Saluting Two Remarkable Circuits

In Focus

Although we are just weeks away from 2016, this editor believes that it is appropriate to reiterate some important statistics from 2014. Global box office for all films released in each country around the world reached $36.4 billion. This increase of one percent over 2013 is attributed to an increase in international box office to $26 billion. Growth was driven primarily by the Asia-Pacific region’s 12 percent rise. Chinese box office continued to grow at an extraordinary rate and reached $4.8 billion, or 34 percent growth in 2014.

Growth in the Asia-Pacific region has been spurred by double-digit growth in screen count as compared to an increase of six percent worldwide. These statistics are quite pertinent as the industry arrives in Hong Kong for the 2015 edition of CineAsia. Six of the top ten international box office markets are situated in the Asia-Pacific territory, led by China, Japan, India and South Korea.

The December edition of Film Journal International highlights two of the CineAsia award winners, who do business primarily in South Korea and India. CJ CGV and their CEO Jung Seo are being feted as “Exhibitor of the Year” and Cinépolis India, led by managing director Javier Sotomayor, is the recipient of the “DLP Cinema Marketing Achievement Award.”

CJ CGV currently operates 127 cinemas with 964 screens in Korea, 45 cinemas with 357 screens in China, and 27 cinemas with 178 screens in Vietnam. The circuit has also begun expansion in Malaysia and Indonesia. CJ’s formula for success is to “provide an experience beyond movies” and it has led to the development of such new technologies as the multi-sensory 4DX and multi-screen ScreenX. The chain also has Tempur Cinemas, the world’s first reclining-bed cinemas. In our interview, Seo explains that “all these upgrades and developments are done to bring more people into our theatres. We believe the developments in new technologies and special-format cinemas are keeping us competitive in the market and allow us to expand.”

Cinépolis India is the creation of Cinépolis, the number-one theatre circuit in Mexico and the fourth-largest chain in the world. After six short years, Cinépolis India now operates 217 all-digital stadium-seating screens throughout India.

When this editor traveled to Cinépolis headquarters in Delhi two years ago, the chain only operated 80 screens. Their subsequent growth both organically and through the acquisition of Fun Cinemas has dramatically increased their footprint in the Indian market.

Since its founding in 2009, Cinépolis India has had a tremendous impact on moviegoing in India. As Sotomayor notes, “We introduced India to the concept of megaplexes and also introduced newer technologies like 4DX, in-house coffee shops, ticketless entry, ordering food from apps and more.” He has much more to report in our exclusive interview.

CineAsia is also presenting the “Distributor of the Year” Award to Jack Ledwith, Universal Pictures’ senior VP and managing director of international distribution and marketing. A 19-year Universal veteran, Ledwith is the ultimate gentleman and professional. During his tenure, the studio has had its three highest-grossing years at the international box office. FJI congratulates all the CineAsia honorees.

A Misguided Decision

Recently, a federal appeals court issued a landmark decision that holds that the International Trade Commission overstepped its authority by preventing a dental firm from importing digital files. Although the dispute centers on braces, the decision is a major setback for the MPAA in its worldwide anti-piracy efforts.

The appeals court heard the case after the ITC prevented dental company ClearCorrect from importing a design for 3D-printed invisible braces. The dispute gained national attention because of the prospect that the U.S. government could interfere with data transmissions from Internet service providers. The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America filed an amicus brief urging that the ITC should have the ability to address copyright infringement in the digital realm.

The case hinged on the meaning of “articles” under the Tariff Act of 1930, which gives the ITC authority to intervene when it sees unfair practices in import trade. The question arises as to whether “articles” are limited to “physical” goods or something more. The ITC argued that it was wrong to believe that U.S. trade authorities haven’t been given authority over data transmissions.

The court ruled that preventing transmission of digital data clashes with the “unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.” The circuit judge ruled, “It is clear that ‘articles’ mean material things.” A dissenting judge said that the Tariff Act was enacted to protect American industry from unfair competition and that it should not be limited to technologies existing 90 years ago, when the law was written. That judge noted, “The panel majority’s removal of this remedy from a preeminent form of today’s technology is a dramatic withdrawal of existing rights, devoid of statutory support and of far-reaching impact.”

We believe that this decision is very shortsighted and removes current technology from the protection of a statute designed for its protection. We strongly agree with the MPAA that the ruling “would appear to reduce the authority of the ITC to address the scourge of overseas websites that engage in blatant piracy of movies…and other copyrighted works.” Laws are meant to be followed, but laws that are 90 years old need to be interpreted in line with current technology and the courts must be more flexible in ruling on the true intent of those laws.

New Findings on ‘Junk Foods’

In many states in the USA, laws and regulations are being promulgated to reduce the intake of soda as a primary contributor to obesity. The theatrical industry is responding to these efforts by the government and just gained a strong ally in a new Cornell University Food and Brand Lab study conducted by Lab co-directors David Just and Brian Wansink and published in Obesity Science & Practice.

Just and Wansink reviewed a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S. and found the consumption frequency of soda, candy and fast food is not linked to Body Mass Index (BMI) for 95% of the population. Because there was no significant difference in the consumption frequency of these indulgent foods between overweight and healthy-weight individuals, they concluded that the vast majority of weight problems are probably not caused by these eating habits alone. Just concluded that “diets and health campaigns aimed at reducing and preventing obesity may be off-track if they hinge on demonizing specific foods. If we want real change, we need to look at the overall diet and physical activity. Narrowly targeting junk foods is not just ineffective, it may be self-defeating, as it distracts from the real underlying causes of obesity.”

The Cornell study thus recommended that clinicians and practitioners aiming to help patients lose weight should examine how overall consumption patterns such as snacking, along with physical activity, impact weight instead of simply eliminating “junk foods” from diets.