CineEurope on a High Note

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It’s always fun when you are winning, making money in an investment, or seeing the box office booming at a time of the year when it is not necessarily expected. And with the international box office enjoying a great run starting earlier this year with 50 Shades of Grey, then SpongeBob, Cinderella, Home, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Pitch Perfect 2, the industry is flexing its muscles, with so much more to come.

This is a great time to be going to CineEurope. Movies are making money; exhibition and distribution are at peace; new technologies are enhancing the moviegoing experience, and everyone is happy. They have reason to be—the lineup until the end of the year and beyond is exceptionally strong. It’s not a question as to whether the yearly international box-office record will be broken, but when and by how much.

One thing for sure is that attendees at CineEurope (June 22-25 in Barcelona, Spain) will be able to watch product presentations and features from 12 studios. Although the show is still weighed in favor of American films, for the first time four smaller European studios will be participating: Studiocanal, Mister Smith Entertainment, uniFrance and EuropaCorp. The film companies have upped their presentations, are more professional, and are going to dazzle the audience.

CineEurope has something for everyone. Film buyers will see about 75 titles in the product presentations. Those interested in new technologies will experience immersive sound, lasers, luxury seating and 4D motion. The concessionaires will be treated to two sessions from the Coca-Cola banner on “Growth in the Experience Economy” and “Cinema Retail: Focusing on Tips and Tricks for Revenue Growth.” Other programming sessions will focus on innovations in cinema marketing, engaging the youth audience, interactive pre-show entertainment, event cinema, and new digital opportunities for cinema advertising.

FJI congratulates all the award winners at CinemaCon including Jan Bernhardsson, Paul Hanneman, Tomas Jegeus, Tim Richards, Guillermo Del Toro, EuropaCorp, Warner Bros. and IMAX.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of CineEurope is the announced long-term partnership between Prometheus Global Media, the current owners of CineEurope, and the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC). This joint venture will pay great dividends for the motion picture industry. Look for continued growth within the event.

China at Warp Speed

“Go West, young man” is a phrase credited to the American author Horace Greeley concerning America’s expansion westward in the 1800s. He was referring to the fertile farmlands of the Western territory. If Greeley were alive today and followed the motion picture industry, he might have recommended going further west until you reach the Asian continent and more specifically China—because this is where the future of the motion picture industry will eventually be.

The Chinese movie industry is moving forward at warp speed and has once again hit another milestone. According to film-tracking firm Rentrak, box office is up nearly 50% from a year earlier. Rentrak reports that Chinese moviegoers spent $2.6 billion on movie tickets in the first five months of the year. This puts the country on pace within a few years to overtake the U.S. and Canada, a market which has tallied $4.3 billion in sales since January.

The rising Chinese middle class has led to a major multiplex boom. American movies are more popular than ever and are getting a fairer shake at the box office. Furious 7 pulled in $390 million through May, making it the highest-grossing film ever in China and even surpassing ticket sales in North America. Another reason for this growth is that more than ten new cinema screens a day are being built. It might be difficult to conduct business in China, but if you don’t become involved, you will be leaving a lot of money on the table.

But along with this good news, the success of Hollywood films has fueled growing speculation that the Chinese government may impose new restrictions on foreign films to boost the domestic industry.

Let’s take a look at other happenings in China and Asia:

* China’s Wanda Cinema Line is buying Hoyts Group, Australia’s second-largest movie theatre circuit. The news came out of a regulatory filing by Wanda Cinema, a division of Dalian Wanda Group that already owns leading U.S. circuit AMC Entertainment.

Wanda Cinema Line is China’s largest private-sector cinema operator, with more than 150 multiplexes in 80 cities. Hoyts operates roughly 450 screens in Australia.

Wanda is also building China’s largest film studio in Qingdao, which will encompass 30 soundstages and a film festival venue.

* Imax Corp. reported that its Imax China Holding unit has submitted an application for an initial public offering and listing of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, Imax China was formed to oversee the growth of Imax’s business throughout Greater China.

Prior to the IPO filing, Imax sold a 20 percent stake in its China business for $80 million to CMC Capital Partners, a media and entertainment investment fund, and FountainVest Partners, a China-focused private-equity firm. The investment in Imax China Holding gives the Canadian company a partner and on-the-ground presence in China deemed vital to its expansion plans.

* Asia’s leading studio CJ Entertainment, the film division of the major media and content company CJ E&M, signed a memorandum of understanding with Major Cineplex Group, Thailand’s top theatre company, to establish a joint venture for film production and investment.

The new joint venture is expected to maximize bilateral cooperation by combining CJ Entertainment’s planning and marketing skills with Major Cineplex Group’s film production capability and theatre network. With the arrangement, CJ Entertainment will be able to bolster Korea-Thai co-produced film projects. Since 2000, it has sold and distributed about 290 Korean films in Thailand.

The joint venture is expected to result in roughly ten Korea-Thailand co-produced films and local films over the next three years. CJ Entertainment will seek out and nurture talented local producers and promising writers and directors, while collaborating with local film industry insiders.

Asia is the happening place.