Congratulations to Paul Stambaugh!
This month’s column begins in Hollywood, California. I know, I know, my beat is Asia, but I have to wish hearty congratulations and best wishes to our good friend Paul Stambaugh, who on Oct. 3 took over the helm of Prasad Corporation Ltd., a member of the 55-year-old Prasad Group out of Chennai, India.
Paul, who served two tours of duty at Technicolor’s Bangkok facility as general manager, is senior VP, North America operations. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Hollywood office, with oversight of the company’s North America Digital Media Services. He reports to Saiprasad Akkeneni, president and CEO of the Prasad Corporation.
Prasad is a state-of-the-art, full-service digital facility offering restoration, 2D-to-3D conversions and visual effects. Prasad has digitally restored films from around the world including several Academy Award-winning pictures.
“Paul is an imaginative leader and is extremely knowledgeable about the state of the international film industry,” said Akkeneni. “Most importantly, he shares our clients’ passion about film, film restoration and the tremendous potential that digital media provides to monetize this asset in today’s world.”
Reliance Explores ‘Smart Content’
Next we swing over to Bombay, where Reliance MediaWorks announced they are working with Thought Equity Motion, Inc., a provider of video management and licensing services to offer integrated, digital “smart content” solutions in India.
Reliance will help its clients increase the accessibility and value of their content libraries through Thought Equity Motion’s cloud-based video platform. Reliance will support Indian film studios, broadcasters and sports bodies as they move to digital file-based workflows and expand their distribution avenues across new media such as tablets and HD streaming.
Thought Equity Motion licenses sports, news, entertainment, editorial and creative content to the world’s leading producers in advertising, film, television, publishing, and interactive media and works with more than 400 rights-holders globally to store, manage and monetize their libraries.
Reliance MediaWorks had initially partnered with Thought Equity Motion in April 2011 to offer media and content services including restoration, image enhancement and up-rezzing from SD to HD to various global film archives and libraries.
Single Screens Fight to Survive in Ludhiana
Remaining in India but moving way up north to the state of Punjab, in the small town of Ludhiana where the shift from single-screen theatres to multiplexes is taking place, nearly two dozen single-screen cinemas are finding it difficult to survive.
Of the 21 single-screen theatres in Ludhiana, ten play Bhojpuri films due to market demand, while others show old action movies or dubbed ones, with some playing C-grade films to economize.
Bhojpuri is a language spoken in parts of north-central and eastern India. Bhojpuri is also spoken in Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, parts of Nepal and the Mauritius Islands.
"The glut of Bhojpuri-language films has been the only surviving factor for single-screen cinemas. However, single-screen tickets are still priced between Rs 15 to 30 [31 to 62 U.S. cents],” said Ranjit Singh, manager of Aarti cinema.
Cinemas in Ludhiana date back all the way to the very beginning of the 20th century. Raikhey theatre, the oldest existing cinema in the city, opened in 1933 and the first talkie movie was screened there.
SF Cinema City Invests in Sony 4K
Could not leave you all hanging without some news from my adopted home town. Here in Bangkok, SF Cinema City announced plans to invest US$16 million for 100 digital projectors using the high-resolution 4K system from Sony Corporation, to be fully delivered by the end of 2012.
Suvit Thongrompo, managing director of SF Cinema City, said the first shipment of 25 projectors, costing $4.8 million, would be delivered by the end of this year. This will increase the number of digital cinemas handled by SF Cinema City from the current 22 screens to 47. SF Cinema City went online with its first digital cinema in 2003 with Finding Nemo, the first blockbuster shown in digital format.
The company currently operates 112 cinemas in Bangkok and another 80 in major Thai provinces, including Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Phuket and Khon Kaen.
Thongrompo said the company would open eight cinemas at the Terminal 21 complex on Sukhumvit Road in the center of Bangkok next month, and another 11 at CentralPlaza Rama IX, also in November. Three screens at Terminal 21 and five at CentralPlaza Rama IX will be digital.
Thongrompo commented, “Digital is becoming the standard projection format used by Hollywood. Many Thai producers are also launching their movies in digital format, which is a good sign for the industry. Many blockbusters such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises and Men in Black III are in digital and will be shown locally in 4K digital format.”
He added that SF Cinema City is expected to grow its box-office sales by 20 percent to about $48 million this year. "We achieved 15 percent year-on-year growth in ticket sales in the first two quarters of this year. We are also counting on a strong lineup of blockbusters in the fourth quarter, including Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1."
Thongrompo also reported that the overall cinema market in Thailand is expected to grow at least 10 percent this year to about $128 million in ticket sales.