Cineworld Group trades up
Prior to the March announcement of 2012 preliminary results, Cineworld Group provided an operations update, calling its “profitability in line with market expectations.” With a 2.8% growth over 2011, “the U.K. and Ireland cinema industry enjoyed a satisfactory year” overall, Cineworld noted, “despite the distractions from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the European Football Championship and the London Olympics.” The Group’s share of the market remained stable at 24.7% for the year (source for all industry data: Rentrak/EDI).
Excluding Picturehouse, which was acquired in December (see related article), total Cineworld revenues for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2012, were up 2.4% over 2011. While box-office tills and retail sales increased 3.9% and 0.8%, respectively, the other income category decreased 7.3%. The Group attributed this to the removal of booking fees and “comparatively lower” sales of 3D glasses from fewer films shown in the format. Screen-advertising revenues were “marginally ahead,” and spending per person up 1.9%, “more than offsetting reduced admissions volume” of 1.1%. Average ticket prices were up 5.5%.
Gloria Sounds Good
As part of its “premium” overhaul by Theile/Kinepolis (www.kinopolis.de) that saw capacity reduced by about half in favor of oversized leatherette armchairs and the introduction of a wood-paneled lounge, the 1956 Gloria Palast in Munich, Germany, beefed up its sound system. “Drawing on its decades of audio experience,” the cinema experts at Kinoton said, the new “Premium Beschallung” represents a custom-designed solution involving all components. The Dolby CP750 processor sends 7.1 surround via a “network-controlled and monitored amplification system” (Crown) to “powerful three-way full-range” arrays and surrounds (along with the subwoofers, all from JBL). Kinoton installed its DCA automation that also controls various event components such as the audio panel and microphones, and made sure to adjust “all of the audio and event equipment and sizing it to fit the auditorium.”
CinemaxX Takes Sony VPF
Germany’s publicly traded exhibitor CinemaxX closed a virtual-print-fee deal with Sony for all 34 of its locations in Germany and Denmark. So far, 127 of a total 292 screens have been equipped with 4K SXRD projection equipment. Anticipating a mid-2013 completion of the rollout, chief executive officer Christian Gisy called CinemaxX’s 2009 decision to install Sony 4K 3D-capable equipment “absolutely correct.” David McIntosh, head of digital cinema at Sony Europe, added that with this agreement CinemaxX has indeed secured its future and confirmed its leadership position within the industry.
Screen Digests 3D
“Worldwide metrics are on the rise for 3D technology as a whole,” IHS Screen Digest notes in a new cross-platform report on the format covering cinema, home-video and pay-TV on demand. The number of 3D screens worldwide will have grown from some 9,000 at the end of 2009 to 43,000 by the third quarter of this year, they said. Following the U.S. and China in terms of installations are France, the United Kingdom and Germany as 3D screen growth is “slowing dramatically in the developed regions.” Overall, international markets continue to account for a rising share of the worldwide 3D box office: 73% in 2011 (when 3D box office was $7 billion or 22% of total global gross), up from 66% in 2010 ($6 billion or 19%).
On the home-entertainment front, U.S. sales of 3D Blu-rays nearly doubled in 2012 to $220 million (accounting for 51% of global spending on the format) and more 3D television channels are available everywhere. With one channel just launched in China, for a worldwide total of 37 since 2010, and another 38 3D event broadcasts, the analyst team at IHS Screen Digest foresees “plenty of potential for expansion in the years ahead for 3D Video-on-Demand service.” Whereas U.S. consumers are expected to spend $76.1 million for 3D VoD by 2016, up from $11.1 million this year, Europeans will pay some $32.4 million, compared to just $3.5 million during 2012.
“In an age where consumers have at their easy disposal a virtual treasure trove of entertainment options to draw from, the encouraging growth of the 3D medium is remarkable to behold,” summarizes Tony Gunnarsson, analyst for video at IHS Screen Digest. “The continuing expansion of the industry is especially significant when one considers that 3D is but a small niche of overall digital viewing, and that consumers have to shell out considerably more money for 3D products, which are priced at a premium and not necessarily an easy sell in these economically uncertain times.”
Cinema City Settles Israel Theatres
Cinema City International (www.cinemacity.nl), the largest multiplex cinema operator in Central and Eastern Europe and in Israel (98 cinemas, 952 screens, seven countries), acquired all real estate holdings of Israel Theatres Ltd. in Bulgaria, Israel and Poland for €33.1 million ($43.23 mil.). With holdings valued at €143.8 million ($193.65 mil.), Cinema City also assumed the company’s aggregate debt of €110.7 million.
Chief executive officer Moshe Greidinger noted that a new facility of €210 million ($274.21 mil.), including €70 million of revolving credit provided by leading European banks BZ WBK, HSBC and ING Bank Śląski, will further enable Cinema City to refinance existing bank debt and as it opens “access to subsequent credits in the future.” Greidinger also lauded the “considerable synergies” to be achieved. “New entertainment-related projects acquired from Israel Theatres and the new, successful real estate projects of Cinema City have common ground…” Upon completion of this transaction, Israel Theatres, a parent company of Cinema City International NV, will remain a holding entity with no operations and the company will operate two business divisions: cinema operations and real estate operations. There are 30 more multiplexes under development, which will offer almost 320 new screens.
SmartJog Ambles to Portugal
SmartJog, a global leader in digital delivery, file transfer and cloud storage with a presence in 65 countries, has teamed with VS2, Portugal’s main independent local mastering lab. VS2 will use the SmartJog platform service to distribute d-cinema preshow content, trailers and feature films to connected theatres, currently including ZON Lusomundo, New Lineo Cinema and UCI.
EFP Introduces Future Stars
Montenegro and Russia are the newest member countries of European Film Promotion. With the addition of the Ministry of Culture of Montenegro and the Russian Cinema Fund (supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation), the network hosts 35 organizations from 36 countries for common activities in marketing films and talent from across Europe.
Pursuing their latter mission, EFP also announced the “ten exceptional young European actors” who will join the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival as the “2013 Shooting Stars.” . From a submission of 27 candidates, a “unanimously impressed” jury of industry professionals chose talent “for their outstanding work in feature films and their potential ability to expand their careers on the world’s acting stage.” Looking at past lists including Alicia Vikander, Carey Mulligan, Mélanie Laurent, Domhnall Gleeson and Moritz Bleibtreu, we agree with the jury members. “We are very curious to see how their careers develop in the future.”