Here are some early photos of the 600 fans starting to line up today for Thursday’s Eclipse premiere at the Nokia Theater for a glimpse of the cast of this 3rd pic in the Twilight Saga: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Dakota Fanning, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, as well as director David Slade, author Stephenie Meyer, and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. About 350 Twi-Hards already were cleared through security to camp out at 6 AM PT Thursday in the L.A. Live plaza located outside the Staples Center until the premiere. Yikes! Summit Entertainment will hold events and activities for the fans over the coming days including special appearances by cast members and a live stream of special acoustical performances of acts from the Eclipse soundtrack:
Multiplex chains are resigned to admissions dropping by anything between 10% and 20% during this month’s soccer tournament. Numbers of tickets sold could fall to under 10 million compared with 12.5 million this time last year, according to Cinema Exhibitors’ Association figures. Scanning the release schedule, you suspect some titles are just being dumped in the popcorn penitentiaries to trigger that all-important pay-TV deal. This month’s Hollywood releases include Killers, MacGruber and When In Rome. Still, if Eng-er-land carry on playing the way they did against the USA on Sunday, it could all be over by next week. Cinema managers will be waving their rattles.
Cineworld is extending its lead in 3D digital. About half of the UK exhibitor’s screens will be 3D within three years. At present 33% of its 790 screens are digital. Cineworld has just announced a £30 million ($44 million) initiative with technology company Arts Alliance Media, rolling out across all of its 77 cinemas. AAM will collect virtual print fees from distributors, helping to repay Cineworld’s £40 million total investment.
AAM has virtual print-fee agreements in place with five of the Hollywood majors. It services VPF arrangements with 7,500 screens in Europe. The company operates the UK Film Council Digital Screen Network, so it has installed and maintains screens for nearly every UK exhibitor – multiplexes and independents alike. The technology company also has a deal with UK operator Reel Cinemas to digitise all 60 of its screens.
Cineworld posted a £40 million profit for 2009, boasting how it has led the way in 3D. There were grumbles that most of its digital 3D lead has come from the public purse, upgrading its 73 DSN screens to 3D and playing Hollywood blockbusters on them.
EXCLUSIVE:: The film agency has suspended work on the British Film Institute’s £166 million ($271 million) flagship project until the autumn. The new Conservative government is cutting the UK Film Council’s budget by 3% (£1.3 million [$1.9 million) for this financial year. This comes on top of the £25 million the UKFC has already saved from its annual budget to help pay for the 2012 Olympics.
Suspending work on the UK Film Centre will come as a blow to the BFI, whose biggest project this has been for years. The centre, which was due to be completed by 2015, is to house five digital screens, with one large auditorium. The BFI is putting brave face on things. It only advertised for an architect last month. “As far as we are concerned, we are simply going ahead on a different timetable this year,” it says.
John Woodward, CEO of the UKFC, tells me that all public organisations must stop spending money on new capital projects until the autumn, when government spending plans for the next three years will become clear. “This one decision will effectively deliver the grant-in-aid cuts that the government has demanded,” Woodward says.
There’s worse to come. The UKFC has been asked to model further 20% cuts in its state-funded expenditure over the next three years. This is on top of the 20% cut it has already made to its overhead. “Like every other part of the public sector, we are braced … Read More »
IMAX Corporation and AMC Entertainment have just announced an expansion of their 2007 joint venture deal, and they will add between 15 and 25 new IMAX theatres in the U.S. And IMAX Corp CEO Richard L. Gelfond says they are thinking beyond that. AMC and IMAX already had 104 IMAX joint venture theatres in the works, 79 of which already opened, with the other 25 expected to be in business by end of 2010 in the U.S. and Canada. The theatres announced this morning will open in 2011.
With an increasingly voracious appetite for 3D capable screens, IMAX has turned into a real battleground for film companies looking to lock down those screens early for their product. There are currently 316 IMAX commercial theatres and 121 institutional in 47 countries. You can just smell a gold rush here as studios rush to either shoot films in 3D or convert after the fact. The $500 million worldwide gross turned in by Clash of the Titans despite subpar reviews showed both audience demand for 3D and the power of higher ticket prices. And when you consider that Avatar and Alice in Wonderland surpassed the $1 billion worldwide gross mark since last fall after only four other films reached that number in history, who can blame studios for trying to offset the DVD slump and piracy by chasing the 3D buck? I just hope the conversion technology gets better. While true 3D films like Avatar … Read More »
The MPAA, which is the Hollywood studios’ lobbying organization, just made this announcement about the FCC’s very bad decision. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: once again, Big Media shows that it doesn’t want to share its profits with anyone else. Today’s action allows the major movie studios to undercut the entire process of theatrical release. It would put the struggling cinema chains virtually out of business. (Updates MPAA Asks FCC To Let Studios Transmit First-Run Films Directly To Consumers):
Washington, D.C. — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying it was “in the public interest” today approved a request by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) to permit recent movies to be sent directly to American households over secure high definition transmission lines from their cable or satellite providers prior to their release on DVD or Blu-ray.
“This action is an important victory for consumers who will now have far greater access to see recent high definition movies in their homes. And it is a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand.” said Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA. “We deeply appreciate the recognition by the FCC that recently released movies need special protection against content theft when they are distributed to home televisions.”
Specifically, the issue before the
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EXCLUSIVE: The British government has extended its Digital Screen Network scheme, giving multiplexes which have missed their film quotas time to catch up. The DSN scheme will now run until September 2012. Multiplexes that joined the DSN promised to show a quota of specialised films in exchange for free digital equipment. Instead, cinema chains including Cineworld, Odeon and Vue upgraded their DSN screens to 3D. Whereas other exhibitors have had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds installing 3D digital projectors and screens, the big chains have been given a massive 3D leg-up courtesy of the public purse. It costs between £70,000 and £100,000 to convert each screen to digital.
The UKFC says it wants to give underperforming cinemas time to catch up with programming commitments. Agreements are being extended by 16 months. Cinemas will be required to show a revised number of specialised screenings each week based on their previous two years’ performance. Otherwise, UKFC could still take their equipment away.
The big three UK cinema chains – Odeon, Vue and Cineworld – were awarded 55% of the £12 million ($18 million) DSN digital systems. The DSN covers approximately 8% of screens in 1/3 of UK cinemas. Cineworld, which boasted recently of the profits it has been making through 3D, accounts for 30% of the DSN screens. Letting multiplexes show 3D Hollywood blockbusters on DSN screens has given them an unfair advantage, one exhibitor tells me. “We were all very … Read More »
The UK cinema chain is strategizing now that Lloyds Banking Group wants to sell its 29% share of the company. Lloyds is selling off stakes in various companies it inherited when it bought rival UK bank HBOS. One option might be to sell Vue Entertainment entirely. Others include refinancing or acquisitions.
The advisor will help Vue Entertainment CEO Tim Richards and Deputy CEO Alan McNair make up their minds over the next few months. Lloyds cannot sell its shares without their agreement. Richards and McNair own 51% of the business between them. “Shares in Vue can’t directly be sold without our consent,” Vue Entertainment CEO Tim Richards tells me.
Lloyds has chosen a good moment to get its money out while the excitement over 3D lasts. Vue, which operates 68 sites, has 100 equipped for 3D. Forthcoming 3D titles include Shrek Forever After on July 2 and Toy Story 3 on July 23.
Competition concerns would inhibit Vue from doing anything at home apart from small, piecemeal acquisitions though, says research firm Dodona Research. Showcase is apparently no longer on the market. Apollo Cinemas is one possibility but may be a bad fit. “The only source of significant expansion lies overseas,” says Dodona MD Karsten-Peter Grummit.
Former Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group President, Mark Zoradi, will join the Board of Directors of the newly formed Rave Cinemas, LLC, now the United States’ 5 largest theater exhibition chain. (TOLDJA! Rave Buys Up To 35 of Redstone’s National Amusements Theater Complexes)
We already know that Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman/CEO Michael Lynton, himself rail thin, keeps “cutting the fat” at Sony by laying off hundreds of staff who are integral to the studio’s operation. Now, in an address to theater owners at ShoWest that covered everything from the economy to 3D, Lynton’s remarks took a surprising turn when he focused on movie theater concession stands that he claims are making kids obese. Here are Lynton’s remarks on the subject:
“The final point I want to make today has to do with opening a different kind of window altogether a window of healthier foods at your concession stands.
I don’t mean close the window for popcorn, soda, and candy. Audiences love them, and should always be able to buy them at your theaters. I can almost imagine the Romans eating popcorn and drinking Coke at the Coliseum 2,000 years ago. Or the Greeks munching on Sno-Caps at the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens.
I suggest you consider adding a few healthier items to your existing menu. I believe it’s the right thing to do your industry, for our audiences…and for America. Here’s why:
It’s great for America because childhood obesity, and obesity in general, is an epidemic of major proportions, and requires everyone to chip in to stem the tide. According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, nearly one out of three young people are already overweight or obese. That puts them at higher risk of diabetes, asthma, heart failure and a shorter life span.
By the way, young people and people of color are the most frequent moviegoers, and they are also the most at risk for the damaging health effects of obesity.
In response to this health care crisis, schools have changed their lunch programs and fast food outlets have begun to add healthier foods to their menus. Even at our studio, we’ve added a daily healthy lunch special, and a subsidized salad bar in our commissary.
By bringing healthier snacks into your concession stands, you would be helping our country meet an urgent public health need.
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EXCLUSIVE From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Cinema chains including Cineworld, Odeon and Vue have all upgraded digital equipment provided free of charge by the UK government to 3D. Whereas other exhibitors have had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds installing 3D digital projectors and screens, the big chains have received a massive leg-up on 3D courtesy of the public purse. It costs between £70,000 and £100,000 to convert each screen to digital. No wonder rivals to the Big Three think this is unfair competition.
The UK Film Council has invested £12 million ($18 million) in equipping 240 screens in 213 cinemas across the UK, or what’s called its Digital Screen Network. The DSN covers approximately 8% of screens in 1/3 of UK cinemas. Of those, half are controlled by Cineworld, Odeon, and Vue. Cineworld was apparently the first chain to begin upgrading its 73 DSN screens. Then Odeon and Vue followed. Cineworld has just posted a £40 million profit for 2009, boasting how it’s led the way in 3D.
The idea behind the DSN was to enable multiplexes to show a certain percentage of officially approved films across all screens. Otherwise, the UKFC could take their equipment away. But the rush to screen 3D Hollywood blockbusters like Alice In Wonderland and Avatar have elbowed these official movies out of the way. So there’s a question whether the multiplexes will hit the quota targets for officially approved films they agreed to. A review of the DSN is … Read More »
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler:The UK’s biggest movie theatre chain Odeon has now ended its standoff with the Walt Disney Co. It joined exhibitors Vue and Cineworld to show Alice In Wonderland as scheduled. What a win for Bob Iger and what a sea-change for filmgoers. It’ll end up like Korea where a movie plays for a few weeks in cinemas and then, snap your fingers, and all formats are available at a variety of prices. Disney decided to stare down exhibitors both here in the UK and in the U.S. by imposing a 12-week theatrical window instead of the standard lag between a film appearing in cinemas and then going to DVD of 17 weeks. It all kicked off when Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors during an earnings call earlier this month: “It‘s really important for us to maintain a very healthy business on the exhibition side, and 3D is definitely contributing to that, and a very healthy business on the home video side, which we think is actually in the best interest of the theater owners. And so, mindful of what‘s going on on the home video side, we feel that it’s time, on a case-by-case basis, movie-by-movie, to really take a look at how we’re windowing the home video product into the marketplace.” Disney distribution president Bob Chapek echoed his boss on the need for exceptions like Tim Burton’s 3D Alice In Wonderland to accomodate a shortened … Read More »
The UK cinema chain Vue has increased its post-tax profits to £18 million compared to £15 million year-on-year, according to its latest annual results. Revenue also increased to £215 million from £193 million in the 12 months to November 26. The exhibition chain currently operates 654 screens at 68 cinema sites, although more openings are planned. In its latest Companies House filing, the privately-owned firm says it expects this year’s admissions to keep pace with 2009’s 170 million ticket sales. Others though predict that admissions will dip by three per cent this year, even though the 2010 box office total is expected to match 2009’s £1 billion total (see “British Cinemas Set to Break £1B Again”). The uplift is coming from the extra money operators are charging for 3D.
Vue has been ripping out seats in the sweet spots of its screens, replacing them with airplane first-class style seating. These leatherette seats have fake-wood arm rests for parking those lucrative soft drinks and concession snacks. Customers have to pay an extra £1.55 to watch 3D Avatar in one of these bad boys. That’s on top of the extra £3.50 a ticket they’re already paying to watch the 3D version.
So say distributors and exhibitors, who are confident that 2010’s box office will match last year’s £1 billion total. Last year’s £1,054,351,651 box office total was accompanied by a rise in ticket sales. There were 170 million tickets sold for UK cinemas in 2009 – the best year since 2004’s record-breaking 176 million tickets sold. According to Nielsen EDI, 2009’s box office total was 11% higher than the final tally for 2008. While no single film could compete with the £69 million grossed by Mamma Mia!, Warner Bros’ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the top performer. It grossed more than £50.7 million. Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was in second place at £35 million. Disney’s Up took third with £34.3 million.
Indeed, there seemed to be a better spread of titles in 2009. Richards said that the studios have become aware of not bunching hit movies together during peak school holiday periods. Twenty six of last year’s releases earned more than £10 million through the turnstiles.
However, most of that uplift will come from the extra £2 per ticket that cinema operators are charging for the privilege of watching movies in 3D. The growing number of 3D screens in Britain is expanding the size of the exhibition pot. Although admissions also grew in 2009, they’re expected to fall again this year. One insider told Deadline/London that he expects admissions to drop by three per cent in 2010.
The question is how long audiences will continue seeing cinema in 3D when they’ll increasingly … Read More »
UPDATES TOLDJA! Rave Buys Up To 35 of Sumner Redstone’s Natl Amusements Theater Complexes
Norwood, MA- Shari Redstone, President of National Amusements Inc., and co-founder of Rising Star Media, announced that she has joined with Charles Ryan of UFG Private Equity of Russia to purchase Rising Star from NAI.
Redstone will be chairman of the new entity and Rising Star co-founder Paul Heth is joining as CEO. Rising Star Media plans to aggressively expand its theater chain in Russia under the well-established brand Kinostar.
Redstone and Heth founded Rising Star Media in 2002 with National Amusements. The venture quickly became a significant player in the Russian theatre scene. Today the company owns and operates the top five grossing theatres in Russia.
“After many successful years working with Paul and our team in Russia, I am delighted that Charlie shares our vision for the company’s future,” said Redstone, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Boards of Viacom and CBS. “With his support, the company is well-positioned to grow the business and expand our dominant position in the Russian theater industry.”
Added Heth, “This is great news for our US studio and Russian film partners, which retain their top customer, and for Rising Star. I’m grateful to have been invited to continue with the new company, and look forward not only to the next chapter in my long-standing business relationship with Shari, but also to the chance to work with Charlie,
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UPDATES EXCLUSIVE: Rave To Acquire 35 National Amusements Complexes
I had this scoop back on December 7th. (Shame on the Los Angeles Times for trying to grab credit.) Today there’s an official announcement:
Dallas, TX – December 21, 2009 – Rave Cinemas, LLC (“Rave”), a newly formed company, announced that earlier this month it reached a definitive agreement with National Amusements, Inc. (“NAI”) to purchase the business operations and selected real estate assets of up to 35 NAI theaters and that it closed on the acquisition of an initial group of 29 of those theaters. Concurrently, the company acquired the business operations of four theaters from Boston Ventures-owned Rave Reviews Cinemas, L.L.C. (“RRC”), together with RRC’s corporate infrastructure and the Rave Motion Pictures brand. RRC will retain 21 of its existing theaters, which will be managed by Rave under a management services agreement. The day-to-day business and operations of Rave will be managed by RRC’s former management team, which partnered with equity sponsor TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. (“TowerBrook”) and co-investors Lambert Media Group (“Lambert Media”) and Charles B. Moss, Jr. to found Rave and pursue the NAI and RRC acquisitions.
Following the close of the acquisitions, Rave, which will operate under the Rave Motion Pictures brand name, anticipates it will own or manage 65 theaters and approximately 1,000 screens located in 20 states across the country and will
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BREAKING NEWS! EXCLUSIVE!
6:30 PM UPDATE: Now I’ve learned Rave Motion Pictures is buying 35 theatre complexes from National Amusement, and that the two companies have signed a definitive agreement. My sources think the deal should close in the next 2 weeks. Financing is being provided by Tower Brook Capital Partners, the hedge fund. There still is no official confirmation on this.
5:55 PM: If the advanced talks result in a deal, it would make Rave Motion Pictures the 5th largest exhibitor. The Dallas-based privately held theater circuit has 30 locations and 475 screens located in 14 states, and is now the biggest U.S. exhibition chain to have 100% state-of-the-art digital projection. As you know, Norwood, Massachusetts-based National Amusements is a closely-held company controlled by Viacom chief Sumner Redstone. Its assets include more than 1,500 motion picture screens in the U.S., U.K., Latin America and Russia. The deal being talked about, according to my sources, calls for Rave to acquire half of National Amusements’ theatre locations. Redstone put the theaters out for bid to help pay off his family business’ $1.46 billion debt incurred during the financial crisis. Then, after some fancy financial maneuvering, He planned to hold onto the bulk of National Amusements’ movie-theater chain except for selling 35 U.S. theaters outside of its core business in the Northeast. So it remains to be seen exactly where and what Rave is buying. ”NA has some wonderful theatre complexes and then it has some pretty mediocre theatre complexes. … Read More »