Tracking trends at CineEurope
This editor has attended each and every CineEurope, from its inception in Hysiel, Belgium, more than two decades ago to the 2013 edition getting ready to stage in Barcelona shortly. The show has changed over the years, but the industry has changed even more. Because of technologies introduced over this period, the quality of the cinema experience has been enhanced dramatically. Stadium seating, VIP auditoriums, in-theatre dining, digital projection, 3D and immersive sound have all been part of the evolution of the motion picture theatre.
The major motion picture conventions, from Las Vegas to Europe to Asia, have all been at the forefront of these changes—they’re where most of these technologies were introduced and displayed for the theatrical industry. CineEurope has moved to its new home in the CCIB in Spain and all of the above will be very prevalent at this year’s edition. Additionally, the amount of film being screened and product being introduced is extraordinary, with more than 70 titles being presented to the European motion picture community.
After a tepid first quarter, the marketplace has bounced back and we may be witnessing the best summer ever. The international box office is at the head of the curve and the grosses in Europe for 2012 were terrific. At the 2013 edition of CineEurope, the major Hollywood studios will be front and center and will deliver one of the best collections of films ever to be screened under one roof in a four-day period. Monday alone will feature three films including DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo and Warner Bros.’ Pacific Rim and We’re the Millers. Rounding out the schedule are Universal’s Despicable Me 2, Disney’s Planes and The Lone Ranger, Paramount’s World War Z and Lionsgate’s RED 2. All of these studios, along with Sony Pictures and DreamWorks/Mister Smith Entertainment, will show footage from the remainder of 2013 and into 2014.
The partnership that CineEurope has forged with the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) has paid off for the delegates of CineEurope, as the programming has expanded to include all facets of the European industry including “Innovative Marketing to Grow Your Audience,” “The Exhibitors Roundtable,” Coca-Cola’s session on “Driving Retail Spend-Per-Head,” and demonstrations of new technologies like RealD’s Precision White Screen.
In addition to honorees like Dave Hollis of Disney, International Distributor of the Year; Musaffer Yildirim, International Exhibitor of the Year, and UniFrance Films as the “CineEurope Independent Film Award” winner, the tenth anniversary of Vue Entertainment and Tim Richards will be celebrated. Film Journal International and its sister publication The Hollywood Reporter are providing an in-depth focus on the history and achievements of the U.K. circuit. Please see the stories in the CineEurope editions of both publications.
Conventions like CineEurope are all about bringing people from the movie industry together to share best practices, to network, to learn about new technologies and to see what films are coming to the global theatrical market in the near future. It certainly seems that CineEurope 2013 will accomplish those goals.
Here We Go Again
China’s reputation as a film market was once again adversely affected when theatre operators in Mainland China were ordered to cut short the run of DreamWorks’ The Croods on June 7. The move was seen as an effort to make more room for competing local animated films and a state-funded Chinese blockbuster due to open. The Croods had been scheduled to run another two weeks.
Released on April 20, the American import was a major financial success compared to the weak performance of three homegrown animated releases that debuted on June 7. According to reports, The Croods has generated ticket sales of $63 million compared to the collective grosses for the other three films of $16 million.
Chinese social media was flooded with critical comment on China’s film regulators and their termination of the hit movie’s run. This follows the actions of the regulators last month when Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained was first approved for release and then pulled from screens after the initial screenings got underway. When will the free market be accepted by the Chinese, who are trying to woo productions and the building of theatres throughout the country?
Check Your Glasses at the Door
Technology keeps moving forward at an accelerated pace, and the latest invention that has many people intrigued and tantalized is Google Glass. Now being offered as a prototype to developers and select influencers at a cost of $1,500, Google Glass is essentially a wearable computer, a display worn around your forehead like a pair of eyeglasses. With this novel way of connecting to the Internet, you can send texts, take pictures, post to social-media sites, and even record and watch video. Like the picture-phones that were once a staple of science-fiction movies, it’s tech fantasy transformed into 21st-century reality.
The jury is still out on whether the general public will embrace Google Glass, or even be comfortable with this melding of human being and computer. But one group is especially concerned about the potential impact of this wild new technology: the National Association of Theatre Owners. In-theatre camcording has been one of the most pervasive problems confronting the movie industry for the past two decades, as copies of new movies—some crudely recorded, others surprisingly well-captured—hit the streets soon after their theatrical debuts and illegally siphon income from expensive Hollywood productions. Google Glass has the potential to make unlawful recordings even easier, literally with just the wink of an eye.
As we’ve seen from previous legal and public-relations battles, Internet-based entrepreneurs tend to believe in wide access to content that creators feel should be better safeguarded against copyright infringement. So it will be interesting to see how seriously Google treats the fears of the movie industry’s content creators. Will Google help the motion picture business find a way to circumvent Glass recordings in theatres? Will exhibitors be left on their own? Will there be in-theatre devices capable of detecting the use of Google’s glasses? Will it be possible to enforce a ban on these devices inside the auditorium?
Google’s new technology is undoubtedly exciting, but its future is still unwritten. And so is the movie business’ course of action in the face of this new piracy threat