Cinépolis Makes New Inroads

Columns
In Focus

The fourth-largest theatre circuit in the world has been buying up movie houses and building new theatres at an aggressive pace since establishing an office in Southern California in 2011.

That circuit is Mexico-based Cinépolis, which is the largest chain in Latin America, has interests in Spain and India, and has now acquired its 16th U.S. theatre by securing locations from Bow Tie Cinemas, including the Chelsea Cinemas in New York City.

It’s a sure bet that Cinépolis is counting on patrons looking for a more high-end moviegoing experience with reserved seating, reclining seats and in-theatre waiter service. This trend, whether in premium or luxury experiences, has become very prominent in the U.S. and is certainly something that the cinema-going public wants and demands.

Just as technology is entering the nation’s theatres with laser projection, sophisticated software, immersive audio and recliner seating, the theatre industry is quickly evolving to expand its offerings beyond the traditional Coke, candy and popcorn. We welcome Cinépolis and its forward-looking leadership.

A Downward Trend in China

The Chinese box office has been growing at a phenomenal rate over the past decade, and last year it rose an unprecedented 49 percent. Although the first quarter of this year saw a continuation of the hot streak, the second quarter has experienced a major slump. The drop was the first year-over-year quarterly decline in five years.

Combining the two quarters, China’s growth decreased by 21%. And according to research specialists, July was off to a slow start. Interestingly, this downturn had a dramatic effect in China. First, the Chinese regulators did a complete turnaround on not allowing Hollywood features into the country during the traditional “blackout” period between late June and early August.

During this period, it is normally hoped that the domestic box office will be given a boost. Not so this year. The phenomenon is being attributed to a number of factors, including significantly fewer local Chinese hits, rising ticket prices, and a drop in income from cinema construction.

All in all, the Chinese market is still one that you need to participate in if you hope to continue seeing revenues grow at your company. And the Chinese continue their expansion with the recent acquisition of Odeon London and their new, enriched offer for Carmike Cinemas in the U.S.

Regional Gatherings Gear Up

Regional conventions in the motion picture industry are very important for the local exhibitors in those specific territories. Many of the smaller theatre owners and especially their managers do not attend the two major U.S. shows—CinemaCon and ShowEast. So, the opportunity to experience firsthand new technologies and film content is one of the major reasons to attend these local shows. Also, the chance to network with industry executives and peers is instrumental to a smooth-running operation.

Two of the larger and better-organized events kick off shortly and cover the South and Southern Midwest. CinéShow, organized by the Theatre Owners of Mid-America (TOMA), kicks off in Dallas, Texas, August 29-31. This is the 18th year for CinéShow, and under the leadership of Todd Halstead (see his preview in our September issue) the show has grown and the trade group now encompasses theatre owners from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. This year, the convention will be honoring David Boles of CCSI, Shane Morrison of Celebrity Theatres, and Steve Zuehlke of Cinemark.

ShowSouth, running August 23-24, is another one of the important regional shows that attract a good crowd. As Robin Miller, ShowSouth’s executive director, explains, “This particular show is set apart from others in that it is known as one of the best for networking.” (See our story in the September edition.) Carmike Cinemas’ David Passman will receive the “Statesman of the Year” Award this year for his contributions to the industry.

Competing with the Olympics

The Summer Olympics kicked off on Friday, August 5, the same day that Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad opened in North America. The DC Comics action film proved to be a box-office powerhouse, setting an August opening-weekend record of $135 million. But the question remains: How will the Olympics affect the overall box office?

There are those who say it will hurt and those who feel it will not have that great an impact. Certainly, Warner Bros. showed great confidence. Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s executive VP of domestic distribution, said, “We chose the date because of our instinct there’s a live and available audience, and movies around it were no competition.” He also added that the studio has zero trepidation about the Olympic Games.

There has been fear among some companies about opening a film during the constant barrage of sports coverage, but this fear is not based on any factual evidence or sound metric. But in 2016, the studios appear to be taking on the Olympics with films opening like Pete’s Dragon, Ben-Hur, Sausage Party and War Dogs. And there are still holdovers like Jason Bourne, Bad Moms, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond and The Secret Life of Pets.

We think some of these films will give the Games a run for the gold.