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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What's Up With The Weinstein Saga

The Harvey Weinstein story is one of those "you couldn't make this stuff up" sagas.  The latest is that Harvey is now on trail in New York City facing criminal charges - that should be interesting.  But a less intriguing chapter to the story is what has happened with the once fabled Hollywood production/distribution company - The Weinstein Company (TWC).

Well, the company has been sold to Dallas, TX, based Lantern Capital - which specializes in purchasing distressed businesses, re-structuring them, and re-selling them. Lantern's prior purchases have included everything from car dealerships to a zinc recycling company.  Lantern purchased TWC for $310m, a bargain, as the Weinsteins had grown it into an Oscar winning, indie film juggernaut; however, TWC needs rehab and rebranding, big-time.  Don't forget, Harvey was the prime-mover for the #MeToo movement.

Harv, facing the music in NYC court
Harvey, and his brother Bob, had built up Miramax from scratch and started TWC after selling Miramax to Disney. As part of the deal, Lantern will assume more than $100m in debt. In exchange, Lantern will be the owners of TWC's 277 movies and television shows.

Whether or not Lantern can turn TWC around is questionable, as they have no prior experience with dealing in the Hollywood arena. My guess is that Lantern will complete the financing and distribution of the films already in production by TWC and then go from there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Missing Movie Prop

Iron Man Suit Stolen Last Week
Movie props go missing all the time. Some are valueless while others can fetch lots of cash. For example, last week the Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into the disappearance of the $325,000 suit from the 2008 Iron Man movie.

Over the years, thousands of props have gone AWOL, a few of the more interesting ones, include:

- Wizard of Oz - Ruby Slippers. A number of pairs of the famous sparkle red shoes were made for the 1939 classic. One pair was stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland exhibit that was touring in Minnesota. Currently a $1 million reward is offered for information regarding the whereabouts of the shoes.

- World War Z - Cows.  Yes, believe it or not during the 2013 shooting of the film a pair of fiberglass cows, used in several scenes, were stolen from the set - go figure?

- Goldfinger - Aston Martin DB5. There were four Astons used during the filming of 'Goldfinger' in 1964. One of the original cars was actually a DB4 and was stolen in 1997 from the residence in Florida - it had been insured for $4.5 million and has never been recovered.

Lee as Scaramanga with Golden Gun
- The Goonies - Treasure Map. When filming ended, Sean Astin, who starred in the movie, asked, and was allowed, to take and keep 'One-Eyed Willies' treasure map.  Some years later, Astin related that his mother, the actor Patty Duke, threw the map in the trash, thinking it was just a piece of scrap paper.

- Easy Rider - Choppers. Four motorcycles were used in the filming of the '69 classic starring Fonda, Nicholson, and Hopper. Three of the bikes were stolen before the movie was released! The remaining bike sold at auction for $1.62 million in 2014.

- Man With The Golden Gun - Golden Gun. From the 1975 Bond film, one of the four guns, valued at $136,000, which were used by the film's villain, Scaramanga (portrayed by Christopher Lee) was stolen and has never been recovered.

And so it goes. Many, many props disappear from movie sets and prop rooms. In some cases, the value of the prop can be in the millions depending upon the film, how it was used, and by which person in the movie. From clothes, to guns, to cars, to superhero suits anything is up-for-'grabs'.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

WHO Are The GIANTS Of Cinema Exhibition

The cinema exhibition business is growing. The growth is global and as it increases there are profound changes taking place which will, in time, change to face of the content being produced.

If you assume that the U.S. is leading the way, think again! Of the top 30 exhibition giants the U.S. has only three, two of which in the bottom five, see the listing below:
China leads the way

Company                                 Global Screens         Country

1. Wanda Film Group                    14,347                       China
2. Cineworld                                    9,538                       U.K.
3. Cinemark                                     5,959                       U.S.
4. Dadi Theater Group                     5,870                       China
5.Cinepolis                                       5,334                       Mexico
6. China Film Digifilm Cinemas     4,952                       China
7. China Film South                         4,366                      China
8. China Film Stellar                        3,606                      China
9. Shanghai United Circuit               3,392                      China
10. CJCGV                                       3,346                      S. Korea
11. Cinemex                                     2,728                       Mexico
12. Beijing Hongliyu Cinemas        2,698                       China
13. Hengdian Cinemas                    2,322                       China
14. Jinyi Cinemas                            2,220                       China
15. Huaxia United Cinemas            2,178                        China

Of the remaining 15 giants, 8 are Chinese, 2 are U.S. and there are 1 each from U.K., Canada, Australia, France, and S. Korea.

If we look at the U.S., where the numbers are surveyed weekly, 57.5% of movie goers are men, 42.5% women. In terms of audience profile by age: 3-10 yrs. - 5.6%, 11-14 yrs. - 4.5%, 15-24 yrs. - 17.6%, 25-34 yrs. - 18.7%, 45 - 49 yrs. - 20.1%, 50-50 yrs. - 10.9%, 60 yrs.+ - 22.7%.

In terms of where moviegoers found their show times: 30% - Theatre websites, 28% - 3rd Party websites, 21.5% - Search engines, 13.7% - At Theatre, 10.2% - Other Digital, 6.3% - Someone Else Chose, 4.3% - Other.  An exhibitor's own website is the top destination for most U.S. moviegoers when it comes to selecting a show time. Which indicates that every cinema, however, small should have a website for their cinema.

Where did moviegoers Buy their tickets? 72% at the Theatre, 24% on-line, 4% other places.

Clearly, the dynamics of where screens are located on a global basis, who is purchasing tickets, and where they are buying tickets are changing, and that change has occurred rapidly. CMG thinks that over time these changes will impact on the kind of movies being produced.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato

Monday, May 07, 2018

iPIC : Restaurant or Cinema?

iPic Entertainment, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, went public earlier this year with a $40m IPO. Currently there are 15 iPic locations across the U.S. with five more under construction and plans to expand both domestically and overseas.
iPic's Pod Seating option

CMG had the opportunity to meet with iPic COO, Sherry Yard, and asked her if she considered iPic - a cinema or a restaurant? The quick response from Yard was, "I'm not in the theater business. I'm in the restaurant business. I'm in the hospitality business." Yard calls what iPic does "eatertainment", meaning the focus is on eating first and then on entertaining, which is very different than say, Alamo Theaters.

In fact, Yard is also the head chef at iPic! She is a three time James Beard Award winner and worked for 19 years with Wolfgang Puck. She said that the food developed for and served at the iPic is not typical movie food, but that it has a chef-driven menu based off the things she and her foody-friends like to eat and cook.

I visited the iPic in Scottsdale, AZ last week and as I entered the 'establishment' I was not in (the expected) cinema lobby but in a restaurant called Tanzy.  Tanzy is an Italian restaurant and bar and serves different food and beverages vs. the cinema. People were dining, drinking, and hanging out. Some going to see a movie, some coming from seeing a movie, and some were not there to see a movie.
Tanzy Restaurant

The restaurant plays a major role in iPic's business plan. Last year, 52% of its revenue came from food and beverage, the remainder from the cinema - box office and concession. Yard said she believes because most of the staff come from the restaurant or hotel industries they are more customer oriented and that makes a big difference in how patrons view their experience at iPic.

Certainly, the restaurant and cinema businesses are separate, each requiring special management skills but iPic seems to be doing both and doing both very well.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Independents, Finally Getting It Together

After decades of being mistreated by distributors, NATO, and pretty much everyone in the cinema industry, independent exhibitors have finally smart'n-up and join an alliance to voice their concerns and protect their interests. 

Formed earlier this year, the not-for-profit Independent Cinema Alliance (ICA) already has 100 members, representing over 1,000 screens throughout North America.

According to Randy Hester, spokesperson for the Alliance, "Independent cinemas represent over 20% of all screens - equivalent to being the 3rd largest circuit in the U.S. So, speaking with one voice gives this group a lot of clout and brings to the forefront all of their concerns."
Film Availability Biggest Issue for ICA Members

"We aren't part of a big corporation with lots of other sources of revenue. This is it for us.So, jooining together gives us significantly more credibility and power" Hester told CMG. A cinema's tax status is irrelevant to the ICA -  if you're in the cinema business you can join the ICA.

In speaking with members of the ICA, it appears that availability of film on the break is their number one issue. Nothing affects independents more then film availability. According to several members, CMG spoke with, their feeling is that the advent of digital cinema was supposed to make wide distribution on the break easier because they would no longer be told there were no prints available. However, they still have to contend with the availability issue with the studios - and that's where voicing that issue as one, large group is significant.

We wish the ICA all the best and will certainly be an advocate for them. Anything CMG can do to ensure the survival and profitability of independent cinemas is at the top of our priority list.

Keep in touch,
Jim Lavorato