European Film Promotion elects new board


UNIC is not the only professional association to elect new governors and representatives during the Festival de Cannes. The members of European Film Promotion (EFP) confirmed Christian J. Lemche (Danish Film Institute) as president and Martin Schweighofer (Austrian Film Commission) as VP. New representatives on the board of the support agency are Cristian Hordila (Romanian Film Promotion), Françoise Lentz (Film Fund Luxembourg) and Teresa McGrane (Irish Film Board); returning are Rafael Cabrera (Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Spain) and Mariette Rissenbeek (German Films). Lemche commented that it’s important to “keep evaluating and developing our activities in order to meet the challenges that follow with the changes in the economy and the film industry.”

UNIC to EU: Promote Cinema in the Digital Age
Even before this month’s CineEurope kicks into high gear, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) reminded EU politicians and policy-makers about the importance of cinemas in the digital age: “Exclusivity [is] the only means to finance the wealth of European films that exists today.” Speaking with the likes of Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission, and high-ranking representatives of the Culture and Legal Affairs Committees of the European Parliament, UNIC stressed “the need for an exclusive and sustainable theatrical window to enable European films to reach audiences.” See the full open letter here.

In a subsequent meeting, representatives from UNIC addressed several other aspects “of key relevance to the European film sector,” including challenges in the ongoing rollout of digital projection technology and the “interdependence of cinema exhibition and other film markets,” such as video-on-demand. UNIC also re-emphasized the importance of “film as cultural exception” in the free-trade negotiations between the EU and the U.S., as outlined in last month’s column.

In its plenary session in Strasbourg on March 23, the European Parliament voted to uphold the cultural exception (381 votes for, 191 against and 17 abstentions) in what the “Lux Prize” blog called a “clearly expressed…refusal to see cultural and audiovisual services used as trading tools in global trade negotiations with the United States.” Since maintaining the mandate is ultimately up to the member states and its foreign trade ministers, “mobilization” continues until June 14 when they will cast their vote. There is still time to cast your vote and sign the petition.

Cinema City Celebrates 100 Cinemas
The late-May signing of a lease agreement for an existing eight-plex and some 1,800 seats in the Polus Center as its second site in the Romanian city of Cluj marked the 100th multiplex for Cinema City International. At the beginning of the month, the company signed two agreements for space in AFI Palace shopping centers under construction in Bucharest and Ploiesti, the third and second locations in each city.

Since opening the first cinema in December 2007, Cinema City’s portfolio in Romania has grown to 15 locations and 142 screens. This latest addition brings the total number of screens of the multinational circuit headed by “Mooky” Greidinger to 947 in Israel and six Central and Eastern European markets. There are 34 more multiplexes and over 360 screens under development, the company noted. In 2012, Cinema City sold 36.3 million tickets, 2.5% more compared to 2011.

Screen Digests 500 Issues
With the publication of Issue 500 of their always indispensable research bulletin, our friends at Screen Digest take a deservedly proud look back at previous centenary issues “to take a snapshot of media developments covered and predicted (or hinted at) by our writers and analysts.”

While Issue 100 talks of “prospects for the 1980s” including the “video revolution” and satellite transmission having “made a serious impact on broadcasting techniques,” today’s editors selected the following prediction as a “visionary statement”:

“The impact of digital television is going to be enormous, lifting electronic reproduction from the age of steam to the era of nuclear power. Initially it means superior picture and sound quality, and the elimination of quality losses due to duplication or image processing; but in the longer term, it puts the television picture in a new order of fluency—whereby its content and its structure can be processed like word and numbers, language and mathematics.”

While obviously many more decades are covered, your columnist selected just one more note from “deep into the 1980s” that provides additional insight into cinema development in the U.K. as described by executives from Vue Entertainment in this issue. Nineteen new multiplexes with 207 screens had attained a 15% market share already when Screen Digest reported:

“Only four of the complexes were created by British-owned companies. AMC Entertainment was ‘the major growth factor at present,’ with Cineplex Odeon, Hoyts and National Amusements not far behind.”

As Screen Digest further surmised back then, “A profound change in the economics of U.K. cinema exhibition is an inevitable consequence. In the U.S., independent exhibitors have complained that the six or seven largest chains, which own 37.5% of 24,000 screens in the country, disproportionately account for 85% of box-office revenue.” Retrospectively, the publication notes, “AMC had announced its intention to double cinemagoing in the U.K. within five years, which would mean an annualized level of 140-150 million by 1993. These were to prove over-optimistic projections, though the oldest entertainment medium was undoubtedly given a massive boost by the multiplex revolution.”

Here’s to the next 100—wishing all of you Screen Digesters the very best!

American Pavilion Turns 25

In our third and last anniversary item, we are reporting about a facelift in Cannes. While there were certainly many more showcased on la Croisette during the film festival, the American Pavilion received an all-new look as well. Executed by Glow Studios, the redesign work was called “Cabana-esque,” with an expanded inside dining area that included “comfortable sofas and armchairs available for the weary Cannes film professional.” (I’ll take that kind of weary any time.)

For 25 years, The Pavilion has served as the “center of American hospitality for the film industry in Cannes… offering membership for professionals, provocative and insightful programming, immersive student programs, the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase and more.” To make sure that nothing was lost in translation, Sennheiser and JBL Professional provided the latest technology amongst a host of new sponsors that included Presenting Sponsors American Express and The Peninsula Hotels, Premiere Sponsor SodaStream, and the likes of Bouchard Pére et Fils, Deadline Hollywood, Lenovo, Mohawk Carpet and Samsung. Returning sponsors included The Asylum, Beringer, California Delicious, The Hollywood Reporter, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, Intel, International Herald Tribune, SAGIndie/Screen Actors Guild, Sierra Nevada, Variety, The Weinstein Company, and Weaver’s Coffee & Tea.