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Sunday, September 30, 2012


GOOD/HID Access Reader Just Takes a Swipe
If you read CMG with any regularity you are acutely aware that I am a huge proponent of the use of Smartphones technology by cinemas for everything from admission and concession sales - to - inventory control.

Now another use can be taken advantage of by cinemas - Security !  Recenty, Good Technology, a Sunnyvale, CA security software company teamed up with HID Global, a manufacturer of physical access readers, to produce and market security access door locks - turning the Smartphone into a "key" with just a swipe near the reader/lock.

Calling it the "world's first NFC (near field-communication) enabled system for the use of Smartphones for physical access to buildings and offices " Good choose the Samsung Galaxy S III Smartphone for its application.  Using secure NFC microSD cards in the phones, users are sent physical access credentials (ie keys) 'wirelessly'  via HID's Secure Identity Service, which also lets the system administrator (cinema owner) manage and monitor credentials and identities tied to specific phones. 

What this means is that you can 'push or revoke' credentials over the air to each user,
For example, allowing access to a certain facility (or certain doors within that facility)
or providing a one day or even one time access only, or provide an employee or manager full access to the facility 24/7, or allowing access only on the days that an employee works, say Monday, Wednesday, Friday and no other days.  Another benefit is that there are no physical keys to worry about, to forget, to lose. When an employee leaves access is simply revoked wirelessly.

Using the Smartphone adds another layer of security because users not only need to obtain the appropriate credential but they need to know that phone's  password to use it as the key.  Additionally, no one is going to forget their phone, because it is their phone. If they forget it, they will always go back and get it.  The speed comes from the fact that all users are never slowed down or inconvenienced when reaching a doorway and not being able to access it (because they forgot their phone).  If  the phone is lost or stolen, first one would need the code to unlock the phone and second, the access credentials can be revoked instantaneously.

This use of Smartphone technology is not only smart but inexpensive and the control it provides over individuals' access to a facility and premises is truly remarkable.

Jim Lavorato
Comments welcomed !

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


P. Dauman, Viacom CEO
DVD sales of new released movies (one of Hollywood's main revenue streams) continues to tumble - forcing the major studios to completely rethink their movie making/distribution model.  As multi-platform 'pay for view' takes a firmer hold on the consumer the studios are re-casting how they fund movies.

This redo of a movie's revenue stream has taken hold in Hollywood.  "Greenlighting a feature film, Paramount now restructures deals made with actors, producers, and directors to better reflect a 'partnership' relationship' on the economies of a film rather than a high upfront cost", Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, told CGM.

"We don't mind sharing the upside of a movie with talent as long as we don't have a downside, or we have a sharing of risk" says Dauman.  "It is no longer feasible for a studio to make huge upfront payments to talent with an increase uncertainty on the back end due to faltering DVD sales."

Until recently, the big share of a movie's profits rested with the sale of DVDs and not the box office, but as consumers have moved (very quickly) to internet downloading of content the studios have scrambled to re-think how they contract with talent and, just as importantly, maneuvering to get a larger piece of the digital streaming pie.

"The way we look at the movie business is that we want to create great films and we want to manage the downside, the risk/reward equation if you will". Dauman said. "We're looking at all sorts of revenue opportunities".

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Friday, September 14, 2012


Dolby's 'Digital Plus' - Hits The Mark

Conversion to digital projection presents new business opportunities for cinemas. A few days ago I blogged on the movie program available to cinemas from the National Geographic Society.  Programming is also available from the NY Metropolitan Opera Company and there are and will be many others offering content to cinemas.

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD w/Digital Plus
Cinema exhibitors, however small, should take advantage of this alternative content (to movies) for expanding their customer base.  Adopting, and more importantly, using the new digital technology affords great opportunity for many businesses that were traditionally mainly  in the movie business.  Case in point: Dolby Laboratories.

Not content to rely solely on the audio or cinema industries to determine its future, Dolby has embraced digital technology and expanded it reach - developing new markets in which to expand and grow.

As audio quality took a back seat to HD displays on mobile devices - Dolby realized opportunity and jumped on it.  Last Thursday, Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire HD tablet with Dolby's new Digital Plus audio.  "Dolby's Digital Plus is every impressive, says, Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies, "it will make audio the next battlefront in tablets as all of the current tablets have inferior sound." 

Dolby accomplished this feat by developing new software that is custom tuned for each mobile device being introduced with Digital Plus - making the downloading of the software as an application a non-starter.  Amazon, by incorporating Digital Plus into the Fire HD has "thrown down the gauntlet, this is a new level of differentiation and users will love it", says Bajarin.

Amazon exec, Dave Limp called Dolby Digital Plus "a perfect complement to the sound system we designed into the Kindle Fire.  Customers have told us they want great sound for movies, music, and games."
Dolby equates quality audio for mobile devices as following in the footsteps of its technology advances going from stereo, to theatre sound, to home audio systems.  To extend that to mobile devices was the next step. Digital Plus incorporates volume leveling, a surround virtualizer, and a dialog enhancer.

Dolby Laboratories (DLB) is publicly traded. At a current share price of $34.50 and given the potential to have its Digital Plus audio software included into every mobile device to be produced, it may be a terrific buy.

Jim Lavorato
I welcome your comments

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WEEKLY CineBUZZ REPORT - 12 September 2012

Highlights Of This Week's Report:

- Five of Six Studios Sign On to M-GO
- Dalian Wanda: AMC Purchase Only Start of $10b Investment
- 'Lawrence of Arabia' to Hit Screens on Oct.10th.
- Going To A Higher Frame Rate
- Fox Narrows Theatrical Release Window

M-GO Gets OK From Studios

M-GO, a mobile device entertainment application, backed by Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation has signed on five of the six major studios to offer content day and date with DVD/BluRay releases. WBs, Fox, Sony, Paramount, and Universal will all offer new release and catalog content for both rentals and electronic sell-through.  Disney has not signed on, as yet.

M-GO will be available as a down-load via iTunes and Google Play, will be pre-loaded on Samsung 2012 HDTVs, Blu-Ray players and Intel Ultrabooks.  M-GO will also serve as an UltraViolet retailer, offering streaming and downloading of titles enabled with the 'buy one/play anywhere' cloud based  UltraViolet system.

Chinese Media Giant "Dalian Wanda' Looks to Invest Big in U.S.

Wang Jianlin, CEO
Just having completed it $2.6 billion acquisition of the AMC cinema chain of theatres, Wang Jianlin, Chairman & President of Chinese media giant Dalian Wanda said the the company plans to invest $10 billion in the coming years - with hotels, retail stores, and cinemas at the top of the buy list. Film production is also on the to do list.

Wang hinted about a possible film production fund or joint venture with a major studio.  When asked why he is attracted to the U.S. when there is so much opportunity in China's cinema business, he stated "We can't put all the eggs in one basket."

'Lawrence' Makes Encore

Sony Pictures and NCM Fathom Events is marking the 50th Anniversary of 'Lawrence of Arabia" with a digitally restored version available nationwide at cinemas on October 4th.  This will precede Sony's release of a limited-edition four-disc set on November 13th in a fully-restored Blu-Ray with UltraViolet.

'Lawrence of Arabia' won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture in 1962 and is listed as number 7 on the American Film Institutes's "100 Greatest Movies of All Time".  The restoration is from the original 65mm negative and the presentation features an introduction by Omar Sharif, one of the film's stars.

Moving To A Higher Frame Rate

Hollywood wants to move to a higher frame rate for motion pictures, particularly 3D films. Why and What is meant by HFR.

Film and digitally based movies are projected at 24 frames per second (fps). This has been the standard for film projection for decades, however, the move to a frame rate higher than 24 was not feasible: first, because to move to a 48 fps required twice as much film, and second , it would have necessitated a complete retrofit of all of the 35mm projection systems worldwide.  Now, with digital cinema projection a higher frame rate is possible.

Hollywood supports a 48 fps for 2D movies, but for 3D it becomes more problematic as the effective frame rate for 3D is double the number - to 96 fps, which poses technical issues regarding networking and data compression.  That amount of data could be accommodated on a hard drive but would not be feasible for electronic distribution of movies.

The whole purpose of a HFR is to improve the viewing experience - reducing motion blur and increasing the clarity of the on-screen image.  As it stands, the industry is moving towards a standards criteria for 2D at 48 fps, we'll see what happens for 3D.

Fox Narrows Cinema Release Window

Fox plans on releasing "Prometheus" in a high-definition on-line version about three weeks before its release on DVD or VOD.  This move will shorten the waiting time between theatrical release and normal video release.

Consumers are purchasing more of their movie entertainment via on-line outlets like Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes and Fox wants to take advantage of this trend. 

Prometheus will be available for digital download on Sept 18th well in advance of its October 11th DVD release date.  Fox is calling its electronic movie sale "Digital HD or DHD", and plans on offering many more movies via this marketing mode.  The DHD movies will be available in about 50 countries worldwide.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato
We welcome your comments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


'Flying Monsters' - a NGS Movie for Cinemas
The NGS Offers Cinemas Outstanding Content

The National Geographic Society has a movie section that specializes in distributing content to movie theatres - called Cinema Ventures.

The array of available movies is extensive and available to all cinemas that are Digital Cinema ready.  This is one way for cinemas to expand their audience and exhibit alternative content that is relevant and different.  Available on BluRay disc or DVDs these movies can play directly through a cinema's D-Cinema projection system producing a very high quality on-screen presentation.

The NGS is very well known and respected and their movies offer top-notch entertainment for children and adults. Please contact them as this represents a great opportunity for cinemas to demonstrate the diverse content that their investment in digital cinema affords their customers.

For more information on NGS's Cinema Ventures contact:
Mark Katz or John Wickstrom
Cinema Ventures, National Geographic Society Entertainment
161 6th Avenue, 15 Floor
New York, NY 10013
212-224-8479 or 913-648-5886
mkatz@ngs.org or jwickstr@ngsorg

Sunday, September 02, 2012

CineBUZZ REPORT - 1 September 2012


- New York May Nix Sales Tax on Digital Flix
- Dine-In Theatres - Have They Gone Too Far ?
- Coming To Your Wrist - Movie Viewing
- 3D Glasses Cleaning Made Easy
- Minimum Wage Increase - Good or Bad ?
- Potter's Magic No Match For Hunger


The New York State Division Tax Appeals Court recently ruled and determined that the delivery of digital movies on hard drives would not cause the transaction to be taxable under the New York Sales Tax law primarily because the hard drives were not necessary for the display of the movies. New York State imposes its sales tax on retail sales of tangible personal property, thus in order for sales tax to apply, there must be a transfer of title or possession or both of the property.

Traditionally, movies have been viewed as constituting tangible personal property because the 35mm film they were recorded on was "corporeal" and therefore licenses to exhibit movies on the film have been subject to New York sales tax.  However, digital movies delivered electronically are intangible property, and receipts from licenses of them are thus not subject to NY Sales Tax.

The ruling found the, "hard drives, unlike traditional film, were not necessary to each (or even any) instance of displaying the content, and that the hard drive was not itself the desired object of the transaction."  The ruling further found that exhibitors, "did not take title to the hard drives, but rather immediately returned them to the distributor after uploading the movies."

The New York State Department of Taxation & Finance has 30 days from the Appeals Court determination date to file an exception (appeal) to the ruling.

This is great news for New York exhibs and the ruling should hold up against appeal, if filed.

UPDATE: It was learned yesterday that the NYS Department of  Taxation would not be filing for an appeal of the sales tax ruling.


CMG has preached on the benefits of expanding/embellishing cinemas' concession offerings for many years.  We now can test this theory in the extreme as AMC Entertainment (the U.S. movie chain now owned by Chinese media company Dalian Wanda) opened its seventh Dine-In Theatre - a 13 screen venture located within the confines of AMC's Easton Town 30plex in Columbus, Ohio.

The new 13 Dine-In auditoriums are converted/remodeled regular auditoriums, and demonstrate AMC's commitment to the Dine-In strategy as the loss, of each converted auditorium's seating capacity averaged 50%.  To further delineate their commitment,  AMC has two separate types of Dine-Ins. Nine of the 13 converted auditoriums are termed "Fork & Screen" auds. - which are family-friendly and allow children under 18 admittance if accompanied by an adult.  The other four auds. are termed, "Cinema Suites" and are only for the 21 and above crowd.

The Dine-Ins serve up burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and quesadillas, in addition to regular concession fare.  The food is touted as being top quality with pricing, for most menu items, in the $10-15 range.

Good strategy or has AMC gone too far?  The Dine-In concept is not new (see CMG post of September 2011 on Platinum Cinema Suites in Singapore) but devoting 13 auditoriums to the idea may be overkill - do that many moviegoers want to dine and watch a movie?  We'll keep you informed as to their market success.

MOVIE VIEWING ON YOUR WRIST - it's just a matter of time.

Wristwatches that just tell time are fast disappearing.  SmartWatches will be the future, not only of time-telling but a mode of getting a lot of information.  Companies like Apple, Sony, Nike and loads of others hope that you will be strapping a 'device' on your wrist very soon.

The new devices won't replace SmartPhones but rather connect to them, but they will provide far more information than the most advanced watch or chronometer.  For example, the Sony SmartWatch (pictured above) can display emails, Twitter posts, other text and images  all 'pulled' from an Android phone.  "The wrist becomes a remote screen where you now have the ability to control your phone with a number of different applications," states Stephen Sneeden, Sony's Product Marketing Manager. " By virtue of the intelligence of the smartphone, it's going to help redefine what goes on your wrist." 

Big issue: the new SmartWatches must strike a balance between technology and fashion in order to entice a broader audience, particularly those under 21, who have given up on the wristwatch. The wrist is used for fashion and expression not just funcion - the two will have to be merged for the SmartWatches to really catch on.

My take: Consumers do not buy multiple SmartPhones, but multiple wrist devices - well that may be a different story and one the manufactuers, I'm sure, are drooling over.


Esther Hormatz of the Dietrich Theatre, in Tuckhannock, PA recently informed me that they clean their Dolby 3D glasses using a normal dish washer, and "it works great."

"We weren't sure if the glasses would get tossed about, but they don't. The unit has a heat boost cycle, and a shorter wash cycle." says Esther. " We use the dishwasher packets with bleach, and spot free rinse. We don't let them dry inside the washer. After the wash, the kids immediately take them out and lay them on the counter to dry".  The glasses are given a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth which the staff performs between shows.

"We are very satisfied with the regular dishwasher" states Esther, "and it cost a lot less than the washers made specifically for washing glasses and the required special holding racks, which still require the simple dry wiping with a cloth".

Thanks Esther for the great information and excellent advice.  I'll be using this info. as a selling point, as the Dolby 3D System provides, by far, the best on-screen 3D image.


The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25/hour.  Usually, efforts to raise the minimum wage has drawn fierce opposition from small business, but the U.S. income equality issue will make opposing the raising of the rate very difficult this time around.

The current proposed legislation would boost the federal rate in three 85 cent increments, to $9.80 an hour, over three years, then adjust it annually to keep pace with the cost of living.  Those favoring the increase argue that employees who are paid more work harder and stay on the job longer.  But the timing for increasing labor costs couldn't be worse, particularly for movie exhibitors - which are dealing with digital conversion and most of which can't raise prices to offset higher wages .Currently  18 states have minimum wage rates that are higher than the federal rate (New York is at the $7.25 federal rate) five states have no minimim.

My take:  The minimum federal rate increase will be enacted after the Presidential election but not to the extend as proposed, but at a lesser amount.


Amazon reported that on-line sales of the three novels that make up The Hunger Games triology surpassed the seven books that made up the 'Harry Potter' series. This makes the Suzanne Collins saga the best selling book series (cum movie franchise) of all time on Amazon - both ebook and print sales. It is estimated that there have been more than 50 million copies of the three books sold - print or digital versions.

Hopefully these record sales will translate to record box office admissions as the second film in the tri-movie franchise is released.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

We encourage your input and response