Don’t forget about the European market

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European Update

As German exhibitors gather for KINO! 2016 in Karlsruhe for the first time—after decades in the oh-so-very-very-lovely spa city of Baden-Baden—and our Canadian compatriots descend upon Hollywood, Calif., this month’s column includes some items that look back at Las Vegas.

On the occasion of CinemaCon 2016, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC-cinemas.org) introduced “Focus Europe,” a report that (re)confirms “the importance of the European cinema sector—and international territories more generally—to the continued health of the global film industry.” The trade association and co-host of the upcoming CineEurope further noted that the 36 European territories represented by UNIC contribute 24% of global box-office revenues, roughly equal to the U.S. share of the pot (27%). Counting €8.6 billion ($9.76 billion), UNIC noted that 2015 was an “exceptionally strong year for the region,” as first reported in the March edition of this column. UNIC territories enjoyed a 6% increase in admissions and 9.6% growth in box office. Well done!

One of the reasons behind this friendly reminder—besides celebrating “the growing contribution made by international territories,” now accounting for 73% of global totals—is the emergence of new markets in the Asia-Pacific region, with China in particular over recent years capturing “a great deal of media attention,” UNIC stated. In response, “Focus Europe” highlights character of the region and key attributes, “including excellence in international collaboration, strong local film production, innovation capacity and a focus on nurturing young audiences.” A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

At the upcoming Festival de Cannes, UNIC just scheduled a Cinema Innovation Session on May 17. Senior exhibition executives will discuss “how innovation, new technologies and creative collaboration help promote diversity and create value in European Cinemas—large and small—and engage audiences with the Big Screen Experience.” Tweet your questions and comments to #cinnovate.

Major Commitments to #MCB16

European commissioner for digital economy and society Günther Oettinger confirmed his participation at Media Convention Berlin (MBC). He will be relaying the EU’s perspective on net neutrality, the “discoverability of online media content,” and “asymmetrical competition” between services such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon and domestic companies—to name but three of the “challenges posed to regulation and regulators by digitization and the use of media content over the Internet,” that organizers have mentioned.

The event is hosted by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and the Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg, for the third year in partnership with re:publica TEN. Around 7,000 participants from more than 60 countries are expected for the two events, which take place simultaneously in STATION Berlin.

While it could be expected that the governing mayor of the host city, Michael Müller, would open the event on May 2, the appearance of Mark Little, VP of media in Europe and Africa for Twitter, is noteworthy. Even though his keynote address will “examine Twitter’s achievements after ten years,” other than a stream of about 500 million short messages per day, more interesting and less self-serving, perhaps, is the question, “What's next for Twitter and News?”

Tying a Ribbon around Sound

“Groß, größer, Cinecittà…” Remaining in Germany, the big news is about the world’s largest Christie Vive Audio installation to date. Or should that be most powerful of the 350-strong total (per December 2015) installed around the globe? Just in time for the Star Wars Force to awaken, and ten years after Revenge of the Sith brought the first commercial digital-cinema showings to Germany, the Cinemagnum at Cinecittà-Kino in Nürnberg (still this author’s favorite cinema in the world) covers the full LA5 speaker series for stage, surround and the ceiling above too, thanks to Dolby Atmos. Cinemas have to reinvent themselves all the time, noted owner-operator Wolfram Weber. “Vive Audio in combination with Dolby Atmos allows moviegoers to experience the film in a way that is not possible at home—you can only have that at the Kino.”

With 524 seats and a screen measuring 600 square meters (6,460 sq. ft.), without mentioning a 30-ton movable projection dome—all constructed in a former bunker underground—calling the installation a challenge might be an understatement. Chris Connett, Christie Vive’s market development manager for EMEA, explained how their six-inch ribbon transducer technology guarantees “optimal coverage of the entire auditorium and enables ideal timbre adjustment.”

Planning, delivery and installation were executed by Christie’s partner, ECCO Cine Supply and Services. Managing director Thomas Rüttgers and his team also completed a Vive Audio Line Array setup at Kinopolis 4 (of eight total) in Leverkusen. Of the 658 seats there, 14 are of the D-Box moving variety. Also of note is that the very first Vive system in Germany was set up in time for Spectre premiering at Cineplex Marburg to match for the ears (40,000 watts for 7.1 surround, Dolby Atmos coming in June) what the Kinoton 4K dual projection does for the eyes.

Deutsche “cinema ambassadors,” as Alcons, the Dutch cinema sound system manufacturer calls their clients, include Walt Disney Germany, Berlinale (film festival) Palast and Cinemax in Mannheim. At home in the Netherlands, you will find Alcons’ range of “proprietary multiple-patented, pro-ribbon transducer technology”-based cinema loudspeakers at VUE (JT) Cinemas, Eye Film Institute and, at another favorite, Pathé Tuschinski in Amsterdam. The Alcons C-series, the company writes, offers “uncompressed, 1:1 crystal-clear reproduction of the original sound source, with up to 90% less distortion than traditional systems,” offering “the ultimate cinema experience to any size audience, from the smallest room to the largest 5,000-seat cinema hall.”

Right after CinemaCon, Alcons’ pro-ribbon systems were wrapped around the Konzerthaus at KINO! in Karlsruhe. As official technical partner of the event, all screenings took place on the Alcons surround-sound system.

The Cielo Is the Limit

Back at CinemaCon, CE+S (Cinema Equipment and Supplies) and Unique Digital announced their partnership to launch Cielo in the Middle East and Europe, immediately deploying at 260 screens across the latter territory. Going forward, Cielo’s cloud-based monitoring and support platform will be integrated with Unique Digital’s suite of products.

With over 2,000 screens connected across the Americas, Cielo has brought exhibitors to the Internet era “with a technology that allows them to proactively manage their business with unmatched mobility and real-time visibility.” The combined product, the two companies believe, “will allow cinema owners to drive greater strategic business decisions and improve operational efficiencies, while focusing on delivering a superior customer experience.”