'The Interview' and the Internet

Columns

So much has been said about the controversial film The Interview that this editor felt it would not be to anyone’s benefit to rehash the saga of the nation’s biggest theatre chains dropping the film, Sony Pictures withdrawing the pic, the independent theatres that came forward to show the movie, and its release online and via rentals. This brief editorial will focus on the dissemination of The Interview on the Internet and how this will affect future releases.

The Internet release of The Interview took in some $30 million. This is a historic amount compared to other efforts by some studios. However, it is not a fair comparison, as the hacking at Sony Pictures was an unprecedented event. The circumstances were so unique that we do not envision either Sony or other major film studios making it a habit of simultaneously releasing their pictures in cinemas and on the Internet.

Movie ticket sales continue to produce more revenue per viewer than online sales and rentals. It’s simple: Each theatregoer must purchase his own ticket, but with a rental or purchase of a DVD, more people at one time can view a film. The math is undeniable, and there’s the fact that major theatre owners pass on films that are released at the same time on home outlets.

The release of The Interview was also special in that the Sony hacking generated extraordinary publicity. Most movies will continue to benefit from the traditional release pattern. The theatrical release is a marketing event that garners reviews in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV, as well as word-of-mouth reactions from patrons. At this time, it is unconceivable that the same interest would be generated through digital distribution.

The three biggest threats to exhibition today remain the simultaneous release of films in theatres and on the Web; the further deterioration of the theatrical release window, and the theft of content.

ICTA Shares Its Knowledge
One of the best-kept secrets in the U.S. technology arena is the annual ICTA Seminar Series in Los Angeles. The International Cinema Technology Association is one of the most important international associations dedicated to equipment and new technologies throughout the global theatrical market. The ICTA is also a leader in the educational seminar process, holding several seminars a year to present new and informative advice on changing technologies and how to achieve the very best motion picture experience.

The seminar was recently held in California at the Universal Hilton Hotel. The business session attracted more than 200 people from all walks of the motion picture industry—exhibition, distribution and, of course, the manufacturers and distributors of equipment for cinema presentations. In addition to the educational aspects of the seminar, it is a wonderful venue for the exchange of ideas and constructive suggestions concerning improvement of manufacturing and technical standards for products and systems used in the theatre industry.

Everyone who is anyone in this area of the motion picture industry was present at the opening reception on Monday, January 19, and nearly all stayed for the actual seminar that lasted two days. The topics were very diverse, touching upon the technical and the non-technical. Some of those included:
•    A keynote Address from the President of NATO, John Fithian
•    Immersive Audio’s Learning Curve
•    A Worldwide Laser Update
•    Luxury Seating Considerations
•    Live and Pre-recorded Entertainment: The New Revenue Generator
•    Measuring Movie Loudness
•    Exhibitors Speaking Out
•    Immersive Technologies
•    Cinema IT Systems Outside the Booth
•    The Evolution of Premier Digital Signage

The ICTA represents nearly 200 of the most prestigious manufacturing and equipment companies around the world. When you deal with an ICTA member, you can be assured that you are dealing with a professional and with a person or company with a sound reputation.

For more information on the ICTA and/or joining the association, go to their website at www.icta-web.com.

From Editor to Exhibitor
The historic Vassar Theatre is a single-screen cinema located in rural Vassar, Michigan. The theatre opened in 1937 and continues to light downtown Vassar, showing first-run movies seven days a week.

In its 75-year history, the theatre has survived numerous floods, extended closures, vandalism, economic hardships and the ravages of time. After a complete restoration, the cinema was rechristened in 2005 and was soon after voted “Mid-Michigan’s best movie theatre.”

So why is Film Journal International telling our readers about this historic theatre? Simply because one of our own has purchased this Art Deco gem. Andreas Fuchs, our exhibition and business editor, bought the Vassar on Dec. 18.

As Andreas says, “After 20-plus years of looking and helping others to run their movie theatres, I will finally have one of my own.” The former owner, Tim O’Brien, passed away in March 2014. Andreas emphasizes that O’Brien “worked many, many years restoring this 1937 Art Deco treasure and was a great movie hero to the community as the Kickstarter campaign to go digital became a reality. While I certainly have some big shoes to fill, I also feel that I do share with him the same passion and love for the exhibition business.” 

All of us at Film Journal International and the Film Expo Group wish Andreas and his family much success and happiness in this new venture and their move to Vassar, Michigan. Andreas has been part of our family for the past 20 years and has been an instrumental member of our team. The really good news is that he will continue to do his writing and reporting for FJI. Way to go, Andreas!