Getting Ready for CineEurope

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In Focus

When things go well in one place, they usually go well elsewhere too. That is the history whenever CinemaCon in Las Vegas concludes with CineEurope just around the corner. The Vegas convention hit a home run this year, with more studio participation than ever before. And when the Vegas event does well, we can just about always count on a successful CineEurope. So the outlook is bright for the 2018 show in Barcelona, Spain.

It doesn’t hurt that gross box office in the European Union passed 7.02 billion euros and was down a mere 0.3% from 2016. This still equates to the third-highest level ever recorded. Likewise, cinema attendance dropped 0.8% to a total of 984 million, still reaching the third-highest level in the EU since 2004. So, all in all, it was a good year for Europe, making the continent primed for CineEurope.

Eleven companies are participating in the Barcelona show with product presentations, and because the international teams are given more leeway to show product, they are able to screen a lot more for the delegates.

One of the new additions to CineEurope is the debut of the “Gold Awards.” This new honor recognizes those individuals who may not command the spotlight but have made an outstanding contribution both to the ongoing success of their company and the wider European cinema industry. This signifies that CineEurope is truly about the people.

Other notable details of the convention include:

* The first appearance by STX at the show

* The return of eOne after a year’s absence

* An executive roundtable featuring Fox’s Stacey Snider, Cineworld’s Mooky Greidinger and Vue’s Tim Richards

* A special award to Sicario: Day of the Soldado director Stefano Sollima

* The largest tradeshow to date, with a specially constructed location for focus sessions.

* Screenings of movies from Disney, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate

* Awards to Patrick Wachsberger of Lionsgate and Olga Zinyakova of KARO Cinemas

 

Among the interesting facts that will be touched on at CineEurope:

* Outside the EU, the Russian GBO soared 9.5% due to an unprecedented surge in cinema attendance of 10 percent, making Russia the biggest European market in term of admissions.

* As in previous years, U.S. studio titles dominated the EU box office, representing 19 out of the 20 top films in 2017.

* Confirming another familiar trend, franchise titles dominated the EU charts in 2017—15 out of the top 20.

Yes, everything points to a good CineEurope and a very strong 2018-19.

The Promise of Saudi Arabia

There have been so many buzzwords in this industry over the past decade. Words like digital, laser, LED, HDR, Dolby Vision. And now the latest buzz is about Saudi Arabia, which is welcoming cinemas for the first time in 35 years. Let’s take a look at this kingdom and see what the pros and cons are.

In the July edition of Film Journal International, our writers have done a very creditable job of looking at the history of the country as well as seeking feedback from key theatrical exhibitors who are already operating in the region or will enter it soon.

Saudi Arabia is a hub between Europe, Asia and Africa. Out of a population of 32 million, the majority are under 30 years of age. The economy is growing but relies heavily on oil. Everything for its citizens is either free or subsidized. To address these concerns and others, Mohammed bin Salman (M.B.S.) created Vision 2030, a plan with quantifiable goals to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, diversify the Saudi economy and make it the best investment opportunity in the Middle East.

The return of commercial movie theatres began with AMC opening a 624-seat theatre in a converted symphony hall in Riyadh. Two weeks after this opening, VOX Cinemas opened a four-screen multiplex in Riyadh Park. The management commenced work on this theatre a year earlier in the hope that M.B.H. would institute reforms. The theatre includes the first commercial IMAX screen in the kingdom. Other exhibitors looking into Saudi Arabia include Vue, iPic and Cinépolis.

What is significant about all of this is that an untapped market will have a chance to grow and serve a very youthful population. Over the next decade we hope to see $1 billion generated at the box office. Another facet not discussed much is the major potential for equipment companies like Dolby, IMAX, Christie, Barco and JBL, among others, that will reap the benefits of this fantastic growth. The major drawbacks at this time are censorship restrictions and the fear that a single entity will be created as the sole distributor of films, so that all studio releases will have to go through a government-owned company that would control the market.

The rewards certainly seem to be worth the risks. Over the next few months, we’re sure you will be hearing a lot more about Saudi Arabia.