Europe posts record grosses in 2009

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“On the increase, and to no small degree” is how Milan, Italy-based MEDIA Salles describes the number of spectators in movie theatres across Europe. From Iceland to Russia, admissions rose from 1.102,14 million in 2008 to 1.171,84 million last year. According to Elisabetta Brunella, general secretary of the European funding and support agency (www.mediasalles.it ), the 19 countries of Western Europe totalled 920.5 million spectators with a 5.7% rise. The 13 of Central and Eastern Europe, with Russia included for the first time, “register an even more pronounced increase of 8.7%,” she says. Ticket sales have risen from 231.2 to 251.3 million, with new records being written in Romania (approx. 32%), the Slovak Republic (23.3%) and Serbia (17.8%).

Of the top five Western markets in Western Europe, France, which “faithfully reflects the average trend in this part of the continent,” for the first time since 1982 crossed the “psychological threshold” of 200 million cinéastes. Growth rates were also reported in the United Kingdom (5.6%, maintaining second place with 173.5 million tickets sold), Germany (146.4 million Kinogänger, marking the highest attendance in five years and recovering between 20 and 30 million lost since 2004) and Spain (2%). MEDIA Salles’ home turf was the only one to buck the trend with a slight decrease of 400,000 to 108.3 million biglietti.

Preserving Film Heritage
April marks a busy month for members of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Attending the seventh Orphans Symposium at the Visual Arts Theater in Manhattan, last known as Clearview Chelsea West, were “preservationists, scholars, curators, collectors, and media artists devoted to saving, studying and screening neglected moving images.”

Immediately following, April 11-15 in Amsterdam, The Nederlands Filmmuseum will be holding its third Biennale screenings of silent films with live performances of new soundtracks. Organized by AMIA, a special program, aptly called “The Reel Thing,” will focus on the most recent technologies in the field of film restoration and conservation.

Presenting Cinema Heritage
Malta-based Cinema Heritage Group (CHG) has the goal of “Recording and Preserving Cinemagoing History.” To further this laudable mission, chairman Marc Zimmerman recently presented an illustrated talk for the fifth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. CHG was founded in Dublin in 2006, so it’s no surprise that he called upon both the city’s “diverse historic cinemas—including dazzling movie palaces of the 1930s, unique local venues and rowdy fleapits—and their audiences from 1896 to today.”

Given the festival venues—including Cineworld, The Savoy and Screen Omniplex, the Irish Film Institute, the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield and Movies@Dundrum—we can be certain that there were no fleapits among them. In terms of rowdiness, who knows? After all, Colin Farrell attended the opening gala screening of Ondine and Jameson Whiskey is the official sponsor of the festival.

Meanwhile at the seventh Annual Irish Film and Television Awards, Farrell was crowned as best actor for that film, among winners in 39 categories. Our photo shows Lifetime Achievement recipient John Boorman and Jon Voight.

Kinoton Immerses Moviegoers
The latest news from the Germering-based projection experts at Kinoton extends from Berlin, Germany to Minsk, Belarus. As the nation’s first to offer digital 3D, the lines for the opening of Avatar were the longest the Kiev Cinema had seen since the 2008 Champions League soccer matches, the company duly noted. Kinoton’s local partner, Art Ramos Studios, installed the DCP 70 L d-cinema projector with integrated Dolby 3D color filter wheel and Dolby 3D server, all lighting up a 14-meter screen (46 feet).

Meanwhile in Berlin, at the Fraunhofer HHI and IDMT Institutes, the screen is all around panoramic. The showroom features a 180-degree projection surface installed by Kinoton and an IOSONO 3D sound system from the Fraunhofer’s Digital Media Technology division. Made of a glass fiber fabric, the screen is “specifically designed to support high-resolution digital projection of up to 6K.” In addition, “this material is characterized by a high acoustic transparency that brings the IOSONO surround sound system.”

Norway’s projectiondesign supplied seven of its F32 DLP projectors, required for a presentation with luminosity of around 28,000 lumens. “The HD images are projected using an optical mirror system as vertical slices,” the company explains. “Dedicated warping and blending hardware allows seamless transitions between these HD slices to enable the video to appear as a single panorama of brilliant image quality.”

On the panoramic program is Orlac Reloaded, a short-film adaptation of the 1924 Expressionistic classic The Hands of Orlac.

Harkness Mia!

Speaking of screens and in an update to our January notice about the Mamma Mia! super-singalong, Harkness was the provider of the giant 108-foot screen installed for the event at the O2 Arena in London. The presence of some 8,000 fans “required us to use a huge custom-built projection surface capable of providing the large audience with a great view anywhere in the arena,” said event outfitter Andy Peat. “We decided to use a Harkness Matt Plus screen because we were using three Christie CP2000XB projectors (provided by Motion Picture Solutions) that were overlapping each other and we didn’t want too much gain. In addition, since this was a large arena and not a standard cinema, we had to take into account the audience sitting all around the venue.”

Although this columnist was not there, it is probably safe to assume that they were dancing too!

Ymagis Going on SmartJog
SmartJog and Ymagis, the respective digital delivery provider and d-cinema deployment company, have begun integrating their technologies to fully service their exhibitors clients. With a presence in 65 countries, SmartJog currently has over 145 cinema sites and more than 600 digital screens connected in Europe. Backed by print fee agreements with Paramount, Disney, Fox, Universal, Sony, France’s MK2 and cinema advertisers Censier Publicinex, Ymagis in turn, has over 500 screens from more than 40 exhibitors in France, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg and Germany.

According to the agreement, Ymagis will bring SmartJog’s DCP delivery solutions to theatres using its Cinema Central Server. As a result, the companies promise, “exhibitors will benefit from efficient use of equipment space and efficiency of workflows.” Initially, the implementation will begin in France, with a goal “to rapidly extend their services to all countries in which they have a presence.”

Pinewood Studio Berlin Services Film

Pinewood Studios and Studio Hamburg launched a venture “that will allow European and international filmmakers to take advantage of their joint infrastructure and skills when producing feature films in Germany.” Noted Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive at Pinewood Studios Group, “Studio Hamburg’s excellent stages in Berlin, coupled with Pinewood's expertise and reputation in the film industry, will undoubtedly be an attractive offering to…producers that favor the excellent skills base, varied locations and incentives available.” For more information, check out www.pinewoodstudioberlin.com.

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