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Saturday, July 19, 2014


Scottish Film Site Becomes A Dumping Ground
Glen Etive Before

Glen Etive, a pristine pastoral dale in the Scottish Highlands has been the location of several films, including 'Braveheart', several of the 'Harry Potter' movies, and most recently the latest James Bond episode, 'Skyfall'.  In fact, the home of Ian Fleming, the creator and author of the Bond legacy, is located in the Glen.

However, this idyllic setting has now become a dump of refuse and trash,  with dead grass, and ash remains of fires from local shrubs and bushes. All of this devastation the result of movie fans and tourists visiting the site to satiate their inner needs to think that, somehow, being in the place where their favorite movie was filmed will offer them some modicum of reality to their fantasies.

Local residents set up a Facebook page to document the environmental destruction of the 14 mile Glen. "It's just baffling the mentality of these people, who show no respect for such a gorgeous part of the country.  They usually come on Friday and party all weekend", say local Mar Shone.
Glen Etive Now

The Bond films have always been good money-makers for British tourism.  There is even a Bond-themed tour sponsored by the Scottish Tourism Board to assist global tour operators to sell travel packages around sites in the famous Bond spy movies.  Last year over 114,000 tourists/fans visited Glen Etive and that figure excludes campers who avoid official tourism registration.

The National Trust of Scotland, which owns part of Glen Etive stated that they understood that, "the litter and environment abuse is due to uncaring travelers and tourists", but it seems that the only remedy is to strictly enforce camping and littering laws - and that is just what the Scottish authorities should do!  People, be they movie fans or tourists, for the most part, are conscientious and use proper care but there is always that element which is uncaring and abusive to the environment and others' enjoyment -Glen Etive is but one example.

Cine-BUZZ - 17 July 2014

Most Frequent U.S. Moviegoers

Which demographic attends movies most often?  Teen-boys - Adult Males - Parents with Small Children - Teen Girls. No, No, No, and No! The most frequent cinema-going group in America is Hispanic women over the age of 25! Believe it.

A recent market research study commissioned by The Wrap, a Hollywood trade journal, found that for even high-impact, action hero films, it was Hispanic women that made up the biggest audience on a percentage basis.  Hispanic audiences consistently poll as visiting the cinema more often than any other group.  These finding coincide with the finding of the Motion Picture Association of America which report in their annual report of 2013 that 25% of all U.S. cinema admissions were sold to Hispanics, even though they make up only 17% of the U.S. population.

This trend has been noticed by Hollywood studios which up to now have not tailored many movies to this audience in a way they have for other ethnic groups, but this is going to change given the ever increasing ticket sales to Hispanics in general and specifically to over 25 Hispanic women, coupled with an increasing Hispanic populace in the U.S.

Disney and Netflix Ink Exclusive Deal for Streaming First-Run Films

Both companies announced yesterday that they had reached a multi-year deal whereby Netflix well be the exclusive internet streaming service for all of Disney's live-action and animated feature films in Canada.  This follows a similar deal reach for the U.S. market in 2013.

The agreement calls for Netflix to have the exclusive first-right to stream all of Disney's new titles including all Live Action, Animated, Pixar, Lucasfilm and DreamWorks films within 8 months or less after their theatrical release.

This moves the line of separation one step closer to the day-and-date release of first-run movies across all types of media distribution.  Netflix has already signed similar release deals with Paramount and Fox.

Hollywood and Bollywood Snuggle Up

We hear a lot about the collaboration between Hollywood and China, with co-productions and Chinese investments into building new studios and purchasing distribution and exhibition outlets such as the Wanda Group's purchase of  the AMC Cinema circuit for $2.6 billion, etc.  But below the radar, there is increasing integration between Hollywood and Indian (Bollywood) film production.

Bollywood got its start in 1934 with Bombay Talkies, the first India film studio, which got its start with American production and technical know-how and flourished from there.  Today, more films are produced in India than anywhere else in the world.

The Hollywood/Bollywood collaboration is not just for action films or feel-good films such as the recent 'Million Dollar Arm' by Disney but for docu-dramas, like the upcoming Emma Thompson produced 'Sold' - a docu-drama which deals with the over 27 million labor and sex slaves currently in countries like India, Nepal, and Pakistan. "12 Years a Slave wins all these awards" says Thompson, "yet slavery is one of the world's fastest growing industries.  What goes on is unbelievable and it needs to be exposed. This is happening now, it's not something that happened 200 years ago."

I think we will see more and more joint productions coming out of the Hollywood/Bollywood studios. India has a very long and creative cinema history and a great heritage of story-telling which links up nicely with Hollywood's current mode of producing high-impact, technically complex movies.

Jim Lavorato

Sunday, July 13, 2014

THE 'SCENE' by Seymore Flix

'WEED' as a Cinema Concession Item

Washington State yesterday became the second State, after Colorado, to legalize marijuana.  To celebrate this historic occasion the makers of the docu film about the legalization, 'Mile High: The Comback of Cannabis' handed out free samples to anyone over 21 with a valid ID - whether or not you purchased an admission ticket.

"To take home and enjoy responsibly" stated Adam Hartle, producer of the film, about the free hemp. Now cinema owners may not be prone to sell cannabis for smoking - which is illegal in public venues - but how about edible weed-laced concession items, such cookies, brownies, cupcakes, chocolate covered buds etc. This could be a wind-full for cinemas. There is nothing better than sitting in a comfy seat while viewing a high-impact movie with great sound and image while high - oh, at least for some folks.

So, my cinema friends, consider this - Seymore Flix predicts you'll be seeing marijuana laced products at cinema concession stands in the near future. This could turn out to be great business if you have the right demographic.

Cine's New Tactic: Fewer Seats/More Profits

Butts have finally won out. The new trend in cinemas is larger, comfy seats and fewer as the large circuits retro their auditoriums.  Started by AMC Theatres - whose parent since 2012 has been the Wanda Group, a Chinese realty holding company, which purchased the U.S. cinema circuit for $2.6 billion - the strategy calls for a less-is-more approach.

AMC will be spending over $600 million to retro their auditoriums where is some cases up to two-thirds of an auditorium's seats are removed and replaced with loungers that fully recline.

Large exhibitors spent years building huge multiplexes with hundreds of seats in each auditorium - now that long-standing trend is falling to the demand for larger and more comfy seating by cinema patrons and AMC is responding as they believe it will, in fact, generate more box office admissions.  Banking on quality or quantity AMC management has plans to raise admission pricing to pay for the new seats but not until a year after the conversions - until patrons get used to and want to attend the cinema with the most comfort and best on-screen image and sound.  Attendance in renovated AMC auditoriums has leapt a  whopping 80% on average, despite the drastic reduction in capacity to sometimes fewer than 70 seats.

Where they have very busy venues in major markets, like LA or NYC, there is no need to convert to attract customers, so it doesn't make sense to cut seating capacity. However, in time, these cinemas will be retrofitted with seats that don't recline as far back, so less than half of the capacity is lost.

Removing seats and filling more of the remaining ones, is counter intuitive, but the data shows that the seating changes bring customers back more often and siphon traffic from competing cinemas in an area. Admissions in U.S. cinemas have been essentially flat over the last decade, there are no more butts coming through the door, so cinemas have to find something to get patrons to come back more often or pay more - it's that basic.

Improved seating, along with enhanced concessions, great sound and picture, and a clean/friendly environment is what cinemas need to continue to increase profits.

It seems other large circuits are following AMC in ramping up there reseating efforts. Both Regal and Cinemark have instituted reseating programs stating that reseated theatres attract more midweek audiences than normal theatres, and tend to draw more adults, who pay higher ticket prices than teens or young children.  AMC's plan is to increase admissions pricing by $1 - $1.25 after one year for the reseated auditoriums.

I attended a movie at one of the AMC reseated auds. The seats are full recliners with motorized leg/foot risers - very comfy.  Hmmmm, I think the airlines should take a page out of the cinemas' new seating playbook.

On-line Box Office Admissions Not All That Great
On-line cinema ticketing seems to have peaked

Contrary to popular belief, less than 24% of all cinema admissions are sold on-line.  That includes ticket services like Fandango and all cinema owned websites.  Cash or credit cards still far outweigh on-line sales and account for almost 75% of all ticket sales.  And there doesn't appear to be any indication that this trend in ticket purchasing  is going to change.

Of the on-line tickets sold, 46% were sold via direct through cinema websites.  31% via people being directed to a cinema's website through email flashes. The rest, about 23%, were sold through the internet ticket service companies like Fandango.

On-line cinema ticket sales are not that great in terms of tickets sold, the old way of paying in cash at the box office still reigns supreme.

by Seymore Flix, 
The go to guy for info on the cinema

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


I'm back. My sojourn into the 'do-nothing' zone was not all bad this year - some past vacations have been more work than work - but this year I put the time to good use: relaxed, reflected, renewed. In fact I devoted time during my respite to refresh and rejuvenate Cinema Mucho Gusto which I think you'll find will be a  positive bolster to CMG's  infotainment level. 

First, CMG will have another contributing writer. Senior correspondent and roving reporter of a new byline, 'The Scene' will be Seymore Flix. Having years of  experience in the cinema industry at all levels of production, distribution, and exhibition, Mr. Flix's contributions will have no bounds. His first posts will appear this month - look for them.
CMG - the whole cake

Second, CMG will endeavor to address the full impact and power of the cinema. Not only in box office dollar terms but in social, political, and economic terms throughout the world (see several examples in this post).

Finally, CMG will continue to ferret-out and post on the otherwise missed news bits and under-reported cinema stories by the on-line mainstream press and other blogs.  We will continue to provide you the off-beat but relevant, the informative and interesting - in short, witty narrative enhanced with visual imagery.

There is a glut of news and information bombarding each of us on a daily basis - so, CMG must provide the 'right' news and commentary that readers 'see' as relevant to what they are doing in their daily living. The icing may be the best part of a cake, but a bag of icing is not better than a cake - CMG will be providing the cake.

In that vein, below are several interesting events that demonstrate the power of the cinema. We go to the cinema to be entertained - to laugh, cry, fantasize. To be awed, frightened, for a chance to zone-out for several hours.  However, the cinema is much more than that - it has real power to make change and to influence governments, organizations, and to push cultural change.  Several examples of this came to my attention recently.

- The recent military coup in Thailand evoked the protesting populace to use the three-finger salute taken from 'The Hunger Games' movies.  This is a perfect example of using the global cinema as a tool in getting attention and rallying around a cause for independence.  The funny thing, is that, the new military junta took a page out of the protesters playbook and began to give away film tickets to a nationalistic movie to gain favor with a rebellious populace. Starting with free haircuts and music festivals, the junta graduated to free admission to the film, 'The Legend of King Naresuan', a historical drama where the ruler unifies the country and resists unwarranted influences.

Both of these actions, one by the protesters the other by the government, point to the use of the power of the cinema for propaganda.

Mahnaz Mohammadi
- In another event, last week Iranian documentary film-maker, Mahnaz Mohammadi was charged and jailed on charges of collusion against the government.  A women's rights activist, Mohammadi who has directed several award-winning films was summoned to appear at the Evin prison in Tehran to began her five year sentence. "I have been charged with having relations with English, German, and American media.  The government wants me to confess to receiving money in return for working against the Islamic Republic of Iran.  I have never done this and had no ties to foreign media, so I didn't confess. In the end, as no evidence for these charges could be found, the court referred to my documentary film 'Travelogue' and used it against me as evidence."

This is but another example, of the power of the cinema and the fear it brings to governments.  It may be only a movie, but that small piece of art can have a very large impact.

Jim Lavorato