More Europe at CineEurope


The program for the 2014 edition of CineEurope is available on their website, and this year there are several first-time European companies participating with product presentations. Up until recently, it was mostly all Hollywood film represented on the program. It appears that CineEurope is taking its name seriously and is adding these film companies in an effort to broaden their reach into the European theatrical market.

This is good. The change makes a lot of sense and will undoubtedly make a lot of attendees happy. The extraordinary level of studio participation is a testament to the importance of CineEurope and the European marketplace. Eleven studios, including all the Hollywood majors, and this year StudioCanal, UniFrance Films, Entertainment One, Mister Smith and Dreamworks Animation are all supporting the convention in a major way.
Additionally, five features will be screened during the week; a full tradeshow will highlight 109 companies on the floor; and attendees from 65 countries will gather in Barcelona at seminars, business sessions and late-night parties. The Coca-Cola Company is once again the Official Corporate Sponsor.

Cinema owners meet at CineEurope and other major conventions to network and learn from their peers. We are fortunate to be enjoying a time when business is good and there are no major pressing issues between exhibition and distribution. Some of the major concerns that will probably be addressed during the four-day convention include:

* What’s next following the digital rollout?
* Is immersive sound the next digital savior?
* Will social media and mobile communications change traditional distribution patterns?
* What new designs and creative environments are helping to shape the theatre of the future?
These are just some of the discussions that will take place in the seminar rooms and hallways of the Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona. One thing is for certain: With the tremendous product to be previewed at CineEurope, more than 100 films in all, the motion picture industry looks strong for the next few years.

DreamWorks Looks to the Future

Dreamworks Animation celebrated its 20th anniversary with the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the Cannes Film Festival. The upcoming 3D sequel to the 2010 original is about a young Viking boy and his pet dragon. DreamWorks has a lot riding on this project, as several of their recent animated features didn’t perform as strongly as expected.

DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg did not dwell on where the studio has been, but where it is going. The opportunities abound, as more people around the globe are watching movies. His hope is that Dragon 2 will benefit from a “real game-changer for animation”—a new, more intuitive animation tool dubbed Apollo that allows artists to digitally render in greater detail.

Katzenberg is taking his company into other media realms with the acquisition last year of YouTube Network Awareness TV and a pact with Netflix to supply 300 hours of exclusive programming based on DreamWorks Animation characters. DreamWorks is also developing theme parks and pushing aggressively into China.

Katzenberg has been a winner throughout his career and there is no reason to believe he won’t keep that track record going into the future. Congratulations, Jeffrey and DreamWorks Animation, on your China Anniversary (20th)—most appropriate as you extend your reach into China.

Keeping the Faith
In this day and age of superheroes and giant lizards, who would have guessed that faith-driven movies would have made the kind of impact on the box office that they have over the past several months? The industry is expressing surprise over the tremendous success of movies like God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is for Real. So what has happened to create this dramatic turnabout in an industry that prides itself on tentpoles and larger-than-life movies?

Those in the know point to lower production costs in this digital era, the existence of new backers with deep pockets, and a solid infrastructure and support system of houses of worship that has remained under the radar of most mainstream bookers, studios and other observers. The 90 million Americans who identify themselves as Christians have been traditionally underserved. The subpar productions and stories that used to cater to this community resulted in a longstanding gap between this market and the mainstream. But new technologies, new financing and strong organizational efforts have changed all that.

The profit margin on these faith-driven films is enormous and the viability of these pictures has now been confirmed—so we will probably see a deluge of them. Although studios are still focused on the franchise films that do well internationally, they will surely be drawn into these previously inaccessible markets because they are too enticing to pass up.