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Monday, May 30, 2016

Best Cannes Movie Posters of 2016

Each year, ok it started last year, CMG selects the best posters from the Cannes Film Festival.  This year was definitely not a let-down with some of the best ever movie posters - and I mean just that.

With hundreds of films being 'hawked' at Cannes, the festival reveals the under-belly of the the movie industry. For example, some of the same films pop-up for sale year-after-year - it's like going to the dog pound knowing that the older dogs will never be 'rescued'. However, these very same dogs, in many cases, have the best, most vivid, thought-provoking, in-yur-face message senders.

These were CMG's 2016 favorites:

 Dying for donuts? Here's the movie for

More dragons, smaller budget - the quest continues.

And you thought restrooms were the only issue.

Not sure what this film is about from the poster - but I like it.

Monkey with top-billing and an entourage - oh yes!

And finally, by far, my favorite Cannes poster for 2016.  What's worse than hell? A shark satan.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cranston's Cinema Palme d'Or Closes Due To 'Clearances'

Last year CMG reported that a Palm Desert cinema, the Cinema Palme d'Or - a small, independent cinema - was being financially hurt because of the practice of clearance booking policies. But unlike most independent cinemas this one happened to be owned by actor Bryan Cranston and ESPN show-host Steve Mason.

Unfortunately, the Cinema Palme d'Or had no choice but to shutter its doors this week after a 13-year struggle with the large theater circuits. Cranston commented, "Cinemark finally succeeded in driving the last nail in our coffin. We just couldn't continue the struggle in this unfair business climate."

A letter sent to the studios by Cranston and Mason stated, "We could no longer stay solvent because of Cinemark's constant pressure on studios and distributors to shut us out of major titles.  We have fought hard, but clearance booking has made it impossible to stay in business."

Clearance, is what I would call a privilege system, whereby large theater circuits get the exclusive privilege of screening a movie at the exclusion of other exhibitors (smaller independents) within a certain geographical area.

Steve Mason told CMG, "To give you an example of how much pressure Cinemark exerted on the studios to prevent us from playing certain films, take 'Star Wars'.  For any independent cinema, 'Star Wars' could make your year, we knew it was a must to have this film. So, we offered to pay Disney 100% film rental, every penny from every ticket, and Disney said no.  Then, to really make our point, we offered 150% on every ticket and they still said no.  We also offered Sony 100% on 'Spectre' and were declined.  This is what put us out of business." Cinema Palme d'Or has been engaged in a lawsuit with Cinemark since 2006 and that suit will continue.

To its credit, Fox Entertainment recently stated that it would no longer honor clearance bookings but no other studio has followed Fox's example.  The National Assoc. of Theater Owners (NATO), which is commonly known to be the stooge of the studios and large circuits, weaseled-out of the clearance issue by stating, "NATO does not concern itself with distribution issues".

The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating the anti-trust aspects of clearance bookings by the studios and the Cinemark, Regal, and AMC theater chains, but in typical DOJ fashion under the Obama administration, the investigation has been on-going for almost two years with no resolution in sight. In another lawsuit, brought by iPic Theaters against Regal Entertainment in Texas last January, iPic won a reprieve and the Judge in that case has ordered Regal to stop the practice of clearance bookings in Texas.

And so the battle goes on. CMG believes that clearance booking is a restraint of trade and should be stopped. Like Fox, the other studios should bar the practice and make the playing-field level and fair. To believe that the large circuits would not screen blockbusters (even one) because they didn't get clearance is fantasy - they need the films to survive just like the little guy. We might add, that if the small, independent exhibitor has that much of an impact on their business success than perhaps the circuits need to take a hard look inward.

It should be noted that the 9 screen Palme d'Or will re-open under new management, the Tristone Cinema Group, and will continue with screening 'arthouse' films and the clearance war.

Just saying,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cinema Admission Tickets on SnapChat

In a first for the cinema industry, 20th Century Fox used Snapchat's Lenses to promote 'X-Men Apocalypse' and have fans purchase admission tickets directly from Fox's Snapchat video ads for the movie.

Snapchat, for those of you not in the loop, is a very popular image messaging app that allows you to send photos or videos that self-destruct after 10 seconds of the receiver viewing them. Alternatively, you can add photos/videos with a caption or doodle and add it to your 'story' - a 24-hour collection of your photos/videos which can be broadcasted to the world or just your followers.

So, for 24 hours this past Monday (5/23) Snapchat users in the U.S. were able to transform themselves into any of nine different characters from the 'X-Men' movie via Snapchat Lenses, and then send these photos/videos to their friends, family, and acquaintances or post them to their 'story' timelines.  The movie opens this Friday (5/27) to start the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The nine 'X-Men' characters available were: Apocalypse, Cyclops, Mystique, Storm, Nightcrawler, Magneto, Quicksilver, Professor X, and Beast.

Through a link the user can purchase advance tickets directly from Fox's Snapchat ad from either Fandango or MovieTickets.com.  The 'X-Men' ads are also running across multiple channels in the Snapchat Discover section of People, BuzzFeed, Food Network, Vox, Vice, and Wall Street Journal apps.

This use of Snapchat is an innovative first in ticket purchasing and could turn out to be a very lucrative way to solicit and sell movie tickets. CMG will keep a watch on it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

007 : Will There Be A Bond #25?

Possible 007s
According to Daniel Craig, he is currently not interested in returning as 007. So, the question now becomes who will be the next Bond?  Perhaps a different Bond? A female, a Hispanic or African-American. Several actors have expressed interest, including: Tom Hiddleston ('Thor'), Idris Elba ('Beasts of no Nation') and Gillian Anderson ('X-Files') who are using social media to promote their cause as SM is the latest means of self-promotion in Hollywood these days.

The next Bond will be #25.  Craig has starred in the last four 007 films and is contracted to star in one more but wants a long break, so the earliest Bond #25 could hit marquees, at this point, is 2018.

We all need another Powers flix
To add to the confusion, the distribution rights to the Bond franchise are up for grabs. Sony had distribution rights but those ended with 'Spectre'. There will definitely be a bidding war for distribution as Sony had a great run with Bond, which started with Craig's debut as 007 in 'Casino Royale'. 

At this point, Bond #25 has no script, director, or distributor.  Craig will most likely play Bond once more and fulfill his contract - expect a new 007 in Bond #26.

Speaking of secret agents, when will we be seeing the next (#4) Austin Powers?That International Man of Mystery accompanied by a cadre of crazy and over-the-top characters. It seems Mike Meyers and Jay Roach (director of the first three films) are searching for a concept for the next sequel - but nothing yet. We all eagerly await the next shagadelic episode.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cinemas vs. Streamers

As Hollywood and cinema exhibitors seem focused on blockbusters , the streamers seem content on airing smaller, perhaps, more relevant films and series.  And why not, there appears to be an audience for all things. For cinemas, audience reach is limited but they provide large screens and big sound. For streamers, audience reach is unlimited but screen size and sound are limited.

Currently, good film-makers have a choice on how to bring their work to audiences: theatrical release, streaming, cable VOD, or a combination of these.  The impact of the distribution changes taking place in the movie industry are best seen at film festivals, where streamers (such as Netflix or Amazon) snatch-up and pay the highest prices for the best content.  For example, at Sundance this year, Amazon ponied-up $10 million for 'Manchester by the Sea', beating out Fox and Universal for distribution rights. Netflix paid $7 million for 'The Fundamentals of Caring'.  Under its model, Netflix releases its films in cinemas and via streaming day-and-date.  Amazon releases it films to cinemas first and waits at least one month before release on its Prime Video service.

For smaller films, which have to struggle for box-office attention in a market dominated by big-budget blockbusters, linking up to a streamer may be the best distribution bet; however, it is still the case that a movie loses some of its cachet when bypassing the cinema release.  Additionally, there is no arguing, a movie loses its immersive quality if viewed at home on a TV or iPad. A movie viewed at a cinema is a totally different experience than viewed at home, but most people will wind-up watching in-home.

VR will co-exist with cinemas and streamers
Like it or not, there is a new landscape for movie distribution and it is being driven by what and how people view films.  Cinemas still provide the impact and immersiveness but its hard to beat content distribution to 80 million people around the world at the same time.

Beyond cinemas and streamers, it's worth looking at the new technology of virtual reality which is neither and may present the next big competition for both.  VR offers total immersion. VR is not consuming entertainment by gathering in a group around a TV or going on a date to the cinema - but it could be both. Going forward, we won't have the bi-polar distinction of cinema or TV viewing but other ways of enjoying entertainment and they will all co-exist together.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cinemas Breathe A Sigh Of Relief

A jury has found that Cinemark was not liable in the 2012 shooting at its theater in Aurora, CO. where 12 people were killed and over 70 wounded when James Holmes opened fire in a crowded auditorium.

Attorneys for 28 of the victims filed a civil lawsuit claiming that Cinemark should have done more to protect its patrons, including: having armed guards, better camera surveillance, and alarms on the exit doors.  Cinemark's lawyers argued that the attack was completely "unpredictable, unforeseen, unpreventable, and unstoppable".

Cinema where shootings took place
Had the lawsuit prevailed, Cinemark, which is the third largest theater chain in the U.S., would have been required, not only to pay damages to the plaintiffs, but to add more and heightened security measures to its cinemas - which would have prompted more security at cinemas across the country.

The six jurors took less than a day to reach their unanimous, not guilty, verdict. However, another lawsuit, on the same issue, this one in Federal court, will begin in July.

Certainly, the odds of being killed in a mass shooting are low.  In 2015 there were 325 people killed in mass shootings in the U.S. this compares, say to, the 450 deaths that were attributed to getting in and out of bathtubs last year.  The odds are very small that you would be killed in a mass shooting, it's about one in 10 million, but nonetheless mass shootings have a profound, and over-reactive, impact on the populace.

For now, cinemas can breathe a sigh of relief, at least until the outcome of the Federal lawsuit - where the emotional issue of gun control will surely surface. James Holmes, the shooter, is in prison serving a 3,000 year-life sentence but building a defense for a retrial based on mental illness issues.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

The 'REMAKE' : Hollywood's Best New Idea

Always searching for new content, the Hollywood studios have grabbed-on to a new concept: turning documentary movies into full-length feature films.

Warner Bros. and Roberts to make film based on 'Batkid' docu
It started with 'Batkid Begins', a docu about a 5-year old boy who asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be Batman for a day.  The 'Batkid' documentary screened in 14 auditoriums for one showing and grossed $75,000, not great, but nonetheless caught the eye of Warner Bros. and Julia Roberts who are now making a movie about this story.

Documentary-to-feature deals are catching-on big in Hollywood and popular ones, like 'Making a Murderer' and 'The Jinx' are being turned (the industry word is 'remake') into feature films. What's good about this scheme is that the docus come with a built-in awareness and doing a remake jump-starts the entire film writing and development process.

Remake rights vary but are typically in the low six figures - which is cheap (by industry standards) for good source material and a bit of a windfall for docu owners - as in the U.S. facts contained in documentaries are considered part of the public domain, meaning producers aren't legally obligated to pay for the remake rights to create a feature version based upon the same events.  However, the studios, by paying the small sum for the remake rights, get access to the documentary's director, narrative, subjects, and footage that didn't make the final cut - essentially the hardest parts of crafting a story.

Eagle Huntress
CMG has talked about the current trend of making movies that straddle the multiplex and arthouse and this scheme fits perfectly into that notion. Other popular documentaries in remake include: 'Best of Enemies' (the William Buckley vs. Gore Vidal debates), and 'The Eagle Huntress' a Fox remake about a Mongolian teenager who hunts with a pet eagle.

The documentary remake is a win-win all around: for the documentary maker, the studio, and the moviegoer. Look for more and more remake screenings at your local cinema.

Thailand: Getting In On The Action

From 007 to 'The Hangover' films
Last week, Thailand became the latest country to introduce a financial incentive program for movie and TV show production.  To begin next year, the Thai government will offer a minimum of 15% cash rebate for production costs that exceed $1.5 million - with the rebate increasing to 20% if Thai cast and crews are hired and the movie is deemed good for promoting Thailand tourism.

Announced at the Cannes Film Festival by Thai officials, the rebate program is to promote Thailand as the production hub of Southeast Asia - as it already has studios, post-production facilities, and experienced production crews. There is currently an on-going battle for movie and TV show production between Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia which prompted the Thai rebate program.

Thailand has a large and very profitable tourist industry and is fully aware that movie production will drive tourism numbers. Several years ago, the Thai government created the Thailand International Destination Film Festival, its goal - to attract short-documentary film-makers to create films which highlight Thailand's natural beauty and tourist attractions.

A 20% rebate on production costs is very significant, especially when coupled with Thailand's already, in-place film production facilities, trained crews, scenic beauty, and big city shoot locations. All this makes Thailand a great movie production destination.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Movie Apps

There are on-line apps for almost anything - and that includes movies. Lets forget about the movie and TV streaming apps, of which there are many, most of which are free, but compete against cinemas for eyeballs and we don't like that.

Listed below are several good movie apps.  Those that provide information and make it easier for consumers to choose which movies to view at their local cinema, discuss them after viewing, and some which provide very peculiar but vital information.

- iTunes Movie Trailers - Free. Trailers, film reviews, etc.

- RunPee - Free. List of movies w/run times, reviews, etc. Also the best time to go to the restroom          mid-movie so not too much is missed. Hey, there are no pause buttons at cinemas.

- Movie Quest - $. Movie reviews, cast and crew info, trailers, etc. OK app but all of the info on this      site is available for free on others.

- Film Study - Free.  For film enthusiasts. Commenting on films, discussion groups, etc. App that         delves into the movie.

- Flixster - Free. Trailers, reviews, showtimes, release dates, etc.

- MovieWatch - $. Allows you to search for similar movies to those you like and that are currently         playing. Many trailers and reviews don't provide enough info, MovieWatch does.

- TodoMovies - Free. Manage movies you have seen or are going to view. Make custom lists with          posters, scene indicators, cast profiles, etc. Very good free app for the movie buff.

- Movie Quiz - Free. Movie trivia game - Try it.

Mario & Luigi To Hit The Big Screen

The much beloved plumbers from the now three decade old 'Mario Brothers' video game are going to Hollywood.  Nintendo, which is struggling to keep up with changes in the gaming industry, and has yet to develop a strategy for mobile gaming - is hurting financially. So, it's no big surprise that the game-maker wants to move into the movie business - Mario and Luigi may be the answer.  To obtain the required funding for a foray into the movie business Nintendo intends to sell its stake in the Seattle Mariners baseball team, worth a reported $1.4 billion.

A feature film based upon the very popular Super Mario gaming franchise is, at least, two to three year out, but Nintendo has already started the process.  It plans to take the lead on production of the animated features and has no plans on licensing-out its characters. "The desire to develop new sources of income from our globally-recognized characters is a dominant part of our on-going business strategy", said Tatsumi Kimishima, Nintendo's President.

Nintendo's financial performance has been dismal for some time. Revenues have declined over the last seven straight years as sales of the Wii gaming console and 3DS hand-held player have plunged. Recently, Nintendo inked a deal with Comcast/Universal Studio's theme parks to create attractions based on its gaming characters - movies being the next logical step.

In 1993 a live-action movie entitled, 'Super Mario Brothers' hit the silver screen and was a flop. Other efforts to transition from games to movies have failed as well, the best known is Microsoft's efforts to bring the extremely successful 'Halo' game franchise to cinemas. However, the Mario Brothers are very well known by adults (who grew up with them) and children, alike.

CMG believes animated films are the way forward for Nintendo. Moviegoers crave animated films and given the popularity of the Mario Brothers it should be a sure bet.  'The Angry Birds Movie', based upon a hugely popular smartphone game, is currently in release and killing it at the box-office.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Favorite Superhero: Where Do You Live?

A recent survey by Ranker (the folks that ranks almost everything) discovered that various States have favorite Superheroes.  For example, 'Iron Man' is very popular in Alaska, Idaho, and Pennsylvania. Why? Who knows. But if you are a cinema exhibitor this may be very valuable information. Knowing the biases of your patrons should influence what is screened and how often - perhaps even re-booking a favorite or series of favorite Superhero films.

'Spider Man' took the overall 'most popular' hero title.  The voting was opened to all Superheroes and not just those depicted in movies.  Here's the list:

Alabama: Wolverine                                     Montana: Captain America
Alaska: Iron Man                                          Nebraska: Doctor Strange
Arizona: Wolverine                                       Nevada: Punisher
Arkansas: Hulk                                              New Hampshire: Hulk  
California: Spider-Man                                  New Jersey: Spider-Man
Colorado: Gambit                                          New Mexico: Wolverine
Connecticut: Spider-Man                               New York: Captain America
Delaware: Spider-Man                                   North Carolina: Hulk
Florida: Deadpool                                          North Dakota: Spider-Man
Georgia: Thor                                                 Ohio: Captain America
Hawaii: Spider-Man                                       Oklahoma: Spider-Man
Idaho: Iron Man                                              Oregon: Wolverine
Illinois: Wolverine                                          Pennsylvania: Iron Man
Indiana: Iron Man                                           Rhode Island: Captain America
Iowa: Wolverine                                             South Carolina: Thor
Kansas: Captain America                               South Dakota: Deadpool
Kentucky: Spider-Man                                   Tennessee: Colossus
Louisiana: Spider-Man                                   Texas: Spider-Man
Maine: Deadpool                                            Utah: Deadpool
Maryland: Wolverine                                      Vermont: Hulk
Massachusetts: Spider-Man                            Virginia: Captain America
Michigan: Captain America                            Washington: Spider-Man
Minnesota: Spider-Man                                   West Virginia: Wolverine
Mississippi: Wolverine                                    Wisconsin: Hulk
Missouri: Deadpool                                         Wyoming: Wolverine

Nevada likes the 'Punisher' and Deadpool made a few best liked, once again, proving that we are definitely not a homogeneous lot. Conspicuously absent from the best-liked list were Superman and Batman.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What's UP At The Movies by Seymour Flix

The Mouse Quits Gaming
The Fun at Infinity Ended Last Week

Disney canned its in-house video game business, Infinity, this week and announced its complete withdrawal from the video gaming business.  In doing so, Disney will take a one-time hit to earnings of $147 million.

Launched three years ago to compete with the big video gaming manufacturers, Infinity had released just three games since its conception.  Although the Infinity games won high marks from critics sales were dismal.

An official statement released by Disney stated, "We have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model.  This shift means we will cease development and production of Disney Infinity products."  

Infinity's closing demonstrates how very competitive the entertainment business has become and how very hard it is to draw in consumers to new products and content even for the most established and successful of  media/mass entertainment companies.

Cinema's Competition Never Ending

It seems like each week a new scheme pops-up to replace the cinema experience.  Someone with 'a formula' decides they have the answer to what and how consumers will ingest movie entertainment.

The latest is an on-line streaming service called FilmStruck, which was conceived and will be brought to market by the Turner Channel and TCM networks.  FilmStruck will offer its subscribers access to the vast TCM  movie archive. Problem: FilmStruck is only for die-hard, old movie buffs which have been viewing these oldies for years on the TCM network.

Only a few weeks before, the scheme was the day-and-date at-home movie distributor 'Screening Room' which was hot news but quickly fell from grace.  Distribution outlets for movies are never-ending and vary only in their complexity and stupidity. Several others that have come to my attention include:

-  Using film festival rejects as fodder for at-home VOD.  The scheme works like this. Films that are at the end of their festival life and did not obtain a theatrical distribution deal are 'sold' to streaming video companies for VOD. Problem is, movies that don't make the theatrical cut, are mostly 'crappy movies' or movies festival goers didn't like. So why would consumers want to pay-to-view these movies at home?

- Another scheme aims at using museums and other event spaces to 'sell' movies, bypassing cinema distribution all together. This scheme offers a very limited distribution model and is really only suited for PG-rated documentaries or nature films.  Again, not a viable or sustainable scheme.

Over the next five years movie exhibition will be much the same as it is today, with cinemas living from studio blockbuster-to-blockbuster. But there will be pressure on cinemas to upgrade their presentation experience. Schemes to over-thrown the in-cinema experience will continue and only by delivering a superior presentation, coupled with value-added concession, will the cinema survive.

Seymour Flix

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A 'Giant' Biopic

A 'Real' Giant Of A Story
Andre' with co-actors in "Princess Bride'

Any boy who grew-up in the 80's/90's knew who Andre' The Giant was. He was literally larger than life and towered over his wrestling opponents as the undisputed champ in the World Wrestling Federation.

Born Andre' Roussimoff in a small French village, he was 7ft. 4in. tall, weighed over 500 lbs., and was known as 'The Giant' throughout the world. A bio-pic on his extraordinary life is now in the works and is sure to be a crowd please.

Although everyone knows that professional wrestling is all show, it nonetheless, takes physical skill and ability. Large, but agile and fast in the ring, Andre' was literally unbeatable.  In addition, Andre' was an actor and appeared in films and many TV shows, including the cult-classic 'The Princess Bride'.  He also appeared in 'Conan The Destroyer', 'Micki and Maude', and TV classics like 'The Six Million Dollar Man', 'The Fall Guy', and 'Zorro'.

The new film will be based upon the biography published last year entitled, 'Andre' The Giant: Closer To Heaven'.  After years at holding the WWF Championship Title, Andre' relinquished (with his approval) the belt to Hulk Hogan. Hogan said, "There was no way anyone could beat Andre' in the ring, unless he wanted to be beat. And that included the match where I became champ."
Andre' with fellow wrestlers

Over his career, Andre' became one of the most beloved figures in sports.  There are many personal antidotes about Andre.  He was a big drinker and would consume 100 bottles of beer at one sitting. He was also known to be very generous and gave money to many charities. In one incident, recounted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he tried to pay for a dinner he found himself being carried by Andre' out of the restaurant and placed on the roof of his car. According to Billy Crystal, Andre' was the inspiration for his 1998 film 'My Giant'.

Andre', died of heart failure in 1993 in Paris. The new biopic should be a must see, especially if, like me, you grew-up with Andre' and for those who didn't he is still known from his iconic film roles.

Monday, May 09, 2016

'R'-Rated Animation: The New Blockbuster

'Sausage Party' poised for big box-office
We all know that younger moviegoers (and their parents) love pixels.  Animated films have always performed very well at the box-office globally and they are becoming more prevalent.

The trick, thus far, has been for film-makers to draw in adult audiences (sans children) by cleverly inserting adult humor and situation within 'PG'-rated films. And while these 'inside' jokes go over a tot's head the adult gets the meaning.

Now, the family-friendly-fun animated film is poised for a redo and launch into the strictly adult-friendly-fun category. Hollywood believes there is a big market for animated adult movies and so, we'll be seeing a lot more animation carrying the 'R' rating going forward.

A perfect example, is 'Sausage Party' (U.S. release of August 12th) which can only be described as a 'hard R' and meant to be.  With in-you-face adult humor and a whole lot of double entendre this is mainstream adult fare.  Due to great pre-release press, a huge favorable debut at the SXSW film fest, and a slew of YouTube downloads, 'Sausage Party' is set to be a box-office bruiser.

Aimed strictly at adults, computer-generated flix are going to be some of the best grossers in the future.  The studios are very aware of this genre's draw and will be pushing it hard. A film entitled, 'The Happytime Murders' will combine Jim Henson puppets with live actions and is expected to receive an 'R' rating.  Another, 'The Adventures of Drunky' is in the works, and as the name suggests is about the exploits of a sot.

There is a wave of adult animated features coming and they are about to hit the big-screen in a big way.  

Saturday, May 07, 2016

It's Family-Friendly-Fun Time

This summer, superhero movies will not be fighting other superhero or interstellar alien films but the sedate family-friendly-fun movies.  Yes, this summer will intro at least 10 'triple F' films that are geared toward children and adults.

Starting with 'Ratchet & Clank' and 'The Angry Birds' to 'Finding Dory' and 'The BFG', the summer is packed with animated and animated/real character combo movies.

Make no mistake, these movies will have very good box-office grosses and many will have long play-date legs.  Two examples will be 'The Secret Life of Pets' and 'Ice Age: Collision Course'.

So, movie exhibitors should not fret that the superhero, high-impact action films are getting a bit tedious, as their replacements can hold their own and offer an even wider demographic pull.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

What's UP At The Movies by Seymour Flix

The Old is New Again

It's  called GlobalGate and its purpose is to foster international box-office revenues by re-booting old movies.

Led by Lions Gate Entertainment and eight other small, independent movie studios the goal is to compete against Hollywood blockbusters by joining forces to remake each other's most successful films for the growing overseas markets.

Late year the international box-office totaled $27.2 billion, a 21% increase. The domestic box-office totaled $11.1 billion, a 9% increase but slowing.  So, for all studios, the big growth is overseas.

Based in Los Angeles, participating distributors in GlobalGate will share completed movies, screenplays, and other old movie materials with each other directly and on-line. Participants can then choose projects to remake in their countries, with adapted versions of the scripts and new casts and crew. The scheme is that by drawing from a larger pool of source material, they'll be able to produce movies with higher box-office attendance.

The major studios are making more and more big-budget films with global audience appeal but they are also producing local-language movies for foreign countries which will never have an American release. Most of these are re-boots of U.S. box-office hits.  GlobalGate is a way for the smaller studios to get in on the foreign market action.

GlobalGate plans on producing 30 're-make' movies over the next three years with budgets in the $2 - 12 million range. "It would be too expensive for us without GlobalGate  co-producing these re-makes" says Partick Vandenbosch, CEO of Belgian's Belga Films.

Many of the foreign producers are interested in remaking comedies, as humor can be tweaked to appeal to audiences in different cultures. "Drama is the same, but comedy is different in very country" said Fernando Perez Gavilan, CEO of Mexican distributor VideoCine

As of today, GlobalGate has participants in France, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.  China, the big nut, has yet to be cracked. Negotiations are on-going in Russia, Brazil, Argentina, and even Vietnam.

It's All About The 'Experience'

Your cinema must be the most convivial of entertainment-related venues in the community. Running shows each day and making sure they are performance-time-convenient for your patrons.  For example, it is a proven fact that a very good market exists for early screenings, particularly with older patrons and it is a myth that older moviegoers don't buy concession (you just need to price the early shows and snacks aggressively).

Business doesn't come easy, it takes a lot of hard work, good marketing, and a firm hold on overheads. For all cinemas, big or small, city or rural, it's all about the experience - atmosphere and presentation.  From lobby and concession stand, to on-screen image and sound.

Serving the 'under-served'.  The retiree/senior have both time and money so cater to them. Early shows and discounted admission and concession.  They will come out for good value.

Projection Tips

- When ingesting content, always remember to close down any other programs on your server. This will greatly improve the content-transfer time.

- When switching between HDMI and DCP formats remember to select the correct format before trying to playback.  If you don't, you'll get "security handshake failure", and won't be able to playback the DCP  if you equipment is searching for content on the HDMI format.

- Whenever a custom graphic is needed for a holding slide, remember that most digital projectors will accept a static graphic as a test-pattern, and that this allows you to upload a custom graphic and then to recall it whenever needed.  In fact, this creates the opportunity to show local ads but without all the heavy processing-power needed to convert it to a DCP to playback off your server.

- Remember not to use the same play-line template year-in and year-out as you will forget how to set up a play-line.

-Lastly, always reboot the whole system first, before panicking and reaching for the phone!

Tips courtesy of James Tremayne and Jim Wright.


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

SLOW CINEMA - Have We All Gone MAD!

'Slow Cinema' is a movie genre which is been around for several years and practiced by a number of European filmmakers. 

'Slow Cinema' is just what it implies - everything is slowed down and drawn out - but, to me, in a bad way.  According to its devotees, it is cinema that must be still and inactive, challenging mainstream cinema's reliance on motion and action.

Now, I get fidgety when I view a movie that is anywhere near 3 hours long let alone the time-span of slow cinema movie.

The worst (or best if you really like this stuff and have no life) is a movie entitled, 'Ambiance' by Swedish director Anders Weberg.  According to Anders, 'Ambiance' is "an abstract, nonlinear narrative summary of the artist's time spent with the moving image.  A protest against the re-creation of old, classic films".  I'm not quite sure of what Weberg means by that statement but I think he's saying he doesn't like movies. 

To give you some perspective on Slow Cinema, Ambiance's' first trailer was 72 minutes long, a second trailer, just released, is 439 minutes long, and the final trailer (to be released in 2018) will be 72 hours in length! 'Ambiance', scheduled for release in December 2020, will be a mind-blowing 720 hours long! No, I'm not joking, this movie is 30 days long!

This takes binge viewing to a whole new level. As you can imagine Slow Cinema is a lot, lot, lot about nothing. True reality of nothingness. Can a few, anything for fame, cameramen (I refuse to call them film-makers) call this a genre - worthy of people's attention. Is this entertainment? Where does the funding for this nonsense come from? Anyway if you happen to see 'Ambiance' on your local cinema's marquee and have a month's worth of time to waste - go for it. Just remember to bring a sleeping bag and a ton (literally) of snack food.

Just saying,