By all accounts, CinemaCon 2022, was a huge success. Attendance at the show, which was held in late March at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, was higher than even in pre-pandemic years. The overall mood of people afterward was of a renewed sense of confidence in the motion picture business as a whole and, especially, of the future of movie theatres as the best place to fully enjoy a feature film. I recently spoke with Wim Buyens, CEO of Cinionic, the joint venture between Barco, CGS, and ALPD, to get his feedback on the show. Not surprisingly, he too left CinemaCon feeling upbeat.
The Big Picture
The Oscar-winning visual effects studio Digital Domain has announced the creation of Zoey, which it says is the world’s most advanced computer-generated human-like figure. Powered by machine learning and created using an advanced version of the technology and process that helped bring Thanos to the big screen, the photorealistic Zoey can engage in conversations with multiple participants at once, remember people, access the internet to answer questions and more, paving the way for the next step in the evolution of artificial intelligence. My question isn’t just what does Zoey mean for the cinema business; my question is what does Zoey mean for society?
On Tuesday at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the opening ceremonies of CinemaCon 2022 got underway as they have in past years, with speeches by Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association and John Fithian president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners. Both men praised the efforts that helped the cinema business begin to emerge from the ravages of the pandemic. Both were realistic about the motion picture industry’s present, and optimistic about its future. Rivkin’s main topic was the ongoing battle against content theft and, while he offered a long list of recent success stories, he acknowledged that the fight continues. Fithian’s main topic was simultaneous release which he insisted works for no one. But the overall theme of the morning was the understanding that this is a watershed moment in the entertainment business and over the next few years we will see the cinema experience redefined yet again.
A study of more than 6,000 ticket-buyers conducted by Fandango, the nation’s largest movie ticketing service, has revealed that moviegoers will be making multiple trips to the cinema over the next few months. Eighty-three percent of fans surveyed plan to see at least three or more movies on the big screen this summer.
India’s two largest move theatre chains – PVR and INOX – have announced that they plan to merge to form one giant entertainment company. Both PVR and INOX are public listed companies engaged in cinema exhibition, related food and beverages and allied activities. "The proposed amalgamation would be in the best interest of the transferee company and the transferor company and their respective shareholders, employees, creditors, and other stakeholders," the companies said in filing the merger plan.
On Friday, March 18, many leading U.S. movie exhibitors will begin to play Oles Sanin’s acclaimed feature film The Guide, subtitled, in their theatres with box-office proceeds to be donated to Ukrainian Relief Efforts. The film’s director and producer, Sanin, is currently locked down in Kyiv, but has just provided a moving introduction now attached to the movie. It conveys the urgency of the situation and the need for assistance.
Recency frequency monetary modeling is a proven marketing model for behavior-based customer segmentation. By helping marketers analyze and action their customers’ behavior, it drives the strategy that sits behind successful marketing campaigns. But how does a cinema circuit apply the RFM model to post-COVID closures? In October 2021 Showtime launched our new Customer Analytics product at the UK Cinema Association Conference in London. There we presented a case study of how we applied the recency frequency monetary model to the Irish cinema chain Movies@ to help them bring audiences back to their cinemas for Universal Pictures release of the James Bond blockbuster No Time to Die.
Netflix has reached an historic deal with the top three French cinema guilds that will see the company investing at least €40 million ($45 million) in at least 10 French and European films over the next three years, all of which will get theatrical releases in France.
For a very short time, a few years ago, the controversial subscription service MoviePass offered low-cost movie tickets to millions of satisfied moviegoers across the United States. That was, until it collapsed from its own weight. The question now is, can MoviePass make a comeback? At a major press event held last week in New York City’s Lincoln Center before a live audience of former subscribers and current employees, Stacy Spikes, one of the original co-founders of the ill-fated company, announced that he would restart MoviePass this summer. The event was simultaneously broadcast live on YouTube. As someone who was forced out of the company that started as his dream, Spikes did his best to hold back all the anger and frustration he must have been feeling at the time. He didn’t always succeed in that. And while he clearly conveyed a renewed passion for that dream, for movies, and for the entire movie business, his remarks were remarkably devoid of any real details. Most importantly, not once did he explain how this time, after everything that happened with MoviePass, he plans to make the business profitable.
Movie audiences today are being led to believe that streaming has made the entire history of cinema available for a simple subscription fee — or at least a couple of dozen subscription fees. This is not true. There is an immediate and critical need to address this issue. The truth is that movies are simply not as available today as they were during the heyday of VHS when some brick-and-mortar video stores carried tens of thousands of titles. Now, with a few giant companies controlling the most popular streaming services and trying to outdo one another with original content, many older movies are being left behind.