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Sunday, December 22, 2019

How Cinemas Survive The Next Decade

 The debate over theatrical release vs. online streaming of films has every player is the entertainment industry choosing sides. CMG, is taking a different tact. 

Online competition is fierce, but cinemas will survive
We believe the theatrical experience of movie viewing is highly desired by consumers and content providers (studios and streamers) alike. Viewing of movies on the silver screen with proper sound and proper scale is a requirement for enjoying great entertainment the way it was meant to be viewed. Yet, for many consumers, the convenience of watching a film on a PC, tablet, or phone is the only way to view it.

So the answer to the debate, from CMG's viewpoint, is that all content providers are needed  as the studios alone can't produce nor finance enough quality content to quench the consumers' thirst for quality entertainment - the Netflixs of the world are needed. There is no logical reason why cinemas can't screen the streamers original content in addition to studio generated films.

Entertainment Equipment
Humans communicate through stories and movies are a great storytelling medium. We need cinemas as the conduit to see what artists have to say about our society, our culture, our world in a provocative and entertaining way.

Cinemas provide the venues for great stories to be told by great artists and it is not only the high-impact action super hero films but all types of films.

This is not an either/or issue it is about providing cinemas with a steady stream of good 'big screen' content of all genres from all sources.

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

2020 - A New Year or Perfect Vision

2020 - a new year or the benefit of perfect vision, perhaps both, at least in regards to my prognostications.

Trend-predicting is always fun but few get it right; otherwise, everyone in HWD (or for that matter anyone in the film industry) would have bet-the-farm on streaming 15 years ago. But, I am not deterred that easily and I'm going out on the proverbial limb to predict the following for 2020.

- The streaming war will continue. Disney, Apple, AT&T, TCM, and others have entered the fray to dethrone Netflix - more will join them. How many platforms consumers will subscribe to is anyone's guess but we do know cable-cutting in on the rise. 

- Oscar fatigue will continue and the Award Show's audience will continue to shrink. Prediction: the Show will go 'hostless' once again.

- The lion will be gobbled up in 2020. MGM will be sold and at a very high price - don't discount the 'Bond' franchise.

- Disney Plus will introduce original streamed content from Marvel in an effort to lock-in an older demo from the Mouse's animated, ie. younger audience, content.

- The streamers will lock horns with all of the major unions and guilds. Battles with the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild are foregone conclusions. The battles will be over higher compensation and larger piece of the residual pie. Look for mid-year strikes and the streamers and the studios cutting different deals.

- The film studios, sans Disney, will increase production of sequels, reboots, and spinoffs. The day of the one-off film is dead for the time being.

- Entertainers, on all sides of the political spectrum, will be spouting their views regarding the 2020 Presidential election. Fence-sitting will not be an option - it's going to be an all-out donnybrook.

- Baby Yoda and Baby Sharks will dominate the screen for all age levels and all classes.

That's it. Go forth and place your bets.

Jim Lavorato, Founder
Entertainment Equipment Corp.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Film-maker Sues: Has Free Right To Film In Natl' Parks

Gordon Price, an independent film maker, was prosecuted for filming on public lands without a permit and is now counter suing the U.S. Government. The premise of Price's suit is that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to charge fees for commercial filming in national parks. 

The current law states that the Departments of Agriculture and Interior have the right to require a permit and establish reasonable fees for commercial filming activities on Federal lands and violations carry criminal charges.

Price is basing his case on 'free speech' as the permit system is akin to paying a license fee for speaking and the First Amendment to the Constitution does not allow the government to make money by "taxing expressive activities".  Additionally, Price's attorneys are arguing that the permitting and fee process restricts the use of federal lands and is no more harmful than a news report or still photography.

CMG believes that unlike a tourist taking photos or a reporter doing a news story, the filming of a for-profit movie should carry a fee for the use of a National Park setting.  The fees are simply a cost of doing business and the expense incurred in maintaining the Parks. All National Parks charge an admission fee as do most public museums, art galleries, and other cultural sites and venues.
The Agencies managing the Parks are not restricting Price's use of his 'free expression' but he needs to pay-to-play in the Parks.

Nuff said,
Jim Lavorato

Monday, December 09, 2019

Where Have All The Studios Gone? Ex: Disney

Disney is killing-it at the boxoffice. It recently became the first studio in history to surpass the $10 billion worldwide boxoffice, crushing its previous record of $7.6 billion in 2016. Question is: where are the other studios?

Disney's achievement is even more glaring given the final chapter in the 'Stars Wars Skywalker' saga - scheduled to screen on 12/20 - will be another $1billion buster. Also the $10 billion figure doesn't include  "Ford vs. Ferrari' or 'Dark Phoenix' and other titles Disney picked-up with its purchase of the Fox studio - if included the number goes to $11.9 billion.

Additionally, the Mouse-house hit another mile-stone as it had six films breaking the $1 billion mark thus far: 'Avengers:Endgame', 'Aladdin', 'Toy Story 4', 'The Lion King', 'Captain Marvel', and 'Frozen'. 'Star Wars' will make it seven!

Coming in 2020
So, what happens when Disney has an off-year, as it certainly will.  Can the other studios, whose films have essentially seen no-shows at the admission window, pick up the slack? Or will they leave it up to the streamers and view content on mobile devices vs. going to the cinema.

The Disney dominance is not a good omen for cinemas. It's great that they are bringing moviegoers into auditoriums but it's not a sustainable (or healthy) phenomena for the movie distribution or exhibition industries.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato, Founder - Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Netflix Gets Into Exhib Business

Netflix to screen at Paris Theatre
Yesterday, Netflix announced that it inked a deal to lease and operate the Paris Theatre in NYC.  The single screen cinema is one of the country's oldest and Netflix plans to use it to showcase its original content and "other events and screenings". The Paris has been in operation for 71 years - principally screening art and foreign films.

Netflix to screen content at the Egyptian
Netflix has similar plans for the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood - which it is currently in negotiation with.

This blog had urged exhibitors to team with Netflix on screening their content while it streamed the same content day-and-date. Our rational was that some of Netflix's original content was first-rate and would screen very successfully at 'big screen' cinemas - that notion, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears.  Now Netflix is going to screen and stream on it own.

Last year, rumors abound that Netflix was in acquisition discussions with Landmark Cinemas, an independent cinema chain with 56 locations; however, Netflix decided it was not interested in managing a movie circuit.

There is still time for exhibs to team-up with Netflix for content. They should view the streamer as just another studio that can supply them great content for their movie patrons.

Jim Lavorato, Founder & President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, November 25, 2019

3rd Party Ticket Sellers Hit The Skids

I've reported that the future of 3rd party movie ticket sellers (ie Fandango) was doom and gloom.
Google Assistant Goes to the Cinema

This prediction materialized when the large cinema circuits began to offer ticket sales via their own websites. Now, putting move pressure on 3rd party ticket sellers, Google has decided to streamline movie ticket purchasing for online searchers by use of their Google Assistant.

Google Assistant will pop-up when searching for a movie and offer users a series of overlay images on top of a theater chain's website. It will include asking the purchaser for showtime select, number of tickets, and choice of seat (optional). Assistant then uses this info to auto-fill the data required by each ticket vendor's website (this would include Fandango, MovieTickets, and the large cinema exhibs.).

Google Assistant is based upon a technology called Duplex, which uses AI to interact with 3rd party services. Duplex's ability to mimic the sound of the human voice (complete with the occasional 'humm' for realism) is uncanny.

Google wants to use Assistant in many other online purchasing scenarios, including car rentals and hotel reservations.

Well Fandango, there you have it. What value do you bring to the ticket purchasing process?  None. Fandango is now just a 3rd party that has no unique selling proposition.  Game Over!

Jim Lavorato
President, Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Netflix Pushes Studios on Image Enhancement Rules

With an estimated 160 million subscribers worldwide much of what Netflix streams is viewed on tablets or  phones, where image quality is compromised.  This issue is not new and one widely recognized by cinematographers. Therefore, last week, Netflix made it a requirement that all of their original content be captured in HDR, or high dynamic range. 

HDR is a technique which improves the range of color and contrast in a digital image vs. the use of standard digital imaging.

For example, in the days of film, dailies were screened at the start of each production day - offering a chance for the director and other members of the 'key' crew to review freshly printed footage shot the previous day to help them evaluate image quality and spot and correct technical problems.

Now, dailies are streamed to separate crew member's tablets or phones, where slow wifi on remote locations means they are not seeing a meaningful representation of the footage. Worse still, producers back at the studio often see digital dailies on non-calibrated monitors in bright rooms and complain that the images are too dark.

The other issue Netflix wanted to address was the concern over whether Digital Imaging Technicians should be present on set during filming to advise on workflow, camera settings and image manipulation. Many producers do not want to budget for 'on-set' DITs.  This lack of imaging expertise, on the set, makes the work of the cinematographer very difficult.

I think Netflix is ahead of the curve on this issue. Times have changed and many consumers don't view content on large screens at home but are on the go and oft times view via a tablet or other mobile device. HDR is here and it will become the standard for digital image capture.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Weinstein, Just Won't Go Away

Kelly Bachman
Last Wednesday it was comedy night at 'Downtown Bar NYC' and Kelly Bachman was one of the headliners. Before taking the stage, Bachman eyed Harvey Weinstein in the audience and she decided she could not perform without calling out Harvey.

"I'm a comic, and it's our job to name the elephant in the room, do we know what that is? It's a Freddy Krueger in the room if you will. I didn't know that we had to bring our own mace and rape whistle to an Actor's Hour (the sponsor of the event)".

In a subsequent interview, Bachman stated that after 'spotting' Weinstein in the audience her reaction was, "Are you kidding me. Weinstien is not in jail? I freaked out and debated whether to go on stage or not. Then I thought, I'm going to have to say something. It is better to speak out than not to speak."  Bachman went on to say that she "thought we had all agreed that Weinstein was a villain, so why should I still find myself in a venue, in so-called progressive Manhattan, where young artists are welcoming him."

Well Kelly, that's a question CMG can answer. Money! Actor's Hour got paid a lot for reserving space at their event for Weinstien. And, young and up-and-coming comedians and actors are so driven for acceptance that they won't to anything that may be controversial or harm their move up the latter of success.

Good for you Kelly. You deserve accolades and kudos from all corners of the entertainment industry, bar none. There is no forgiveness for Weinstein. No contrition. No atonement, He needs to be punished and ostracized forever. Time shouldn't heal Harvey's crimes nor should they be forgiven.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, October 03, 2019

NATO Takes D-Cinema Tech Requirements

It was announced on Tuesday (10/1/19) that NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) was taking the lead in setting requirements for any new digital cinema technology - which is cinema-speak means d-cinema tech is no longer important.

NATO's executive board approved a resolution that details how d-cinema technology will be evaluated going forward. It has always been that the exhibition side of the movie business was the primary consumer of  the technology so going forward exhibition will test and evaluate which, if any, upcoming technologies will work best for cinemas.

Heretofore, the major studios ran technology advances through the Digital Cinema Initiative which set the standard architecture for d-cinema systems across the world. The NATO board stated that it initial findings would be announced at the NATO annual meeting in 2020.

CMG believes that giving NATO this responsibility means that the studios are no longer interested in d-cinema. The status quo will do. Otherwise they would have kept control.  NATO has no power is the cinema industry. Movie exhibitors are reactive to the moves of the studios and now content streamers. NATO is a step-child within the movie industry family.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp

Apple & Disney : What Could Have Been

If Steve Jobs' untimely death at the age of 56 hadn't occurred he would be running Disney right now and it would be a totally different company.

So says Bob Iger, current Disney CEO, in his new book, "The Ride of a Lifetime". Apple and Disney wound-up having a great relationship. Iger explains that he had a very close relationship with Steve Jobs. That relationship took some work on Iger's part as Jobs' relationship with Michael Eisner, Iger's predecessor as CEO of the Mouse-house was very dicey, at best, after Eisner ruined Disney's relationship with Jobs by destroying Pixar's partnership with Disney.

Iger rebuilt the Apple/Disney trust and in October 2005 both Jobs and Iger stood on stage to announce that five Disney shows - including two of the most popular TV shows, 'Desperate Housevives' and 'Lost', would now be available for download on iTunes.

Jobs and Iger became close friends

The relationship grew, and a few years later, Disney purchased Pixar from Apple for $7.4billion and Jobs took a seat on Disney's board of directors. That seat was passed on to Laurene Jobs, Steve's widow, upon his death.

I believe Disney would be a different entity if a merger between the two companies had taken place. Jobs would have been CEO, as Apple is a much richer company than Disney, and he would have taken the new Apple/Disney into the streaming content industry, perhaps even acquiring Netflix.

Disney would have been a piece of the much larger entity where innovation is paramount to continue prosperity - which is the Apple (Jobs) credo.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

MoviePass: The Resurrection

The 'Pass' is dead, long-live the 'Pass'
'Movie Pass: The Resurrection',  sounds like a bad sequel and that's just what it is.

That's if Ted Farnsworth, the former top-dog at the crashed & burned MoviePass, has his way - I don't think its second-coming is in the cards.

Says Farnsworth,  "MoviePass is something that we can reshape and rebuild. It will take time, but I think we can revitalized the whole brand." Ted, there is no brand. There is nothing to save and resurrect!

MoviePass is the ill-fated movie admission subscription service which allowed members to view a movie per day for $9.99 per month.
Theory: more people in cinemas - sell more concession - make more profits which are shared between MP and exhibitor.
Reality: a colossal conceptual failure from the get-on.

CMG and ScreenTrade Magazine predicted, from MP's outset, that it was based upon a false premise and was doomed to fail and would never, ever work. After burning through $329 million (according to the bankruptcy filings) it shuttered its doors.

There was bad dealings on all sides of the MP scheme, as many of its members 'gamed' the company by using the MP app to buy tickets and resell them at a discounted admission price. Management couldn't see this flaw in their strategy?

But even after all of this nonsense, Ted Farnsworth says, "There's an opportunity here. We were a lot like Uber and what it did to the taxis." Someone should clue Ted in on the fact that Uber has never made a profit either. What's the definition of insanity?

Jim Lavorato, Founder/President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Playing The Content Game

Golden Age In Now!
As the options for content distribution grow, money is pouring into production - you just need to have a global mindset.

The current trend is to let the content be the brand and not the production studio or filmmaker. The demand for good content is huge - from cinemas, streamers, TV, the internet, and even video gaming - the appetite is insatiable.

The game in the viewing entertainment business is to tell your story on as many platforms as possible. Cinemas than streamer than TV and perhaps a segue into a video game - it's the vertical strategy that's in play.

Lots of options Worldwide

The demand is vast, global, and varied making this is the real golden age of entertainment for both the content maker and the viewer/user.

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.
Cinema Mucho Gusto blogspot

Docus Go Wide, and Their Right

Docus get it right
Fueled on by streamers and the boxoffice documentaries have never had it so good. At this year's Toronto Fest, for example, there were 850 docu entries which had to be whittled- down to 25.

It seems politics and global issues are driving the genre - and it's not about Trump for the films with the most impact. The current theme, and rightly so, is about politics in third-world nations - election manipulations, corruption, fake news/propaganda, and democracies on the brink of failure.

Wide and growing/Docus reveal 
Documentaries about post-Soviet Russia, the resurrection of Imelda Marcos and how the 90 year old exiled dictator and son (through graft) was allowed to return after 32 years and won seats in the Philippines congress.

Today documentary filmmakers see themselves as the real truth-teller in the industry and strive to present an accurate, non-partisan version of history.
Whether about Armenia, Russia, or the Philippines exploring the corruption and extortion of leaders that have and still do hold many countries from becoming prosperous democratic societies is what needs airing and action.

Look for the introduction of 4M Performance
the online business accelerator via your social
media platform - coming in November.

Dictatorship has superseded democracy in many cases. U.S. politics and its daily churn can be seen all day, every day on a wide variety of media outlets. It's the smaller, non-reported and often propagandized events that are occurring around the world in many countries that impact vast numbers of people in a detrimental way and go unreported by the international press. Documentary producers are trying to fill the void and draw attention to these much more significant issues.

I don't think most of us care about Kristen Stewart wanting to play a gay superhero, or Debra Messing crying out that black Americans who support Trump are mentally ill. What matters is the much larger issue of where the world (or most of it) is headed, and how this message gets to normal people in major democracies because where much of the world is headed is not a good place.

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.
Cinema Mucho Gusto blogspot

Saturday, August 31, 2019

CA Puts Movie Tax Credits Increase On Hold

A tax credit to attract film and TV production in CA as a counter to those states that enacted anti-abortion laws - has been tabled.

The CA initiative (termed: the 'Share Our Values' bill) would provide for $50m in additional credits each year for the next five years.  The proposal was widely reported last month with many kudos from the liberal press, but got no traction as the bill was tabled by the CA Senate Appropriations Committee.

CA has been losing out as a production venue for some time as the expense of doing business was so much more in CA vs. other States and countries. Currently, the CA Film & TV Tax Credit program has a yearly allocation of $330m, which has tripled since 2014 to help compete against the very lucrative credit programs of New York, Georgia and some of the other southern States.

4M Performance A New Online Business Accelerator
Membership Begins in December

However, Georgia recently approved anti-abortion legislation and many content producers, including Netflix and Disney, vowed to cease production of future projects in Georgia, due to this more restrictive abortion law. This put CA in a very good position and figured because of this turn-of-events they would not be required to increase the Film & TV Tax Credit program at this time.

Politics and art. Who ever said they were separate and distinct social determinants. 

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Netflix & Exhibs .... Will The Twain Ever Meet

'The Irishman', a film by Marty Scorsese, includes a star-studded cast of gangster favs: Pacino, DeNiro, and Pesci. It will premiere on opening night at the New York Film Festival September 27th and is already rumored to be a strong Oscar contender.
Love the 'de-aged' effect

When Scorsese brought the idea of the film to Paramount, the studio balked at the estimated $159m price tag, so Marty went pitching to Netflix who embraced the project. Now the film is in the middle of a battle between the big cinema chains and the world's foremost content streamer. The conflict has dragged on for months and there appears to be no compromise in sight.

Scorsese has been pushing for a national release and Netflix is negotiating with AMC and Cineplex for a wide release; however, the chains want the film for 90 days before available for streaming. Netflix's focus is on it ability to deliver prime content to its 150 million subscribers and does not want to adhere to "old-style movie business habits". For 'The Irishman' Netflix was willing to go out 21 days before streaming - but no deal so far.

An example of  de-age special effects

Under Academy rules, to be eligible for an Oscar, a film must have a seven-day run at a commercial cinema in L.A. county but it can be screened simultaneously on another platform. This is the right scenario. CMG has always pushed for a day-and-date release to the Netflix/exhibition controversy.

Note: Scorsese used a new special effects technique called "de-age" in the making of 'The Irishman'. It takes the actors actual faces makes them look younger and then ages them gradually throughout the film. Also of note, Joe Pesci can out of retirement to star in the film as a favor to Scorsese.

Jim Lavorato, President & Founder
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Best Re-release Ever .... Perhaps

On August 5th, Dolby Labs announced that they inked a 3-way deal with Warner Bros. and AMC Theaters.  The deal will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of 'The Matrix' in an exclusive one-week engagement.

Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Sound, the movie will be screened exclusively at AMC Theaters across the U.S. and be presented in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos - transforming one of the most iconic sci-fi films into a must see event for the first timer or return viewer.

With Dolby Vision the on-screen image exhibits brighter colors and darker darks and provides for a real-time sense of depth and detail. Dolby Atmos, the all emersive cinema sound technology, turns the movie into reality with all-around sound.

Tickets are on sale now for 'The Matrix:20th Anniversary' at select AMC/Dolby cinemas. The movie will run from August 30th - September 5th.

This will be the first re-release of this type and we hope it won't be the last. There are plenty of films that viewers would want to experience in this full Dolby enhanced presentation.

Jim Lavorato
Founder & President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.                                                                     

Friday, August 16, 2019

Entertainment China, Will It Ever Be Number 1

With China it's all about volume, as in headcount, and that goes for entertainment as well.

  • Within the last decade over 60,000 movie screens have been constructed, over 20,000 more than in North America. 
  • There are 800 million internet users in China, 98% of which access the web via phone. 
  • Over 90% of cinema admissions are sold online.

With all that said, China remains a very dicey place for  entertainment businesses to function. So far, entertainment has been able to escape the wrath of the U.S./China trade issues - but talks of expanding foreign entertainment have stopped.

The movie industry is the poster child for everything entertainment in Big Red.  Local movie production and its accompanying boxoffice has been on a steep rise and when added to U.S. produced films the total gate is expected to surpass the U.S. boxoffice next year.

China is also looking Westward. Gone are the days of co-produced films with the major studios for local consumption - the goal now is to create home-grown films that satisfy local tastes and also 'play' in overseas markets.

Qingdao Metropolis
For example, the newly constructed Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis is the world's largest studio complex with 40 soundstages, currently running at 70% capacity. What the Chinese lack is talent in screenwriting, production, script consulting, and VFX know-how.

Content streaming is very big in China. Netflix is not allowed to operate as is YouTube and Amazon. Instead it's TenCent Video, Alibaba's Youku, and iQiyi, these three streamers represent a full 60% of all video-on-demand subscribers in the world!

The greatest foe of the entertainment industry are the government censors. Beijing views entertainment as a vehicle to boost China's image and bolster the Communist Party's politically correct values. Movies come under the control of the propaganda bureau - a group with no sensitivity for a commercial film's success or failure.

Currently there is a cap on the number of foreign films imported each year into the China market at 34. This cap was set in 2014 and there are no on-going discussions to increase this quota.

The Chinese entertainment market is huge and remains the big prize. The entertainment landscape has changed greatly over the last 10 years and the next 10 will see greater change and greater opportunities.

Jim Lavorato, President & Founder
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Access Over Possession : UltraViolet Falls

Back in 2014 (a lifetime in the digital domain) we posted about a cloud-based video locker service called UltraViolet - this week UV will be tossed into the proverbial trash bin of cinema history.

UltraViolet as launched by a number of media-based companies from equipment manufacturers, to retailers, to all of the major HWD studios with the exception of Disney (which introduced its own service called Disney Movies Anywhere).

UltraViolet never really got much traction from consumers as they embraced streaming services, i.e. Netflix, over media ownership as access vs. possession has become the norm in our lives.

Several of UV's members
Shuttering its doors this coming Wednesday (7/31) puts an end to one of the media industry's most ambitious efforts to promote the ownership of content with retrieval of that content from one site specific by the owner.

In hindsight, UltraViolet was doomed from the start. Like many services from Uber to Netflix it is not the possession that counts but the access to the service that matters.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Netflix Tightens The Noose on HWD

SAG-AFTRA, inked a new deal with Netflix yesterday, which expanded the coverage and benefits of  Union's members.

Up to the present, Netflix and the Union had a standard master contract which was signed on a production by production basis. The new deal, a master two-year contract, includes gains for the Union's members in theatrical residuals, improved overtime rates for stunt performers, and member protections regarding harassment and auditions.

The new agreement was "overwhelmingly" approved by the national board which issued a statement saying, "Netflix has set the gold-standard in the industry for awareness of gender equality and promoting the participation of all regardless of gender, ethnicity, or race".

SAG-AFTRA's agenda now includes getting the major film studios to match the Netflix deal. This was a very smart move by Netflix.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Euro-exhibs Go Ballistic

The European exhibitors organization, UNIC, blasted the Venice Film Fest for allowing Netflix into the fest's competition lineup.

The UNIC demanded that all Netflix titles get "a full theatrical release." All of the Netflix entries were streamed but had "technical only releases in cinemas." 

Last year, Netflix had six entries and was embraced by the Festival bigwigs which repeatedly stated that it was not up to the Festival to get involved in distribution issues. There are three Netflix titles entered this year: 'Sullen Mia Pelle', 'Roma', and 'The King'. Cannes did not include any Netflix films in its main competition because of fierce opposition from French exhibs. Berlin did include them.

Festival does not want to get involved in
distribution issues.

CMG believes the battle will continue but given the dominance of Disney at the cinema boxoffice, Netflix has, by default, only one competitor. If Netflix continues to outpace all of the major studios in terms of content delivery the tide will turn in its favor.

Note: The Venice Fest will close with 'The Burnt Orange Heresy' starring Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland. Tagged a "erotic neo-noir thriller" it's a must see.

Jim Lavorato President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

iPic Hits The Wall

iPic, the high-end, exclusive cinema chain warned yesterday that they were facing a 'cash crunch' that could push them into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Citing its inability to pay a $10.1m interest payment
due on its $204 outstanding debt, the company issued a press release stating,"If we are unable to
restructure our debt, given our lack of liquidity, we 
will not have the ability to continue as an on-going

iPic, founded in 2006, operates 16 theatres (123 screens) in major cities throughout the U.S. It provides luxury movie-going with admission
prices topping $30 and offering waiter-served gourmet food and cocktails. 

iPic Lounge in Restaurant/Bar area
iPic was the first chain to screen Netflix original films day-and-date with the streamer. 

I've visited the iPic in Scottsdale, AZ and it does live up to the expectations and experience one anticipates. Everything is first-rate: setting, seating, service, and concession. This level of movie-going does come with a price however - a movie for two with food and drink is north of $100.

Jim Lavorato
Cinema Mucho Gusto

Sabo Strikes Again

Sabo with his Art
An L.A. billboard for 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' was Sabo'ed. The faces of Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio replaced with those of Roman Polanski and Jeffery Epstein and the word 'Pedowood' placed over "Hollywood'.

A street artist, Sabo (whose works have graced the our writings before) took full credit for what he calls "alterations" of the billboard. Sabo, like Banksy, highlights the hypocrisy inherent in our entertainment and political arenas. Good going Sabo.

Other Sabo works:

Friday, July 19, 2019

What's Going On

Admission Price Surges in 2Q

U.S. admissions averaged $9.26 for the 2nd Qtr., up 25 cents over the 1st Qtr. This compares to an average price of  $9.11 for FY 2018.

YTD, the N. American boxoffice is running about 10% behind last year with 18-34 yr. olds accounting for half of all tickets sold in the 2nd Q., while the 18-44 group accounted for 64% of the total.

Rubber Chickens OUT!

The big gala fund-raisers are passe' in H'wd. Schlepping to a mass get-together to back-slap with group thinkers and dine on droll while shelling-out the obligatory donation is no longer in vogue.

Customizing to the organization and audience and the use of  'lower tier' celebs and influencers vs. 'A' listers as guests is now fashionable in raising moola.  Gala charity dinners aren't completely out but there is a shifting toward more intimate, more engaging 'give us your money' experiences.

Weinstein: Stalling Tactics?
Harvey with new defense team

In NYC, last week, Harvey Weinstein announced to the presiding Judge that he was switching his legal team (for the 2nd time). His new defense team stepped-in as the prior attorneys requested to be excused from the case, "for not getting along with their client."

Last January, Weinstein's original legal team also sited differences with their client - which delayed the trail by 5 months. This current switch (which many feel is a stalling tactic on Weinstein's part) postponed the trial until September. For his part, Harvey continues to declare his innocence of all sexual and abuse charges.

Case Dismissed
In a related, #MeToo case, against Kevin Spacey, being adjudicated in Massachusetts, all charges were dropped after the alleged victim in the case decided not to testify. The District Attorneys in the case stated the reason for dismissal was "the unavailability of a complaining witness."

Spacey contends he is innocent of all charges. He is still under investigation in LA and England for other alleged sexual assaults. He is currently a persona non grata in H'wd.

Jim Lavorato, Editor
Cinema Mucho Gusto

Monday, July 08, 2019

UPDATE: Bond 'Goldfinger' Aston Gets Real

DB5 'Continuation' will feature machine guns!

Building out the DB5s

Back on January 14th, I posted that Aston Martin was going to do a remake of the DB5 that appeared in the 'Goldfinger' film. 25 of these cars were going to be made and they would include the 'Q -gadgets' that the iconic Bond auto featured. Aston has now revealed what those 'gadgets' will be.

To be hand-built at the Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell, all 25 will be in the original Silver Birch color and include the following Bond-inspired gadgets:

- Revolving Number Plates
- Rear Smoke Screen
- Replica Machine Guns
- Battering Rams Front & Rear
- Retractable Bullet-proof Rear Screen
- Oil Slick Delivery System

In addition, the cars will feature a simulated radar screen, telephone in the driver's door, under-seat weapons storage, and gearknob actuator button (no seat ejector but will be used for something, as yet unspecified).

The Goldfinger DB5 is the latest in a series of Continuation Cars to be made by Aston. It started with the DB4-GT and GT Zagato - all being pre-sold to deep-pocketed motor-heads.

The DB5, as delivered will not be road-legal, but I have no doubt that it is not beyond the ingenuity of the buyers (coupled with the funds to do it) to make these replicas approved for road use. I mean they are really all about having a license to Thrill.

Current Aston models include: Vantage, DB11, DBS Superleggera, Rapide AMR & E, and the Valkyrie. Pricing, $153k for the base Vantage up to $3.25m for the Valkyrie. Coming soon, the DBX (SUV).  Great cars!
2019 Valkyrie
Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Academy's New Members

Getting an invite to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is 'heady', but then you learn that 842 others were also invited kind of puts the prestige on a lower peg.
Gaga, Lennox, Adele

Regardless, this years invitees include three noted songwriters: Gaga, Adele, and Lennox. All three are prior Oscar winners and are among 28 composers, songwriters, and music editors who were asked to join the group.

Acceptance into the Academy is virtually universal. Membership currently stands at 8,946 (including retirees 9,794).  So, it's not all that exclusive, but to the glitterati it represents acceptance by the flock.

After the invitations are accepted, the Academy will hold a autumn mixer for the new arrivals. All the best ladies!

So it goes,

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Cinema BUZZ by Seymour Flix

Judy Dench says, Weinstein and Spacey cinema credits and contributions should be repected. 

The veteran acting star says that both Weinstein and Spacey should be separated from their alleged sexual offences (both of whom have stated in court that they are not guilty of the charges).

According to Dench, their works still deserve recognition and respect. "You can not deny somebody a talent" that's wrong says Dench. She went on to speak about how Spacey helped her in the aftermath of her husband's death.

It's clear that both men have made major contributions to the cinema industry. CMG agrees with Dench, you can't deny talent no matter who has it and the contributions made should not be diminished.

The Full Monty
The Great Pythons

As a part of their 50th anniversary celebration never-before heard radio specials will be released.  These will air on the BBC and then travel across the pond for millions of MP fans to hear on Sirius XM radio. This is all part of a bigger celebration that will include film and TV specials.

Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and the late Graham Chapman will be showcased in the five BBC specials. Restored episodes of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' will be screened in London along with rare pre and post Python shows.

According to a statement by the group, "Python has survived because we live in an increasingly Pythonesque world. Extreme silliness seems more relevant now then it ever was."

Horse v Rooster

It's the  battle of the Chinese film award shows - the Golden Horse Awards Show (held in Taiwan) vs. the Golden Rooster Awards (held in China) because this year they are being held on the same day.

No coincidence this as the Communist -backed Golden Rooster will ensure that no major mainland Chinese talent will attend the Golden Horse event (which is considered to be Asia's Oscar  show.'

The Chinese government wants to stymie any notion to Taiwanese independence, as it considers Taiwan part of its territory. Taiwan, doesn't see it that way and wants full-independence from China.

It will be interesting to see how the Horse vs. Rooster awards battle unfolds.
Both shows are to be held on November 23rd.

All the Best
Seymour Flix aka Jim Lavorato