While Hollywood wonders if a big part of the financing for Jeff Robinov’s new shingle will come from Huayi Brothers Media, others with less luster are tapping China for funding. Producers Robert Simonds and Gigi Pritzker announced in The New York Times they have teamed with backers including TPG Growth and Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital to form a venture they call “a next generation film studio” that will finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 star-driven theatrical films per year for the global market with budgets at around $40M. They expect the venture to spend over $1B over the next five years. The strategy: Hollywood’s devotion to tent poles has pushed them away from star vehicles, and the venture wants to bring those back. Of course, that happened because new stars are few and far between, and even the dependable ones no longer deliver strong opening weekends like they once did. Simonds, who had an early strong run with Adam Sandler comedies but whose last hit was 2006′s The Pink Panther, will be chairman and CEO of the venture with former Viacom Entertainment Group exec Thomas McGrath as COO. OddLot Entertainment CEO Pritzker will also sit on the board. She is coming off the disastrous Ender’s Game, but has also been involved in tasteful fare like The Way Way Back, Drive and the upcoming Jon Stewart-directed Rosewater. They say they have made direct distribution deals with North American …
AMC Theatres may have the second-most screens in America, but one small theatre chain says it won’t be shut out. “By its acts, practices, and conduct, over the past 4-5 years and continuing today, AMC has engaged in a course of conduct that amounts to monopolization and/or unlawful exercise of monopoly power,” says Cobb Theatres in an antitrust complaint filed in federal court in Georgia this week. In the 42-page filing (read it here) requesting a jury trial, Cobb wants AMC — which has more than 5,000 screens in about 350 theatres nationwide — stopped via injunction from continuing its alleged behavior that started in 2009. Cobb also seeks an award equal to three times the damages it says it has suffered, legal fees, and all profits AMC made from supposedly preventing Cobb access to films like Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
Mincing no words, the smaller chain cites a “ruthless campaign” and accuses AMC of using “its worldwide and national circuit power and its market power in a substantial number of geographic markets to coerce film distributors” to stop Cobb being able to play major movies. Directly or through joint ownership, Cobb has 19 theatres situated in Georgia, Florida, Virginia and Colorado for a total of 231 screens.
Federal employees impacted by the government shutdown can use their free time to see a movie — and get free popcorn while they’re there – courtesy of AMC Theatres. Beginning today, federal workers just need to present a valid government or military ID at AMC concession stands to receive a free small popcorn. “The offer is good until common sense is restored in Washington D.C., or, more likely, until the shutdown ends or we run out of free popcorn”, AMC Theatres said in a statement. “There are hundreds of thousands of federal workers whose lives are being impacted,” said John McDonald, EVP Operations at AMC. “While we can’t do anything to resolve gridlock in Washington D.C., we can provide a few hours of entertainment, and free popcorn, while they wait to get back to work.” The purchase of a ticket is not necessary to receive the offer.
New York, N.Y. and Beijing, PRC – July 24, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX; TSX:IMX) and Wanda Cinema Line Corporation, Asia’s largest cinema owner, today announced an amendment to the parties’ original 2011 joint revenue share agreement with the addition of a minimum of 40 and up to 120 new IMAX®theatres to be located throughout China. The deal also extends Wanda’s lease terms for all new theatres to 12 years from 10 years and brings Wanda’s total IMAX commitment in China to up to 210 theaters, positioning Wanda Cinema Line as IMAX’s largest international exhibition partner.
Greg Rutkowski, an exhibition veteran who was instrumental in several innovations during his 20-year tenure at AMC Theatres — including the circuit-wide introduction of the cupholder armrest — died November 28 in Los Angeles from pancreatic cancer. He was 64. While at AMC, Rutowski helped expand the circuit, especially in LA, including AMC’s flagship theatre in Century City (Century 14) and one of the first high-volume theaters in Burbank (Burbank 10). He also opened the Santa Monica 7, among the first marquee tenants on the Third Street Promenade that eventually became a high-end retail district. Among his other operational successes (many still being used today) was exhibition’s first guest-loyalty program, AMC MovieWatcher Rewards, which was based on the airlines’ frequent-flier club models and proprietary research that showed the importance of “value added” amenities; the “Silence is Golden” marketing campaign to remind moviegoers not to talk during the movies, well before the days of cell phones; and Clip, the animated company mascot that appeared in the chain’s feature presentation trailers.
After AMC, Rutkowski co-founded with Jonathan Dern The Bigger Picture, a pioneer in the development and introduction of digitally delivered films; that company eventually became Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. He also worked at Sundance Cinemas as EVP and COO, and was EVP Corporate Development at Century Theatres. Most recently he ran Digital Attractions, a marketing and distribution company for indie films.
EXCLUSIVE: AMC Theaters pulled out all the stops to cash in on the huge audience interest in Marvel’s The Avengers, and the exhibition chain says today that the effort paid off. “We grossed almost $4M last night, slightly ahead of the amazing Hunger Games opening a little more than a month ago,” says AMC President of Programming Bob Lenihan. The company says 112 theaters devoted 194 screens to the chain’s Ultimate Marvel Marathon, and 47 of the screens were sold out — far exceeding AMC’s expectations. More than 30,000 ticket-buyers paid $40 apiece to spend 16 hours beginning 11:30 AM yesterday watching Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor in 3D, Captain America in 3D, and The Avengers in 3D. In addition, the exhibition chain says that it had nearly 600 sold-out shows for the new release. The flagship AMC Empire 25 in Times Square was sold out for last night’s midnight showing — as were the venue’s 3:00 AM IMAX show, and a 6:45 AM show. The theater “should be our busiest location in the country,” says AMC’s EVP for Operations, John McDonald. AMC also reports sell-outs for Seattle’s AMC Lakewood 12, Anaheim’s AMC Downtown Disney 12, and New Jersey’s AMC Menlo Park 12.
BREAKING… AMC Theatres made the announcement today and is adding more shows at participating locations. The May 3rd event will feature 6 Marvel movies including the May 4th midnight release of Marvel’s The Avengers in RealD 3D. Price is $40 for the marathon of movies, an event lanyard, and maybe a pair of limited-edition Avenger character RealD 3D glasses if supplies last. I think this amply demonstrates that fans will pay extra for theatrical events. Remember when Dreamgirls opened in 2006 a week ahead of release with a $25-per-ticket event playing 10 days in three theatres with reserved seating, themed lobby displays, merchandise booths, and a limited-edition program? The advance tickets for what’s billed as ’The Ultimate Marvel Marathon’ sold out at 10 AMC locations across the country a month ahead of the event: AMC Empire 25, New York AMC Downtown Disney 24, Orlando AMC Sunset Place 24, Miami AMC Downtown Disney 12, Los Angeles AMC Burbank 16, Los Angeles AMC Ontario Mills 30, Los Angeles AMC Loews Boston Common 19, Boston AMC Garden State 16, New Jersey AMC Loews Metreon 16, San Francisco AMC Courtney Park 16, Toronto. The 6 Marvel movies which begin playing at 11:30 AM are (in order): Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor (presented in RealD 3D), Captain America: The First Avenger (presented in RealD 3D), and Marvel’s The Avengers. AMC operates 347 theatres with 5,048 screens across the United States and Canada.
Web platform Tugg is teaming up with a group of exhibition powerhouses for a plan designed to give consumers a programming role in their local theater. Chains Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, AMC Theatres, Bow Tie Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Goodrich Quality Cinemas, Rave Cinemas and Regal Cinemas have signed on with Tugg for an initiative in which theatrical venues will be provided for individually curated events showcasing Tugg’s library of studio and independent films. Oscar nominees The Tree Of Life and Bullhead are two of the options available through Tugg’s library. Individuals and groups will select a title, screening time and local theater. After spreading word and reaching the necessary number of people committed to attending, the event will be confirmed. Tugg will reserve the participating theater, handle ticketing and arrange delivery of the film. Said AMC Theatres programming president in a statement: “As we continue to evaluate the program though trials at our theaters, we’ve experienced its potential firsthand through successful results by not only putting the choice directly in our guests’ hands, but also through the power of grassroots, guest-advocate marketing.” Tugg will unveil its partnerships with distributors prior to the opening of the SXSW Film Festival in March.
UPDATE: Talk about advance planning. A handful of IMAX theaters that screened the special 6-minute prologue for The Dark Knight Rises with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol thought it would be a good idea to sell TDKR/IMAX 12:01 AM opening night tickets. According to a Warner Bros exec, advance ticket sales are left to the discretion of the theaters. The result? Thursday July 19 midnight shows for The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience have already sold out at New York’s AMC Loews Lincoln Square theater. The AMC Loews Universal City cineplex in Los Angeles has sold out all seats and all but two wheelchair slots, according to seating charts for advance sales via Fandango. No additional screenings have been scheduled yet. Tickets for the time being are still available for the 12:01 AM July 19 show at the Rave IMAX at Howard Hughes Center on LA’s Westside. Likewise at the Metreon in San Francisco. Tickets for non-IMAX versions of The Dark Knight Rises do not appear to be on sale yet — anywhere. Initially reported on /Film, the limited advance IMAX sales weren’t advertised except possibly at the individual theaters. Neither IMAX, AMC or the online ticket vendors Fandango or MovieTickets.com are promoting ticket sales for The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience on their home pages. The one thing these locations have in common is they are equipped with supersize 70mm film projection as opposed to digital IMAX.
AMC Theatres and the building’s owner, Avco Corp, couldn’t settle on new terms so it’s exiting the Avco Four-plex in Westwood on December 4th. AMC has a newer, cushier, larger, and busier theater in nearby Century City. But the owners plan to bring in a ”really high-end movie theater” in the space next year.
UPDATE: MoviePass Gets Its Ticket Punched As Trial Launch Is Canceled After Two Movie Chains Give It Thumbs Down
UPDATE, 7:12 PM: Reps for MoviePass confirm they have thrown in the towel and canceled their test run in San Francisco this weekend. They say this is on a “temporary hiatus,” but I doubt we’ll see this service up and running again particularly since it’s clear two major theater chains don’t want it. That Moviepass counted six AMC theaters in its test run without actually getting clearance from that chain or from Landmark, probably qualifies this as one of the most boneheaded stillborn launches in recent entertainment history.
PREVIOUS: Hollywood doesn’t like to let newcomers into its exclusive club. When a couple of companies tried to sell sell futures based on box office movie grosses, the MPAA used its lobbying might to crush the ventures in DC. Netflix is one of the few interlopers that managed to create a niche for itself in the Hollywood infrastructure, helped by the indisputable fact it was providing a new revenue source at a time when DVD revenues went in the crapper. So it’s not surprising that an upstart service like MoviePass is having so many problems as it tries to test out a service that was to start this weekend in San Francisco. The plan was to charge $50 a month for passes that allowed buyers to see as many movies as they wanted in a calendar month. Stacy Spikes, one of the execs who formed the venture, seemed crestfallen this evening; on the eve of the test program, AMC and Landmark both said they hadn’t been informed about it, wanted no part of it and even seemed to scoff at it.
Kansas City, Mo. (June 30, 2011) – AMC Theatres® (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, today announced it will not participate in the beta test of MoviePass, an initiative launching this weekend in the San Francisco area.
“Plans for this program were developed without AMC’s knowledge or input,” said Stephen Colanero, chief marketing officer at AMC Theatres. “As MoviePass is currently designed, it does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues.”
Some concerns with the program include AMC Stubs members’ ability to receive credit when purchasing a MoviePass. AMC Stubs, the company’s rewards program, was rolled out in April 2011 and rewards participants for ticket and concessions purchases.
“As MoviePass was created without AMC’s input and testing, we cannot confidently say the guest experience would be positive for our guests and specifically our AMC Stubs members,” said Colanero. “We were surprised to see the press release and subsequent press coverage of MoviePass earlier this week as it included several of our San Francisco locations. It was news to us to see that we were participants and we will be communicating to those theatres they are not to accept MoviePass.”
AMC Theatres will be the exclusive exhibitor for the pro-Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, which charts the ex-Alaska governor’s rise to national prominence, and has solidified a release date: July 15 in select cities (Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Atlanta, Orange County, Phoenix, Houston, Indianapolis, and Kansas City). Cinedigm Digital Cinema is managing the release; ARC Entertainment will distribute worldwide. The doc, written and directed by Stephen K. Bannon (Generation Zero, celebrating the Tea Party movement, and In The Face Of Evil, lionizing President Reagan), was produced by Victory Film Group co-founder Glenn Bracken Evans and Dan Fleuette and financed independently. Today’s announcement also said that the public will be able to vote for more theater locations. It will be interesting to see whether Iowa, New Hampshire and and South Carolina screens pop up in the near future as Palin ponders a run for the White House in 2012.