Kinepolis Group expands to Canada

European Update

Pan-European exhibitor Kinepolis Group has taken a significant step towards becoming even more of a global player, reaching an agreement with the shareholders of Landmark Cinemas for the acquisition of the second-largest chain across Canada.

The announcement viewed the Canadian market as “characterized by healthy macroeconomic prospects, a growing population and a favorable business climate.” Subject to regulatory approvals, including under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) governing foreign buyers, Kinepolis expects to complete the takeover of 44 theatres with 303 auditoriums with a capacity of 55,000 seats by year’s end.

Eddy Duquenne, chief executive of Kinepolis Group, lauded “this unique opportunity to expand our business into a continent that is expected to offer us many advantages.” The existing management will join Kinepolis in “rolling out our three-pillar strategy—of being best cinema operator, best marketer and best real estate manager—in their group and testing our products and experience concepts on the Canadian market.”

Brian McIntosh and Neil Campbell, executive chairman and chief executive officer, respectively, on that team, added how “the innovative and entrepreneurial culture that we have been fortunate to build over the past 52 years at Landmark aligns perfectly with Kinepolis, [giving] Canadian moviegoers greater access to world-class cinema experiences. Landmark’s people will continue to lead the Canadian business, and our customers, people and business partners will all benefit from the expertise that Landmark will be able to leverage into Canada from the expertise and strategic vision of Kinepolis.”

After the purchase has been approved, Kinepolis Group will operate 92 cinemas (42 of which it owns), with a total of 802 screens and more than 180,000 seats in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Poland and Canada.

Also on the drawing boards for year-end are four auditoriums featuring 4DX experiences. The first theatres to feature motion seats and surrounding effects are Kinepolis Antwerp and Brussels (Belgium), Lomme (France) and Madrid (Spain). “Cinema is all about experiencing emotions together and 4DX will further increase this,” Duquenne said. “It is an additional experience that part of our visitors will appreciate. As such, 4DX fits in perfectly with the ongoing diversification of our offering, allowing us to meet the demands of various target groups.”

Runge to Lead ICTA Europe

Jan Runge, former chief executive of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), will become the European representative of the ICTA, the International Cinema Technology Association. Taking over from Thomas Rüttgers after nearly five years, Runge is tasked with coordinating all Association business across Europe, as well as engaging and enrolling new members to the organization.

At the same time, ICTA members amended the bylaws to add three new directors to its board, all from the international side. The new European directors include Thomas Rüttgers of ECCO, Oliver Pasch of Sony Digital and Till Cussman of CinemaNext/Ymagis (see next item). “With these new board members in place and their support, the ICTA board is confident that Jan Runge will be successful in his new role,” stated Robert Sunshine, executive director of the Association.

Ymagis Enters Norway, Marks 100 Installs

Within one year after the launch of EclairColorand 47 films upgraded to the forma, the high-dynamic-range (HDR) system for premium cinema experiences was installed at its 100th location. Fittingly, Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, was also the first location in the United States. Other installations are in Germany (47) and France (46), the United Kingdom (three), and in Italy, Switzerland and Tunisia (one auditorium each).

One would expect Norway to be next, looking at the late-September agreement for local customer and field services with Nordisk Film Biografer (Egmont), representing 78 screens at 21 locations. For Till Cussmann, senior VP of Ymagis subsidiary CinemaNext, this deal represents “another big step in our strategy to increase our market share in Scandinavia,” after agreements in Denmark for 21 sites (148 screens). “We aim to provide the highest level of customer service, monitoring and support.”

EclairColor is compatible with latest-generation projectors from Sony Digital Cinema 4K and Barco, Ymagis further noted, and “adapts to all cinemas, from art houses to the largest multiplexes” to bring “richer colors, more light and definition, more depth of field and more density for a unique cinema experience.” A recent study reveled that “97.3% of moviegoers who attended the screening of a film in EclairColor intend to repeat the experience and over two-thirds will be recommending it to their family and friends.” (The study is available here.)

German Films Come to Buenos Aires

With some 7,000 admissions for each of its recent editions, the Festival of German Films in Buenos Aires, Argentina has been “the most successful event of its kind in South America,” the Munich, Germany-based organizers noted. “Moreover, the local audience is a very enthusiastic one.” Something director Simon Verhoeven was looking forward to when he presented his comedy Welcome to Germany during the event’s 17th edition, Sept. 14-20.

This crowd-pleaser, which was the most successful German film last year at 3.7 million admissions, was chosen to open the festival. All in all, 16 German feature-length films and documentaries, along with the shorts program “Next Generation Short Tiger,” were screened at Village Cines Recoleta and Caballito. In addition, German cinema has a growing presence in people’s homes with VoD provider QubitTV, accompanying the festival online with 30-day free access to a selection of films from Germany in its program.

French Films Fêted in Manhattan

This fall, the French Institute Alliance Française, dedicates its CinéSalon series to cinematographer Caroline Champetier. “Shaping the Light” is the appropriately named retrospective for a woman who worked on more than 100 films and with some of France’s greatest filmmakers, past and present: from Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette to Chantal Akerman, Arnaud Desplechin and Léos Carax. CinéSalon features “some of her most striking films,” the cultural institute noted.

In the spirit of the French ciné-clubs and literary salons, CinéSalon pairs an engaging French film with a social post-screening wine and beer reception. Every screening is introduced by a high-profile personality in the arts.