Often, a person or company is singled out for an award or citation because of the size of their company, the stature of the individual within his or her industry, or because a charity feels they can raise a good amount of money by celebrating that person or entity. That is perfectly OK and understandable. However, in some instances the honoree truly deserves the acknowledgement due to their commitment to the industry they work in and their philanthropic efforts in that community.
This year at CinemaCon, a number of people fell into this latter category, including Amy Miles of Regal Entertainment and Alejandro Ramirez Magaña of Cinépolis. We congratulate both on their awards, as well as all the other honorees.
The May edition of Film Journal International includes a special section which shines a spotlight on the Ramirez family business that has continuously brought innovation to the moviegoing experience and given back to its community. Alejandro Ramirez is the recipient of the 2013 Global Achievement in Exhibition Award, and the circuit he heads up as CEO, Cinépolis, is the largest exhibitor in Latin America and the fourth-largest in the world. The company operates 344 cinemas with 3,104 screens and has footprints in Mexico, Central and South America, the U.S. and India.
Alejandro, as he is known to many in the industry, is very proud of the company’s achievements and has been the architect of the business since 1996. He has reinvested constantly in the company and places special emphasis on innovation and the development of new concepts. He firmly believes that customer experience is crucial to the circuit’s success, and that is why they constantly strive to enrich the moviegoing experience. A few examples of this include introducing the multiplex concept in Mexico; pioneering the luxury cinema concept; introducing the first IMAX screens into commercial multiplexes in Mexico; leading in deployment of digital projection and 3D, and offering enhanced 4D experiences in Latin America.
It is also most important for Alejandro and the Ramirez and Cinépolis families to give back to those communities where they operate theatres. In 2003, the Cinépolis Foundation was established with two main goals. Visual health is their core social program and they finance cataract surgeries in Mexico’s rural areas. Over the past five years, the Foundation has enabled more than 16,000 operations for people that helped them recover their sight. The second initiative is about bringing cinema to people who do not have access to cinema. Every year, Cinépolis offers a minimum of four free screenings for underprivileged children at all their screens. The company also brings inflatable screens, projectors, speakers and everything else to small towns that do not have multiplexes. After the earthquake in Haiti, for a couple of months they showed movies every night to people who had lost everything.
Alejandro’s bio reads like a who’s who in Mexico, and with a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School he has achieved a great number of honors and has dedicated his time to serve many different constituents in his native Mexico. We are sure that you will enjoy reading the special section in this edition of FJI and we want to take this opportunity once again to congratulate Alejandro, Cinépolis and his family on this wonderful honor.
Freedom of Choice
A major part of the moviegoing experience is being able to enjoy the many snacks and beverages that your local theatre sells at their concession stand. The smell of popcorn and a large Coca-Cola are almost a prerequisite for enjoying the experience during a feature. The Mayor of New York wanted to deprive people of this experience by limiting the size of a drink you can purchase to 16 ounces. Thankfully for the movie industry, Judge Milton Tingling, Jr. of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan invalidated New York City’s ban on large sugary drinks a day before it was scheduled to go into effect.
Judge Tingling said the rule banning the drinks was “arbitrary and capricious” and cited a perceived inequity in the soda rules which applied to only certain sugared drinks and would apply only to some food establishments but not others.
The judge also appeared to be skeptical of the purview of the city’s Board of Health, which the Bloomberg administration had maintained has broad powers to seek to improve the public’s health. After the judge imposed a halt to the ban, the Bloomberg administration said it would challenge the decision.
This ruling certainly has major ramifications for the nation, as the hope was that other states and municipalities would follow suit. Many theatre chains have created more nourishing products to be sold at their concession stands. However, what one eats or drinks should not be mandated by a mayor or city agency. That is an inherent right that each individual has and should be able to enjoy without any interference from anyone. We applaud the decision of Justice Tingling.
A Ratings Report Card
The Federal Trade Commission announced recently the results of an undercover-shopper survey which found the enforcement of the film industry’s voluntary rating system at an all-time high, with 76 percent of underage shoppers being turned away from R-rated films. John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, stated, “Exhibition has done a great job at keeping underage patrons away from R-rated titles. We are proud of the significant improvements in ratings enforcement at America’s movie theatres and we renew our commitment to parents to continue to improve.”
Senator Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, commented, “Since the rating system was created 44 years ago, the MPAA and our member companies have been dedicated to giving parents the tools and information about the content of our films so that they can make the best decision possible about what they allow their children to see. This report reinforces the importance and effectiveness of the industry’s voluntary rating system.”