Welcome to CineEurope! Barcelona conference offers even more food for thought



On June 16, the attention of European cinema exhibitors and partners across the motion picture industry will for one week turn to CineEurope, the official annual convention of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), gathering around 3,000 industry professionals in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain.

We are delighted that CineEurope has grown in strength in each of the three years since UNIC and our partners, the Film Expo Group of PGM, owners of this publication, agreed to move the convention from its longstanding Amsterdam home. While Las Vegas may have the mighty CinemaCon and a mini Eiffel Tower, Barcelona has CineEurope, a genuine beach and—at least this year—the World Cup!

From June 16 to 19, everyone attending will experience an extraordinary level of studio participation, with film slates presented by leading European distributors alongside those of our partners at the U.S. studios. More food for thought will be provided by a cutting-edge and entertaining conference program, including—for the first time—smaller and more informal “Focus” sessions with industry leaders to be hosted on the tradeshow floor. Get there early. And the tradeshow will be as vibrant as ever, showcasing innovations in cinema technology, retail and services.

For the first time this year, due to the pressures of time on such an exciting and packed program, we have extended the show to a full four days, culminating in a high-profile awards ceremony and dinner on Thursday, June 19.

With most theatres across UNIC territories now being fully digitized, discussions are likely to focus on the future of cinemagoing:
•    What type of films are required by increasingly diverse and demanding European audiences?
•    When or how should they be released?
•    How can social media, mobile communications, data analytics as well as recent innovations in projection and sound technology help further upgrade the cinema experience in order to attract young people and compete with other leisure activities and release platforms?
•    Can theatre owners learn from colleagues in other industries such as leisure parks or high-end retail when it comes to designing imaginative and fun environments that create a buzz for entire communities?
•    How can UNIC as well as other exhibitor associations around the world help to shape framework conditions in which cinema exhibitors can focus on what they do best: providing an unparalleled experience for their audiences?

These are just some of the issues that will be discussed in the corridors of the Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona over the coming days.

All of those discussions and more will of course take place in the context of what is an increasingly global business. 2013 saw global box-office returns grow by around four percent, in the main due to impressive developments in the Asia-Pacific region, notably in China. As the motion picture industry continues to benefit from international growth, it remains important that European exhibitors work together to remind our partners that the combined European market continues to account for around 25 percent of global box-office revenues.

The need for one voice to represent such market strength is the key raison d’être of UNIC and a response to the challenge of reminding contacts at the European Commission (and elsewhere) of the value that cinema exhibition brings to each nation in economic, social and cultural terms.

That said, the interconnectedness of the business across oceans and continents has never been more apparent than it is today. Whether on film release practices, international trade, intellectual property, collective rights management or cinema technology, exhibitors in Europe—and indeed internationally—need to share experience and articulate positions that promote the interests of our sector.

We are therefore particularly grateful for the strong partnership that UNIC enjoys with its U.S. sister organization, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), and look forward to further developing our relations with the international cinema exhibition community when we gather in Barcelona.

To that end, we hope that some of the readers of Film Journal International will get the chance to join us, if not this year, then perhaps in 2015!