UNIC announces its 'Magnificent Seven' partners


At CineEurope, the International Union of Cinemas published its 2012 annual report, which stated “in headline terms” that total admissions across represented territories declined by 0.65% as box office grew by 3%. At year-end, 78% of screens had converted to digital projection.

The trade organization also announced the launch of its “Partnership Programme” with the goal of “creating closer links to key technology companies, suppliers and vendors operating in the cinema exhibition space.” Phil Clapp, president of UNIC, reasoned how “the increasing pace of innovation in our industry places even more importance upon the building of relationships with neighboring sectors.” Calling the seven companies that already joined the initiative “true champions of the industry,” he further lauded Coca-Cola, Deluxe, Dolby, IMAX, Orange, RealD and Technicolor for supporting “the long-term growth and sustainability of our sector.”

RealD Goes LUXE
RealD, one of those magnificent seven and, with some 22,700 screens in 68 countries, “the world’s most widely used 3D cinema technology,” took the first step in solidifying that partnership. Providing minimum technology specifications, such as screens with a width of at least 16 m (52.5 feet) and use of immersive sound formats, RealD hopes to unify the many “Premium Large Format” (PLF) experiences that exhibitors have created under the common brand of “LUXE: A RealD Experience.”

Disparate brands so far “have limited the potential of today’s high-end cinema offerings,” noted Joseph Peixoto, president of worldwide cinema at RealD. “With an alphabet soup of brands and differing amenities in each auditorium, moviegoers have been left unable to truly equate their PLF experience with a single offering. ‘LUXE: A RealD Experience’ intends to solve this puzzle…with one set of industry-leading technology standards for an exceptional entertainment experience moviegoers will seek out for years to come.”

Beginning in Europe this winter (Paul Heth of Karo Film in Russia and Stefan Minchev of Arena Cinema in Bulgaria are the first to come on the LUXE board), RealD expects both rebranding of existing PLF locations and new, upgraded auditoriums along with expansion into other territories around the world.

MEDIA Salles Selects Poland
MEDIA Salles posted the latest edition of DGT online informer (no. 92), which includes an article about “How digital is changing programming in cinemas.” Elisabetta Brunella, secretary general of the European cinema promotion agency, also wants to remind everybody about the 10th edition of “Digitraining Plus.” Scheduled from August 28 to Sept. 1, exhibitors and other experts will get together in Warsaw and Cracow, Poland, to hear about “New Technologies for the European Cinemas of the Future.” A visit to Cinema City Bonarka in Cracow, for instance, will include the pan-European exhibitor’s strategy on interactivity and the offerings of Cinemapark.

Sony Supports Cinema Events

Having worked with Sony Digital Cinema Europe and its local integrator ALTEI since 2006, the majority of the films during the Karlovy Vary Film Fest this year were screened on Sony 4K SXRD projectors. The festival’s production manager Petr Lintimer said they wanted “to deliver the best available cinema experience to the audience.” Oliver Pasch, Sony Europe’s sales director, concurred that the biggest film industry event in the Czech Republic made a perfect match to “come together and share industry advances.” Calling “the 4K message…a core theme of this year’s event,” Pasch and his team enjoyed another opportunity “to showcase Sony’s 4K successes to the industry” right after CineEurope.

Earlier from Barcelona, Sony dispatched a special video report about its activities at the convention. “For those unable to make it,” they e-mailed us, “we hope it gives you a taste of the experience here.”

Counting Down Screens
In his report last month, David Hancock of IHS ScreenDigest noted, “Cinema exhibition has long been a territorial activity, not cross-border, but a recent rise in acquisitions has put global consolidation back on the industry’s agenda.” Of the dozen chains that have more than 1,000 screens that he identified, five are indeed operating in several countries. From Europe, they include Odeon UCI and Vue Entertainment, whose 10th anniversary we just celebrated. Operating 987 screens at 102 sites in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, Europalaces will soon cross that mark of distinction along with Cinema City, which recently reached 100 locations in Israel and Eastern Europe. Whereas “the presence of four Chinese circuits in the top 12 indicates the country’s upcoming economic power,” Regal Entertainment Group remains the world’s largest circuit with 6,862 screens at 538 locations, all in the United States.

Fête Paradiso Comes to New York
With a name like Fête Paradiso, this author just couldn’t resist a visit to “the world’s first festival of vintage French carnival rides and carousels” at Governors Island in New York City (July 13 to Sept. 29). After all, Jour de Fête is one of my favorite French films, and who doesn’t like Cinema Paradiso? (Organizers confirmed that the latter film did indeed inspire the name of their showcase attraction.)

This one-of-a-kind and very cool collection includes one of only two remaining “bicycle carousels” (the other can be seen in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, when Marion Cotillard talks to Owen Wilson about her love for “La Belle Epoque”). Other highlights include Flying Chairs, Chinese Dragons, and a circa-1900 bumper car pavilion serving French food and beverage offerings from Le Gamin restaurant. The Music Hall Ball Guzzler from 1934 lets guests throw balls into the oversized mouths of Charlie Chaplin and Maurice Chevalier, among other caricatured personalities. The Fête also features an impressive “automated” pipe organ. Using punch cards and no less than 96 pipes, in comparison to the more customary 50 at the time of its making in 1910, this “call” organ stood at the fair entrance to lure visitors inside. (The only melody that this columnist recognized was “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago, which was clearly added at some later point.)

We end with some news about that other classic Fête, the one devised by French comedy master Jacques Tati. After a special screening during the Festival de Cannes in May, “splendidement restaurée en numérique 2K,” Carlotta Films re-releases Jour de Fête on July 24 in France. I very fondly remember watching an earlier restored version in equally splendid 35mm—and Tati’s Playtime in 70mm and magnetic sound—that colorized certain elements during the Bastille Day festivities like flags and the carousel, of course. This version had nothing to do with the Thomson Color process that Tati had used originally, in addition to filming his 1949 marvel in black-and-white too. In 1995, his daughter Sophie Tatischeff supervised the restoration of the version shot in Thomson Color. As you may remember, Thomson purchased Technicolor in 2001 and rebranded the entire company.