U.K. Film Council issues upbeat report

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“The U.K. film industry is weathering the recession well,” stated John Woodward, chief executive officer of the U.K. Film Council, surveying the 2009 numbers:

* Second-best production year on record (total spend of £956.9 mil., 56% higher than 2008; €1.103 billion; US$1.553 billion)
* Highest-ever level of inward investment (£752.7m, which has more than doubled year-on-year; €868 mil.; US$752.7 mil.)
* Level of independent film production culturally specific to the U.K. of 71 films, taking their largest market share in a decade (8.5% of U.K. box office; including those with U.S. backing, the number goes up to 16.5%)
* Cinemas reach their highest attendance since 2002 (173.5 million in the U.K./Ireland), with box-office revenues exceeding £1 billion for the first time (€1.153 billion; US$1.623 billion)

“Taken together,” Woodward summarized, “these box-office and inward investment numbers show how film in the U.K. has moved from the margins back to the mainstream, helping sustain jobs and promote the U.K.’s place on the international stage.”

Siôn Simon, minister for the creative industries, was even more enthusiastic: “We are now looking at superb production statistics and incredibly buoyant box-office receipts… It should, of course, be remembered that none of this success happens by chance. Strong and consistent investment by Government over this decade has helped to give U.K. film the economic and cultural prominence it deserves.” Find the full report at www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk.

Martini to the Nines
Be Italian… and sip on a Martini Rosso, Bianco or, even, the special Martini Contini cocktail. Following the lavish launch of Nine in Rome, stars of the film—Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren—and some 500 local celebrities and guests gathered on the Martini Terrazza for the official after-party. “We have a long, natural association with cinema,” Vincent Huinck, Martini’s global marketing manager, pointed out.

In the 1960s and ’70s, many new films and their stars were launched at the company terrazzas in Barcelona, Paris, Milan, London and São Paulo. More recently, commercials have been shot by Robert Rodriguez and François Girard, “further reinforcing the brand’s rightful association with the world of cinema and movie stars.”

CineCitta’ Sees 25 Millionth Moviegoer
On Jan. 10, at the 3 p.m. showing of Avatar in 3D, Berhard Graf of Nürnberg was in for a big surprise—and a year of free movies to boot. Turns out he was guest number 25 million at the German wonder-plex, CineCitta’ (www.cinecitta.de).

Since opening in the fall of 1995, the cinema has not only grown to 21 screens, including an IMAX and MAD motion ride attraction (2001), with numerous bars and restaurants, it has also become Germany’s most successful multiplex. In January 2007, CineCitta’ celebrated the 20-million moviegoer milestone, followed by becoming the first German multiplex to go fully 2K DLP Cinema in mid-2008. On Oct. 18, CineCitta’ will turn 15. Knowing creator-owner-operator Wolfram Weber, the party will be spectacular.

XDC and FTT Align
After more than four years of successfully collaborating on the deployment of d-cinema across European markets, XDC International and Film Ton Technik (FTT) made it official. Liège, Belgium-based d-cinema services provider XDC acquired the majority shares in the 50-year-old cinema technology firm of Düsseldorf, Germany. Both the family name and established management team remain in place as FTT continues to work with its subsidiaries in Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Netherlands. FTT also announced a bulk purchase agreement with Christie for 300 Solaria projectors. The series includes three new 2K DLP Cinema models with 4K upgrade option and two 4K models. All are expected to have been installed by mid-2011, FTT reports.

Company founder Hannsdieter Rüttgers stated, “In the digital age, a comprehensive network of partners is essential for being able to offer your customers an attractive service package.” Among the first to reap the benefits in Germany are kinos in Bad Tölz, Güstrow, Mönchengladbach, Walldorf and Zweibrücken. “We have always focused on a premium local technical service for exhibitors,” elaborated Serge Plasch, chief executive officer of XDC. With over 1,350 digital screens committed in 11 countries, half of which have already been deployed, XDC is the self-proclaimed “European leader for digital-cinema technology and services.”

Academy Sci-Tech Scans ARRI

More on the Teutonic technology front: München-based Arnold and Richter Cine Technik (www.ARRI.com) was honored with its 16th Scientific and Technical Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The recipients are Michael Cieslinski, Dr. Reimar Lenz and Bernd Brauner for “the development of the ARRISCAN film scanner, enabling high-resolution, high-dynamic-range, pin-registered film scanning for use in the digital intermediate process.”

ARRI technology not only provides the first step entering into the digital domain, but also the last. In 2002, the company received a Scientific and Engineering Award for the ARRILASER film recorder for “bringing the final look of the production back onto film for audiences to watch in theatres.” More than 100 ARRISCANs are in use worldwide and recent films that utilized the technology included The Blind Side, Up in the Air, Twilight: New Moon and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Meatballs Served in Noir

During the 19th NoirInFestival at the Italian ski resort Courmayeur, Germany’s Kinoton and its country partner, Kinoroma, added MasterImage 3D glasses to the predominant optical fashion accessories of sunglasses and snow goggles. For its younger audiences, festival organizers provided a “MiniNoir” program that included Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and a 30-minute presentation of Avatar.

Kinoton reported that audiences were “thrilled by the brilliant three-dimensional cinema experience” supplied by its DCP 30 L Digital Cinema Projector with a 6.5 kW standard xenon lamp.

Kodak Supports Clermont-Ferrand
Once again, Kodak provided major support of student filmmaking at the 32nd International Short Film Festival and Market (Jan. 29 to Feb. 6) in Clermont-Ferrand, France. “It is very important to support emerging filmmakers as much as possible,” states Thierry Perronnet, marketing director for Kodak’s European region. “Film is the only medium providing them an uncompromising combination of image quality, full HD compatibility, cost-effectiveness and archivability.” By helping new talent present their work to a professional audience, Kodak offers “a unique opportunity for massive exposure and networking.”

After all, with almost 138,000 admissions and over 2,800 professional delegates for the 2009 edition, Clermont-Ferrand is the second-largest film festival in France after Cannes. Follow Kodak on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KodakMotionPictureFilm.

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