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Friday, June 20, 2014


As we reach to mid-point of this summer's cinema box office, we can see that it is 10.8% behind 2013 - than again, 2013 was a record breaker, topping out at a $4.8 billion admission total. 

There have been some bright spots. 'X-Men' has taken in over $200 million and is still going strong and teen-drama 'The Fault in Our Stars', which cost $12 million, has taken in over $85 million thus far.  But several pics which were supposed 'comers' - didn't. 'Edge of Tomorow', 'Blended', and 'Jersey Boys' to name several.  3D has done will so far - 'Godzilla' and 'Spiderman' grossed over 45% of their admission in 3D sales.

However, this year has nothing comparable to last and as we head into the home stretch will there be any rising stars to cling to.  My guesses are: 'Transformers', 'Planes-Fire and Recuse', 'Expendables 3', 'Sin City' and 'Hercules' will all deliver.  Possible sleepers: 'Deliver Us From Evil' and 'Tammy'.

August is traditionally the worst summer box office month but we hope for hot and rainy weather throughout the week and pleasant nights on weekends (for drive-in theatres).


Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Smart glasses
A new wave of tech is about to hit the workplace - wearable devices.  Smart watches, smart glasses, and other new 'attached' gadgets are going to be commonplace gear for people at work and all companies, not just cinemas, must plan to manage these devices in a way that allows end users the freedom they need but provides the security and protection your business needs.

It will be the BYOD (bring your own device) age, and where and when employees can bring their wearables to the job must be managed.  Employee owned wearables, for example, should not be allowed in areas where smartphones are not allowed -  primarily due to concerns about photos or video being taken with the camera feature of the wearable device.  Sexual harassment issues and the taking of photos without consent quickly come to mind.

Smart Watches
How a company restricts the use of wearables in the workplace will be an issue. Should the camera function be allow on company premises or be restricted?  Companies should get ahead of the curve, and rather than wait for employees to bring these devices to work, they should actively try them out in some narrow, controlled applications to understand how wearables will work in real-world situations.

Don't forget, all of these wearable devices will be connected to the web, so there will be instantaneous up and download capability. For cinemas its all about piracy and access to company records and data, for other firms the risks are different but the ground rules for the use of wearables in the workplace must be set and adhered to.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


According to the Consumer Electronics Association 49% of U.S. households have at least one 'connected' TV in their home. Called Smart TVs, millions have been sold worldwide but they are all vulnerable  as hackers have now found ways to exploit loopholes in the technology that helps Smart TVs receive advertisements.  Hackers piggyback off of the Hybred Broadcast Broadband TV Standard (HbbTV) that is widely used to support Smart TV reception.

Researchers at Columbia University reported that hackers hijack HbbTV using nothing more than a cheap antenna and carefully crafted broadcast messages - they do not need your internet address. A hacker simply needs a high location (such as a roof top or small drone) and an antenna and once the hacker has completed their attack, they simply leave within a trace.  The hacker can then mimic the real user. For example, if the victim  had logged into Facebook via a TV app, the hack could be used to post messages on the social network on that person's behalf. Alternatively, the loopholes in the HbbTV system could be used to bombard a target website with data or to log spurious votes or clicks.

Broadcasts Know But Can't Prevent the Hacking
In areas where lots of people own Smart TVs, a $250 antenna could reach thousands of  - a bigger antenna could extend the reach of the attack much more.  Hacking into all of your files, stealing your identity, finding your passwords for various financial accounts and on-line services.

Most broadcasters currently use the HbbTV technology and know about this problem but haven't been able to address the issue as it would require a complete re-write of the system. So, perhaps watching a movie at the 'un-connected' cinema and not in your home through the internet is the much safer and smarter thing to do. As we become more and more connected we become more vulnerable and open to the stealing and misuse of our most valuable of personal information.  Keep this in mind whenever you log on to your Smart TV and hope that a thief isn't logging on with you.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Everyone from Hollywood to Bollywood is looking to get into the booming but heavily censored China cinema market.  Seven new cinema screens open in China each day. It is the second largest film market and is expected to overtake the U.S. in total admissions within the next five years.  However, under China's state controlled quota system, only 34 foreign films per year are permitted to be released and these are usually the big-budget, blockbuster bruisers from Hollywood. So, what movie producers are trying to do is team-up with Chinese production companies so that the films they produce will be considered co-productions and not be counted in the quota.

China is different in its censorship. First, there is no certification (rating) system as we have in the U.S. where the MPAA rates the movies for various age groups (i.e. PG-13, R, etc.) In China films are approved by the State - for everyone or not at all.  The censorship criteria is not explained, but films are routinely rejected for distribution based on religion, sex and violence, and any and all things that, even remotely, cast a bad light on China's rulers, history, military, human rights, etc. As one Chinese censor stated, "We want to see positive Chinese images".  In addition to censorship issues, film producers/distributors must contend with a reduced box-office cut, as studios normally get only 25% of the box office take in China, about one-half of what is the norm in the U.S.

Due to the Cultural Revolution and many years of media control, China is virtually a missing piece in the history of the cinema.  Most of the Chinese produced films stopped production in the 1940s and have since produced films that get official approval, which tend to be lame comedies or historical action films catering to a youthful audience.  China is building a huge movie industry but does not have the products to make it profitable.  Eventually, I believe, the bans and censorship will diminish and the Chinese will move toward a movie rating system similar to the U.S. aged based one.  Political criticism will not be tolerated but a more liberal stance on social issues will.

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


The Cannes Festival offered up some rather unusual movie candidates this year and they complied with equally unusual posters to market their films. Here's a sampling:

'KARMASUTRA 3D - How Many Positions Was That?

'EAT' - Let's hold the concessions
'BLOOD LAKE' - Yummy

'THE DEPEND BLES' - In need of more then 'Depends'

'ZOOmbies' - It Had to Happen

Monday, June 09, 2014


In this Trends &Technology Report:

- Consumer Media Consumption Is Changing - AND Rapidly!
- What's Best: Personality or Talent?
- Cord-Cutters: Not Coming Back To Cable
- Binge-Viewing - Getting More Popular

People Are Changing The Way They Consume Content

In general, all media consulting companies agree that adults (18 to 56) are shifting the majority of their video viewing to non-live content, including sports and other live entertainment.  This demographic group  is spending more time on-line and while they continue to spend their entertainment hours with professional quality video, they expect to watch on their own schedule and to have the option of skipping commercials when they choose - these viewers are referred to as 'On-Demanders'.

On-Demanders access video through various devices that allow them to 'time and location shift' their viewing:
-On average, On-Demanders own 5.4 devices for watching videos, including TV and PCs
- One-half subscribe to Netflix and/or another content streamer
- 40% own video-enabled mobile devices, i.e. smartphones and tablets
- Average 30 hours of video viewing each week
- Most turned off by intrusive, repetitive advertising

In the U.S., over 13% of consumers have completely opted out of live television and obtain their content through connected devices.  This group skews even younger with 30% of the total falling into the 18-24 age group.

To put it in raw terms, the current advertising model, that has been with us for decades, is now failing!
This presents serious implications for advertisers in reaching targeted audiences.  Consumers, worldwide, are demanding choice and control over what they view and when they view it.  On the plus side for marketers the data suggests that even On-Demanders would be willing to swap a service that stored their content remotely in return for advertisements - with 62% of adults saying they would be happy to be shown a few advertisements if it meant they received content storage for free! 

What's Better: Personality or Talent
Who To Hire?

According to an extensive international survey conducted by the global learning institute, Hyper Island, entitled "Tomorrow's Most Wanted", it appears that personality, not competence, is the determining factor of who's going to get the most attractive job offers.  Further, the survey found, there is a growing desire for talent in combination with skill, flexibility, collaborative traits.  Specific competence is becoming less important while personality  is most desirable.

In the survey, 78% of the respondents gave 'Personality' a top trait rating, while 'Skill-set' only garnered 38%. 'Cultural Alignment' came in at 53%. Only 14% of the respondents considered 'Drive' the most essential trait. And 'Creativity' received only a 12% top rating.

So, it appears that collaboration and team-effort instead of individual achievement is what digitally driven economies desire in workers - that personality matters more than skills.  Whether you run a cinema, a restaurant, a multi-national organization, or service company you want to hire employees who can adapt, be flexible, and work well with others. So, when hiring, according to the survey respondents:
- Don't get bogged down in the 'skill-set
- Look beyond the resume - find out what the person is really like
- Be specific in your wants. You may be looking for a meticulous and detailed-minded individual or someone that is energetic and personable.

The Hyper Island survey was conducted over a three month period in 2013 and polled over 500 international companies.  My feeling is that more and more, collaborative traits are a prerequisite in any business setting; however, skills and a sense of what is important to succeed are equal ingredients in the mix to accomplish business goals.

Cord-Cutters Happy To Stay Un-connected

Cord-cutters, those that have severed ties with their pay-for-view TV cable providers, represent about 18% of all TV viewers, but is a segment of the viewing population that is growing rapidly.  Worse, the TV cable service providers tactics to woo back cutters are not working.

84% of cord-cutters said they were "happy" with their decision to sever ties with their cable providers. "A growing group of broadband consumers are finding that life without pay TV is not only plausible, but also pleasurable", Colin Dixon, President of nScreenMedia, which recently concluded a survey on this topic, told CMG.  To the dismay of the cable companies the glue which normally holds cable subscribers to the cord - 'Sports' - was found not to be as sticky as once thought, as a mere 9% of cord-cutters said they missed viewing sports.

nScreenMedia's study also found that the most popular sites for cord-cutters was YouTube, followed by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Plus.

Binge-Viewing On The Rise

Several months ago I posted on the rising trend in binge-viewing, the habit of viewing movies or TV shows from three-to-six or more hours at one-sitting.  Binge-viewing can now be considered a fact-of-life and not a budding trend, as viewers, worldwide, now binge-view on a regular basis.

Arris, a broadband technology firm, recently commissioned a study on binge-viewing, the results of which were released last week.  The study interviewed over 10,000 consumers in 19 countries and found that a whooping 80% of respondents admitted to binge-viewing. In the U.S., the number was 74%, with 25% of those in the 25-34 age group saying they binge at least once a week.

Standard HD-TVs were the most popular devices for binging with PCs, gaming consoles, tablets, smartphones, and UHD-TVs in that order.  According to the Arris study, 16% of respondents said they would pay for a service that let them immediately download or stream a completed TV series, while 21% would be willing to pay extra if that feature was tied to a cable service bundle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

CMG CINEMA BuzzFEED - 4 June 2014


- What Does Recent Military Coup in Thailand and 'Hunger Games' Film Have In Common
- Studios Want To Be Allowed To Use Drones in Film Production
- Study Says Film Streaming/Downloading Will Overtake Cinema Box Office By 2017

'Hunger Games' Salute Gets New Meaning in Thailand

Thailand's citizens against the recent military coup that ousted the elected government are protesting their condemnation by using the three-finger salute borrowed from the film 'The Hunger Games'.
In this new form of silent protest the new military rulers say they are monitoring its use and will arrest those in large groups who ignore their warning - a large group is deemed to be five or more people.
Thai Protesters Using 3 Finger Salute

The three finger, raised arm salute has become the unofficial symbol of opposition to the May 22nd military coup which seized the government. According to a spokesman for the ruling junta, "If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it so it doesn't cause any disorder.  We know it comes from the movie, and let's say it represents resistance against the authorities.  If a single individual raises three fingers in the air, we are not going to arrest him or her, but if it is a political gathering of five people or more, then we will make arrests." Since the bloodless coup, the military has attempted to ban criticism by closing TV stations and blocking hundreds of websites.

Social activists says the raising of three fingers is a symbol of their discord with the new junta. "3 fingers, 3 times a day in a public place is what we call for. Let's escalate the anti-coup movement three times a day, together" - is the protesters' cry.  Saying that protesters should raise their right arm and stay still for 30 seconds 3 times each day.  Asked what the salute meant responses were: liberty, equality, and fraternity.  In the 'The Hunger Games' film, the 3 finger salute is a symbol of rebellion against totalitarian rule, and stands for: thank you, admiration, and goodbye to someone you love. 

Hollywood Wants Permission To Use Drones

Drone which can be used for filming
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is pondering a request from Hollywood film-makers for permission to use drone aircraft for filming purposes.  This would allow for the wide-spread use, by film studios, of large drones for aerial filming.  In a letter to the FAA the Motion Picture Assoc. of American, on behalf of the studios, stated, "Unmanned aircraft systems offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming.  This new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots and is the latest in a myriad of new technologies being used by our industry to further enhance the viewer experience."

For their part, FAA spokesperson Les Dorr stated,  "the FAA will consider Hollywood's request for an exemption that would allow for the use of drone aircraft under controlled operations." The exemptions would include aircraft weighting about 55 lbs. (25kg) or less.
Drones come in all sizes

I believe the FAA will allow the exemption for the Hollywood studios and that drones will be used extensively for film shooting and for other uses, such as evaluating filming locations.  Drones have been used extensively by governments and law enforcement for years - they are here to stay and already impact our daily lives. Their use will become more pervasive as time goes on - like Amazon's current experiment of using drones to deliver packages to homes.

Growing Popularity of Streaming Movies Was Predicted

A dramatic study by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the large public accounting and business consulting firm, declared that the market for DVD and BluRay videos is rapidly declining due to the ever increasing popularity of on-demand content via on-line streamers, and further that these downloads to living rooms will overtake total cinema box office revenue by 2017.

The study found that electronic home video (the streaming and downloading of films) will overtake physical media (DVDs/BluRays) by 2016. PwC further found that by 2017 home electronic videos will overtake the cinema box office as the biggest contributor to total film revenue - reaching $17 billion in four years, twice the $8.5 billion home streaming currently generates.

Cindy McKensie, managing director at PwC told CMG that, "People still want to go to the cinema,
especially to view the blockbusters."  I agree. The impact for those cinemas that have prepared for the future and offer superior presentations and great concession values, will prosper. This study bolsters CMG's contention that all movies will eventually be distributed day-and-date across all media outlets. Those cinemas that have properly prepared can look forward to continued profitability while those that did not will simply have to shutter their doors.  Netflix, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Hulu and others have all embarked on ambitious production projects, and do not want to be content distribution middlemen but the creators of original movies and TV series - this is where the cinema's competition will come from.


Monday, June 02, 2014

'Avatar' and 'Cirque du Soleil' : A Fantasy Team-Up

'Cirque' performances are fantastic
James Cameron, the force behind the two highest grossing movies of all time - 'Avatar' at $2.7 billion and 'Titanic' at $2.2 billion signed a deal last week with Daniel Lamarre, the force behind the most successful live performance shows of all time - Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) which has grossed billions in admissions over the course of its 30 year history.

Started in a village near Quebec City in 1984, 'Cirque' currently has 23 productions running: 11 touring and 12 permanent venue (of which 8 are resident in Las Vegas resort/hotels). Over 100 million people have attended a 'Cirque' performance which couples out-of-this-world costumed characters performing elaborate acts of aerobics and acrobatics, some aquatic, but all emotional and mesmerizing. No animals are ever used in 'Cirque' performances.

The 'Avatar'/Cirque du Soleil show will be a 'road' performance and is scheduled to begin touring late next year - no title for the show has yet been determined.  The new show will be ahead of the release of the three 'Avatar' movie sequels now in the works - the first to be released in cinemas in December 2016 and the third by December 2018. The announcement of the joint venture was made at the C2MTL Commerce and Creativity Conference in Montreal last week.  Fox Entertainment, which distributed the first 'Avatar' will also work on the project.

"I know we share the common goal of bringing audiences to another level of entertainment experiences. I look forward to doing just that on this project ", Cameron stated at the press conference.  Lamarre, CEO of 'Cirque du Soleil, reiterated saying, "our relationship with Jim Cameron began with my visit to his 'Avatar' cutting room.  I am thrilled that 15 years later, Cirque du Soleil will be able to explore the very inspirational 'Avatar' realm for the live stage."

I, for one, can't wait. I have attended several of the 'Cirque' productions and they are truly amazing and fantastic and fit perfectly with the fantasy and imagery of 'Avatar'.