Consumers reap the benefit of new entertainment platforms

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a lot of things to a lot of people and industries. But to Hollywood, it is about finding the next platforms through which to distribute entertainment.

Last year the conference focused heavily on 3D TVs and flat-screens that connect to the Internet—which Hollywood studios have been exploiting ever since. With the younger generation wanting things when they want them and where they want them, the focus for the studios at CES this year was on the small screens that will end up in the palms of million of consumers’ hands.

Smart phones need fast connections to operate the growing number of apps that consumers are downloading on these small screens. That is why much of the attention was on the capabilities of Verizon’s new 4G LTE wireless network, which is claimed to be ten times faster than 3G.

Hollywood will be looking at these 4G smart phones that are about to be rolled out as the next distribution platforms to exploit in order to generate digital dollars from their movies. Wireless data is more than doubling every year, and smart phones are growing by nearly 90 percent each year as a whole new computing platform for mobile broadband has emerged. With the speed of broadband networks increasing at record multiples, this will allow full-length films to be downloaded in less than five minutes.

Another major announcement coming out of Las Vegas last month was that six major Hollywood studios including Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. committed their support to the UltraViolet service and format created by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). Complementing the already existing DVD and Blu-ray home-entertainment markets, the studios will begin offering UltraViolet content this year through digital online retailers and digital rights that come with packaged media, giving consumers the ability to enjoy digital entertainment across multiple platforms such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles and smart phones.

Through UltraViolet, consumers will now have greater choice and freedom to purchase, manage and watch digital movies, TV shows and other entertainment. Consumers will be able to register up to 12 devices so UltraViolet content can be easily downloaded or shared. In addition, UltraViolet streaming will enable consumers to enjoy their collections via set-top boxes and the Internet including computers, home-video devices, and mobile apps for smart phones.

Technology is certainly changing the world and the way some people want to see their entertainment. But we believe most people will still want to enjoy the experience of leaving their homes and seeing and hearing films the way they were made to be seen and heard—and that is in a movie theatre.

Phoenix Keeps Rising

In January 2001, Phil and Tammie Zacheretti co-founded Phoenix Theatres in Knoxville, Tennessee, as a management company for owners of real estate properties that have a theatre that was received through bankruptcy, default or lease expiration.

Ten years later, the innovative circuit is now called Phoenix BIG Cinemas Management and has 25 theatres with 196 screens in 13 states under its management, from Manhattan to Los Angeles. We congratulate Phoenix as it celebrates its tenth anniversary in the theatre industry.

The circuit merged with Adlabs Films, an Anil Ambani-owned company based in India, in 2008 and renamed itself Phoenix Adlabs Theatre Management. A year later, Adlabs changed its name to Reliance BIG Cinemas, and Phoenix Adlabs became Phoenix BIG Cinema Management.

It’s no surprise that the company is at the top of the Hindi grosses nationwide. PBCM has nine locations that show films from India, either exclusively or in conjunction with Hollywood titles. Since the merger two years ago, the company has not signed any new leases, but their partners at BIG Cinemas continue to do so and Phoenix continues to manage their theatres for them.

The February edition of Film Journal International looks at the successful climb of Phoenix Theatres to become the 21st largest theatre circuit in the U.S. and the largest theatre management company in the world. We wish Phoenix another 10 years of success.

Warner’s Streak Continues

Warner Bros. Pictures was the clear winner of the worldwide box-office race in 2010, with an industry record of $4.8 billion that included $2.93 billion in overseas receipts, placing it number one in that sub-category too. The company made it a clean sweep, also topping domestic box office with $1.88 billion.

Fox ran a close second in overseas sales with $2.9 billion, as both Fox and Warners bested the previous foreign high of $2.45 billion set in 2009.

Overall, box office in the international market continued to surge past domestic, with nearly $20 billion in sales for the calendar year. With its tremendous growth in the past decade, the importance of the international market cannot be overemphasized. It is by far one of the most important profit segments of the major media companies.

FJI congratulates all the international players, and especially Warner Bros. on its record achievement.