There’s nothing wrong with 3D movies that can’t be fixed if directors pay more attention to details in the productions, studios do more to promote them, and theaters offer them on additional screens. At least that’s the way RealD CFO Drew Skarupa described things in his appearance today at the MKM Partners Investor Day Conference. The 3D technology company has been in Wall Street’s dog house lately as the percentage of box office sales for 3D films has declined. The format accounts for about 33% of domestic sales for films that offer the option, down from 43% last year; elsewhere the take rate has fallen to 47% from 61%. Skarupa acknowledges that some 3D films don’t take full advantage of the extra dimension, usually because they’re converted to 3D after being shot in 2D. Although “conversions have gotten better and better,” they aren’t as good as films shot in 3D. For example Warner Bros’ upcoming Gravity is “a must-see in 3D. It’s a made-for 3D movie.” But persuading filmmakers to change will be “an evolution. It’s not going to happen overnight.” RealD is trying to help by advising some directors and “giving them ideas about the shot.” Meanwhile the company wants studios to step up their marketing — it has “come down a bit.” And theaters need to “increase those [3D] show times” especially on weekend evenings. RealD’s exit surveys found that about 25% of movie-goers love 3D, and an equal number dislike it. The remaining 50% “we call the swing vote, it’s heavily influenced by showtime and marketing…It’s important for us to focus on that 50%.”
RealD‘s shares are touching all-time lows, falling 4% to $7.71 in mid-day trading, after Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil downgraded the 3D technology company to “hold” from “buy.” The company is at an “inflection point,” he says. It continues to …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Channel 4 Picks Up U.S. Series; San Sebastian To Premiere ‘Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet’; More
Channel 4 Imports ‘Hostages’, ’100′, ‘Tomorrow People’, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’
Britain’s Channel 4 has acquired a quartet of U.S. shows that will air in early 2014, including three from Warner Bros International Television: Hostages will air on Channel 4, while The 100 and The Tomorrow People will air on sister channel E4. Also coming to Channel4 is Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., the new series from Marvel Television and ABC Studios. It premieres on C4 in the fall, soon after its ABC launch in the U.S. In a new commission, C4 has ordered Making Liberty, a three-part series based around the luxe Regent Street department store. Rize USA is producing the series that focuses on the store as it preps for the Christmas season. It will air in the fall.
‘The Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet’ Premiere Will Close San Sebastian
Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s latest film, The Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet is set to world premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival. It will close the proceedings on September 28. Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Kyle Catlett, Callum Keith Rennie, Robert Maillet and Dominique Pinon star. Gaumont backed the 3D movie about a 12-year-old child prodigy who lives on a ranch in Montana. His great talent for cartography and inventions soon is rewarded. A scientific institute announces that he has won a prestigious award, and he sets out across the country to collect it. The Weinstein Co. acquired the pic in Cannes.
B. Riley & Co analyst Eric Wold favors the second part of the equation, but says consumer pushback may also account for the disappointing 3D ticket sales that just led him to downgrade tech company RealD to “neutral” from “buy.” That contributed to a 6.2% drop in the company’s share price in early trading. Wold notes that 3D accounted for 31% of the domestic box office for Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University this weekend, making it “the lowest of any animated title in history” behind Brave‘s 34%. And Paramount’s World War Z, with 34% of box office from 3D, was “the lowest of any action movie in history” after Paramount’s Captain America with 40%. These aren’t blips: The 3D domestic attach rates (the percent of total box office) “have been stabilizing in the 30%-45% rate — which, unfortunately, has become a trend” with all movie genres, Wold says. Consumers may be fed up paying an extra few bucks for 3D, although Wold notes that “we are not seeing this with IMAX screens.”
RealD is moving into IMAX territory with its new premium large format brand LUXE: A RealD Experience. The company presented the initiative to exhibitors gathering in Barcelona today at CineEurope. LUXE auditoriums will start to roll out this …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Searching For ‘Wicker Man’, Londoño Upped At Fox Int’l Channels, Chinese Authorities Eyeing Zhang
UK distributor StudioCanal has launched a worldwide appeal to locate original film materials relating to the 1973 horror classic The Wicker Man. This year is the Robin Hardy-directed film’s 40th anniversary, and StudioCanal is aiming to release the most complete version of the film possible. The Christopher Lee starrer originally was released with minimal promotion as the second feature of a double bill with Don’t Look Now. The version shown was significantly shorter than Hardy’s original. The negatives then disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios and allegedly were used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 highway, and are considered lost forever. The company is appealing to film collectors, historians, programmers and fans to support the campaign and come forward with any information relating to the potential whereabouts of original materials.
Londoño Upped At Fox International Channels
Fox International Channels has appointed Diego Londoño as COO of its European and African units. He will take over the new post immediately and retain his role as president of FIC Italy and Germany. The appointment adds decision-making responsibilities across pan-European and African programming, production, branding, communications, research and strategy to his responsibilities. Londoño, a 15-year veteran of FIC, will be charged with strengthening and expanding the company’s portfolio and exploring new growth areas.
Global Showbiz Briefs: K5 & ‘Cutie’, ‘Khumba’, Monte Carlo TV Fest, RealD In Rio, ‘Shield Of Straw’, NBCU International, Pinewood Indomina, ITV & More
K5 In The Ring With ‘Cutie And The Boxer’
K5 International has boarded director Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie And The Boxer which is screening this week in Tribeca. Heinzerling won the U.S. Documentary directing prize in Sundance for the film which is his feature debut. The movie is a New York love story about life and art that explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife and artist Noriko. It will be released Stateside by Radius-TWC in August. King Records will distribute in Japan with Parco and Madman in Australia.
Steve Buscemi, Anika Noni Rose Join ‘Khumba’
South Africa’s Triggerfish Animation Studios has added the voice talent of Steve Buscemi and The Good Wife’s Anika Noni Rose to its 3D animated feature, Khumba. They join Liam Neeson, Laurence Fishburne, AnnaSophia Robb, Jake T. Austin, Loretta Devine and Richard E. Grant. Khumba tells the story of a half-striped Zebra who is blamed for a severe drought by his herd. He teams up with a sassy wildebeest and a self-obsessed ostrich to go in search of the magic waterhole where legend has it the first zebras got their stripes and meets an array of wacky characters on the adventure. Edward Noeltner’s Cinema Management Group has international sales. Millennium Entertainment will release in the U.S. later this year. Buscemi and Rose’s deals were brokered by WME and Ned Lott on behalf of Triggerfish Animation. Buscemi is also repped by The Gotham Group.
LAS VEGAS (APRIL 15, 2013) – RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) announced today the introduction of Precision White Screen technology for cinema projection, combining 2D white screen performance with the ability to project polarized 3D images. Designed to deliver enhanced 2D and 3D presentations with wide viewing angles similar to white screens of equivalent gain, Precision White Screen technology features edges 4 to 5 times brighter than a standard silver screen. The improved screen efficiency results in 40% more total light coming off the screen, providing more uniform brightness than a standard silver screen. Precision White Screens also feature a smooth, white surface which generates better image contrast for improved image quality in 2D and 3D.
The 3D version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, which was just tapped to be the opening night film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and which Warner Bros plans to release in the U.S. on May 10, will provide an early indication of whether the extra dimension appeals to audiences who like dramas — and not just animation, action, and fantasy fans. “We’re really excited to see what the data points are,” RealD Chief Financial and Operating Officer Drew Skarupa said today of The Great Gatsby at the Piper Jaffray Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference. The 3D technology company is also eager to see additional films that appeal to overseas audiences. When a movie is available in 2D and 3D, about 60% of international sales go to the 3D version as opposed to 45% in the U.S. That’s a problem because “the press and the Street tend to focus on the domestic numbers.” What accounts for the difference? “We’ve seen direct correlations between the number of 3D showtimes and box office,” Skarupa says. “We’d like to see in the U.S. markets a greater percentage of 3D showtimes.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: BFI Film Fund For Docs, Film London For Artists, RealD In Hospitals, Endemol’s ‘Big Boss’
Documentary Makers To Pitch BFI For Funding
The BFI Film Fund will dish out funding to documentaries via twice-yearly public pitch sessions, in London and at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Documentarians will pitch ideas to a panel of senior execs “from within the BFI Film Fund and wider documentary funding community”, with selected candidates benefitting from a day of expert-led development to help them focus pitches and strengthen ideas. Documentary filmmaking in Britain is on a high after a string of high-profile successes like Man On Wire and Senna, as well as this year’s Oscar- and BAFTA-winning Brit-produced Searching For Sugarman and the BAFTA-winning The Imposter. “Documentary is the punk of the film industry,” said the BFI’s Lizzie Francke. “We’re absolutely committed to supporting the UK’s visionary documentary filmmakers and we’re pleased to be working with Sheffield Doc/Fest on this new way to deliver support directly to the sector.” – Joe Utichi
UPDATE, 2:30 PM: RealD chairman Michael Lewis mentioned more than once during the post-earnings conference Disney’s plans to restart the Star Wars franchise, saying the recent decision to postpone 3D rereleases of Star Wars prequel movies doesn’t bother the company, which relies most on new tentpole product. It also announced new deals for as many as 300 screens with two exhibitors in Russia as part of an international expansion, and hinted that there may be more news about Latin America by next quarter. CFO/COO Drew Skarupa said year-end guidance is now about $10M-$15M less, which the company expects to push into fiscal 2014 when more 3D product comes online.
PREVIOUS, 1:21 PM: The 3D licensor reported its fiscal third-quarter earnings today, marking a loss of $4.2 million, or -8 cents a share, compared with a gain of $2.8 million, or +5 cents, a year ago. The drop comes despite a tax benefit of $2.2 million during the quarter that ended December 31. RealD’s total revenue came in at $46.9 million, a year-over-year dip from $49 million, though licensing was up 7%. Both earnings per share and revenue were about on par with analyst expectations.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Environmental Media Awards Scribes, Phone-Hacking Lawsuits, Australian Cinema Woes, RealD In Russia
Phil Rosenthal, David Wild To Pen 2012 Environmental Media Awards
The Environmental Media Association says Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal and TV writer David Wild will team up to pen the 22nd annual Environmental Media Awards. The pair first worked together on America: A Tribute To Heroes telethon in 2001. Wild’s TV writing credits include the Grammy Awards and The Primetime Emmy Awards. Rosenthal directed and stars in the feature documentary Exporting Raymond. The awards will be held September 29 at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank.
Russell Brand, Christopher Eccleston Sue Over Phone-Hacking
Russell Brand and Christopher Eccleston have added their names to the list of News Of The World litigants. News Corp’s News International, which published the now-defunct paper, is now facing about 174 invasion of privacy claims over alleged phone-hacking claims. Those cases are expected to go to trial next year, The Guardian reports. Along with the British actors, there are politicians, local TV personalities and the filmmaker Christopher Terrill.
The announcement follows Imax’s agreement in October to license Kodak’s snazzy laser projection technology — which some analysts say could give it an edge over RealD’s 3D projectors. This release suggests that Imax is still on track to roll the new technology out in late 2013 in dome theaters with screens larger than 80 feet.
NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2012 /CNW/ – IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) today announced it selected Barco (NYSE Euronext Brussels: BAR) to co-develop ground-breaking new laser projection technology for IMAX® theatres. The new IMAX digital laser projector will present greater brightness and clarity, a wider color gamut and deeper blacks, and consume less power and last longer than existing digital technology. This state-of-the-art solution, which will implement the patents IMAX exclusively licensed from Eastman Kodak Co. last year, will allow IMAX’s entire global theatre network to show the highest-quality digital content available.
The weak box office sales this past weekend made it clear that the year is going to end with a whimper. Regal’s shares fell 8.7%, making it the biggest loser among the theater chains followed by Carmike (-4.9%) and Cinemark (-2.9%). Companies closely aligned with theaters also suffered: 3-D technology provider RealD fell 6.2% while ad seller National Cinemedia was off nearly 3%. “The hoped-for 4Q11 box office pop is slipping away,” says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett. Ticket sales so far this quarter are down about 6.9% vs the same period last year, he says. He predicts the quarter will end down 1.9% following an expected surge of Christmas weekend turnout for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as it goes into wide release, Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Paramount’s The Adventures Of Tintin.