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Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly CineBUZZ Report - 29 August 2011

Good Night Irene 

In addition to power lines and beach shacks, Irene also blew the box office down, as the weekend gross was the second lowest for the year (only Super Bowl weekend was worse).  But leaving Irene's temper aside there wasn't much to entice the folks to flock to the local cinema.
The Help (Disney/DreamWorks) won highest honors for the third week running with a $14.3 million gross and a total - not too shabby - take of  $97 million over its run.  Now, no matter how much you like a good, old American drama, The Help isn't the kind of film that distribs or exhibs want to see as #1 three weeks in a row and it has no international appeal.
Colombiana (Sony/TriStar) at a weak $10.3 million was the best any of the week's new comers could muster, as Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (FilmDistrict) was a distant 3rd placer with a "horrible" $8.7 million take.  The friendly chimps of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which have been around so long  they are almost pets) took 4th spot with $8.6 million and has racked up over $140 million domestically. In 5th place, was another newbie,
Our Idiot Brother (Weinstein Co.), which you had to be to see this movie, grossed a dumb struck $6.6 million. Oh well, at a $23 million cost maybe there are enough idiots around to make up the difference via pay-per view and rentals. The top 10 films could only gin up a weekend gross just shy of $70 million - pretty lousy for a summer weekend, Irene or not.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Internationally, The Smurfs came in 1st again with over $35 million and has now grossed over $200 million internationally and $329 million worldwide. With a price tag of $160 million The Smurfs was a gamble for Sony/Columbia but came through big time in the overseas markets.
YTD the U.S. box office now stands at $7.1 billion or approx. $450 million or 6% behind 2010. With weekends like this last one the odds of catching, never mind surpassing, last years results appear rather slim.

On the Road With CTC
Starting this week Cinema Mucho Gusto will be coming to you from Singapore.  Cinema Training Central (CTC) is on the road and will be conducting training seminars and workshops for Cathay Cinemas Group during the next several weeks.  I will continue to blog with the emphasis on the question as to why the U.S. cinema is declining in both admissions and box office while the international cinema is flying high and will account for over 70% of the  global box office this year.
Created 12 years ago, CTC has trained over 1000 individuals and remains the one and only place to obtain hands-on and industry certified management and technical training for the cinema exhibition industry.
The next several years will be tumultuous ones for the cinema exhibitor as the Cinema of 2015 will operate and look much differently than it does today. CTC and the other consultancy services Entertainment Equipment Corp. (www.gotoeec.com) offers can and will assist cinemas in this transition.
                                            Cinema Training Central
                            The one and only training center devoted to
                                                cinema exhibition

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Cinema exhibitors should take a hard look at what is happening in the in-home entertainment area and realize that every pair of eyeballs diverted to another form of viewing entertainment is potentially a lost moviegoer.   Over the next 3-5 years there is going to be a revolution in home entertainment and one can see signs of those changes starting to take shape.
Last week, LG Electronics launched an interactive TV - The PenTouch. This TV allows users to access, work, and edit files stored on a connected PC. You can draw pictures directly on the screen by use of a special touch-sensitive stylus and incorporate them into a file or print them. The interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. The big news, however, is that for the first time, the PenTouch allows users to touch products on the screen and then instantly purchase them through specially selected retailers. Also included is a built-in slide show feature and a calendar where notes and messages can be left.
 The PenTouch TVs have a protective scratch-resistant glass screen and come with a specially designed stand that provides stability when children are using the PenTouch feature.  Being advertised as "bringing all the excitement of touch displays, PCs, and internet to the world of  TV"  LG has brought immersive and interactive technology into the living room.

The PenTouch TVs come in three models: a 50" and two 60" (one of which is 3D enabled). Their prices are a reasonable $1,099 to $2,199 complete with pens and software.

Home Theatre For Real
What you see in the photo is the Panasonic TX152 - a TV that is 12.5 feet wide.  It can be purchased today for  $400,000. But the point is these mega-sized TVs will eventually be priced so a middle class family will be able to purchase them - its  only a matter of time.  Whether or not the average living room can accommodate such a TV is mute, as all sizes will be available, and their primary purpose will be for viewing movies!

              Cinema Consulting Services
Restructuring & Refocusing Cinemas to Address
the Impact of Immersive Home Entertainment
        Contact: EEC - entequip@aol.com

In Home 3D Projection
Optoma 8300 HD-3D
The proliferation of 3D Projectors for consumer use is unrelenting.  In-Home 3D projectors offer mass-market pricing and top of the line features on par with Cinema Digital Projection.  The new flag-ship Optoma HD-3D 8300 w/D-Cinema DLP technology is being billed as a "full HD 1080p 3D Home Theatre Projector".  The projector offers customized picture processing for elimination of "action blur" and fine tuning of color with lens shift and auto zoom, features found in D-Cinema projectors.  With 2000 lumens and a contract ratio of 5,000:1 the 8300 raises the bar for cinema-like 3D viewing. It uses WiFi controlled active-shutter 3D glasses and is priced at under $4,500.  Question: why couldn't the 8300 or similar projectors be utilized in small cinema auditoriums running 3D BluRays ?

                 Cinema Training Central

The One and Only Training Center Devoted to
        the Cinema Exhibition Industry

Best and Happy Movie Going !        
Jim Lavorato                                      

Friday, August 26, 2011


Nothing puts a smile on the face of a big media mogul better than a movie franchise.  Just the thought of  billions from cinema box office, product placements, promotional tie-ins, BluRay sales/rentals, iTunes downloads, Netflix streamings, pay-per view, cable, and broadcast royalties, theme park possibilities, puts them in a state of utter bliss. A movie franchise is the gift that keeps on giving, and giving.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games
My last post, "Movie Superheros Get Facelift", discussed the comic book as the great provider of box office franchises built primarily upon the 14-35 male demo. But, lets not forget about the young (and older) adult serial novel that has been the well spring  of mega blockbuster franchises - the Harry Potter and Twilight series quickly come to mind - that feed Hollywood's appetite for mega buck movie material. Most sought after are the serial novels that come 3 volumes or more as these offer a revenue stream that could last for decades. 
Collins gets Bluewater'd
Warner Bros. hit the mother lode with the J.K. Rowling's Potter novels, which run neck n' neck with Star Wars, as the most lucrative movie franchise ever. So, the race is on to come up with the next mega dollar generating franchise.  The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) penned by Suzanne Collins - a 3 movie project with the first installment due out in March - is the most hotly anticipated film for 2012 and is  expected to be a major franchise over the next several years.

Even movies based on the one-off, young adult novel are proliferating. Soon to be released: The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Paramount) -  November release - and War Horse (DreamWorks) - December debut - are examples of this rising genre of film.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Comic Superheros have provided the movie industry with some of its biggest blockbusters, so when DC Comics (a subsidiary of Warner Brothers) announced it was going to re-vamp and re-fashion all of their super and not-so super characters it generated a lot of tense anticipation.
Well that day has come.  New comic issues will re-start with the #1, as DC decided it wanted the decades old characters to reflect new and modern versions of themselves. "We want to inject new life into our characters" explained Dan Didio, DC's Co-Publisher, "we want to focus more on the interpersonal relationships between the characters which will be set in new story lines".

All of the DC characters from Superman to Wonder Woman will be given a new look and costume coupled with persona changes to better resonate with their audience.  In fact, DC has spawned several new characters: Lesbian Batwoman, Hispanic Blue Beetle, and African-American Cyborg.  The first comic to be released with the new specs will be "Justice League No. 1" out August 31st.  In September, no less than 51 comics will debut.
DC is making all of its new comics available digitally via apps and the DC  website the same day the print versions are released.  DC and Marvel Comics have both made mega-millions off the movie adaptations of their characters, both have a bright and lucrative future, so a face-lift and re-set were in order.
Can't wait to see the new Flash, my favorite hero.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Indicating slim pick'ns for the high-impact 3D movies that play well in their large-sized venues, IMAX and Paramount announced their scheme to re-release Transformers - Dark of the Moon in an exclusive two week run starting August 26th - while the film is still playing in second-run cinemas - Wow!

Banking on Mega-tron to bolster sagging interest in 3D Paramount/IMAX are hoping they have a mini re-run of IMAX's $60 million original gross for the film.  During the exclusive, IMAX will continue to exhibit current features (which I guess we can infer) aren't expected to gross well.  But I don't think moviegoers are too eager for a second helping of the Bots this soon.  It's a little too Decept-a-Con.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Monday, August 22, 2011

WEEKLY CineBUZZ REPORT - 22 August 2011

3D Craps Out Again !

Not one of the 4 big movie releases - Spy Kids (Weinstein), Conan (Lionsgate), Fright Night (Disney/DW), and One Day (Focus) - came out on top this past weekend, in fact none came in 2nd. The top scorer was The Help (Disney/DW) at $20.5 million.  In 2nd came Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) which pulled in $16.3 million.  The "show" position was Spy Kids at a dismal $12 million.

The whole weekend displayed lackluster performance and once again 3D showed its fatigue as Spy Kids (actually advertised it was in 4D Aroma-scope) and Conan - both released in 3D - were box office duds.  Conan took 4th place this weekend with just over $10 million (on a $90 million cost) and Fright Night, bested by The Smurfs for 5th spot, came in 6th with a very disappointing $7.9 million. In fact, the top 10 grossers together, didn't reach the $100 million mark.

3D- as a draw - has pretty much run its course and moviegoers are not wont to pay the high admission up-charge for what are run-of-the-mill movies. As Conan and Spy Kids so vividly demonstrated.

Internationally, The Smurfs continued to rake in the moola and came in at numero uno with an outstanding gross of $61.5 million - it has now grossed over $143 in the overseas markets.


3D continues to underwhelm the public. Again, I believe the up-charge should be $1 and no more - if you want volume. Of course, that presupposes a good movie to start with.  Year-to-date, the 2011 box office now stands at $7.04 billion, down 4% or $278 million from 2010's level.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Saturday, August 20, 2011


One of the grand companies of the 20th Century, Eastman Kodak, fell on hard times as it misread the impact of the digital revolution -a mistake which literally wiped out its film and camera businesses.  Although this 131 year old company  still manufacturers film - feeding Hollywood's movie business - it is only a shadow of what it once was as it dominated the global photographic industry of decades. Kodak's current market value of $576 million pales in comparison to its all time high of $30 billion! Its share price peaked in February 1997 at $95.25, it closed last week at $3.04.

But Kodak has something that is getting more valuable by the day - its digital imaging patents. These patents, conservatively valued at more than $3 billion, are used in 85% of all digital cameras and smartphones.  With more than 1,100 digital imaging patents (which represent only 10% of Kodak's total patent count) Kodak is sitting on a treasure trove of intellectual property. As an example, just last week, Google agreed to buy Motorola Mobility for $40/share (or $12.5 billion) a 73% premium over its current share price to obtain access to its patent inventory.
In addition to Google, potential buyers for the grand old dame's intellectual property include Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, AT&T, Verizon, and others. Good luck Kodak!

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The MOOLA REPORT - August 2011

Summertime and the living is easy ........ Really?
What happened to the good old dog days when a body could get away and frolic on the beach or picnic without a care ?  Are these bygone days gone forever ?  Witnessing (and weeping for those unfortunates that have equity investments) at what has been playing out economically and politically the good old days may just be that - old, tired, and ready to pack it in.
The cinema however, isn't doing that bad (relatively speaking). The summer box office has held its own (maybe the folks need to escape and the local cinema is one of the few places to hide - well for a few hours anyway) and the fall film roster has potential.

Doing the Hula for Hulu
With over $76 billion in cash, Apple can buy almost anything it fancies, so picking up Hulu (the online video streamer) for $2 billion isn't a stretch financially.  Hulu is for sale and if managed properly could become a real competitor to NetflixHulu's owners (Disney, News Corp. and Comcast) are offering would be bidders a 5 year extension of Hulu's programming rights (2 years with exclusive access).
Part of Apple's future includes focusing on the video streaming arena. Currently, in addition to music, iTunes offers TV shows and movies for rental or purchase, acquiring Hulu would be a major complement to Apple's streaming strategy.
Unlike Hulu's other suitors : Amazon, Google, and Yahoo (Microsoft has reportedly bowed out) Apple has strong ties to big media with its stake in Pixar and iTunes; additionally, Steve Jobs, Apple's honcho, is Disney's largest shareholder and sits on it Board of Directors.
Cinema exhibitors should be transitioning to a true retail business model as only in this way will they be able to complete against the movie streaming players.

                       Cinema Consulting Services 
Restructuring & Refocusing Cinemas to Address the Impact of Internet Content Streaming entequip@aol.com

MOOLA Cinema Stock Chart
                                                     ____Share Price_____    ____I/(D)______
                                                        1/1/11       8/16/11                 %
Amazon (AMZN)                         $ 180.00     $ 197.09               9.5
Ballantyne (BTN)                                7.77            3.78            (51.4)
Carmike Cinemas (CKSC)                  7.72            6.92            (10.4)
Cinedigm (CIDM)                               1.68            1.55            (  7.7)
Cinemark Holdings (CNK)                17.20          19.32             12.3
Comcast (CMCSA)                            21.97          21.13            ( 3.8)
Disney (DIS)                                      37.51          33.27            (11.3)
Dolby Labs (DLB)                             66.70          32.98            (50.6)
DreamWorks (DWA)                         29.26          20.02            (31.6)
Enter. Properties Trust (EPR)            46.25          41.00            (11.4)
IMAX Corp. (IMAX)                        28.07          17.06             (39.2)
Lions Gate Enter. (LGF)                     6.51            7.08                 8.8
Natl' Cine Media (NCMI)                  19.91         14.30              (28.2)
Netflix (NFLX)                                175.70       239.18               36.0
Rentrak (RENT)                                 30.16         13.33              (55.8)
Regal Enter. (RGC)                            11.74         12.89                 9.8
RealD (RLD)                                      25.92         12.99              (49.9)
Technicolor (TCLRY)                          3.56           4.49               25.1
Time Warner (TWX)                          32.17         30.27                 5.9
Viacom (VIA)                                     39.61         45.06                13.8

Because of the precipitous nature of the current stock market it would be unfair to highlight any of the stocks in the Chart this month.  The U.S. stock markets and markets around the world are in a free-fall and will continue their up/down (mostly down) trends until the U.S. and European governments get their acts together.

Largest Cinema Landlord Looks for Growth Elsewhere

Entertainment Properties Trust (EPR) is the largest cinema landlord in the U.S.  Its tenents include Regal Cinemas, AMC Theatres, Cinemark,
Rave Theatres, to name several.  EPR is also a stock we follow on the Moola Stock Chart and was the featured stock in the March Moola Report.
At that time I stated, " my guess is that EPR will, going forward, place more emphasis on non-cinema properties and holdings, particularly the charter school arena, and less on cinemas".  Last week EPR issued a statement saying just that.  It was de-emphasising cinema investments and moving heavily into the charter school industry.

EPR currently owns 112 cinemas (representing over 2000 screens) which makes up 60% of its property portfolio.  It intends to lessen its reliance on cinemas and move into the education business.  U.S. cinemas have some hard thinking to do.  With web content streaming on the horizon cinemas need to refocus their business models and move toward a much broader retail type operation.

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato

Update on the Virtual Print Fee Schemes


The virtual print fee mechanism is still on-going. As of right now, the only fully approved VPF program is that offered by Cinedigm (which was given approval to administer the program by the major studios several years ago).  The VPF works like this: an exhibitor purchases a digital cinema projection system then over a period of time is given payments to defray some of the cost of the projection system.  The payments are provided by the studios due to their savings from not having to make and distribute film prints.  The VPF program is scheduled to end in 2012.

Last week Christie Digital issued a notice stating that they too had gotten approval from the studios to participate in the VPF program.  However, payments by the studios will not be made until Christie hits a threshold of 500 screens.  GDC, another d-cinema equipment provider, also has a VPF mechanism that is up and running; however, Warner Bros. is not signed onto the GDC program.  Those exhibitors opting for the GDC program will not receive any payments for playing Warner movies in digital format.

As of today, Strong/Ballantyne and their digital cinema partner, NEC do not have a VPF program.

Whether or not an exhibitor opts for the VPF scheme depends upon the financial aspects of the each exhibitor's particular situation and how long the studios will contiune to issue film prints.  As of the end of last year, about one-third of  U.S. cinema screens had converted to digital projection.   Currently, there is no impetus for cinema owners to convert other than the VPF and in many cases the VPF scheme doesn't make economic sense, even with the backsided payments.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Monday, August 15, 2011

WEEKLY CineBUZZ REPORT - 15 August 2001

Rise of the 3D (Vending) Machine
Marchon3D Vending Unit
If $10 popcorn wasn't bad enough, the folks at Marchon3D (along with several exhibs) have decided that selling 3D glasses in vending machines is a  great idea.
Marchon3D is going to sell its EX3D eye wear line at in-cinema self-serve machines stocked with $22-$30 glasses in various styles and colors.  Limited edition styles will go for as much as $70.

Now, why would anyone want to purchase 3D glasses if you receive a pair as part of  the 3D admission up-charge?  Good question, and the folks at Marchon3D say they have the answer.  The EX3D glasses will work on any passive 3D system, be it movie, TV, game console, or PC and of course some people want their own specs in a special color or style. Good idea?  I guess if the cinema has room in its lobby and a lot of vein moviegoers, hey why not.

Weekly Box Office Update

The box office went ape again, as the Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) was top banana for a second week. For Fox the movie has been a barrel full of money as it has now grossed over $104 million domestically and an additional $74 million internationally.  Not bad for a PG13 flix with a $93 million budget.
Surprisingly, The Help (Buena Vista) landed in 2nd place with a $35 million take in its 5 day debut.  We'll see if it has legs as the international play will be nil.  Rounding out 3rd was Final Destination 5 (Warner) which opened with a lackluster $18 million and may be the final destination for this series. The 3D format didn't add much of a draw to this box office flop.

The Smurfs (Sony/Columbia) came in 4th and has grossed over $101 million domestically and a whopping $141 million overseas - love those blue tykes.  In 5th was 30 Minutes or Less (Sony/Columbia) at $13 million and going nowhere.  Finally, it was not very gleeful for Fox as Glee The 3D Concert took in a measly $5.7 million. Proving once again that what plays great on the small screen doesn't translate to the silver - 3D  or not.

More Bad Apples

As a follow-up to a prior post, "One (Actually 3) Bad Apples in the Bunch" posted 23 July 2011, it turns out there were a total of 24 fake Apple stores in Kunming City, China.  Discovered last month and exposed by a tourist the fake stores have caused a storm of publicity within China regarding piracy as the Chinese are now becoming the victims of the scam.  Its one thing to purchase a fake purse but another when you are buying what you believe is a original iPad.  In a very unusual move, China National Radio, the state-run and official voice of the government issued a statement and posted on their website that all use of the Apple logo, signage, and sale of bogus products was to immediately cease.

Hmmm, we'll wait and see what happens.  In some quarters piracy is a way of life and not viewed as a crime but a tribute of respect to the inventor.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Thursday, August 11, 2011


If  you read this blog with any regularity you know I believe content streaming is going to have a profound impact on both movie distribution and exhibition.  At the moment we are witnessing a slew of companies from Apple to Amazon, from Verizon to Viacom positioning for best advantage and vying for the biggest piece of the content streaming pie they can get.

Given that, and as most of "Mucho Gusto's" subscribers are cinema exhibitors, I think it is imperative that you are fully informed as to the goings-on regarding content streaming.  Netflix (a content streamer) and DreamWorks (a content provider) are in negotiation to have DWs films streamed by Netflix.  In and of itself this is no big deal but it does signal a break in the major studio alliance with traditional premium content distributors like HBO (owned by TimeWarner), and premium content could easily ratchet-up to first-run content.

For their part, the studios and TV networks are still trying to figure out what their business models will evolve into and how best to extract maximum revenue without jeopardizing their position. Anyone of the major studios could become takeover targets for Apple, Microsoft, or Google.  Another scenario is that a tech or telco gets frustrated with negotiating with the studios and opens a production studio of their own.

Who Clocks Most Mileage on Internet Super Highway ?

Yes, you guessed it - Netflix, which now captures almost 30% of peak downstream traffic in N. America and 22% of all streaming.  Fact is, the collective we, haven't even scratched the surface of content streaming. That is why we have seen the large ISPs placing caps on broadband usage.

A Bite of the Apple

Apple's movie streaming cloud service - currently dubbed "Replay" - is coming but like Netflix, Apple has to negotiate licensing agreements with the majors content providers.  Legacy content providers like HBO stand in Apple's (and other streamers, ie. Amazon) way, but the Apple's of the world have the numbers on their side.  They can stream content to the masses on a cadre of web-enabled devices and do it on a worldwide basis, which more or less would eliminate piracy if first-run movies were streamed. So, in the end, Hollywood may have to re-think the current distribution arrangement with cinemas, HBO, and other premium content distributors. The exclusive window of availability for cinemas will be under attack as content streaming presents a huge new market for the studios and networks.

Call it what you will but companies like Netflix and Apple are changing the way consumers access and view movies and other premium content.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Related Posts
" All You Can Eat Internet Buffet"  - 27 July 2011
" Weekly CineBUZZ Report"  - 17 July 2001
" Ten Years After" posted  - 10 July 2001
"Streaming Will Impact the Cinema!" - 7 July 2001

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Weekly CineBUZZ Report - 9 August 2011

Box Office Recap
$54.8 million (and $23.4 million internationally) powered Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) to first place over the weekend.  The photo-realistic apes were the real stars of the pic and although using advanced performance capture technology, the "Rise" only cost $93 million so it should be a real winner for Fox.

The Smurfs (Sony), came up with a solid $20.7 million in its second week of play (it has now grossed over $75 million) and took second place. Cowboys & Aliens, The Change Up, and Captain America rounded out the top five.

The Change Up (Universal), an adult comedy, debuted at a dismal $13.5 million and didn't perform nearly as well as Horrible Bosses (Warner) which has now passed the $100 million mark, or certainly Bridesmaids (also Universal) which is over $166 million at last count.  Perhaps the folks are just feed up with comedies for the time being. Ah, but moviegoers never seem to get enough of the high impact/action pics.

Rise of the Planet of 3D Porn
3D Porn - but soft only please.
Guess what's breaking 3D movie box office records in the international market?  Give Up?  OK,  Sex and Zen 3D - Extreme Ecstasy, a movie that bills itself as " the first serious 3D porn film". The film was co-produced by Fox International Products and the Huayi Brothers, and is being distributed internationally by China Lion Film Distribution.  This is a soft porn movie which beat opening day grosses of Avatar in Austrailia and Hong Kong.  It will be distributed in China this September with a fall opening in the U.S. and Canada.  AMC Theatres and Cineplex Odeon have the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights respectively.

We all knew (deepdown) that porn in 3D was as inevitable as rain, but is there a real need (sorry, demand) for it? Hmmm, I guess only the box office will tell.  Hey look, if regular pics can't get moviegoers to fork over the premium 3D upcharge maybe porn (soft only, we don't want soccer moms picketing the local cineplex) can. Look for Sex and Zen 3D at a cinema near you.

3D-TV vs. 3D Movies  

The folks that do TV production are taking a different tack in the use of 3D programming vs. their big screen counterparts.  We all know that the benefit of 3D is to add emotional impact but what has been served up by Hollywood thus far hasn't really added that much impact to the movie experience.  The 3D movie experience has gotten old and predictable pretty quickly and as moviegoers are charged more for it, 3D has been losing box office momentum.

But TV has taken a different approach. For example, Phil Orlins, production coordinator at ESPN (the cable sports network) thinks " the 3D experience must be impactful but its really hard to make it a positive experience for everyone. One person sees something they think is magical another sees it and says, "so what".  At ESPN we believe 3D has to make an impact or else there's no point to going down this road."   But, there is no benchmark on what good impactful 3D is.  I think 3D is actually more suited for TV than the movies.  ESPN attracts viewers that want to see sports and not those that are interested in a cooking show.  Movies try to please everyone and get the biggest demographic possible and therein lies the problem - trying to please everyone with the 3D experience waters its impact down.

New 3D Viewing Standard for TV

X-Pand 3D Active Shutter 3D Glasses
Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have signed a deal with X6D Ltd. (X-Pand D) on the development of a new technology standard for consumers which will use radio frequency (RF)  via BlueTooth for 3D TV, PC, and mobile devices.
Universal glasses would make 3D viewing much easier for consumers.  The glasses will be available in 2012, no price was given.

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato

Monday, August 01, 2011

Weekly CineBUZZ Report - 2 August 2011

"Best of Worst" Weekend B.O.

This past weekend was the best of the worst. Two DOA films - Cowboys & Aliens (Universal) and The Smurfs (Sony/Columbia) - managed to run neck and neck, but in the end the Cowboys nosed out the Smurfs (God, I watched them when I was a kid) by a few votes. I think we should demand a recount, I like Smurfs.  But never mind, with grosses of $36 mil each they'll be out of office next week. Captain America (Paramount), Harry Potter (Warner), and Crazy, Stupid Love Warner) rounded out the top five.

It was a dismal performance for a summer weekend and even more so for the folks at Comcast (parent of Universal) as the production costs for Cowboys & Aliens was over $230 million.  Next week's slate doesn't offer much solice. I don't think the Apes are going to have much of a draw - and the Cowboys and Smurfs won't have too much gas in their tanks.

Prediction:  The next really big franchise will be The Hunger Games, due out next March.  It will fill the void left by Potter and Twilight.

3D Is Going 2D
If  nothing else, 2011 has demonstrated that moviegoers' infatuation with 3D has gone from slim to anorexic.  Most of the 3D films have rated a 40% or lower attendance level as more and more moviegoers are opting for the decaffeinated 2D versions.  There are any number of reasons for this trend but it is also manifesting itself in the 3D-TV market, where sales of 3D sets have been lackluster.  What is selling are SmartTVs (TVs that are web enabled). Another bad sign for the cinema ?

Moviegoers not enamored with 3D
3D is a Hollywood gimmick which appears to have had it infamous 15 minutes (for the second time around).  3D is a value added technology which the public sees less and less value in.  The Studios want 3D to be widely and enthusiastically accepted (no less than 40 3D films are scheduled for release next year).  Of the 25 top grossing films of this year, 12 were released in 3D; however, many of those would have been big grossers irregardless: Harry Potter, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Cars.  And of those, only Transformers had over 50% of its admissions sold for the 3D version.

Taking an arms length and honest view of the movie industry, one has to conclude that Hollywood's 3D experiment isn't working - and that's just what Wall Street has done - you know, "its only business, nothing personal".
Those companies that have high stakes in the 3D game are taking it on the chin.  RealD, a company ( probably more than any other) identified with 3D saw its stock price sink 16% last Friday to $15.48/share on the news of lower than anticipated future revenues. The share price is now 56% below its year high.

IMAX, another company that aggressively touts the 3D experience has seen its share price free fall, as last Thursday it reported that second quarter net income decreased by 87% year-over-year.  Its current share price of $18.96 represents a 56% annualized decline since the beginning of the year.

It appears that 3D is going 2D. Premium 3D admisssion pricing will have to decline or 3D movies will disappear altogether. 3D is a great visual experience for many of us, but the Studios over played their hand and misjudged the public's perceived entertainment value for the 3D experience.

Panasonic's Newest 3D Projector
Speaking of 3D - the requirement for purchasing 3D as an add-on to a D-Cinema platform gets less everyday, as 3D enabled commercial projectors enter the market.  The latest is the Panasonic PT-AE7000U, a full HD 3D projector sporting a 300,000:1 contract ratio at 2000 lumens for under $3,500.  Created to produce cinema quality images the latest 3D projectors can playback 2D and 3D BluRays.

Tell me again. Why do cinemas need the elaborate, studio-conceived Digital Cinema Projection System w/3D option ?

More on 3D vs. Smart TVs
In-Stat, the media research firm reported that sales of SmartTVs will grow by 36% per year for the next 5 years.  Built in applications (like Netflix and YouTube) are the big driver for these web-enabled HDTVs.  In-Stat's findings are in line with other forecasts.  DisplaySearch, a media consulting group, expects, "sales of connected TVs to grow at a compound rate of 30% and total shipments reaching 120 million by 2014".

Currently, 22% of U.S. households with a web connection or WiFi have a SmartTV, and out of those, 60% use a built-in app at least once a week.

Keith Nissen, In-Stat's director  of research, says that "Netflix and YouTube dominate the TV app space, but as Netflix's competitors become more numerous and apps are optimized for larger (SmartTV) screens, TV apps will be part of the mainstream TV viewing experience."  In addition to accessing apps, consumers seem not to mind paying for both TV and on-line video services - and why not?  A trip to the cinema for two can easily reach the $70 range.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato