3D Monsters vs. 2D Aliens

Columns

As the world is looking Up to Cannes and North America, let’s review the last milestone in the digital 3D deployment. According to our friends at Screen Digest, the majority 55% of the opening-weekend gross of Monsters vs. Aliens ($32 million) came from less than 30% of some 7,300 screens in 4,104 theatres. Together with 143 digital IMAX engagements ($5.1 million, or roughly 9% of box office from just 2% of theatres), MvA secured over three times the revenue of the standard 2D versions, Screen Digest accounted. (My Bloody Valentine 3D booked over five times its 2D revenue.)

A case in point was Germany, where 3D venues took 33% of the total Kinokasse although only comprising 50 of 750 screens booked by the recently opened local office of Paramount Pictures International. Even more telling perhaps is the fact that the 3D copies generated an average gross six times higher than their 2D counterparts.

No wonder Screen Digest analyst Charlotte Jones opines that “high-profile 3D releases are driving exhibitors to upgrade their screens.” Over 560 new 3D screens were added in the first three months of 2009, more than the total number of the full year 2008. Some 2,000 3D screens in North America, up from 1,500 at the end of 2008, are now matched with half that number internationally, led by China (+160), France, U.K. and Russia (+80). For more information, please consult screendigest.com.

U.K. Cinemas Promote Summer Lineup
After last summer, which Cinema Exhibitor Association chief executive Phil Clapp called “by any measure…an exceptional one for U.K. cinema,” filmgoers will once again be treated to a brand new trailer celebrating the coming lineup. “This is not a film-specific message,” explains Film Distributors Association head Mark Batey about the use of clips from some 32 titles. “Our message is that the cinema is the most fantastic place to experience new stories.” To get your own taste, go to www.cinemauk.org.uk/mediafiles.

Vue a Mystery Movie Monthly
Starting on May 5, and every Tuesday thereafter, Vue Entertainment presents a new sneak-preview program at some 30 of its cinemas in the United Kingdom. “This is about expanding people’s film repertoire,” explains Mark de Quervain, Vue’s sales and marketing director. With the tagline “The Thrill of the Unknown,” the idea is to select films that will play really well, but “which perhaps our customers might not immediately choose to see. If seen, they would really enjoy it.” Nonetheless, he promises, “those people who find that they really do not like the film within the first 20 minutes can get their money back. We expect and hope that the number ‘asking for a refund’ will be very low indeed.”

Vue will be asking patrons to complete a simple rating questionnaire. That way, de Quervain concludes, “we will understand how effective these screenings are in expanding choice and selection as well as generating positive word of mouth on a movie.”

Producers on the Move to Cannes
European Film Promotion celebrates its 10th anniversary lineup with 23 outstanding producers at the Cannes International Film Festival (May 13-24), including a representative from Croatia for the first time. Since its inception, the initiative of the MEDIA Programme and EFP member organizations has supported 196 “Producers on the Move” in “their networking on a European level” and by attracting the attention of the international film industry and press.

Monaco Film Fest Aids Kids
While Cannes is all about commerce, the neighboring principality of Monaco pre-empts the circus on the Croisette with much-needed help for impoverished children around the world. The Monaco Charity Film Festival, founded and chaired by Vicente-Andres Zaragoza of the Virlanie Foundation (helping children in the Philippines) also “serves as a platform for emerging filmmakers to find financing and distribution for their independent films.”

Closing with the world premiere of Val Kilmer’s The Steam Experiment and featuring a special program from Russia, the fourth annual edition screened about four films daily at the Fairmont Hotel Screening Room in Monte Carlo. The showings are free to the public. Program director Georges N. Chamchoum assembled 55 titles, including 25 features and 32 shorts that included seven European and 27 world premieres.

Kinoton D-Cinema in 25+ Countries
“DCP sales are gaining momentum,” reports Astrid Schröter, marketing and public-relations executive at Germany’s Kinoton GmbH. With its d-cinema systems now installed in more than 25 countries, CEO Christoph Dobler comments on the core benefits of the engineering based on DLP Cinema chip technology sublicensed from Barco. “We have tailored our DCP projectors consistently to theatrical needs, leaving out all the frills and sticking strictly to the main features essential for cinema use: perfect picture quality, maximum reliability, easy operation and easy maintenance.”

With the growth, Kinoton continues expanding its customer-service team. One call to the hotline not only ensures “fast and exhaustive on-demand support,” but also the immediate dispatch of parts and service people, should a problem not be solved remotely. Schroeter further states, “Our d-cinema technicians are happy to answer literally any question arising from the daily handling of the new technology. While projectionists are usually well-versed in solving smaller technical problems of their film projection equipment by themselves, d-cinema still raises many questions” about networking and content-specific issues, changes to the projector set-up, color calibration and digital 3D projection, she adds.

Record Submissions to Student Oscars
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences counted a record 57 entries from 39 countries for the 2009 Honorary Foreign Film Award. Finalists in the 36th Annual Student competition come from Russia (Face-to-Face Confrontation, by Igor Khomsky, Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography), Sweden (Elkland, Per Hanefjord, Dramatiska Institutet) and the United Kingdom (The Incredible Story of My Great Grandmother Olive, Alberto Rodreguz, National Film and Television School).

Germany is represented by the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (Konrad Wolf University of Film & TV). Coming to Potsdam from Israel to begin his animation studies in 2004, Tomer Eshed’s pre-thesis film, Our Wonderful Nature, shows what really goes on when two male water shrews fight over a female: a very animated mating season indeed that draws comparison to John Woo and The Matrix (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aFKSvw4bjU). Eshed, already a graduate of the Jerusalem School of Arts, is joined by his fellow countryman Pini Tavger from Tel Aviv University, whose Pinhas is the fifth nominee.

E-mail news and comments for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@nielsen.com.