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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Life of Film

The End of Film Is Near
How Long Will Film Survive?

More and more, I'm asked by exhibitors "How long will I be able to get 35mm film prints?"  I don't know the precise answer but I do know that the end of film is going to be sooner rather than later.

Looking at the numbers can provide some insight into how long film will still be used for movie exhibition at cinemas. According to IHS Screen Digest - Cinema Intelligence Service (which tracks such things), of the approximately 130,000 cinema screens in the world, as of the end of 2012, over 104,000 had converted to digital. Leaving only 25,000+ to be converted.  Several studios have indicated that by the end of 2013 film distribution in the U.S. will be very scanty, if at all, and they appear to be indicating that the rest of the world will be off film by the end of 2014.

The industry is already grappling with digital issues, such as high-frame rates, 4k image capture, digital archiving, etc. which the industry and cinema owners will need to respond to in the near future. So, we can be reasonably sure that the issue of film's future has already been decided - it will not be!  When was the last time you purchased a roll of film?  There, you answered the question on film.

As more and more cinemas convert to digital projection there will be less and less film prints produced and distributed - until the point (which is coming soon) when there will be no prints available. 

The good about film's demise is that digital projection provides cinemas the tool need to compete with a higher standard then is available (currently) with home movie viewing.  It also allows for the presentation of a wide variety of non-movie content which can be tailored to the local cinema's demographics.  How about Cinema On-Demand. Using social networking technology cinemas should began to take the first steps as part of offering motivated movie patrons the opportunity to influence directly the cinema's programing.  Cinemas should start to experiment with this concept.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, February 21, 2013

CinemaBUZZ Weekly Report - 22 February 2013

Popcorn People - Who Are They?

According to a study released last week by the Nielsen Company's National Research Group's 2012 Report on American Moviegoing ,70% of Americans over the age of 12 reported viewing one or more movies at a cinema in the last 12 months.

Overall attendance in 2012 to new released movies was 6.8 movies per-capita.

People between ages 25 and 54 accounted for 52% of cinema admissions; while 12 to 24 year olds represented 30% of the box office gross. Older moviegoers - 55 to 74 accounted for 18% of ticket sales.  Hispanics had the highest per-capita attendance. Representing 18% of the population, Hispanics accounted for 25% of total movie attendance.

Who Are The BEST Moviegoers

Believe it or not, tablet and smartphone owners are more likely to attend movies and spend more on movie entertainment than the average American.

According to the Nielsen data, mobile-connected moviegoers are more engaged in the overall moviegoing experience as smartphone owners attend 9% more movies than the average and tablet owners, a whopping, 20%, more than the average moviegoer.

Tablet owners went to the cinema an average of 47 times in 2012 - 10 more than the average moviegoer and were 27% more likely than non-connected moviegoers to view a movie more than once at a cinema.

What Are Moviegoers Viewing?

30% of moviegoers stated that their decision to attend certain movies was affected by comments about those films in their social networks. 51% of moviegoers 18 to 24 also texted and/or tweeted their peers right after viewing a movie. 

Viewing previews was the most frequently cited source for online movie information. "Film-makers still have the ability to substantially shape the messages that audiences are seeing and hearing about their movies," states Kathy Benjamin, SVP with Neilsen. "As mobile connectivity continues to increase, they'll want to take advantage of the great avenue that social networks offer to connect directly with potential moviegoers."

This is all good news for movie exhibitors, as long as Hollywood keeps producing the movies audiences want to view. For their part, cinemas must continue to offer a great presentation and moviegoing experience and the folks will keep coming back.

Jim Lavorato

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Special Report: The Cinema's Competition Is Relentless And Needs A Response

One of this blog's mantras is to educate and inform movie exhibitors of their competition - which has become every home's 'living room'.  This competition is relentless and being pushed (and funded) by the largest internet companies, assisted by, content streamers, A/V equipment manufacturers, and internet service providers with the Hollywood studios in tow. 
We don't want this to be the future of Cinema

To believe otherwise and not address this issue, or worse - ignore it, is foolish and could result in the demise of a cinema's very existence. For several years now, Cinema Mucho Gusto has been addressing and recommending defenses cinemas can adopt to fight against this attack. Digital cinema conversions, if planned and implemented correctly, do offer exhibitors the opportunity to truly enhance their on-screen movie presentation, as well as, afford them the ability to exhibit a wide variety of non-movie content specific to their demographics. To strengthen my position and logic on this issue following are several of the latest moves by the game players:

Microsoft Appoints Head To Run New 'Xbox Entertainment Studios'

Last week Microsoft announced the appointment of long-time media executive and #2 at CBS Inc., Nancy Tellem, to head up Microsoft's new Los Angeles based studio.  Tellem stated, "We want to partner with the entertainment industry to bring it into a new era. It's an era where interactive entertainment becomes the greatest form of all entertainment."  Microsoft says it will partner with content creators, networks, and others to pioneer the future of entertainment, in addition to creating its own content. "We believe that we are at the start of the next wave of truly interactive entertainment. Viewers want to do more than just watch movies or TV shows and sports, they want to interact with them and Xbox makes that possible", says Tellem .

Interactive entertainment is not something a local cinema can offer customers but it can offer the ultimate movie viewing experience and that is the goal it must shoot for.

Netflix And DreamWorks Team UP

Billed as the first time a major Hollywood studio has chosen content streaming over paid television, DreamWorks announced it had sealed a deal to supply its films and television specials through Netflix, replacing it current pact with TimeWarner's HBO.

Netflix will begin streaming DreamWorks films this year, including: 'The Croods', a prehistoric comedy; 'Turbo', about a garden snail; and "Peabody & Sherman", an adaptation of the Rocky and Bullwinkle characters.  DreamWorks believes that capitalizing on the consumer shift to streaming content on their connected "living room" TVs  or on their PCs, tablets, and even smartphones offers more revenue opportunity than premium cable or satellite outlets.  Sony is also in negotiation with Netflix as a content distribution partner.

Jim Lavorato

Friday, February 15, 2013


Six Strike Rules for the New Copyright Alert System

I received a number of queries to yesterday's post - 'Copyright vs. Piracy" - in regards to the new Copyright Alert System's six strikes and you're out rules. Here's the way it will work.

Users suspected of accessing pirated content on peer-to-peer networks will receive increasingly aggressive notifications and eventually be subject to punitive action.

Strikes 1-2:  In response to notices from a copyright owner, an Internet Service Provider will send online alerts to subscribers that their account may have been misused or involved in copyright infringement and will provide information about legal sources of music, film, and TV content.

Strikes 3-4: Similar to the first two alerts, with addition of a "conspicuous mechanism" such as a click-through popup notice or landing page requiring the subscriber to acknowledge receipt of the alert.

Strikes 5-6:  At this point, ISPs may resort to more punitive "mitigation measures" that may include temporarily throttling Internet speeds or blocking access until a subscriber contacts the ISP to review copyright laws and how to obtain digital content legally.

So that's it.  Will it work? And, more importantly does it solve the piracy problem.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, February 14, 2013


New  Copyright Alert System Will Track and Punish

The media giants, in conjunction with, internet service providers (ISPs) are about to institute a massive program to stifle on-line piracy.  The program, entitled the Copyright Alert System (CAS), is to be operational by the end of March.

Spearheaded by the Center for Copyright Information, a consortia consisting of the  Motion Picture Assoc. of America, the Recording Industry Assoc. of America, and a variety of music makers and TV and movie producers, as well as ISPs : AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, TimeWarner Cable, and Verizon, the CAS is intended to target parents who may not be aware that their children are media pirates.

The CAS is  'six' strikes and you are out! Yes, six.  The first strike is to simply warn offenders that illegal file-sharing has been detected on their account and leads them to legitimate sources for obtaining on-line content.  By the fifth strike however much more drastic actions take place.  For example, after the "fifth violation" Verizon will lower the users Internet connection to a max speed of 256 kilobits/second for up to 3 days (a very slow connect speed).  Time Warner subscribers will receive worse punishment - a suspended account until the offenders calls TW and speaks with a customer service rep about the error of their ways and what further punishment awaits any new offenses.  This is a sea change in the attitude of the ISPs as in the past their policy and retort to copyright holders was, 'it's not our problem'.

Critics of the Copyright Alert System point to several major issues.  One, being that the open WiFi nodes, which users keep open to let anyone in the local area use for free, ie Starbucks, would have to be excluded from the alert system.  Second, the Alert system does nothing to stop hard-core pirates, in part, because it only targets peer-to-peer applications. Professional pirates don't even use Bit Torrent any longer but have moved onto file-locker sites. Acknowledges Gigi Sohn, a CCI Board Member, "It's not about stopping the hard-core uploader/downloader.  It's about educating a new generation of music and TV fans."  What?

My Opinion

Copyright, like current Patent laws, have become absurd to an extreme. These laws do not offer much protection, particularly at the international level, and both need massive reform and overhaul.  Instituting the Copyright Alert System as a means to "educate" the next generation of teens to the unlawful practice of copying copyrighted content is a bad idea on many levels - not the least of which is that the vast majority of people in the U.S. pay for the songs, movies, and TV shows they watch over the net - wether through iTunes, Netflix, Spotify, AmazonPlus etc.  Yes, there is piracy at the fringe but the hard-core pirates are too hard for big media to deter and prosecute so they look at the smaller fry - it's really silly and make big media and the ISPs look really petty.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Sunday, February 10, 2013

CinemaBUZZ WEEKLY REPORT - 8 February 2013

Avengers: Top Grosser for 2012

In keeping with a trend, now over a decade old, the U.S. cinema boxoffice for 2012 was even more skewed toward the top grossing films then in past years.

For 2012 the total domestic box office was $10.8 billion of which the top 25 films represented $5.6 billion or 52% of that total.  The top 50 films generated $7.6 billion or 70% of total gross.  There were 657 movies released last year; therefore, the remaining 607 releases generated only 30% of the total boxoffice take.  Wow!

This top heavy boxoffice favors action/fantasy movies. The top three films: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Hunger Games were also all action hero films. These were followed by Skyfall, The Hobbit, Breaking Dawn 2, and Spider Man, in that order. These top seven films generated, by themselves, over 24% of total 2012 boxoffice gross.  Fantasy, action, violence, with over-the-top special effects is what lures moviegoers into the local cinema and not much else.


 "Movies will be priced based upon the size of the device they are viewed on" said Jeff Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks last week at the Founders Forum conference on digital media. "People will pay be the square inch. If a cell phone version of a movie is 75 cents you'll get 350 million people in India to pay that."

So, the theory is that you would pay much less to view a movie on a cell phone or other device than you would going to the local cinema.  This revenue may be the future but I believe the giant revenue generator for distributors (studios and other content developers/streamers) is the day-and-date release of movies across all delivery modes on a worldwide basis.  Would this model hurt cinemas ? Yes, but only at those cinemas that fail to exhibit movies in the way they should be presented - with an excellent on-screen image, terrific sound, an exciting and inviting environment, and thoughtful and innovative concession and other services.

I have often stated that the living room is the major competitor for cinemas, in the future it will also be smart phones, tablets, and PCs.  The potential revenue stream for the studios and other content makers under the above business model is too large to be ignored and the exclusive theatrical release window will become a memory.

The studios will be compelled to find new revenue sources even at the expense of severing long-held industry traditions like the first dibs theatrical release.  Katzenberg may be right but he doesn't push the logic far enough or wide enough.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Paperman - Full Animated Short Film

'Paperman' Will Get Oscar for Best Short Animation

Disney's 'Paperman' is one of the best short films ever - animated or otherwise.  Only 7 minutes in duration it is the story of young and innocent love and achieves its success without dialogue or color (for the most part).

What gives Paperman its great visual draw is not only a great story line and terrific graphics but a new technique in designing animated films which allows artists the ability to draw directly over the top of computer rendered sequences.

Paperman debuted as a front piece for the movie Wreck-It-Ralph and the response to the short was viral.  My bets on Paperman to easily win this year's Best Short Animation Oscar.