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Friday, 12 March 2010

The Multiplex's Crocodile Tears (Updated)


The UK's second bigest cinema chain, CINEWORLD, posted "robust" profits yesterday, with earnings up 11%, or £334 million in revenue, and profits of over £30 million.

Also in the news is that ODEON (and for that matter all the chains) can't get all the digital projectors and 3D equipment they need, as everyone scrambles to install more 3D screens in advance of big new releases (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, CLASH OF THE TITANS) which will compete for 3D screen space with what is left over of AVATAR, ALICE IN WONDERLAND - and there will be many more to come.

So business is booming right? You wouldn't know it from this GUARDIAN article, which typically forecasts the end of days for exhibition because of the shrinking DVD window, the internet, 'kids these days', and the comments highlight that the type of people who would comment on the Guardian website are exactly the type to be terrified of children in a cinema.

But we've been here before: sound in the late 1920s, TV in the 1950s, home video in the 1980s, DVD in the 1990s, the internet in the 2000s - these were all huge threats that the exhibition sector overcame succesfully. So as much as I like to deride their customer service, poor presentation, lack of atmosphere, lack of programming courage, the truth is that it's a surviving industry.

Against all odds, buildings showing movies to paying customers are not only surviving, but thriving. Don't let the chains make you feel sorry for themselves.

This is what David Hancock, Screen Digest’s Head of Film and Cinema, had to say about the revitalising potential of digital roll out:

“The release of Avatar was the BC/AD moment for digital cinema, taking us from the prehistory of the first 10 years, characterized by research, false commercial starts, standards development and early pioneers, to the modern world of commercial cinema as it will be in the decades to come. Digital 3D, opera, theatre, music and comedy in cinemas, live 3D sport, and interactive adverts are all a part of cinema in the future; not just a place to watch movies but a multi-arts venue which can be the heart of small and large communities alike. The refreshment of cinema is firmly underway and it is now taking its place as an integral part of the digital media landscape on the one hand, and as a revitalised leisure venue on the other.”

Thanks to Bigger Picture Research for highlighting the quote.

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