U.K.'s Cineworld begins 2012 at number one


U.K.-based Cineworld Group plc (www.cineworld.co.uk) will announce its 2011 operating results on March 8. Prior to entering its close period, the group said the cinemas in the U.K. and Ireland enjoyed “a satisfactory year” in 2011, with box office up 4.7% against the previous year, though partially boosted by an increase in the VAT rate. With Cineworld’s take at the tills “consistent with the overall industry performance,” total revenues for its 811 screens at 79 cinemas were up 1.5% as the circuit’s market-leading share remained the same at 24.6% (source: Rentrak/EDI).

Steve Wiener, chief executive of Cineworld Cinemas, noted, “Being number one reflects our passion and enthusiasm for film, bringing our audiences a wide range of content as well as the latest blockbusters… 2012 will continue to see investment into innovative technologies that will continue to enhance the experience.” Having installed digital at three-quarters of its screens, Cineworld expects to be fully converted by summer 2012.

Berlinale Partners with MoMA
Following last month’s item about going green and seeing red, the Berlin International Film Festival (www.berlinale.de) and Deutsche Kinemathek–Museum für Film und Fernsehen (www.deutsche-kinemathek.de) announced a long-term partnership with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Kicking off in April, the Department of Film will present a selection from this year’s Berlinale retrospective, entitled “The Red Dream Factory. Mezhrabpom-Film and Prometheus 1921–1936.”

“We share a long history of cordial relations,” noted Rainer Rother, artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek and section director of the Retrospektive, which the Kinemathek has organized for the Berlinale since 1977. “This new partnership will allow…the outcome of extensive preparations over years, to reach more audiences worldwide.” Going forward, the three partners will cooperate closely in selecting themes and curating the retrospective section. “[Bringing] these efforts together in a coherent and highly visible manner [is an] important new phase of our partnership,” added Rajendra Roy, the Celeste Bartos chief curator of film at MoMA.

XDC/FTT Reorganize European Sales
Effective at the beginning of next month, XDC/FTT will be operating under a new structure, organizing its pan-European presence in two geographic regions.

Headed by Thomas Rüttgers and based in Austria (FTT Digital Cinema GmbH), the Southeastern Europe branch covers Austria, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Russia as well as the former CIS countries. “There is an extraordinary potential in these markets,” Rüttgers said. The German branch (Film Ton Technik Hannsdieter Rüttgers) will be responsible for Western and Central Europe with Germany, Benelux, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic, including all FTT affiliates in those countries.

As part of the same restructuring, Rüttgers already stepped down in Germany, with XDC’s Serge Plasch becoming managing director there. “It has now become important to change the structure of our group in order to put our pan-European approach into practice as effectively as possible,” Plasch noted.

Headquartered in Liege, Belgium, XDC Group and its FTT affiliates is the number-one digital-cinema company in Europe with more than 4,900 committed digital screens of which 2,000 have already been deployed.

Happy Birthday, E-Cinemas and KoKi

Celebrating 85 years of cinema operations in Frankfurt, Germany, Filmtheaterbetriebe Jaeger made a donation of €5,000 (US$6,400) to the city’s Filmmuseum. Doing business as E-Kinos, the company’s exhibition roots date back to Oct. 10, 1926, when Ludwig Reichard, grandfather of Professor Klaus Jaeger, opened his Eden with 450 seats. In 1959, Frankfurt had 83 Kinos and 40,000 seats, including Ludwig’s 1,150-seat Europa Palast, which launched on August 29, 1952. The Esplanade followed two years later in the same building. To this day, this flagship location at the Hauptwache remains in family hands, albeit with eight screens. Nearby 200-seat single Eldorado is operated as an art house.

Forty years ago, relationships between city and commercial cinemas weren’t quite as cozy. On Dec. 3, 1971, the first and fully publicly funded “communal” cinema opened in Frankfurt, setting the stage for some 150 Kommunale Kinos to follow. Frankfurt’s KoKi was the outcome of cultural and political changes that aimed to free film from commercial constraints by giving it the same standing (and funding) as the other arts. In 1984, the KoKi moved into the Filmmuseum, where its 142–seat auditorium received a complete overhaul as part of last year’s extensive museum renovations.

Euro Film Support at Sundance
European Film Promotion (EFP) granted film sales support (FSS) to nine sales agents and two production companies with titles in the World Dramatic and World Documentary Competition sections of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 19-29).

Calling Sundance “one of the FSS flagship festivals with highly successful sales results,” the MEDIA Programme agency selected seven features and four documentaries from Greece, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, the U.K., Spain and France for its marketing support. FSS covers up to 45% of costs for a publicist, the production of publicity material, online PR or ads in the trades. In some cases, bringing over talent is also part of the campaigns.

Cartier Puts Love in the Spotlight
“L’amour a un nom et une couleur.” “True love has a name and a color.” So says the French luxury goods purveyor Cartier, laying claim to the “name” in that sentiment. And love should be presented in what Cartier calls Cinema-mode.

With screenwriting help from Xan Cassavetes, Italian director Luca Guadagnino (2011 BAFTA and Broadcast Film Critics Foreign-Language nominee I Am Love) has created three amazing shorts for the company/ Cartier rightly calls them “iconic love stories involving Paris and jewelry,” each set in a different part of the city: the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, Place de l’Opéra and the Jardins du Palais Royale. For this international production, Cartier brought together “a myriad of personalities that give life to these stories which are both unique and universal, like many romantic declarations.” Happy Valentine’s Day!

E-mail European news items for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@filmjournal.com.