International Edition No. 22 - year 2 - 11 May 2007
cinema at the doorstep
For almost two decades we have been
discussing what has been characterized as the most revolutionary event
in film since sound – digital projection of films in cinemas. A
flood of questions have erupted from these discussions, tests, demonstrations
and the general promotion of this new technology that will eventually
send the traditional 35mm-projection machine to the dump or to the science
To download them, please click on the
speakers names in the course programme, available through the above link.
Ad Weststrate: the viewpoint of Unic on digital cinema
What is the position of the organisation
representing the professional exhibitors’ associations of the various
European countries? Ad Weststrate, President of Unic, told about it during
the course. Aware that the real development of digital cinema is imminent,
European exhibitors aim at getting together with colleagues from US and
Canada, with a view to facing together those issues linked to what is
announced as one of the most important revolutions in the cinema’s
Dear colleagues and dear friends,
As you know, Unic, International Union of Cinemas, is the union of national associations of cinema owners of fifteen mainly European countries, (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Israël, Hungary).
Since 2000, companies such as Europalaces, UGC, Kinepolis Group and Utopolis have also been members of our organisation.
Unic represents about 30,000 screens with more than 950 million annual admissions covering about 400 million inhabitants.
Most of Unic’s members represent the majority of cinemas in their country, from independently-owned cinemas to circuits, together with subsidised and art cinemas.
Several times a year we meet with our colleagues from the United States and Canada.
It’s a pleasure and a necessity to meet several times a year in Europe or in the United States.
This cooperation is essential for the exchange of information between our two continents and for increased collaboration on issues of common interest such as digital cinema, piracy or windows because exhibitors all over the world face the same problems.
In terms of attendance, the year 2006 was
positive in Europe after a disappointing 2005. The attendance increased
in almost all the member states +7.9% in Germany, +10% in Austria, +7.5%
in France, +7.7% in Belgium, 12% in Finland, +9% in the Netherlands, +5.3%
Kinepolis Bruges at the forefront of technology
Visits to cinemas equipped for
digital projection have been one of the basic components of the course
“DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas”
since the first edition in 2004.
Opened on 7 July 2006, the Bruges
Kinepolis, situated not far from the town centre, offers eight theatres
for a total of 1,605 seats. Three screens are already equipped with digital
projectors, made by Barco, with Dolby servers. As its Manager, Diether
Thielemans, explained, this complex was designed to meet the demands of
the contemporary spectator who looks for ideal conditions for watching
the projection of a film, but also a place to enjoy a communal experience
and to be entertained. In this perspective it becomes important for the
cinema to have spaces where magazines and dvds or the posters of favourite
films can be bought, or simply spaces to relax in whilst reading a good
book or munching popcorn on a comfortable sofa. To satisfy these demands,
the Bruges site offers the Kinepolis shop together with the CréaCafé,
where it is also possible to buy salads, pizzas and pasta dishes, as well
as an area reserved for play stations, where clients can enjoy playing
with a game pad, whilst waiting for the beginning of a film. Kinepolis
also reserves a digital screen for these games, which gives fans of videogames
the opportunity to compete against one another with the latest models
provided by PS3. The videogame business has, in fact, experienced strong
growth over the last few years: recent surveys show that the play station
has proved to be the favourite form of entertainment with young people.
The technological innovations of these cinemas do not stop here, though.
Ticket purchasing and the choice of seats, for example, can be carried
out either from home, using a system of online payment, or by making use
of the special self-service columns placed in the foyer of the cinema.
This system allows the spectator to avoid long lines at the box office
and the exhibitor to save on staff costs. In addition, a system based
on sensors fitted below the seats allows the box office staff to check
on special monitors to see if the seats sold and the seats occupied actually
coincide. When showing participants at the DGT course how her product
operates, Lzhou Pei-Zhi, Director General of Quick Sensor
NV (the company that supplies the mechanism), stressed both the money
saved and the benefits for the spectator who feels freer of controls.
Some photos of Kinepolis in Bruges
Folkets Hus och Parker (FHP), The National Federation of People’s Parks and Community Centres, are unique in the world with the basic idea that everyone should have somewhere to meet, experience culture of different kinds and interact with their community. Within our 692 venues there are 240 cinemas and 245 screens. Most of them are situated in smaller towns and villages with between 200 and 20,000 inhabitants.
In 1999 FHP realised that digital
cinema was an important transition and that we had to take action if we
wanted our cinemas to survive. For the next two years we gathered information
and prepared for a pilot project. In September 2001 we had our first public
screening of a commercial film in Smedjebacken, one of seven pilot cinemas.
During 2005 and 2006 the first cinemas were accompanied by another 33
of ours and 17 run by other smaller exhibitors thanks to a new lease.
Apart from four 2K screens, all are 1.4K. For FHP, digital cinema isn’t
a pilot project anymore but a daily and very real business.
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