Cineworld circuit reports steady growth

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“Good growth in revenue and EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] despite World Cup,” Cineworld Group plc preliminarily reported for the 26 weeks ending July 1 (www.cineworld.co.uk).

As admissions at its 78 cinemas and 790 screens fell around 3% to 22.7 million moviegoers, tills were up 4.1% at £111.7 million (US$173 mil.) over the first half of 2009. The average ticket price increased from £4.59 to £4.93 (US$7.65) as retail spend per person held steady at £1.71 (US$2.65). According to Rentrak/EDI, with that the publicly traded exhibitor’s market share rose from 23.6% to 24.2%.

Commented chief executive officer Steve Wiener, “The second half of the financial year has started strongly for the Group, with an excellent range of blockbusters and 3D films. [This lineup,] coupled with our solid first-half performance, underpins our confidence in performing in line with market expectations for the year and delivering further value to shareholders.”

Documentary Diplomacy
After its successful premiere last year, the U. S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is sending another touring program of 60 documentaries around the globe. The 25 countries that will host screenings, filmmaker talks and workshops at U.S. embassies, film festivals, universities and other venues range from Angola and Bahrain to Vietnam and Zimbabwe. European stops included are Poland, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

“These films offer a broad, diversified look at life in the United States and the values of a democratic society as seen by independent American filmmakers,” project director Betsy McLane states. The program is curated and administered by the University Film and Video Association, a nonprofit international organization of over 1,200 professionals and institutions involved in the production and study of film, video and other media arts. To learn more, visit www.ufva.org/showcase.

Kinoton Scales D-Cinema
Germany’s Kinoton added two “high-performance” Digital Cinema Scalers to its line of premium d-cinema accessories. Optimized for the company’s DCP projectors, both the DMS DC1 and DC2 PRO model assure that “alternative content from sources like HDTV, satellite receivers or PC are projected with optimum picture quality,” the company reported. While DC1 “noticeably improves the detail and clarity of video signals from consumer and semi-professional sources,” such as Blu-ray and HD set-top boxes, PRO is “a high-end switcher and router for image and audio” that includes “audio-delay function and post-production-grade image processing with frame-rate conversion and a 24p output mode providing film-like motion characteristics.”

Wolff Selects FTT & Sony 4K
FTT Filmtronics B.V., the Dutch branch of Germany’s Film-Ton-Technik Rüttgers outfitted several of the nine sites and 42 screens of Wolff Cinema Groep with Sony 4K d-cinema equipment. After 60 Jogchem’s Theaters, this marks the second recent d-cinema agreement for FTT, who introduced 4K technology into the Dutch market over a year ago. MustSee Euroborg in Groningen received two Sony SRX-R320 projectors and LMT-300 media blocks, while Cinema de Graaf in Huizen near Amsterdam and CineStar Enschede adjoining the border to Germany received one set each.

Jordi Wientjes, management board member at Wolff, said about opting for Sony: “We are simply convinced about the technology. We think that this was the right time to deploy some of our core locations in order to be well-prepared for the upcoming blockbusters.”

London: A City of Stars
Alfred Hitchcock posing outside the British Museum, Elizabeth Taylor feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square, Brigitte Bardot travelling “on the tube” and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin arriving “in one of the world’s most popular and recognizable cities.” Those are some of the photos on display at Getty Images Galleries. “Love from London: A City of Stars” is presented in collaboration with Film London, “the capital’s film and media agency."

Kodak Awards Scholarships
Among the recipients in the 2010 Kodak Scholarship Program are two young filmmakers from Europe. The Silver Award for Excellence in the Craft of Filmmaking and a US$4,000 Kodak motion picture film grant went to Edit Blaumann from the University of Theatre, Film and Television in Budapest, Hungary. Leandro Ferrao from Lusofona University in Lisbon, Portugal, received US$2,000 and one of two honorable mentions. According to Johanna Gravelle, worldwide education segment manager (www.kodak.com/go/education), “There is a vast pool of talented, emerging filmmakers, and this is one way for Kodak to recognize their hard work and creativity.”

ARRI Aligns with Birchell Hughes
Handling d-cinema mastering since 2005, ARRI Film & TV Services has taken another step forward with John B. Birchell Hughes coming on board to represent ARRI’s services internationally. As a “pioneer in the realm of digital cinema,” including establishing XDC’s working relationships with U.S. studios, the Munich-Germany-based company said, Birchell Hughes will now “advise customers in the process of developing digital strategies and plans” as he is “actively involved in the development of all digital media efforts.”

About the reasons, ARRI stated, “Distributors have expressed a need for support in the early stages of the process, state-of-the-art technology and contact with local film funds as well as the availability of additional post-production services,” all of which can be provided by ARRI. For a current example, Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios Distribution now relies on ARRI Film & TV for DCP mastering, alongside production and distribution of release prints of the studio’s German-language features for Germany and Austria.

Paddy Powers Porn
Ireland’s largest bookmaker, Paddy Power, is letting you bet on pornography. “The movie industry has embraced 3D and the public can’t get enough of it,” says the Power broker himself. “It’s no surprise that adult film should move in this direction.”

Up for grabs is who will get the “first 3D porn film” up on the screens of theatres: Christopher Sun’s Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy (Hong Kong, tops with 5/6 odds), Tinto Brass and his remake of Caligula (Italy, 2/1) or Hustler magazine’s Avatar spoof (USA, 3/1).

E-mail news and comments for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@filmjournal.com.