IMAX expands its Cineworld

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European Update

This column coming on the heels of CinemaCon 2018, it is full of deals, both good old partnerships renewed and brave new ones forging ahead. In line with the recent cross-continental consolidation and acquisitions, exhibitors and their suppliers are acting more global than ever before.

Including its U.S. subsidiary Regal Entertainment, Cineworld Group will install 26 new and upgrade 29 existing IMAX auditoriums across its portfolio of cinemas across ten countries. The 12-year renewal of leases includes installation of IMAX 4K laser technology from now until 2022, along with additional enhancements including IMAX’s 12-channel immersive sound, Cineworld and Regal-provided luxury seating and redesigned aesthetics at all their IMAX locations.

“There is no doubt in my mind that IMAX with Laser provides the best blockbuster moviegoing experience and will be our leading premium offering,” said Mooky Greidinger, chief executive officer of Cineworld Group PLC, lauding a 20-year partnership. “We both understand how to create best-in-class customer experiences. For us, this agreement is about continuing that legacy and introducing a new era of IMAX moviegoing.”

Cineworld is the second-largest cinema chain in the world (9,538 screens), and the largest (with more than 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens) is not far behind when it comes to a laser-sharp focus. In fact, both announced the signing of binding letters of intent on April 24 in Las Vegas. Under a joint revenue-sharing arrangement with renewed 12-year lease terms, IMAX will install its “groundbreaking laser experience for commercial multiplexes” in 87 of the AMC Theatres’ highest-performing locations across the U.S.

“Years in the making,” IMAX chief executive officer, Richard L. Gelfond, noted that “this powerful new product will over time help ensure that IMAX remains the premium cinematic experience of choice among moviegoers, studios, filmmakers and theatre partners alike.”

Cineworld Gets Moving

With South Korea’s CJ 4DPLEX, Cineworld signed another agreement at CinemaCon that will expand their existing partnership for motion- and special-effects seating to 145 theatre locations across the U.S. and EMEA. The global rollout plan calls for 85 4DX venues across the former, which will add another 79 to the six currently operating at Regal Cinemas. Across Europe, Middle East and Africa, Cineworld already operates 40 auditoriums that immerse moviegoers into environments such as vibration, rain and mist, wind, bubbles, lightning, scents and more. Another 20 locations will be added at Cineworld and Cinema City-branded movie theatres, according to the agreement.

Cinema City marked the start of the relationship with CJ 4DXPLEX at the opening of the first location in Israel in 2012. Today, the country boasts four, as 16 more 4DX screens operate in the United Kingdom under the Cineworld brand, six in Poland, five in Romania, and three each in Hungary and the Czech Republic, two in Bulgaria and one in Slovakia. Cineworld’s primary cinema brands are Regal (in the U.S.), Cineworld and Picturehouse (in the U.K. and Ireland), Cinema City (throughout Europe) and Yes Planet (Israel).

“The success we have seen so far in this partnership has been outstanding,” said Mooky Greidinger, chief executive officer of the Cineworld Group. “We expect our moviegoers will continue to seek out the newest titles in 4DX. Being at the edge of cinema exhibition is always a goal and working with CJ 4DPLEX is one of the ways we can deliver future-thinking cinema experiences to our audience members.” All 500 million of them.

CinemaNext for Cineplexx

Remaining in South Korea, by way of Paris (France) and Las Vegas (Nevada) dealings, the lovely Austrian capital city of Vienna will be first to be illuminated by the latest CinemaLED technology.

CinemaNext, the European specialist in cinema exhibitor services (and subsidiary of Ymagis Group) and Constantin Film-Holding GmbH will install the first Samsung 3D Onyx CinemaLED at Cineplexx Wienerberg. This is not only the first in the country, but also the first for the European Union, said Christian Langhammer, owner and managing director of Constantin Film Group. “We continue to invest in enhancing the cinematic experience with what unquestionably constitutes a game-changer for our industry.”

Again, experience was key to picking up their game. “After the successful deployment of the next-generation sound systems at select Cineplexx cinemas,” Langhammer also named the March opening of their 50th cinema in Parndorf as instrumental. “We are thrilled to once again partner with CinemaNext.”

According to Christof Federle at CinemaNext Austria, Samsung’s 3D Onyx CinemaLED screen will be 10.24 m wide by 5.4 m tall (33.6 ft by 17.7 ft.) in “ultra-sharp 4K resolution” (4,906 x 2,160) with nearly nine million pixels, and “coupled with state-of-the-art 7.1 audio technologies from Harman’s JBL Professional Brand.” Closely working with his colleagues who are building and assembling the LED complex structure in Valencia, Spain, Federle hopes to have it all installed by mid-July.

First introduced in July 2017, Samsung Cinema Screen is a DCI-certified cinema display, which amplifies onscreen content through HDR and EclairColor HDR picture quality, offering peak brightness levels nearly 10 times greater (146fL) than the common cinema standard (14fL). CinemaNext also noted how “unlike standard 3D cinemas, the Samsung CinemaLED screen provides consistent picture quality across an entire theatre, ensuring a uniform, immersive viewing experience for viewers in every seat.”

Speaking of the third dimension, Cineplexx renewed its partnership with RealD for equipment, glasses and as many as ten RealD Ultimate Screens across Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Greece. New sites to open soon include a second cinema in Tirana (Albania) and Novi Sad (Serbia) as well as one at home in Tulln.

“Cineplexx has always been at the forefront of investing in technical innovation,” Roger Harris, managing director for EMEA/Russia at RealD, noted about the six-year extension. “Together we will continue to enhance not only our technical improvements such as Ultimate Screen, but will also identify common marketing opportunities with Cineplexx to strengthen the 3D markets in all territories even further.”