Popular Posts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 29 October 2013

Bras In Space
Playtex seamstress at work on spacesuit

'Spacesuit' (Warner Bros) is an upcoming film about the development of the suit worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic flight and landing on the moon.  Now, think of the entire mission hinging on the use of your grandma's bra!  That's right, without the 'technology' behind the brassiere the moon landing would not have been possible. 

It turns out that the 21 layers of gossamer thin fabric in the Apollo spacesuits was created by the Playtex Company using undergarment materials. A little known historical fact is that the development of the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment (ie. moon suit) is one of the great American stories which up until now was never told.

Pitted against the military/industrial complex, Playtex created the 21 layer spacesuit, when the military contractors failed.  No firm could meet the mission requirements and create a functioning suit that would keep the astronauts alive.  The seamstresses at Playtex (all women) with their years of experience fashioning bras, could, and did.

'Spacesuit' depicts this incredible story - how it happened and the women who made it happen, this is a must see movie.  Look for it at your local cinema, and if they haven't booked it tell them to do so.

To Bob DeNiro: Please Stop Making Crappy Movies

Is Robert DeNiro trying to top the most movies made list? I swear, if DeNiro makes one more shitty movie I'm boycotting him for life ( not that this would matter much in the bigger scheme of things). But, really, can't this guy stay away from the camera.
DeNiro will be in eight movies this year alone and basically each one was worse then the last.

Making his rise to stardom in the '70s and '80s, DeNiro is one of the great actors in modern cinema and he still delivers but he does it in movies that don't deserve his talents - it seems like its all about volume as he does this over and over again.

Just this year, coming off his great 2012 performance in 'Silver Linings Playbook', came this year's 'The Big Wedding', ' Being Flynn', 'American Hustle', 'The Family', and two duds that went straight to DVD - 'Killing Season' and 'Freelancers'.  Next week 'Last Vegas' will be released - which appears to be an Expendables meets Grumpy Old Men - and on Christmas Day 'Grudge Match' (or Rocky meets Raging Bull) as Sly Stallone co-stars. In addition, he has another movie in production, 'Motel'.

Wow! Whatever happened to the actor of  'Taxi Driver', 'The Deer Hunter', and 'True Confessions' ? Bob, how about fewer but better films. You don't need the money and we don't need a DeNiro movie of the month.

ExpendaBelles: Totally Chick

In answer to the geezer action films known as 'The Expendables' (3rd one in production) Avi Lerner, their producer, is planning to sign Mila Jovovich, Cameron Diaz, and Meryl Streep in a female version entitled 'The ExpendaBelles' (no joke).

In a press release, Lerner reported that he was in negotiations with the three stars who all have worked in action movies before. Diaz in 'Charlie's Angels', Streep in 'The River Wild', and Jovovich in the 'Resident' Evil' series of films.  Lerner is also scouting for a female director for the film, which has already been scripted.

I like the premise - so hopefully Lerner can get those three and others to sign on.

Jim Lavorato

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Movie Rewatchers - Vampire Quiz Answers - Screen X's Surround Picture

Are You A 'Rewatcher' ?

If you are, than welcome to the 'kind of weird' world of continuity. Or why you watched movie X at least 20 times.

Where was that scar on an actor's face - right side or left?  In one scene it was on the right, in another scene on the left.  Watching a movie many times brings up moments like that and other irrelevant facts and trivia that, nonetheless, evoke excitement to a rewatcher.  The discovery of wrong phrases, like when an actor refers to their co-star by their real name during shots.  Or the placement of  misdated props, such as a movie set in the 1960s but using 1970s cars.

But it is not just about continuity foul-ups, sometimes things get weird in the background but only reveal themselves after countless rewatchings.  For example, in the recent film 'The Great Gadsby', check out the level of wine in the glasses before anyone drinks.  In 'Terminator 3' - what was the number on that Cessna again? In Spiderman - did that bedroom lamp break or not? And in 'Pirates of the Caribbean - Curse of the Black Pearl' - when Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) tells his crew, "on deck you scabrous dogs" on the left is a dude with a cowboy hat, white T, and sunglasses.

So, all you have to do is watch a film about a thousand times because most have what rewatchers call "screw-ups ".  Can't find any in your favorite film, try watching it again.

Answers To Vampire Quiz

1. Brad Pitt                  
2. Santa Clara              
3. Lance Henriksen      
4. Martin                       
5. Let Me In 
6. All were movies
7. Kristy Swanson
8. Francis Ford Coppola
9. Bella Swan
10. Peter Cushing              
Photo: Kiefer Sutherland in 'Lost Boys' (great makeup)

Screen X - The Next Technology in Cinema Viewing

Last week saw the launch of Screen X, a cinema technology that promises to offer audiences an immersive experience like no other.  CGV, a South Korean company, has developed a technology that projects images onto the side walls of a cinema, providing  270 degrees of viewing.  CGV which owns and operates about 1000 cinema screens  in S. Korea, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the U.S. (a theatre in Los Angeles) produced a film in Screen X which was exhibited at the Busan International Film Festival (the best film festival in Asia) to rave reviews. See photo with side wall images.

Paul Kim, Producer of Screen X, says, "There is a technical way to describe it, we call it a 'Projection Mapping Field'.  Screen X basically projects images along the sidewalls of the theatre that go in sync with the front main screen, so that the audience is immersed in 270 degrees of content.  This is all done in 2D so 3D glasses are not required."

Screen X is in its earliest stage of development but it appears to work.  Kim says that on-screen advertising "works great with the technology" and CGV has ads for Red Bull, Samsonite, Renault, and Hyundai in the works using Screen X.  Says Kim, "As a company, we are always trying to develop what we call the 3 S's - Seats, Sound and Screen.  Screen X fits into this philosophy.  The development will be a long process but once perfected we will make it available to other exhibitors."

Jim Lavorato

Friday, October 25, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 25 October 2013

And We Thought They Were Dead
Steve Lang as Col. Quaritch

Avatar sequels 2, 3, & 4 scheduled for release between December 2016 - December 2018  will return with characters which we were thought to believe were dead.  Both Steven Lang (who portrays the cruel Col. Quaritch) and Sigourney Weaver (who plays head exobiologist Grace Augustine) will be returning in some form in the sequels.

It's rumored that Lang will appear as Quaritch in all three sequels.  We last saw Col. Quaritch at the end of Avatar with two arrows in his chest - but apparently he lives on. Weaver's character, who we thought died and went to Pandora heaven - also lives on.

The movie's star, Sam Worthington, who plays disabled soldier Jake Sully in the original film, revealed last week that Avatar 2 will began shooting in October 2014  with most of the original cast.  James Cameron with assist from Josh Friedman (Terminator), Rich Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Shane Salerno (Shaft, Savages) have started scripting the new films.  CMG was told that Cameron plans on filming with never before used techniques of underwater motion capture for the sequels.  Good luck guys.

Not Ready For The Oscars

Directing and acting in the WWII thriller 'The Monuments Men', George Clooney fully expected to be nominated in several Oscar categories.  The much touted movie deals with an Allied military unit charged with rescuing works of art from the Nazis.  This will be Clooney's fifth directorial project and deemed to be his best thus far. The film's cast includes: Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray, and John Goodman.

However, this week Clooney abruptly revealed that the planned pre-Christmas release of the film had to be postponed and reset with an unspecified date in the first quarter of 2014.  Clooney stated that he could not complete the complicated visual effects shots. "We just didn't have enough time. If even one of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy.  We simply don't have enough people to work enough hours to finish it."

The Monuments Men is not the first movie to postpone their December release date.  Recently, wrestling drama 'Foxcatcher' with Steve Carell and Channing Tatum had its December 20th release put off.  As did, biopic 'Grace of Monaco' which has now been moved to a March 2014 release.

Looking for a good movie to watch, while waiting for Monuments Men, which addresses saving art works from the Nazis during WWII, view 'The Train', starring Bert Lancaster. Note: The Train had not one but two great directors: John Frankenheimer, and Arthur Penn.

Moviegoers & TV Viewers Are Aging

According to Nielsen Ratings, the viewers of both movies and TV shows are aging. Based upon Nielsen's annual 'Popcorn Profile' study the average age of a moviegoer is 35 - split almost equally between females and males, with the 45-74 age group making up over one-third of admissions.

TV audiences are even more skewed (see chart below) with an average viewer age of 43.  "There has been a real graying of TV", Brad Algate, analyst with Horizon Media, told CGM "Older people watch more television, while younger people have gravitated to on-line media sources. And this trend will continue as our population is aging."   For example, two TV shows which have the youngest audience are 'The Walking Dead' (AMC) average viewer 32.3 years, and FX's 'American Horror Story' with an average viewer 35.3 years.  Two shows with the oldest viewers are 'Blue Bloods' (CBS) at 62.8 years and 'Dancing With The Stars' (ABC) at 62.1 years.

New shows with the oldest median age:     New shows with the youngest median age:
1. Ironside (NBC) 58.9                                1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX) 41.4
2. Hostages (CBS) 56.3                               2. Dads (FOX) 44.5
3. The Crazy Ones (CBS) 55.4                    3. Agents of S.H.I.EL.D. (ABC) 46.4
4. The Millers (CBS) 54.8                           4. Super Fun Night (ABC) 47.4
5. Betrayal (ABC) 54.7                                5. Sleepy Hollow (FOX) 48.1

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Vampire Quiz - 'Whine'stein At It Again - The Red-Carpet Conundrum

Vampire Quiz

Think you know your vampires? Test your vampire knowledge with these questions.

1. In 'Interview With The Vampire', who is the interviewee?
2. Where is 'The Lost Boys' set?
3. Who plays the vampire leader in Near Dark?
4. What is the title of the 1976 Romero film about a teen vampire?
5. 'Let The Right One In' was remade as what film?
6. Which of these is not a film? 'Batman Fights Dracula', 'Dracula's Dog', Dracula and Son', 'Dracula In Space'.
7. Who was the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
8. Who directed Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'?
9. Who does Kristen Stewart play in 'Twilight'
10. In the 1958 film, 'Dracula' who plays Dracula?

Answers will appear in an upcoming CMG post.

Not Again, Harvey

Harvey Weinstein, is whining yet again.  This time, lamenting about the R rating given by the MPAA to the film 'Philomena' (which his company has U.S. distribution rights to).  The R rating was awarded principally due to the overuse of the work 'fuck' throughout.

Now, CMG recently posted about Harvey's incessant whining about one thing or another.  Previously it was the fuss over the use of the title 'The Butler' which the MPAA ruled should not be used by Weinstein as Warner Bros. had title rights, but which Weinstein ignored and used anyway. Before that, it was the whining over the R rating received by the film 'The Bully' - which was later given a PG-13 due to Harvey's ranting and a re-edit but which made no difference at the box office as the film has only grossed $3.9 million to date.

Regarding 'Philomena' - which deals with a woman searching for her son, who was unjustly taken from her 50 years earlier -  a spokesperson for the Weinstein Company was quoted by the Hollywood Reporter as stating, "It doesn't make sense why the film didn't get a PG-13.  It's a wholesome movie that deserves to be seen by everyone. It's not even Judi Dench's character who says the word."  Well, that makes all the difference!

Look, Harvey, stop whining. It's really getting old, tedious, annoying, and garners less and less attention from Hollywood, the press, and, most importantly, the public. I have not seen 'Philomena'  which by all accounts it is a very good adult movie. If a movie wants to be "wholesome" (whatever that means) and receive a PG-13 rating then edit out the hard adult language, nudity, sex, whatever to meet the criteria. 'Philomena' isn't a teen film no matter how much hype. The main cast has an average age of over 50. It has an adult demo, deals with an adult subject, and should carry an R rating. In fact, a PG-13 may be detrimental, as over 17s may think it too un-adult and not dealing with serious subject matter. Harvey, please - stop the whining.

Red-Carpet Conundrum

"The red-carpet is nothing more than the reprisal of beauty pageants by stealth", so says actor and comedian Jennifer Saunders, star of the hit TV show 'Absolutely Fabulous' and movies including Coraline and Shrek 2.  Is she right?  Is the red-carpet simply a worshipper before the alter of social media.  Or is there more to it.  Hmmm, does viewing the line-up on 'the carpet' assess the dress or the woman?

Coco Chanel stated, "If a woman is poorly dressed, you notice the clothes. If she is impeccably dressed, you notice the woman."  She's was right. On the red-carpet, if the dress looks good then the actor looks good and is credited for her beauty, but if the dress is a 'mess' then the dress gets the flack, not the woman.  But is there more to the red-carpet then meets the obvious?  I think so.

The women of Hollywood (and their stylists) know that when they saunter down the 'carpet' they are not just showing off their wares but participating in a game - lets call it wardrobe politics - tinseltown style, and the bigger the event the bigger the stakes.
Who is pitching for a controversial role with a new look or edgy label? Who thinks they will win and wants to look the 'part'?  Who isn't up for an award and will risk going off-pace with the goal of getting more photo attention?  This is how you 'walk' the carpet.

On the carpet, the actors chose which dress they are wearing - Dior, Versace, Wang - hedging their selection bets.  Therefore, we aren't looking at them in their own clothes, we are looking at them in the labels they chose to wear (that) night.

The red-carpet is a game not a pageant. It's about competition, where every detail is meticulously analyzed.  It's about beauty, but beauty comes second to the playing of the game.

Jim Lavorato  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 18 October 2013

Milestone in Media

Last week, Netflix entered into its first production deal with a major Hollywood studio, when it inked a deal with Sony Pictures.  The deal calls for a 13-episode series which will stream exclusively to Netflix members. 

After its huge success with "House of Cards", a political drama from a small production company led by Kevin Spacey that Netflix ran exclusively over the internet, big tech firms have been attracted to the field.

Netflix, which began as a video rental service, has morphed into a major content streaming provider and now a production company in direct competition with TV broadcast and cable operators.  Since its transition, Netflix's fortunes have soared. Its stock, which started the year at $92 per share is currently over $330. Recently it  inked deals with two European cable companies - Sweden's Com Hem and Virgin Media of England - to allow their customers access to Netflix through TiVo set-top boxes.  David Wells, Netflix's CFO told CMG, "We are willing and able to strike similar deals with U.S. cable companies. We have been in talks with Comcast and Suddenlink Communications and hope to agree to an arrangement in the future."

Cable operators, as would be expected, are very leery (scared really) of Netflix and other content streamers, but things can only get worse as the likes of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft enter the original content arena.

In a weird twist of fate, this may be good news for cinema exhibitors, as it puts pressure on the studios to continue ensuring a steady stream of good movies which provides promotion of their content for other downstream outlets, such as pay-per-view and streamers like Netflix.   

NYC Comic Con Offers Meet & Greet w/Stars for $$$

Would you pay to get the autograph of the guy who took down a helicopter with a rock?  Well, your wish has come true - you just have to attend the NYC Comic Con Show in October 2014.  For $395 Rambo (aka Sly Stallone) will be on hand to give you his autograph.  Or, for you well-heeled fans, for $495 have your photo taken with him.

Comic Con insiders tell me demand for special tickets to meet Stallone have been much higher than anticipated. Not so much cash in the budget for Rambo? You can settle for Sigourney Weaver's signature for $185.  Still to pricey? How about sub-$100 encounters being offered with William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, or David Duchovny?

Hey guys. Don't laugh. How much would you pay to meet your favorite star? And who is it?  YOLO!

Bond Books Score BIG !

Several weeks ago, I posted on the famous James Bond Lotus Esprit submarine car which recently sold for over $800k.  But what about the Bond novels?

Ian Fleming, Bond's creator died in 1964, and although he enjoyed success, since his death James Bond has become a huge mega-franchise worth billions. Pictured at right with Sean Connery (the first on-screen Bond), Fleming's original character was the model of a sophisticated English gentleman who could be relied upon to defeat bad guys, bed beautiful women, drink and eat to a standard to learn from, dress impeccably, and pretty much embody every man's dreams.  Unfortunately, over the decades, Bond changed.  The Bond movies became increasingly reliant on special effects, car chases, and unbelievable plots to the point that the current Bond, played by Daniel Craig, is very robotic.

Which bring us to the point of this post - the issue of the Bond novels, which have escalated in value each and every year since Fleming's death and occupy a special place in literary history.  First editions of Bond novels sell for tens of thousands, surpassing works by Eliot or Hemingway. For example, a first edition of Casino Royale (Fleming's first Bond novel) last sold for over $150,000.  Like Sherlock Holmes, James Bond has become more then a literary hero, he has become a symbol, and a book collector's dream come true.

Phone Use in Cinemas - Why Not

Just like receiving a call on your phone, technology exists whereby ads and movie trailers can be 'pushed' to cellphones in use at cinemas, thus forcing people to 'pocket' their phones as the same ads would be appearing on screen.

National CineMedia, the number one cinema ad sales company, is championing this idea. Kurt Hall, CEO told CMG, "That's where the real interruptions are. If you want people to turn off their phones during trailers then why not have that message come up on the phone itself."  Meanwhile, Hall says he is "very optimistic about the cinema ad business".  Auto makers increasingly use movie ads to intro' new models, and tech companies, such as Apple, are starting to use cinema ads, even the Army National Guard is back in cinemas for the first time since 2010.  Please note Madonna.

Jim Lavorato 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Madonna Banned - Hunnam Quits 50 Shades - Avatar Land Postponed

Madonna Banned From Alamo Cinemas for 12 Years
Madonna needs to stop texting in cinemas

Texting during the screening of  "12 Years a Slave" at the New York Film Festival, and to the dismay of other patrons, Madonna has been banned from attending any movies for 12 years by the Alamo Drafthouse theatre chain.  With a zero tolerance policy towards anti-social moviegoers, Alamo CEO, Tim League told CMG, "Until she apologizes to movie fans, Madonna is banned from watching movies at any of our cinemas. It is a message that it is rude to text during movies and my decision will be enforced. I'm serious, but I don't think it really affects her life that much."

Apparently, Madonna spent much of the premiere, which was held at the Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center, tapping away on her phone - to the annoyance of other moviegoers.  When asked to desist, Madonna reportedly stated, "It's for business", and continued to tap away.  The banning of Madonna is a symbolic step for Alamo, as the incident did not occur at one of its cinemas, but which has a strict policy towards unruly cinema patrons. Obviously, Alamo wanted to send a general message to people who talk and/or text during movie presentations, even divas.

The Alamo Cinema Drafthouse, is a chain of boutique cinemas, well known for having superior movie presentations coupled with great food. It should be noted that Alamo screens anti-texting ads before each movie presentation. Sorry Madonna.

In the interest of full discloser, I should say that Entertainment Equipment, the company I manage, has worked in a consulting capacity for the Alamo Cinemas in the past.

Charlie Hunnam  Walks Away from '50 Shades of Grey'

Two weeks ago I posted that Charlie Hunnam had signed on to star in the making of the film, "50 Shades of Grey", which is based on the mega-best selling novel of the same name. According to a statement, this week,  Hunnam, stated that he had "scheduling issues" and was walking away from the role. Sources, close to the film, however reported that he got "cold feet" after he was overwhelmed with the attention he received from being cast in the movie.

The Hollywood Reporter, stated "Universal was forced to hire bodyguards for the actor at a recent Sons of Anarchy (the hit TV drama the Hunnam stars in) premiere, where questions about 50 Shades dominated the red carpet.  The sources cautioned that Hunnam (33) had no reservations about the role of Christian Grey, just the media and fan frenzy that came with it, especially as he was transitioning from Sons to 50 Shades so quickly."

Dakota Johnson, remains in the lead female role of the film, which is expected to be a three movie deal based on the three Shades novels by EL James, which have sold over 70 million copies.  After the announcement James twitted "I wish Charlie all the best. x".

Avatar Land Opening Postponed

Avatar Land looks to be a huge winner for Disney, but fans will have to wait until 2017 before the theme park opens.  Avatar Land will be part of Disney's Animal Kingdom park in Orlando and is slated to be one of the best and most immersive themed parks ever.

Disney spokesperson Tom Staggs, told CMG, "Avatar Land will be a multi-colored jungle, where patrons can float in a boat through fluorescent foliage, party with Na'vi revelers, and wander through a night-time adventure.  Avatar Land will be in epic scale, the whole experience will be awe-inspiring.  Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee. This is a huge endeavor." The attraction was to open in 2015 but is now scheduled for an early 2017 debut.

James Cameron, director of the film Avatar, had a big hand in developing Avatar Land. He plans on making three new films based in the fictional land of Pandora. Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time, with a $2.7 billion take.

Jim Lavorato

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 11 October 2013

Dolby Hits the Sweet Spot

Everyone knows that sound is one-half the mix that makes for a superior presentation experience - whether you are sitting in a cinema or your living room - audio is just as important as the viewed image.  However, capturing full, life-like sound and reproducing it has been the goal of film and content makers from day one - now it is a reality with the new Dolby Atmos Sound System.

This past week I attended a dealer seminar conducted by Dolby Labs which demonstrated  and discussed the technological details of Atmos.  I can honestly say that this achievement, by Dolby, is a landmark in cinema history.  The Atmos sound experience is so immersive and so superior to current 6 or 8 channel sound that there is no real comparison.

The premise of Atmos is that reproduced sound at cinemas should be life-like.  So, for example, if someone is talking on the left side of the screen that sound should be on the left. If a plane is passing overhead, the sound should pass overhead.  To accomplish this (and it should be noted that Atmos can be installed into any size auditorium) Dolby has developed a sound processor, the CP850, that can output up to 64 discrete channels of sound - yes, you read right, up to 64 channels. Additionally, the CP850 has automatic equalization of all channels and supports 5.1 (6) and Dolby 7.1 (8) channel sound with automatic switching into Dolby Atmos.

To date, about 70 films have been released with Atmos and more will be forthcoming. Dolby admits it will take time for the studios' recording engineers and film directors to get use to the system's capabilities, as soundtracks will now be mixed differently given the potential of Atmos. There are presently 47 mixing stages worldwide that can handle Atmos and 225 screens where it has been installed.

Make no mistake, this is a milestone for the cinema industry. The Atmos  sound is so immersive and so realistic that cinemas that install it could upcharge for the experience, it's that good.  For me, the experience is much better than the 3D experience in terms of getting me involved in the movie experience.  Giant kudos to Dolby - the Atmos System is a real big winner.

NEC - First to Launch Laser Projector

NEC will be the first manufacturer to market, a cinema laser projector - the NC 1040LNEC began taking orders for the NC 1040L last week in Japan and the first installation will be this fall in Tokyo.

NEC's NC-1040L Laser Projector
CMG spoke with Gerd Kaiser, NEC's marketing director, who told us that, "We have considerable interest from cinema exhibitors.  The projector has been demonstrated, in private, to exhibitors in Paris and other cities in Europe with great success".

Laser projection is touted as being the next step in digital cinema and all of the projector manufacturers are developing models, NEC happens to be the first to market.  Laser illumination technology, which has been in the works for several years, provides a much brighter on-screen image than xenon lamp driven projectors. Other advantages of the technology include: lower operating costs, reduced power consumption, and increased system lifespan.  However, it should be noted that before laser projectors can be sold, regulatory issues must be overcome. For example, in the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among other governmental agencies at the federal and state levels, must approve their use.

NEC knows the hurdles they face but the technology drives itself in many ways. The laser light source, for example, will last up to 20,000 hours (roughly equivalent to 10 years of a normal cinema operating each day for 10 hours) and the projectors are scalable so that the brightness can be varied depending upon the image throw and screen size.

NEC expects adoption of the projectors to be slow, even after regulatory approvals are met.
"Laser projectors are currently much more expensive to purchase (approx. $170,000) and therefore will be adopted first at premium, high-grossing sites which offer giant-format presentation, such as IMAX" says NEC's Kaiser. However without a Virtual Print Fee program from the studios to subsidize the cost, I believe, adoption will be a very, very slow.  My guess is, three to four years, minimum, before any meaningful number of installs and the price will have to be dramatically reduced.

In summary, laser projection technology is still at a very early stage, needs all sorts of regulatory approvals, and its capacity to provide more on-screen brightness is only meaningful to the very biggest auditoriums. Therefore, I don't think the average cinema exhibitor needs to worry about laser projectors for years and years to come.

Cannes Winner Banned

Blue is the Warmest Colour, the Palme D'Or winning film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, has been banned from exhibition in Idaho.  One of the most anticipated and controversial films of the year, and long awaited by art house movie goers, the three-hour French drama will not be aired at cinemas in Idaho.  Carole Skinner, owner of the Flicks Theatre in Boise told CMG, "We will not be able to exhibit the film because our alcohol license prohibits the screening of movies which feature - acts or simulated acts of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral sex or other acts which are prohibited by law." Suffice it to say, Blue is the Warmest Colour, includes pretty much all of the banned acts.  However, the Flicks is the only art house in Boise, so Idaho residents will have to cross state lines to view the film. Photo, to right, is of Director and Stars of the film taken at the recent Toronto Film Festival where it earned Best Foreign Film Award.

Blue is riding high however. For its debut last week it came in second at the French box office and is the highest grossing independent film so far this year.  Interest in the award winner is huge both in the rest of Europe and the U.S. where it will be released in November. Look for it at your local cinema art house.

Jim Lavorato

Monday, October 07, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - Week of 6 October 2013

Jedi Light-sabers Become a Reality

Physicists at Harvard and MIT have discovered a way to bind photons together in order to form a new molecule which behaves almost exactly like the Star Wars deadly light-sabers.

Harvard physics professor, Mikhail Lukin told CMG, "Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless and do not interact.  What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they act as though they have mass and bind together to from molecules.  The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies."

No one has begun to build actual light-sabers; however, with a trilogy of new Star Wars movies in the works by Disney - this is great PR.  "Let the force be with you".

Battling the Pirates

In the last week of September, Google took down a record-breaking 5.3 million content pirated links from its search engine.  That's equivalent to nine links every second.

According to Google, they have significantly increased their take-down rate to requests from copyright holders.  The response started in February, when the take-down rate hit 3.8 million per week.  In March it had risen to 4.5 million and peaked at the September, record rate  of 5.3 million spanning 37,413 domain names from 5,407 copyright owners - that's a 4000% increase over the first take-down which Google started in July 2011.

This is welcomed news for both Hollywood and movie exhibitors as pirated films dramatically eat into movie attendance. In the past, the movie industry has condemned Google, and other search engine providers, for doing too little to prevent pirated content online.

Hillary Themed Projects Get the Boot

As a follow-up to a CMG post of last month on the movie "Rodham" which is a portrayal of a young, up-and-coming, and in love Hillary, throw Monica under the bus, Clinton two other projects that were in the works by CNN and NBC were cancelled last week.

CNN dropped a planned docu-drama after the network received strong back-lash from both Democratic and Republican operatives, while NBC abandoned its planned miniseries, "Hillary" that was to star Diane Lane.  An NBC spokesperson, stated "After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movies/miniseries development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing  the Hillary Clinton miniseries."  The series was to be "partly fictionalized" .

Regarding CNN's decision, the Huffington Post reported that Charles Ferguson, who was to direct the docu-drama, said "Nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats. Not Republicans".

The feature film, "Rodham" is still, sort of, in the works.  However, the New York Times reported that the project currently has "no cast or financial backing".  The film's expected release date was originally set for late 2014 or early 2015. Carrie Mulligan, refused the role to play Hillary.

Let's face it, is any of this necessary? There are over 50 books and a number of movies about Hillary, do we really need more?  Do we need to have more flash and propaganda about a candidate right before an election?


Friday, October 04, 2013

CMG's Annual Report on Today's Cinema

The 'Industry's' Condition

The production and distribution of motion pictures and television programing is one of our nation's most important and valuable cultural and economic resources - bar none.  The 'industry' supports over 1.9 million domestic jobs that will pay out over $110 billion in wages for 2013 - with an average salary of  $84,000 (75% above the average salary nationwide).

The 'industry' supports over 108,000 businesses located in every state in the country, and is one of the most highly competitive around the world - one of the few industries that consistently generates a positive balance of trade in very country where it operates.  In fact, the 'industry's' trade surplus is larger than each of the surpluses in the telecommunications, management and consulting, legal, medical, computer, and insurance services sectors - and should exceed $18 billion this year.

Global Box Office

The worldwide cinema box office for 2012 totaled $34.7 billion, of which, $10.8 was domestic (U.S. and Canada) and $23.9 billion international. As expected, the Chinese box office experienced the most growth (36% at $2.7 billion) and became the largest international market, surpassing Japan.

The international market is where the growth for cinema will continue. Over the last five years the international market has grown by 32%  while the domestic box office grew by 13%. I anticipate that the international box office (currently making up 69% of the total) will continue to accelerate and by decade's end be at 75% of the total.

The top five international box office markets for 2012 were: China - $2.7b, Japan - $2.4b, United Kingdom - $1.7b, France - $1.7b, India - $1.4b.  Globally there are approximately 130,000 cinema screens of which 42,803 are located in the U.S. and Canada (33%).

Domestic Market (U.S. & Canada)

Domestically, admissions reached 1.36 billion (or 4.1 per capita) for 2012 and it is anticipated that 2013 will exceed that figure by 3-4% due solely to increased attendance, as average ticket prices remain static.  Over 225 million people went to the movies last year, about 68% of the population, with broader demographic shares remaining constant. Notable exceptions are 12-24 year olds and Hispanics, which continue to oversample in moviegoing vs. other groups.

The admission price for a family of four averaged $31.84 last year exclusive of concessions, well below the cost of other out-of-home entertainment. Average cost for a family of four attending an NFL Game - $313.52, NHL Game - $244.04, NBA Game - $208.96, Theme Park -$199.00.

Demographically moviegoers can be grouped by age or ethnicity. For 2012, 61% of moviegoers fell into the 12-39 age group, with 25-39 year olds representing the largest group with 25% of total admissions. Ethnically, Caucasians (as would be expected) make up the largest group of moviegoers with 56% of the total. However, Hispanics were at 29% (much greater than their share relative to the overall population), while in contract, African Americans only accounted for 1% of moviegoers. Gender wise, female admissions totaled 51% vs. 49% for males.

There were 677 movies released by Hollywood last year of which 36 were in 3D format (down from 45 in 2011). As in the past, the box office is skewed toward the high-impact, action movie. The top 25 movies (3.7% of movies released) totaled $5.37 billion or 49% of the total box office gross, with the top 5 films (The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, Skyfall, and Twilight: Breaking Dawn II) grossing $2.1 billion or 19% of the total.


I expect the trends to continue. Globally, Hollywood has a very bright future as the demand for expensive, well marketed super-hero and action films will remain strong as more cinemas are built, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region. Domestically, the box office will remain strong and steady even in the face of more competition from the internet and in-home entertainment sources.

Jim Lavorato