EDFC elects competitive board

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European Update

After what the organization called “a very competitive election,” the European Digital Cinema Forum welcomed these members to its board: Angelo d’Alessio, Venice Film Festival, Italy; Oleg Berezin, Neva Film, Russia; Tom Bert, Barco, Belgium; Tammo Buhren, ZweiB, Germany; David Hancock, IHS Markit, U.K.; Dave Hodgkinson, Universal Studios, U.K.; Cathy Huis in t’veld Esser, Gofilex, Netherlands; Matt Jahans, Harkness Screens, U.K.; Julian Pinn, Julian Pinn Ltd., U.K.; Jan Runge, International Cinema Technology Association, Germany; Patrick von Sychowski, Celluloid Junkie, U.K.; and Jack Watts, Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema.

Calling this wide-ranging representation a “unique strength,” the EDCF said it is important for a membership-based group “to take into account all of our members’ interests and provide real value to the industry as a whole.” The EDCF is currently working on a range of projects, including the continued European rollout of SMPTE-DCPs, a buyer’s guide to laser projection, and best practices for audio and image in cinemas.

The new board’s first action was to renew the mandate of current president David Hancock, who thanked the outgoing board as he lauded the competitiveness of the election. “I was impressed by the range and industry stature of the candidates and am heartened by that. It is a very good sign for the EDCF’s future that our membership is so active.”

The third-annual EDCF Convention will take place in Sweden Nov. 21-22. For additional information, contact John Graham at jgedcf@talktalk.net.

ScreenX Marks the Spot in Paris

On July 18 at Pathé Beaugrenelle in Paris, France, Ant-Man and The Wasp both marched beyond the big screen and buzzed about the room, with guests shaking in their seats and feeling the sting in more ways than one. CJ 4DPLEX opened the first European “4DX with ScreenX” auditorium through their partnership with Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont. “This is an incredible benchmark for our company,” said Byung-Hwan Choi, chief executive officer of CJ 4DPLEX. “Moviegoers around the globe won’t have long to wait for this movie experience, as we are committed to a rapid expansion that will bring this cutting-edge format to consumers around the world.”

Combining the 270-degree panoramic ScreenX with motion seats and multiple environmental effects “eliminates the boundaries between movie-viewing behavior and the format,” the promise of 4DX with ScreenX holds. Combining the two “creates a remarkable, one-of-a-kind experience,” the company states, “and a natural convergence of two technologies that are rapidly spreading around the world.” As of July, more than 64,000 4DX seats operate in 545 auditoriums spanning 59 countries: 85 screens in South Korea; 44 screens in China; four each in the United States and Turkey; three in Switzerland; two in France and Vietnam; and pilot locations in Thailand, Japan and Indonesia.

On the same July 18 and in the French capital as well, a ScreenX theatre launched at Pathé La Villette 16 as part the two companies’ “expanded partnership” in jointly opening no less than 50 European 4DX locations by 2020. “4DX with ScreenX forms an integral part of our innovation and upgrading strategy,” Martine Odillard, chair of Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont, noted on the occasion.

Earlier in the summer during CineEurope, Cineworld Group committed to open 100 ScreenX locations in ten different countries—Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and seven others across Europe. “Our relationship with CJ 4DPLEX goes beyond accelerating the installation of new 4DX and ScreenX locations around the world to a shared vision of the future of immersive cinema,” said Cineworld’s chief executive officer, Mooky Greidinger.

BFI to Boost British Indies

The British Film Institute published the report from the BFI’s Commission on U.K. Independent Film. Chaired by Zygi Kamasa of Lionsgate U.K., industry leaders sought “contributions from individuals and organizations representing every area of the film industry,” BFI assured. It’s reassuring to note that with Philip Knatchbull of Curzon Cinemas and Kevin Styles of Vue Entertainment, the Commission included two representatives from the exhibition side as well.

The report includes four industry-led proposals alongside five recommendations for the BFI and U.K. government to consider. BFI’s chief executive, Amanda Nevill, called them “practical approaches and models…which could equip our filmmakers to harness opportunities that our increasingly digital world offers for future growth and success. This fast-evolving industry is known for pushing boundaries, and we hope to continue that tradition.” The four key proposals are: maximizing the value of rights; creating projects to engage and grow younger audiences; establishing a new EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) fund to channel equity into U.K. independent film companies, and more commercial development funding in general.

Cinema Association to Fund Accessibility

In partnership with the charity Action on Hearing Loss, the U.K. Cinema Association (UKCA) launched a Technology Challenge Fund for the “development of an inclusive technological solution that will allow people with hearing loss to enjoy a more integrated cinema experience.”

Although there are over 1,500 subtitled “open caption” screenings in U.K. cinemas every week, which the industry believes to “offer the most accessible and inclusive way…the reluctance of the wider audience to attend such screenings means that providing more of these presents significant economic challenges.” At the same time, UKCA acknowledges that there has been “little significant take-up” of individual “close caption” devices that are available today.

In an attempt “to bring fresh perspectives to a challenge the cinema sector has been looking to resolve,” UKCA policy director Grainne Peat said the Fund provides some initial financial incentives for engagement, followed by further limited funding for development of promising concepts. “We aim to cast the net of potential partners further than just the cinema sector to involve those working in technology and academia,” both U.K.- and international-based. “This Fund is another example of the sector’s willingness to embrace technological solutions in addressing the challenge of inclusion.”

More details on how to apply can be found here. Projects are expected to develop and test a working prototype in a “real-life” cinema environment with end-user feedback.