India's Global Imaging Technology Center Earns an Oscar


We start off this month with congratulations to Reliance MediaWorks Ltd., India’s entertainment mega-conglomerate, whose Burbank, Calif.-based Global Imaging Technology Center will receive a 2012 Scientific and Technical Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. This is the first time an Indian company has won the coveted award.

The award will be presented at the pre-Oscar ceremony on Feb. 11 to John Lowry, Ian Cavén, Kimball Thurston, Ian Godin and Tim Connolly. The honor is for the development of a unique and efficient system for the reduction of noise and other artifacts, providing high-quality images for the filmmaking process. The Academy cited the company’s proven record of contributing significant technological value.

Thurston, lead scientist at Reliance MediaWorks' Technology Center, said of the honor, “Being selected for this award is a very rigorous process, which proves that the technology that started well over ten years ago has become a powerful tool in moviemaking, and that our peers and customers in Hollywood respect the technology as a unique offering. I am extremely proud to have helped in its creation.”

Anil Arjun, CEO of Reliance MediaWorks, stated, “We are extremely proud of the team and their invaluable contribution towards the development of the proprietary image-processing technology. Technology and innovation has been the cornerstone of our strategy and it is a great honor for the company to have its technology and members receive this prestigious recognition.”

Besides having a comprehensive presence in film services, restoration and image enhancement, 3D, digital mastering, visual effects, studio and equipment rentals and TVC post-production across India, the USA, U.K., Russia and Japan, Reliance MediaWorks operates BIG Cinemas, India's largest cinema chain with over 530 screens in India, the United States, Malaysia, Nepal and the Netherlands.

CNN Salutes Major’s Deluxe Enigma
Whenever we enter the New Year, we are bombarded with “best of” lists. For the first time, CNN GO, a series of printed web-based articles featuring lifestyle, cultural and entertainment activities from select Asian geographical areas, compiled a “Best Bangkok VIP Movie Theaters” list.

A startling choice, and way out of what I can afford to pay to go to the movies, is Major Cineplex’s Enigma Theater at the Siam Paragon in downtown Bangkok. At 3,000 baht a ticket (US$100), you not only get to see a Hollywood “blockbuster” in a 34-seat (sofa-bed) theatre, but you get to have free preshow drinks in the VIP lounge (wine, cocktails or whiskey), appetizers (pasta, crepes, deserts and veggie dishes), in-theatre “free” refillable soft drinks and one free (yes, just one—no refills) tub of popcorn.

There are a number of other VIP theatres, not so pricey (set at about 700 to 800 baht, or $22.50 to $25.80), with almost the same amenities—but larger and with no sofa-bed seats.
How far we have come in the 19 years I have lived here in Thailand! When I first arrived, a movie ticket for a small, dirty, rundown theatre cost 25 baht. Now you can choose a clean, high-tech theater with free booze and food service at 3,000 baht—it’s hard to believe.

Malaysia Prohibits Camcording in Cinemas
Malaysia last month approved a bill that makes camcording of films in cinemas illegal. Legislators passed an amendment to Section 43A of the country's Copyright Act banning people from using or attempting to use a recording device in a cinema. The minimum penalty is a fine of MYR10,000 ($1,570) with the maximum penalty a five-year jail sentence.

"It is about time that such a law is in place, as current legislation falls short of the necessary deterrent required," said Norman Abdul Halim, secretary general of the Malaysian Film Producers Association. "The passage of these new provisions is a welcome advantage in our battle against film theft and will allow our authorities to take action against those criminals who seek to illegally profit from the blood, sweat and tears of our creative communities."

Irving Chee, general manager of Golden Screen Cinemas Sdn Bhd, said that the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors welcomed the passage of the provisions and that the Association's members will fully support their implementation.

The Motion Picture Association of America noted that in 2010 around 10% of global camcording was forensically traced to theatres in the Asia-Pacific region.

CJ Launches Vietnam Distribution
Back in October 2011, CJ E&M Pictures, part of Korea’s CJ E&M Corp., began direct distribution of its own film titles in Vietnam, the fourth territory where it self-distributes theatrically (along with the USA, Japan and China).

The company’s motorbike action comedy Quick was the first title to be handled under the new arrangement. It ranked second in Vietnam’s box office behind the reissued Lion King and ahead of Abduction.

The move follows the acquisition earlier in 2011 of Vietnam's leading cinema chain Megastar in a $74 million deal by CGV, another CJ E&M group company that is Korea's largest theatre chain.

CJ is also the largest distributor in South Korea, where it handles a slate that includes its own titles, plus those of Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation and occasional imported acquisition titles, such as the Aung Sang Suu Kyi biopic The Lady.

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