85 Years of 'Film Journal'

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In Focus

Good things stand the test of time, and as we get ready to close out the year and the 85th year of publication of Film Journal International, we are delighted that we have persevered in our commitment to bring our readers the finest in journalism with the clear and precise goal of presenting the news in a fair, non-biased manner.

That being said, this issue of Film Journal International will be the last publication of this iconic magazine. As reported in our November issue, Film Journal International is being merged with long-running publication Boxoffice and January 2019 will mark a new version of Boxoffice.

The December issue of Film Journal International celebrates the 85th anniversary of the magazine with a commemorative section that traces the history of the journal and captures some of the wonderful moments in its 85-year run.

Very few people would be able to recognize the no-frills publication that came on the scene in 1934 and ultimately transformed into today’s Film Journal International. TheIndependent, as it was first called, was a local newsletter that reported on the Independent Theatre Owners Association, a New York-based trade group then headed by exhibitor Harry Brandt.

George Rodnick and Lionel Toll were the first editors of the newsletter, which saw a major change when Morton Sunshine took over as editor in 1946. One of the first things Mort did was to change the name of the magazine to Independent Film Journal, reflecting the new direction of covering more national news. The publication has remained in the Sunshine family ever since.

Mort became the magazine's publisher and owner in 1966 and remained in that capacity until he left in 1975 to head up and serve as executive director of Variety Clubs International. Mort's son Jerry took over the reins of the publication until 1979, when he was succeeded as publisher and editor by his brother Robert, who was later joined by his brother Jimmy as advertising director.

With Robert leading the way, the magazine expanded its coverage to such relevant topics as new technologies, equipment and concessions. Soon after, the magazine dropped the word “Independent” from its title and became The Film Journal. In 1996, it took on its current name Film Journal International, reflecting the dramatic growth of worldwide theatrical exhibition.

Robert is now celebrating 39 years with the publication and continues to lead the magazine. Jerry’s son Andrew came onboard in 1999, and executive editor Kevin Lally joined the team 35 years ago.

In 1998, the publication was sold to BPI Communications, which was then merged into parent company VNU, a Netherlands-based company. Film Journal International and the Sunshines were now part of a media enterprise that included Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Media Week, Adweek and Nielsen Media Research. Subsequent parent companies included Prometheus Media Group and MediaBistro Holdings.

In addition to their publishing endeavors, the Sunshine family played a pivotal role in Variety of New York and the Foundation of the Motion Picture Pioneers. In the mid-1980s, Bob and Jimmy entered a new phase in their business by managing the ShowEast convention.

With the industry changing and the theatrical market in Europe becoming more important, the Sunshines, along with leading European exhibitor The Kinepolis Group, launched Cinema Expo International in Brussels, Belgium in 1992, which relocated to Amsterdam in 1996.

With the success of Cinema Expo and the international industry growing at the box office at such a quick clip, the Sunshines created the same format in the Asia-Pacific region with the launch of CineAsia in 1995 in Singapore.

In 2001, the Sunshines extended their reach to the West and took over management of ShoWest in Las Vegas, the largest exhibition gathering in the world.

Today, their European show is called CineEurope and is held in Barcelona, Spain. Along with their partners at UNIC (the International Union of Cinemas), the convention has grown in size and stature and is the second-largest exhibition gathering internationally. CineAsia has since moved to Hong Kong and is replicating what the Sunshines established in the U.S. and Europe.

Film Expo Group, the company that is managed by the Sunshines, is today part of the Eldridge family. With the sale of the magazine, the Sunshines will focus primarily on their domestic and international conventions, growing them with the goal of serving the motion picture industry. Subscribers to FJI will now receive Boxoffice.

Sixty years is a long time and the friends and relationships that the Sunshines have made provide them the opportunity to continue their service to an industry they love. This feeling was instilled in Bob by his father, who passed away in 1990. But his legacy lives on. Bob is often quoted as saying that “Mort always preached the importance of honesty and trustworthiness—you'll never get in trouble if you follow this example.”

An Upbeat CineAsia

Global box office could be heading for a record year, and the leader is the Asian continent. Building continues and already China boasts more screens than North America.

It's always a good time for a global convention to convene when box office is hitting new levels. So the feeling is upbeat for CineAsia 2018. The management team is expecting a sold-out trade show, six studios presenting footage for screenings and record attendance.

The week begins on Monday again, but CineAsia is now fully a four-day event. Continuing with the success of last year's China Day, the program begins with “A Focus on China” and then takes a look at an emerging market farther south, Indonesia. Monday kicks off with an opening address by Dr. Man Nang Chong, whose company GDC Technology is presenting sponsor once again. The Tuesday programming once again has Fox executive VP Kurt Rieder delivering a keynote and an overview of the industry in the region. A number of top executives join in with an Executive Roundtable to discuss new technologies and trends in the industry.

The following two days feature a series of companies participating in focus sessions on the tradeshow floor, presentation screenings and a special look at some local independent producers and their upcoming product.

The tradeshow is packed with laser projector companies, seating companies and some top concession companies—there is something for everyone.

Congratulations to the award winners—Bill Kong, Fu Ruoqing, Joe Chang, Masakuzu Kubo and the comScore Asia-Pacific Box Office Award to Avengers: Infinity War.

CineAsia’s return to Hong Kong is looking rosy. Be sure to see our special section in our December issue.