raycophone, Reprovox and XL-Tone, and it was fascinating

written in a very personal ‘tongue in cheek’ vein, it looks at

to read about ongoing problems with power supplies and

the contribution made by the pioneering travelling picture

generators and how one area coped with a change from

showmen who worked in the south-west of Australia,

40Hz to 50Hz mains. The technical details of how projection

hundreds of miles south of Perth and Fremantle.

changeovers took place when the power supply had the

The book covers the work of these showmen from the days of the early silent movies, a hardy band who provided

Nitrate Nomads has 360 pages, and has been styled after an old cinema presentation, with ‘reels’ instead of

closed. The major storyline is based around Allan Jones

chapters etc. Rather than a conventional index it has four

Circuit Pictures, a company which began in 1923 serving

detailed lists entitled Casts, Locations, Attractions and

the workers at a remote sawmill, and which evolved into

Crew. Copies are available at various volunteer-operated

teams of projectionists touring the region showing

historical societies and community museums in Australia,

everything

and will enable them to raise funds for on-going local

newsreels

to

the

latest

blockbusters. It is claimed that the Jones circuits were the

preservation

longest, continually-screening cinema operation by the

interested in obtaining a copy should contact the author.

same family anywhere in the world, an impressive 92 years

Email: nitratenomads@outlook.com

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ISBN: 13: 978-06482274-0-3

a time will fascinate any old-time projectionists..

right up to 2015 when the last drive-in theatre in the region

wartime

Author: Daryl Binning

capacity to serve two projectors but only one carbon-arc at

entertainment to settlers and other isolated communities

from

Nitrate Nomads

efforts.

“Cinema

Technology”

readers

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22/05/2019 11:39


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U K C A

V I E W

The business of prediction What makes for box office gold at a time when we have more viewing options than ever? Who can say for, but as the UK Cinema Association’s chief executive Phil Clapp writes, the auditorium doors are opening wide to welcome the movie-going public this year.

A

LREADY WE HAVE come to the end of

last year’s success — and will stand the sector in good stead

Q2 2019 and we’ve seen “Avengers: End

in 2019 and beyond (regardless of the vagaries of the slate)

Game” and, to a lesser extent, “Captain

— has been the enthusiastic public response to the levels of

Marvel”, leading a superheroic charge

investment in all aspects of the big screen experience.

at the box office — but, as most would

In the past five years, we have seen unprecedented

confirm, predicting what will chime with the cinema-going

diversification of the cinema business model at all levels in

public is largely a fool’s errand. For example, don’t believe

the UK. Larger operators are investing in new sites and/or

anyone who tells you that they predicted at the outset of

upscaling venues, the ‘neighbourhood’ and boutique sectors

last year that 2018 would see the highest level of admissions

are seeing new venues spring up, and key smaller players are

since 1970. It’s worth letting that sink in for a moment.

looking to expand their reach into communities which may

At a time of economic and political uncertainty, when

not have had a mainstream cinema for several decades.

the public has never had so many film-watching — let alone

Happily, there is every sign that much of this growth is

leisure — opportunities, and when we’re regularly told the

additive — there are numerous instances where the arrival of

big screen is yesterday’s news, UK cinemas welcomed more

a new site, offering something different to the local cinema

visitors than at any time in the past 50 years. Undoubtedly a

‘mix’, not only doesn’t detract from the audience at existing

strong slate played a major role — not in the guise of one or

sites, but seems to boost interest and — in turn — numbers

two titles which stood head-and-shoulders above all others,

there as well. So all good and positive.

but in respect of a large number of films which did well (in some cases very well), maintaining a steady drum-beat of

Keeping up with technological Joneses

interest and revenue across the full 12 months of the year.

As the UKCA conference in March made clear, staying ahead

If you look at the top 10 for the year, even among familiar

of the curve in terms of technology to deliver the best cinema

genres such as superheroes there was diversity — few could

offer is increasingly challenging. Whatever other benefits the

say that “Avengers: Infinity War”, “Deadpool 2” and “Black

arrival of digital cinema delivered — greater consistency and

Panther” shared much common DNA, a feature which

quality of image, more flexible programming, and increased

extended to others of the big hits of the year — “Bohemian

revenue from 3D and event cinema — it also put operators in

Rhapsody”, “The Greatest Showman”, “Mamma Mia: Here We

the UK (and elsewhere) on a more complex and demanding

Go Again!” and “Peter Rabbit”. Scratch beneath the surface,

trajectory when it comes to technological investment.

though and it won’t surpise you to discern a ‘feel good’ factor

Identifying what each new development — be it

in some of these titles, What has undoubtedly underpinned

immersive sound, laser illumination, high dynamic range or

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(at some point) direct view display — can contribute to a cinema’s business is often more of an art than a science. More than one speaker at the conference confirmed their audience would probably discern little or no visible difference as a result of that investment. But knowing and being able to promote a new technology can help retain cinema’s place at the cutting-edge in the mind of the customer, or ensure the operator has invaluable practical knowledge of a given technology before it is widely adopted. As a trade body, here as elsewhere, the UKCA will not — for reasons of expertise as much as any — advise its members on which avenue to go down. But recognising that many of its smaller members often lack the bandwidth or networks to stay abreast of all that’s happening in this regard, it can encourage partners to impart understandable and objective information that makes the decisions more straightforward. That was the primary purpose of the conference in March and it is a process that will continue over the coming year and beyond, helping to support the ongoing transformation of an industry which continues to confound naysayers.

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R O L L O U T

100% SMPTE DCP

In 2019 the first territories will go 100% SMPTE DCP, for major studio releases at least. What will it mean for exhibitors? Danny Jeremiah, head of cinema products at Arts Alliance Media, explores the implications

A

T THE TURN OF the 20th century, the nascent film industry was trying out all kinds of formats; should they produce a square, rectangular, or even circular

when it marks the first major departure from the original set

So what’s a DCP?

image? How could they maximise the

quick rollout, a temporary solution to ensure the compatibility of digital cinema content was devised — a draft of technical documents called the Interoperable Digital Cinema Package,

use of every inch of film stock, while

Put simply, the

still reproducing a detailed image? What capabilities did the

Digital Cinema

photography industry have that they could repurpose?

in a hundred years. So, in the interest of enabling a relatively

or Interop DCP for short. The Interop DCP specification set out a way to put

Package (DCP) is

together that group of files, and served as a guideline by

It’s easy to forget that 35mm was once a format that had

the collection of

which equipment manufacturers could start releasing

to be agreed on, and that cinemas can trace their success

files which make

products to market and give exhibitors and studios relative

back to competing camera and projector manufacturers

up one or more

peace of mind that the content they wanted to play would

deciding on a single format in the name of compatibility. In

versions of an

play correctly. As the proposal for what was to become

many ways, it was probably more challenging to come to a

advert, a trailer,

SMPTE DCP, Interop DCP is less fully featured, and relies in

consensus back then — we owe 35mm to a single engineer:

a feature, or

some places on conventions instead of standards. That

W. K. L. Dickson, who cut his Eastman 70mm transparent film

anything else that

makes it difficult to render certain operations fully machine

in half lengthways to double his stock in 1889. Today, the professional organisations like the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) streamline the

you might want to play on screen in a cinema.

readable, and therefore fully automated. It would take years to finalise the official SMPTE DCP standard, eventually published in 2009. Whilst it was based

production of standards by bringing technical experts and

on work done for the Interop specification, it isn’t identical

key figures together at the inception of new technologies,

and isn’t supported by some of the oldest equipment in the

instead of after (as was the case with Mr Dickson). Even still,

field, even with a software update. So here we are in 2019, a

ratifying standards is notoriously time-consuming, especially

decade later, and North America is finally on the verge of

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going full-SMPTE DCP. It has faced some resistance because the industry had only just started converting in earnest when it was released, and many exhibitors were tied into VPF deals for years before they could invest in compatible hardware.

Enabling automation/innovation

Some exhibitors also noted that the most immediate benefit of widespread SMPTE DCP usage went to the studios.

HIGH FRAME RATE (HFR)

DCPs makes it easier to search for

For several years, studios have had to master SMPTE and

SMPTE DCPs enable delivery of HFR

content, and allows software like

Interop DCPs for their titles. If they can ditch Interop versions,

playback such as 60 or 120 frames

the Theatre Management Systems

mastering and distribution costs would decrease.

per second. HFR hasn’t found a

(TMS) to identify and program

While that is true, there are also a number of benefits for

breakout hit yet, but “Avatar 2” in

content

exhibitors. SMPTE DCPs support key new features, which

2020 might convince audiences and

automation is essential to cinemas

together present the opportunity to improve the efficiency

the industry of its merits.

looking to grow without adding

This

costs, freeing up site staff to pursue

of exhibitor operations greatly through powerful automations and pave the way for further improvements.

automatically.

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR)

customer-focused initiatives.

Future-proofing is challenging, but increasingly vital in

HDR has been embraced by the

the digital era, where new technologies could give exhibitors

television industry faster than by

MARKERS

an edge. With hardware, software and processes nimble

cinemas, which could well prompt

Markers are placed at a particular

enough to capitalise on the latest trends as they capture the

audiences to think they get a better

timecode in the composition and

public’s imagination is a more valuable asset than any single

picture at home. Adding HDR to

can be used to trigger automations

new technology. Proper standards are resilient and flexible,

cinemas is a step to change that.

such as bringing the houselights up when the credits roll. This info is

ensure consistency and compatibility and can be upheld without barring innovation. The SMPTE DCP standard is a

DOLBY ATMOS

currently emailed or shipped with

great step forward in the name of opportunity.

The immersive audio format from

hard drives, and entered manually

Dolby creates three-dimensional

by an operator at each site.

sound in theatres through proprietary object-based audio placement and the addition of ceiling-mounted speakers. Atmos has now been installed at

4D SEATING

over 4,500 screens around the world, indicative of the importance next-

4D seats are gaining popularity —

generation audio solutions are becoming to exhibitors and audiences alike.

Mediamation reported that, in 2018, theatres equipped with MX4D were

EXTENDED CPL METADATA

able to charge an extra $8 per ticket

Content Title Text is an often impenetrable string of numbers, and letters

on average, and raised occupancy

which, if you know what to look for, gives information about a piece of

rates to over 30%. In benefitting

content. In the Content Title Text are details like aspect ratio, audio format

from these uplifts and increased

and whether it has subtitles. The trouble is that it was designed to be read

occupancy, exhibitors can, however,

by humans. It is also a convention, rather than a standard, and, as such, can’t

add another element of complexity

be relied on for accuracy. To achieve a high degree of automation, it must be

to their operations. The movement

machine-readable. The software needs to be able to look at a piece of

of the chairs and effects has to be

content and know exactly what is in it. This is contained in metadata;

coordinated perfectly. Typically this

literally data-about-data. Interop DCPs do contain useful metadata, but it

is handled outside of the TMS today.

doesn’t cover everything the software reading it might need, so we fall back

Using SMPTE DCPs, soon those cues

on unreliable content-title-text or human intervention. Metadata in SMPTE

can be automated.

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E C A

V I E W

Event Cinema: a key part of the show The Event Cinema Association, much like event cinema content itself, is growing, more visible and stronger than ever before, writes its managing director Grainne Peat

T

HE EVENT CINEMA ASSOCIATION

richer and stronger than ever. We’ve seen a huge growth in

(ECA) is delighted to be promoting

the popularity of ‘concert’ and ‘documentary’ based content,

Event Cinema at this year’s CineEurope,

that has attracted in new audiences, of all ages. Consumer-

including hosting the first-ever product

facing challenges remain around promotion and marketing

presentation in the main auditorium —

of what’s considered event cinema. The ECA is looking at

on Wednesday 19 June, at 10am. Our presence at CineEurope

how we can improve consumer awareness and find a

is our proudest achievement to date. It’s the first time event

comprehensive and cost-effective solution to promote all

cinema as a whole has had a product presentation at any

content better. In terms of industry challenges for event

trade show and I hope this cements the new direction of the

cinema, there is work to be done around content delivery,

Association and the importance of the sector in terms of

programming (particularly for single site cinemas) event

global box office. It’s been a pleasure working with Andrew

data in terms of global box office data and admissions. All

Sunshine and the Film Expo team to make it happen. We’ve

topics we’ll address at the ECA’s Annual Conference.…

got lots happening throughout CineEurope, with a firm focus on driving membership with partners and colleagues.

Amsterdam in October: book it now!

Our hour-long presentation (with a breakfast!) will be a

The ECA’s Annual Conference will be held at the EYE Film

fantastic opportunity to promote the wealth and growing

Museum in Amsterdam on Thursday 10 October — the first-

range of event cinema content. Our focus has been to bring

ever outside of the UK. We hope these initial steps send a

as much wow-factor to the stage as possible, whilst ensuring

clear message that the ECA wants to draw in best practice

we include the many facets of the sector. Much of the

and share experiences, trends and constraints from all the

content is embargoed… so even the ECA Board don’t know

professionals who support Event Cinema everywhere.

what’s in store for delegates. Continuing celebrations on the

All this could not be achieved without the support of the

Wednesday, the ECA’s drinks reception takes place on the

ECA’s Board and supporters. The ECA has welcomed some

CCIB terrace from 3-5pm. Please do email us if you want to

highly credible new additions recently including Marc

soak up the sun and enjoy a tipple or two. The ECA Lounge

Allenby, CEO Trafalgar Releasing, Jan Runge, Jan Runge

(Room 121 on P1) has a full schedule of events too — and

Consultancy and former CEO of UNIC, Sarah Lewthwaite,

offers valuable meeting space for ECA members. If you are

Managing Director EMEA of Movio and Daren Miller, VP of

interested, do drop by to enquire about membership.

Business Affairs & International of Fathom Events.

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21/05/2019 11:23


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

cinematech.today

To all those who have, or had, some interest in projected moving images, past and present. Perhaps you’re already connected with today’s cinema, technical or otherwise, but have an interest in vintage equipment, or you have been retired from the business so long, you would wish to revisit “the good old days”. Take heart and consider joining The Projected Picture Trust and help preserve the magic of cinema. Apart from equipment restoration, the Trust provides help and assistance to non-commercial community cinemas and museums exhibiting film related artefacts. The National Museum of Cinema Technology has perhaps, the largest collection of all types of film equipment in the U.K. The Data Archive within the museum holds over 3,000 items including technical manuals, film related documents, press cuttings etc. Membership of the P.P.T. will give you access to these amenities as well as the collections within the Trust’s regions. JOIN US TODAY by contacting either of the following addresses. e-mail: contact@ppttrust.org www.ppttrust.org The Projected Picture Trust, Dean Clough Mills, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 5AX www.cinematech.today

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Index to Advertisers Airscreen

48

Harkness Screens

37

Arts Alliance Media

15

Harkness Screens

69

BigCineExpo 65

The Jack Roe Companies

37

Camstage 13

LTI

87

Cinema Tech Community

69

MENA Cinema Forum

77

Cinionic

16

Motion Picture Solutions

06

ECM19 Conference

63

NEC

47

FilmExpos, CineEurope

28

Omnex

27

FilmExpos, ShowEast

79

Projected Picture Trust

85

Future Projections

37

Pulz

53

Galalite Screens

03

QSC Cinema

02

GDC

04

Strong MDI

81

Gofilex

10

Ushio EMEA

21

Gofilex

33

Veritek

23,75, 83

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22/05/2019 15:21

18


O P I N I O N Netflix — the exhibitor of the future? Danny Jeremiah, head of cinema products at Arts Alliance Media, cuts Netflix a little slack

I

T’S SAFE TO SAY “NETFLIX” hasn’t

place at the association, so it now has a seat at the top table.

been our favourite word for some time.

Subscriber growth is accelerating, but it will saturate

Look at controversy surrounding the

eventually. That — and a competitive market — limit Netflix’s

success of “Roma” at the Oscars; a film

ability to raise subscription prices. It means the company has

most exhibitors couldn’t program even

to explore areas outside its core business to achieve long-

if they wanted to break their own rules about the theatrical

term growth. Keeping in mind Netflix’s strengths and

window. But if there’s one topic debated more passionately

limitations, and CEO Ted Sarandos’ recent assertion that

recently, it’s Moviepass. For what was (initially) a rather large

“entertainment is what [they] do”, I foresee one logical path it

monthly fee, Moviepass let subscribers to attend unlimited

could take. By adding a cinema tier to subscription plans,

screenings at any big chain in the US, with no say from the

even if initially for Netflix originals only, it could remove those

exhibitors.

limitations. As the owner of the film rights, it would also share

There followed an at times farcical struggle to find what’s

in the box office revenue, a model Moviepass alluded to, but

known in the tech arena as “product-market-fit”. Moviepass

couldn’t accomplish. The prospect of another third party

raised and cut prices and modified terms on an almost daily

subscription scheme encroaching on the exhibitor’s territory

basis, trying to find a profitable sweet-spot. The business

may not appeal to all, but I don’t think the industry should

model’s long-term sustainability may be in doubt, but it did

fear an offering like this. The average adult goes to the cinema

demonstrate the appetite for a subscription ticketing model.

between 3 and 5 times per year. We should be pushing to

And who knows subscriptions better than Netflix? More than

increase that. If Netflix offers a new avenue to help achieve

148 million people worldwide subscribe to its streaming

this, it would be careless to discount its efforts.

service. In the US, market penetration is close to 50%. They know what audiences want arguably better than

My enemy’s enemy is my friend...?

traditional major studios. Netflix is creating and acquiring

As president of the National Association of Theatre Owners,

world-class content and uses data gathered through deep

John Fithian, noted at CinemaCon, “It’s great that people like

connections with its audiences to make informed decisions

to watch movies and television shows on Netflix, because

about stories it develops, in ways studios can’t yet replicate. It

people who love content love it everywhere.” Consumer

has 90 original feature films slated for 2019 with budgets,

habits are changing rapidly, something that digital natives

reportedly, up to $200m, which, if true, places them firmly in

like Netflix are well placed to act on. The only trends the

blockbuster territory. It’s also acknowledged that theatrical

cinema industry can trust to persist, and really invest in are

runs play an important part in the lifecycle of feature films.In

flexibility and adaptability, and there are worse partners than

January, the MPAA announced that Netflix would take Fox’s

Netflix to help them get there.

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www.cinematech.today

21/05/2019 12:06


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22/05/2019 12:26


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22/05/2019 12:27

Profile for Cinema Technology

Cinema Technology Magazine - June 2019  

Twenty years ago, projection technology changed forever — in the June 2019 issue of Cinema Technology we celebrate the technological pioneer...

Cinema Technology Magazine - June 2019  

Twenty years ago, projection technology changed forever — in the June 2019 issue of Cinema Technology we celebrate the technological pioneer...