Japanese protestors target 'The Cove'

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In Japan, it's not safe to go to the movies—if the movies happen to be about dolphins. While the Oscar-winning The Cove has been in theatres for a year, it received its commercial release in Japan just this past July. Directed by Louie Psihoyos with assistance from Ric O'Barry, the guy who trained the dolphins for the original ’60s U.S. TV program "Flipper,” the documentary reveals a hidden cove near the Japanese coastal village of Taiji, where sonar is used to confuse dolphins and lead them into a cul-de-sac where they're trapped and killed. O'Barry long ago became an animal-rights activist when he realized human handling and training of dolphins was harmful to the mammals.

Nationalist (right-wing) protesters in Tokyo and surrounding cities decided the doc was "anti-Japanese" and accused the filmmakers of poisoning Japanese minds, threatening and in some cases actually confronting moviegoers.

Japanese distributor Unplugged took protestors to court in Yokohama City in late June in an attempt to block them from disrupting screenings. Specifically mentioned in the case was the Yokohama New Theater.

The court ordered a ban on demonstrations at theatres, but that did not stop protestors from roughing up moviegoers and disturbing screenings, especially outside a theatre in the Tokyo district of Shibuya. Police were called in to break up that melee.

Philippines’ Cebu Welcomes IMAX
I haven't been to Cebu in the Philippines for a number of years, but I remember it as a laid-back, semi-developed island where the food, drink and accommodations were not expensive. Well, that has changed with development and so has the theatre scene, with SM Cinemas opening a new IMAX cinema on Cebu.

Allan M. Florendo, assistant VP for sales and marketing of SM Cinemas, says SM opened the IMAX digital theatre in Cebu because the Cebuanos were ready for any innovation in cinematography. SM has now opened three IMAX theatres in the Philippines, at SM Mall of Asia, SM North Edsa and the new SM Cebu.

Technicolor 3D Conducts Demo in Bangkok
Following the successful launch of Technicolor 3D in North America and Europe, Technicolor's Bangkok facility Technicolor Asia introduced their 3D-on-film solution to key industry players in Thailand on July 15.

Heading up Technicolor Asia's new 3D sales and marketing team is Tim Meade, former VP of Sony Entertainment Home Entertainment Ltd. in China/Hong Kong.

UIP's Shrek Forever After was screened using Technicolor 3D and audience reaction was excellent. Paitoon Supsamanwong, general manger of Bangkok-based Mahajak Arrays International Co. Ltd., a key provider of home and commercial audiovisual equipment, declared, "I could not see any difference between this [Technicolor 3D] and digital 3D. It seemed like there was less ‘flickering’ here, which in regular digital 3D causes some people to get headaches."

Lim Eng Thye, senior manager, technical, of Singapore-based Cathay Cineplexes PTE Ltd., sees Technicolor 3D as a more "economical solution" than digital 3D.

The bridge technology is expected to do well in Asia, where modern multiplexes have increased theatre coverage in many nations but economics keep circuits from a full digital deployment, especially in less economically developed areas.

"Technicolor 3D bridges the gap to full digital deployment with a quality solution,” Meade states. "Exhibitors need a low cost of entry to increase 3D projector capacity in order to maximize interest in the upcoming 3D product slate." Hollywood studios alone have announced release of around 19 3D movie productions by year's end.

Thailand Celebrates Epic Shanghai Shoot
The largest film production ever shot in Thailand, The Weinstein Company's Shanghai premiered in Thailand the week of July 16 with a special screening for members of Thailand's National Movie and Video Committee, the government body in charge of support and development of Thailand's film-related industries.

Present at the screening were committee chairman Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Trirong Suwankiri and other members of the National Movie and Video Committee, along with related government and press representatives.

Shanghai, a period drama set in 1941, was filmed in Thailand and the U.K. With a total production budget of around US$77 million, $3 million alone was spent on turning eight acres of Bangkok's Moonstone Studio backlot into World War II-era Shanghai.

"We realize Thailand receives great benefit from foreign productions filming in Thailand," Dr. Suwankiri commented. "Direct benefits are employment of skilled and non-skilled workers, professional actors, crafts-people, rental of transportation, accommodations, props and filming equipment. And of course, the country earns income on other production and post-production services, catering services, transportation, etc. Also indirect income into telecommunications, spa and other tourism products takes place at the grass roots.

“Moreover, large film productions lead to transfer of modern film technology from world-class professionals. And lastly, even if in films like Shanghai you cannot tell it is Thailand on the screen, these productions publicize Thailand without cost. For these reasons, we have strongly requested the Cabinet to initiate incentives for foreign filmmakers to film in Thailand. We expect them to approve these incentives shortly."

Shanghai was directed by Mikael Hafstrom and stars John Cusack, Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li and Ken Watanabe. Executive producers are Steven Squillante, David Thwaites, and Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

Contact Scott Rosenberg with relevant news stories at prdivision@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @scott_cos.