Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007
Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

International Edition No. 37 - year 3
18 June 2008


Digitalization - challenge and threat
When the fifth edition of MEDIA Salles’ Course ”DigiTraining Plus 2008” in London wrapped up its five-day-long event, attended by 45 participants from 14 different countries, one item was very clear: the business plan for (especially) small and medium-sized cinemas in Europe (and probably also elsewhere) was still far off in a hazy horizon.

Parallel to the expected roll-out in the US this year and 2009 basically nothing or very little happens in Europe apart from in the UK where public money (The UK Film Council) has equipped almost 300 screens of all sizes and locations with a 2K installation, with Arts Alliance Media as the technical partner. Apart from Norway no other country has so far initiated or even hinted at a similar solution. The situation is causing a lot of nervousness and bewilderment also because it is hard to see how the VPF system, now operating in the US, can be “applied” for European cinemas of smaller size. From the distributors’ point of view “the business is simply not there” to make it worthwhile.

Arts Alliance Media foresees that 7,000 screens will be helped out by the VPF system in Europe. What about the rest of Europe’s 20,000 screens? Part of the problem is of course the 2K format implemented by the DCI criteria (the US majors). An excellent standard, absolutely, that by far exceeds the needs of an average-sized European screen with 180 seats and a screen width of 8 meters. An expressed expectation that the Majors would “go easy” on the 2K-demand in overseas territories like India and China was shot down by XDC, Belgium, represented by Fabrice Testa. The forecast for surviving is therefore darkish for cinemas that have to rely on American product.

But also the art-cinemas throughout Europe are feeling the cold. President of CICAE, Detlef Rossmann, expressed his worries and looked forward to having a German model (a mix of VPF and Federal Film Board money) discussed in June with ministers and players from the industry. “The 1,300 big-chain screens can cope themselves – the rest, 3,500, will be destroyed”, was Rossmann’s attitude, “small European distributors cannot pay the same VPF as the big companies wherefore their films will not be screened. A diversified VPF might be the answer or a fee per ticket.” No big chain has yet invested in digital equipment in Germany.

During the course alternative content was presented and discussed galore. Opera seemed to be the big thing in many UK locations equipped with 2K projectors. Big and small. Direct transmissions from the Metropolitan or filmed opera versions from La Scala were extremely popular even at relatively high-priced tickets like 20 pounds. In a clearly small location, Hawkhurst in Kent, a small cinema (92 seats) has been installed in the former town meeting hall and does great business as a 100% digitalized cinema. Thanks to alternative content, first-run films, flexibility and diversity, the first cinema ever in this small town has prospered.
The message is clear: solve the financial problem and the future looks bright. A representative from a major chain in Scandinavia expressed his vision like this: “the big ones can look after themselves, the small rural ones will be supported by local governments/state for cultural reasons – the ones in between that do not have a particular profile or financial solidity will be left out in the cold”.

Jens Rykær
MEDIA Salles

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Eye balls and Euros - Digital Cinema is at the end of the beginning and primed for growth

Nancy Fares, Business Manager, Texas Instruments DLP® Cinema Products

I am the Business Manager for DLP Cinema® Products; my role includes product line responsibilities, Profit and Loss (P&L), product marketing and overall strategy for the DLP Cinema® Products group. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of DLP’s entrance into the cinema industry, with the first fully functional and Hollywood endorsed digital DLP Cinema movie projector. After years of prototypes, in 1998 DLP delivered Hollywood’s biggest image critics and cinematographers with a digital projector that met the world’s highest standards on colour, brightness and reliability and therefore pioneered the digital cinema concept. A year later, in 1999, the studios released the first movie in digital format on DLP Cinema, which was Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. DLP Cinema honours the heritage of the ultimate viewing experience while incorporating the latest technology innovations, such as the 3D single projector solution and cutting costs for cinema exhibitors, distributors and ultimately the consumer.

As we celebrate our 10th year in the film industry, DLP Cinema projection technology is installed in over 6,000 theatres on every continent except Antarctica. Today there are more than 1,200 theatres that offer the digital 3D experience powered by DLP Cinema technology, and this number will continue to increase as more DLP projectors are deployed globally.

It was over ten years ago that Texas Instruments and other companies began working on digital cinema and today we’ve reached the point where we have a viable market. While a little less than five percent of the world’s cinema screens have been converted to digital projection, it is fair to say that we have now arrived at the end of the beginning. Of the early adopters, approximately 75 percent of digital cinemas are in North America, with the rest split between Europe and Asia. It’s been a decade in the making, but we are finally past the point of beta testing and committees deciding standards.

It could be argued that the slow take-up of digital projection technology has been due to the need to agree to standards, to test equipment, and so on. However, it’s more likely that the primary reason why the pace of product development in digital projection technology has been slow is because the true cost and benefits of digital cinema to the main interested parties – equipment manufacturers, film distributors and exhibitors – are not reliably known or properly understood. The lack of solid facts about the economics of digital cinema has led to a very long game of poker. Such games aside, the long term picture looks rosy for exhibition, distribution and equipment manufacturers. Ultimately, it will become more viable to show movies to much larger audiences since digital prints cost less, require less handling, and offer far more flexibility in programming.

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European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies
London, 9 - 13 April 2008


On our website:
Speakers' presentations
The power point presentations can be downloaded by clicking on the names of the speakers in the course programme.

Photo gallery
This photo gallery records some of the high points of the Course, together with shots of all the those who took part in this initiative designed to spread knowledge and competences in the field of digital cinema for European exhibitors.
To see the photo gallery, please click here

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Cannes Film Festival 2008:
European Films and European Cinemas in the forefront at the Schermi di Qualità - MEDIA Salles joint event

On 20 May the President of MEDIA Salles, Jens Rykaer, and the Secretary General, Elisabetta Brunella, presented the latest figures on cinema-going in Europe in 2007, published in the Newsletter European Cinema Journal 1/2008.

To read the Newsletter European Cinema Journal 1/2008, please click here.

To see the photos of the event, click here.
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The CD Rom of the MEDIA Salles
European Cinema Yearbook - 2007 final edition -
including the situation of the digital projectors installed worldwide as at December 2007
will be available at the Cinemeccanica stand (no. 223)
at Cinema Expo (Amsterdam, 23 - 26 June 2008).

Tero Koistinen on the executive committee of MEDIA Salles

On 22 May, during the meeting held in Cannes, Tero Koistinen became a member of the MEDIA Salles Executive Committee.
Tero Koistinen, who has played an active role in the Association's activities for many years and has followed all five editions of the DigiTraining Plus course, is currently Director of the Finnish Cinema Exhibitors' Association.

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Glyndebourne operas will go across the globe thanks to a new partnership with More2screen

Glyndebourne and London-based alternative content distributor, More2Screen, have just announced an exclusive agreement aiming at organising 85 cinema screenings in the UK, Europe and North America, starting this Autumn.

The programme will include three specially-selected operas to run in October, November and December only in High Definition and 5.1 sound. The titles already announced are La Cenerentola and Giulio Cesare.

The agreement with More2Screen represents a development of the initiative already carried out in 2007 when Glyndebourne became the first UK opera house to screen opera at cinemas across the country, totalling 31 screenings that were well received by audiences.

Christine Costello, co-founder (with Penny Nagle) of More2Screen said:

“We’re delighted to be working with such a distinctive, creative and high quality brand in the world of opera. Cinema audiences all over the world will be enthralled by the Glyndebourne experience, representing as it does the very best of the genre”.

Christine Costello participated as a lecturer at the “DigiTraining Plus 2008: European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies” course (London, 9 – 13 April 2008).
To view her presentation, click here


Interview with Lorenzo Branca,
Director of Digital Cinema, Cinemeccanica – Milan

A graduate in electronic engineering from the University of Pavia, Lorenzo Branca has been with Cinemeccanica since 2004 and coordinates projects for the development and installation of digital projection systems in cinemas.

How do you view the development of digital cinema?
Following a slowdown towards the end of 2007, I have noticed a considerable recovery, both in actual installations and in contacts with new clients in the first few months of 2008.

What do you think this increased interest by exhibitors is due to?
Without doubt to the greater availability of product: on the market there are more films distributed in digital format and more alternative content. But it is the spread of 3D that has given such a boost.

Cinemeccanica operates internationally: from your privileged observation point, do differences emerge between the various markets in relation to the development of digital and the economic models that support it?
As regards financing, in Italy there are high expectations of public institutions, whilst the VPF model that has been adopted on a wide scale only in the United States is considered with some perplexity. This is mainly for “cultural” reasons: the exhibitor wishes to continue owning his equipment. The figure of the intermediary, the so-called “integrator”, foreseen by VPF, risks being considered an extra link in the supply chain and one whose usefulness is not acknowledged.

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Cinemeccanica digital projectors installed since the beginning of 2008

Group of participants at the DigiTraining Plus 2008

New MEDIA Salles offices

On 30 June 2007 MEDIA Salles relocated its offices to the Milan headquarters of Agis, Italy’s entertainment industry association.
Our new address is:

MEDIA Salles
c/o Agis Lombarda
Piazza Luigi di Savoia, 24
I-20124 Milano
Tel. +39 02 6739781 Direct line +39 02 67397823
Fax +39 02 6690410