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

International Edition No. 65 - year 5 - 15 December 2010 


Dear Readers,

I am happy to announce that for about a month now, MEDIA Salles has also been present on Facebook. Our aim, which already proved to be appreciated and shared by over a hundred professional players on the same day it was announced, is to encourage the exchange of information on European productions, particularly with regard to digital films and content. The first of the products created for FB is the section “Italian Cinema: When and Where”, hosted in the Notes. We invite you to visit it and use in the spirit of the social network to share information and, by doing so, allow as many people as possible to find out about your programming, if you distribute or screen Italian films.
This is naturally an initial step in the direction that has always characterized the MEDIA Salles mission: to promote quality European films and provide cinemas with all possible information and tools for enhancing their programming with regard both to films and to the best of the alternative content made accessible by digital.

Jens Rykaer
President of MEDIA Salles

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)




The eighth edition of the
“DigiTraining Plus:
European Cinemas
New Technologies”
course will take place
in Helsinki and Tallinn
from 29 June to 3 July 2011

Deadline for registration: 23 May 2011
Registration forms will be published in January

Further information will be published on our website,
at the page dedicated to the course:

Marta Materska–Samek

Not only support specifically addressed to cinemas. Calls for proposals aimed at the promotion of tourism too can help small cinemas willing to shift to digital technology. To know how read the article written by Marta Materska–Samek. Cinema Mirko in Krakow, through the “Maloposka” project supported by the European Social Fund and aimed at enhancing the tourist attractiveness of the region, has become the leader of a network that, thanks to digitization, has transformed local cinemas into tourist attraction. Thus, the “digital art houses”, showing digital and 3D movies as well as alternative content, have become part of a combined offer for tourists (weekends with sightseeing and cinema screening) and of cross-promotion initiatives (promos on attractions of the towns in the network).

Marta is thirty and since she was a teenager she has been connected to cinema. Being impressed by the mystery of cinema exhibition she worked voluntarily at the 36th to 44th editions of the Krakow Film Festival devoted to shorts. During her studies she won an internship at the Apollo Film Institution, where she was dealing with distribution issues. When she was on the Socrates Erasmus scholarship - Strasbourg (IEP Robert Schuman University), she applied for the Eurimages internship and during that time she deepened her knowledge of film co-production and as a consequence she gathered material to write a master’s thesis.

After her studies Marta took a job at Apollo Film – the commercialized former national institution, where she was responsible for new media and marketing. In those times, there were very few people in Poland who knew what D-cinema was. One of them was Tomasz Maciejowski, CEO of Apollo Films. His dilemma was how to save Kiev cinema (Kijów), which is a place where famous premières and national film events have taken place. The history of the biggest cinema, which seats 828, started in 1967, when it was built and opened to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. The gigantic cinema screen (18m x 10m) showed such events as the world première of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” featuring the cast and crew of the film. However, the increasing number of multiplexes constituted a threat to the cinema and hence resulted in the lack of 35mm prints for traditional cinemas to show films on their first run.

The natural solution was to introduce the D-cinema technology, but the problem was not only financing but also a lack of critical mass making the investment profitable. In 2005 Marta was leading a team, whose goal was to prepare a proposal for a call from SPO WKP 2004-2006 (a sectorial operational funding programme oriented to strategic investment in SME’s). Despite being positively noted and approved, unfortunately, the project was put on a reserve list waiting for allocation, which never came. Finally in 2006, the cinema was equipped with a 2K Christie d-cinema projector, a Doremi server, a scaler and a 3D Xpand (former Nuvision) system entering the XDC lease agreement.

(Click here to read the whole article)

The Third Dimension

The most recent data collected by MEDIA Salles on 3D in Europe, and explained by Elisabetta Brunella in the “Souvenir Programme” of the 23rd European Film Awards.

In 2004, only the bat of an eyelid away, there were thirty digital screens in Europe. Today they have grown to almost seven thousand: has the digital revolution taken place? Yes and no, considering that despite the undeniable boom starting in 2009 and continuing throughout 2010, four fifths of the Continent’s total screens still rely on 35mm.
What certainly has come about is the “3D revolution”, in view of the fact that, out of all the screens that have changed to the new technology adopting 2K or more recently 4K, almost 80% have also equipped themselves for 3D. Of the over five thousand 3D installations, more than three thousand five hundred are located on the six leading markets - those that count a yearly average of at least a hundred million spectators. France, which in 2009 sprang to the lead in the digital transition, is responsible for the lion’s share with almost 900 units, followed by the United Kingdom (over 700) and Germany (over 600). Next come Italy and Russia, both with over 500 installations, and Spain (a little over 400). Sustained by the availability of products from the US film industry, which respected the calendar of releases initially announced, the rush to 3D has been the engine of digitalization in the past two years. The key to change for this phenomenon was the hearty welcome given to the new development by audiences, prepared to pay more for tickets to this type of film and, basically, finance the purchase of the new equipment. Thus, whilst we shall still have to wait some time for digitalization in the strict sense of the term, i.e. for the digital conversion of all the screens in a complex, and above all to find the necessary resources to include even the less profitable theatres in the process, 3D is already immediately available in a large number of venues, whether multiplexes or not. A passing phenomenon?
There are those who, mindful of the past, in other words the recurrent but short-lived bouts of interests in 3D, remain fairly sceptical. Others, instead, in view of the amount of capital invested both in production and in the theatres, believe that three-dimensional films, whilst not managing to replace 2D, will become a regular part of the cinemagoer’s “diet”. Amongst those who hold this view, for instance, is the Director of the Venice Festival, Marco Müller, who, when talking about the 3D creative award instituted by his festival, declared: “3D technology cannot be labelled a passing whim; fortunately 3D is here to stay.” And if, up to now, films “made in America” have dominated the international 3D scenario – with rare European exceptions, such as the precursor “Fly me to the Moon” – 2010 saw a significant number of titles from the Old Continent adopting the new technology to try out different languages and genres. And, most importantly, obtain international distribution. Thus the range covers a documentary exploring the depths of the ocean, such as the French-Swiss-Spanish co-production Océans, to the British Streetdance, an enormous audience success focusing entirely on dance, to cartoons such as the Finnish Moomins and the Comet Chase, the Belgian Sammy’s Avonturen and the recent Winx Club: Magic Adventure from Italy, not forgetting horror, where the Dutch co-production Amphibious 3D takes its place. Moreover, this passion for 3D is one of the elements which demonstrates that the digital shift means far more than simply replacing one type of projector with another. It is, in fact, true that the movie theatre and what it offers its audiences are undergoing a transformation. We have witnessed this with the success of visual music on the big screen – whether opera or the latest rock concert – with the worldwide attraction of live sports events in every continent and we can see it with 3D, which once again makes movie theatres into the favourite place for enjoying a show that cannot be reproduced on the small screen at home or on a laptop. What is more, 3D itself is far more than just the addition of special effects to “normal films”. In the video interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist for the latest Biennale of Architecture in Venice, Wim Wenders, commenting on his 3D film, which takes the audience to discover and, above all, “listen to” a magical building – the Lausanne Rolex Centre – said: “3D is a language. In the near future it will invigorate the documentary, giving it body and volume.”
And addressing new artists he continued by speaking of the extraordinary opportunities offered by digital technologies and the Internet: “Today there are enormous opportunities for creation. My dream is that in the 21st century communication tools will increasingly be in the hands of the people rather than in those of the old powers.” This is the challenge facing theatres and European cinema, too: that the new technologies should increasingly transform them into a space for creativity and for the expression of cultural diversity.

Elisabetta Brunella
Secretary General of MEDIA Salles

This article has been published in the “Souvenir Programme” of the 23rd European Film Awards
(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

The Winners of the 23rd European Film Awards


Digitalization of Italy’s Cinemas. Mission Impossible?

Up to now around two thirds of digitalized screens have been installed in multiplexes and only one third in traditional cinemas. How can smaller cinemas too have access to the new technologies? At least two steps seem to be necessary: a joint initiative by exhibitors and distributors and public support.

Of the four thousand screens in Italy, located in over two thousand structures, at the end of August just over five hundred structures were observed to be digitalized for a total of around seven hundred and fifty screens. To this figure we should add another eighty or so theatres, also digitalized but with 1.3 K projectors.
The Italian exhibition system can be divided into two types of businesses: traditional cinemas with no more than 4-5 screens spread over the territory in over 1,800 sites located mainly in the urban centres of Italian towns and cities (around 2,500 screens); multiplexes with 5-6 screens upwards located in over two hundred complexes (around
1,500 screens) mostly on the outskirts of the main provincial capitals.
Up to now around two thirds of digitalized screens are installed in multiplexes and only one third in traditional cinemas.
As regards the rate of digitalization of cinemas, it can be observed that only twenty-five of them (obviously multiplexes) have more than three digital screens and no more than ten or so are completely digitalized.
It is useful to remember that the process of digitalization can mainly be traced back to the great appeal of three-dimensional screenings to audiences (it is, in fact, no coincidence that almost all digital screens are fitted with 3D technology) and that from an economic and financial point of view the various opportunities offered by VPF (Virtual Print Fee) and the recent introduction of tax benefits have made a great contribution.
The situation outlined above reserves little space at the moment for circulating digital copies that are not in 3D, since existing cinemas, apart from a very limited number of structures with more than 3-4 digital screens, mostly find it hard to fill even their 3D film programmes.
Moreover, as regards future prospects for the process of digitalization, and in particular the possibility of it spreading more widely across the market, it should be considered that for a large sector of traditional exhibition the introduction of this technology may not be feasible for a series of reasons or may at least be delayed until a distant future. Truth to tell, whilst the multiplexes (especially where they belong to large or medium-sized circuits), which programme mostly films by the American majors and a large number of films in 3D, can easily take advantage of all the tools for facilitating a digital investment (VPF and tax benefit), there is an insufficient number of digitally equipped traditional theatres (there should be at least 300-500 of them), which generally programme quality or arthouse films and conseqently have no incentive for making the necessary investments, since they cannot rely on a supply of digital films and thus cannot benefit from VPF.
Moreover, the tax benefits for these theatres, which have a limited income and a company structure with few employees, offer insufficient compensation and are thus of limited use.
The gap between the different types of exhibiting companies becomes even wider when considering that, in view of the increasing difficulties of digital projector producers to satisfy the swiftly growing demand, priority is given to those who have already ordered the equipment and are able to plan their digital development (the multiplexes).
As can be seen, all this is like a dog chasing its tail – a situation of stalemate that must be rapidly overcome unless there is to be a long delay in the digitalization of over half of Italian cinemas, which are already in delicate economic conditions and will have to deal with a further competitive disadvantage.
Can something be done to change this scenario?
And what virtuous action can be taken to avoid a situation that damages a large sector of exhibition, the one in which Italian films have a greater chance of visibility and of increasing their box-office?
This is what will be discussed in Mantua during the “Incontri del cinema d’essai” (Arthouse Cinema Meetings). However, it can certainly be argued that any possibility of reversing the current trend depends on the one hand on a prompt, strong, joint attempt by exhibitors and distributors to overcome existing obstacles, by agreeing on a special “road map”, and, on the other hand, on the ability of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Regional Authorities, possibly coordinating their work, in coming up with appropriate facilitations able to provide a strong incentive for investment by exhibitors who are in difficulty and lagging behind.

Luigi Grispello
Member of the Agis Presidential Office and Acting Vice-president of the Anec

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All different, all digital
by Elisabetta Brunella

This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.





Number of projectors




No. of 3D screens

Supplier of 3D technology


ShowPlace Icon at Roosevelt Collection

Chicago, IL









Icon Theatre

Once upon a time in the United States, there was Kerasotes, a chain of cinemas boasting 957 screens. In 2010 the company, founded in Illinois by a Greek immigrant, was bought up by AMC, number two on the US cinema market. But after signing a 275-million dollar contract, the descendants of Gus Kerasotes who, with the opening of a nickelodeon, placed the foundation stone for what was to become the sixth U.S. cinema group, did not abandon the family profession.
Today their name is associated with a chain of cinemas, limited in number but highly innovative. Their Icon Showplace, for example, has already revolutionized the offer of cinema in the centre of Chicago, joining in the process by which citizens with economic resources are encouraged to choose a home in areas traditionally reserved for offices, businesses or schools. Thus in the new Roosevelt Place, on the south edge of the Loop, the economic heart of the city, the Icon’s 16 screens found their place at the end of 2009. With this stylish urban multiplex, the concept of the “Vip movie theatre” makes its appearance in the United States, where the cinema is a mainly working-class, family-format form of entertainment. “Sip, savor, see” - this is Icon’s promise to their customers. The key elements are the fashionable design - which attempts to cut all ties with traditional multiplex kitsch and tends rather to imitate the trendy restaurants of a more European taste – avant-garde technology and comfort made for an audience of adults and, above all, what is innocently termed the “lobby lounge” but is really a bar selling alcoholic drinks, something decidedly uncommon in American cinemas.
Those who set foot in the Icon thus find a space open to everyone on the first floor and on the second an area where access is strictly reserved for those over 21. After passing a brightly painted version of the old Fiat Cinquecento, and being welcomed by staff who are as smiling and professional as they are inflexible over age limits, spectators can take a seat at the bar or at one of the tables overlooking Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, to order Mediterranean-flavour delicacies and a vast range of alcoholic drinks, from beers – at least 15 varieties – to the most sophisticated of cocktails. But the creations of the barman and the chef, who signs “panini” and mini-fillets of Angus beef, can also be taken into the theatre. Here, through a reserved entrance spectators over 21 gain access to seats they have chosen beforehand in a section specially set aside for them – a sort of gallery perfectly separated from the rest of the audience. They will see the film – undoubtedly one of the latest blockbusters, screened exclusively with digital technology – from the depths of particularly roomy and comfortable armchair seats. On special little tables, they will be able to place their choice of Italian salami and cheeses, a glass of wine and a decadent dessert. The cost? For a Saturday evening, an estimated 17.50 dollars for the Vip ticket – which rises to 20 dollars if the film is in 3D – 8 for bread, mortadella and Gorgonzola (in Milan reminiscent of the builder’s packed lunches, in Chicago this is a creation of the food designers), 6 for a glass of Prosecco, 6 for a slice of white chocolate cheesecake. But the parking is free and, with the prices usually found in the Windy City, this is an advantage that most of the Icon’s customers emphasize with conviction. Satisfied customers, if out of 227 reviews reported on a site such as Yelp, 150 assign 4 or 5 stars (the maximum) to the Icon Showplace. Objections? The vip version of the Icon is rather pricey but those who are keeping an eye on their spending can always fall back on the popcorn (bacon flavour is particularly recommended) and enjoy the previously mentioned free car park and ideal viewing conditions. In the end, what should count most in a cinema – flawless sound and vision – are the same, for vips and non-vips alike.

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News on the development of digitalisation in Europe


Italy, too, has produced its first digital, 3D, animated film: Winx Club 3D - Magica Avventura.
A story of fairy-heroines all ready to defeat the wicked witches, the pre-screening of Iginio Straffi’s film was presented at the latest Rome International Film Festival before its release in Italian movie theatres on 29 October 2010.
Winx Club 3D has also been distributed outside Italy: in Russia (27 October 2010) and in Turkey (29 October 2010). In 2011 the film should also be out on release in Germany.

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3D was among the protagonists of the Cinema Professional Days which have just been held in Sorrento, Italy, from 29 November to 2 December.
As well as the advance screening of Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Michael Apted, Piranha 3D by Alexandre Aja, a horror film with Elisabeth Shue and Richard Dreyfuss, and the animated film Sammy’s Adventures were also screened in 3D. 25 minutes of pre-screening from the science-fiction film Tron - Legacy by Joseph Kosinski with Jeff Bridges were also presented in 3D, as well as the first images from Sanctum 3D, produced by James Cameron.
The Cinema Professional Days were organized by the ANEC, national association of cinema exhibitors, in collaboration with the ANEM exhibitors and the distributors belonging to the ANIC.
The event was attended by around two thousand representatives from the industry and many actors, directors and authors who came to present films on release in the coming months or to receive the Biglietti d’Oro (Golden Tickets) of Italian cinema, the award given by the ANEC to the films that have had the greatest audience auccess.

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A unique public/private cooperation makes it possible to change collectively from analogue to digital technology in the exhibition and distribution branch of Dutch cinema. The foundation Digitizing Dutch Cinema, founded by the Dutch federation of film exhibitors and distributors (NVB and NVF) and EYE Filminstitute Nederland, will implement the digitalisation within two years. Total costs will be €38,000,000. Secretary of State Zijlstra from the Ministry of Culture and Science has approved an allowance from the Dutch Film Fund.

Furthermore, 14% of all the implementation costs will be covered by the Government from the National ICT programme (PRIMA). With this amount, allocated especially for film theatres, digitization of the Dutch exhibition sector will be carried out. The first digital projectors will be installed in January 2011. By mid 2012 all film theatres and cinemas will be able to exhibit digitally and digital distribution will also be possible.

MEDIA Salles’ contacts and address

MEDIA Salles
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