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

  International Edition No. 27 - year 3 - 12 February 2008



Dear readers,
I am happy to invite you once again this year to the traditional appointment with MEDIA Salles at the international Berlin Film Festival.

We shall be meeting in a new environment: we are in fact grateful to Detlef Rossmann, President of AG Kino, and for some months now at the head of the international arthouse cinema federation, for having facilitated the running of a joint event - AG Kino, CICAE and MEDIA Salles – a true meeting point for European cinema exhibition.

On this occasion MEDIA Salles will be presenting the “European Cinema Yearbook 2007 - final edition”, which analyzes cinema-going in 34 European countries over a period of 18 years, starting in 1989, and provides the first advance information on the whole of Europe in 2007. Complete with a thorough comparison of 21 international markets, with figures on the spread of multiplexes and megaplexes in Europe updated at 31 October 2007 and with an overview of digital screens throughout the world, this study confirms its importance as a basic tool for understanding an industry like the exhibition industry that is increasingly sensitive to technological, economic and social evolution. The Berlin Festival, with its traditionally open attitude towards dialogue and exchange with the rest of the world has been and continues to be the ideal context for MEDIA Salles to present the “Final Edition” of the Yearbook.

I should also like to invite you to the presentation of our training course on digital technology and, even better, to take part in it. DigiTraining Plus 2008 will give exhibitors throughout Europe tools for understanding the evolution of projection in the field of digital cinema and the implications both for the industry and for audiences. Now in its fifth edition, the course will make it possible to analyze, compare and try out the new technologies of digital projection and will be held in what is now emerging as the European capital of this new way of presenting cinema: London (from 9 to 13 April).

Information and formation: these are the tools that MEDIA Salles focuses on with the support of the European Union’s MEDIA Programme and the Italian Government, in order to promote the development of European cinema, its business enterprises and its talents.

Jens Rykaer
President of MEDIA Salles

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

The Apple – Fox agreement doesn’t worry US cinema exhibitors
by Elisabetta Brunella

The agreement between Apple and Fox, rumours of which had been heard at the end of December, with an official announcement at MacWorld in mid-January, does not seem to have caused US exhibitors concern. Online rental of movies is a fairly “mobile” state of affairs where there is a new player for every old one - Wal-Mart - that leaves the scene. “We exhibitors are not worried about the result of negotiations between Fox and Apple,” we are told by Patrick Corcoran, Director of Media & Research for Nato, the US professional association, “because there are no signs that this agreement will threaten the practice followed up to the present, which has guaranteed theatres a period of exclusive viewing rights. A new player has simply appeared on the on-demand video market.” There are no official windows in the United States, established either by agreements between categories or, much less, by law. The interval between theatrical release and those following, which at present lasts 4 months, is the result of what John Fithian, President of NATO, defines “a business model that has worked and continues to work well, and by ‘well’ we mean in the interests of the whole production line, including the authors.” These rules of play also seem to have been accepted by Steve Jobs who, in his eagerly awaited keynote speech at MacWorld 2008, specified that the new iTunes Movie Rentals service will make it possible to download to your own computer or even to an iPod or iPhone, films that have been available on DVD for 30 days. Another safety clause to protect the distinctive characteristics of the DVD is the 30/24 rule: whoever downloads a film from iTunes has 30 days to start watching it but, once viewing has commenced, the images disappear after 24 hours. It is for this precise reason that Steve Jobs, who has also taken into account those who might wish to see the film on a larger screen, perhaps in company, by inventing a system for downloading films directly onto the TV (Apple TV of course) without the intervention of the computer, is accused of having proposed a formula that is not particularly user-friendly. There are, therefore, those who hope that the 30/24 rule will soon change to a 30/48 or even to a 30/72. Moreover, it will not have escaped the attention of the Apple boss that, if he wants to do business with Fox and the other studios negotiating, he will have to confront the well-tried business model that keeps an eye on the interests of the various players – new and old – making a profit from the cinema industry.

The Italian version of this article was published in the “Giornale dello Spettacolo” dated 25 January 2008.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

La Scala on Big Screens in the United States
Interview with Giovanni Cozzi, Emerging Pictures

At this stage there is plenty of evidence for the fact that opera can be considered one of the juiciest “alternative contents” for film theatres in the digital era (see for example DGT online Informer 26/07). We talk about this to Giovanni Cozzi, one of the founders of Emerging Pictures, a company that has launched a circuit of cinemas and cultural centres in the United States which, thanks to the new technologies, places its stakes on the diversification of offer.

Your company is the inventor of the initiative “Italy’s Best Opera”: how did this project come into being and how is it being run?
We made an agreement with RAI Trade which allows us to present a “season” of five operas from La Scala and another two from the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence and La Fenice in Venice over a period running from December 2007 to June 2008, to be continued in July with a ballet. We began with Aida, on offer in 66 different venues in the US, and continued in January with Tristan and Iseult, which is still being shown in some places.

What were the reactions of audiences to these performances which, unlike those of the Metropolitan for example, are not shown live?
Audiences respond with great enthusiasm: several showings were “sold out” and repeats were requested. This success has been recorded not only in America’s big cities and in the more prestigious venues, for example the Symphony Space in New York, but also in other, less central places. A 280-seat cinema on the outskirts of Philadelphia, for example, sold 200 subscriptions. Many people who came to the première without booking were unable to get in. The quality of the camerawork, as well as that of the projection and the sound made for a truly involving experience: the music critic of the New York Times who watched “Tristan and Iseult” at the Symphony Space, remarked that the audience’s emotion was palpable, so that they spontaneously applauded the conductor’s entrance or were visibly moved as they listened to the Italian national anthem. The delay also allows for many advantages from an organizational point of view – problems of timing linked to the different time zones are avoided – and from the point of view of content. Screenings of operas can, for example, be accompanied by “live” introductions by experts and critics or by other filmed material, such as back-stage at the Scala or interviews with the lead singers. One of the reasons why I am in Milan now is to do an interview with the Superintendent of the Scala, Stéphane Lissner, which will accompany the screenings to come.

What can you tell us about audiences and their motives?
Obviously the main element that drives them is their passion for opera, including the desire to see American artists who work abroad on stage and to re-discover well-loved figures like Zubin Metha, Director of the Maggio Musicale in Florence. But as well as this, a very important factor is the interest that exists in the imagination of US audiences for significant places, for example Milan, Florence and Venice, in addition to the perception of the “difference” of the venues where the performance is held: in the United States there are prestigious theatres but none, of course, with the history, the beauty and atmosphere of La Scala or La Fenice. This is why we “package” the performance so carefully, adding, for example, shots of the places involved, which are shown around the performance and in the intervals. As a result, bringing opera from Italy to the United States also becomes an extremely effective way of promoting the country’s image and creating consensus for international initiatives, such as Milan’s candidature as for the World Expo in 2015, for example.

Can the ticket price be considered an added attraction in this programme?
The price of a screening – 20 dollars – is certainly competitive compared to that of live opera. At the same time it is more remunerative for the exhibitor than the price of a normal cinema ticket. Without taking into account the fact that opera attracts audiences that are, in many cases, different from the usual ones and also contributes to creating an image for the film theatre that makes it stand out from its competitors.

What is Emerging Pictures’ role with regard to the movie theatres?
As well as negotiating the agreements with those who own the rights, we deal with distribution to the movie theatres in a variety of ways, according to the projection equipment available in the booth. We provide physical support to theatres by means of the 2K projector, whilst using broadband to send the files in HD to movie theatres belonging to the “High Cinemas” circuit. Here at Emerging Pictures we strongly believe in this way of circulating content for movie theatres, from an ecological point of view, too: broad band does away with problems of road transport and with those of production and, later, with that of disposing of the hard copies. And so our “High Cinemas” are also “Green Cinemas”.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

Rossella Gambetti
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy

In academic studies of business and modes of business communication the challenges to cinematographic communication arising from the adoption of digital technology are considered with a cautious attitude but also with great interest.

The cautiousness is linked to an awareness that the paths of development, affirmation and wide-scale spread of the new information and communications technologies (including digital), which in the recent past have underpinned the appearance and evolution of the new and net economies, are characterised by far quicker timing compared to the time involved for the needs, expectations and competences of the potential target users to mature. This has regarded and continues to regard the application of digital technology to television, which has recently seen the development of a wide-ranging debate in Italy both on the advisability of improving television viewing offered by digital cable and on its potential spread in the medium term. The slow penetration of this technology in Italy is, in fact, demonstrating that there is more need for caution than ever when it is a question of such radical innovations, capable of making an impact on the cultural dimensions of a country and on its capacity for technological modernisation.

The great interest is connected to the considerable potential for competitive differentiation and gain in spectator loyalty, both offered as examples for the adoption by movie theatres of digital projection systems.

(Click here to read the whole article)

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

JUST IN CASE: If the e-mail you have sent to bounces back, please use this temporary address:

Advance News of DigiTraining Plus 2008

European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies
London (Great Britain, 9-13 April 2008)

Main topics:
- The present state of the European and international market
for digital screening
- Overview of technologies
- Exhibition and Distribution
- Digital cinema economics
- Market potential

The course will also offer:
- visit to a cinema equipped with digital projector
- European case studies

Download the application form
(Versione italiana)

Now in its fifth edition, DigiTraining Plus moves this year to the United Kingdom, the European market that has proved to be most dynamic up to the present in adopting digital screening.
A new venue but a constant objective: to offer professional players in Europe thorough and detailed training on which to base their choices and business strategies in dealing with the digital transition.
The course, which will be moderated once again this year by Mads Egmont Christensen, a producer and teacher of cinema, will approach the theme from the points of view of technology, theatre management, content and business models, on the basis of a combination of

  • lessons by internationally known experts:

DigiTraining Plus 2008 will open with a talk by Dave Monk, EDCF:
What are we talking about when we talk of digital cinema?
A unique opportunity to sum up the current situation, analyzing trends for the near future and comparing ideas with one of the most authoritative figures in the world of digital screening.

The English model: public intervention behind the launch and development of the Digital Screen Network
Fiona Deans and Tom Ward of Arts Alliance will talk about this.

  • reports by exhibitors who have already experimented with digital technology:

Curzon Cinemas: the technical aspects of digital projection
presentation and question-and-answer session with Mick Stephen, group engineer

Kino Cinemas: how to create and manage a “digital only” cinema,
in the words of the founder Paul Corcoran

  • visits to significant sites and screenings:

starting with the Curzon Soho, scheduled for 10 April, arriving at the Odeon Surrey Quays, a thorough tour through the various types of cinemas that have already adopted digital, with the chance to see 3D digital images for yourself, including a selection of the European productions distributed in digital format.

As well as:
Which business models for Europe? From VPF “made in Usa” to the answers suggested by XDC and Arts Alliance
Contents and availability: films and alternative products, with participation by More2screen
The prospects of 3D, with the collaboration of RealD

Practical information

The course will begin on 9 April 2008 at 3 p.m. at the Ibis London Euston Hotel in St Pancras (3 Cardington Street - NW1 2LW - London) and will close on 13 April at 11 a.m. at the same address.

Deadline for application: 3 March 2008
Fee: 550 Euro covering tuition, teaching material, accommodation.
Scholarships available on request.

News from Russia

In 2008 Russia started out with 31 screens equipped for digital projection, located in 27 complexes. The baptism of the new technology had taken place in November 2006 at the Zanievski Cascade cinema in St. Petersburg. Immediately afterwards digital became available to audiences in Moscow and is now also in other important places, from Togliattigrad and Samara, in the Volga region, up to Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan.
“Today digital screens represent around 2% of the new generation of screens in Russia which, at 31 December, numbered 1,504 and were distributed in 647 sites,” states Ksenya Leontyeva, the Nevafilm analyst.

(Click here to read the whole article)

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

News from the world of 3D

There is often talk of new business enterprises and the innovative professions that the advent of digital technology brings with it. One example is Volfoni, the company founded in France on the initiative of Thierry Henkinet, which responds to the need to equip digital movie theatres for 3D projection. Exhibitors who do not wish to face the expense of buying more equipment, in addition to the digital projector and server, can hire it from Volfoni. In a short space of time they are supplied with the special active 3D glasses with liquid crystals made by NuVision, whilst in the projection booth an infra-red transmission system is installed and the necessary calibrations are made. This system foresees a practical and economic system for cleaning the glasses which avoids the exhibitor having to install washing equipment (each spectator receives an anti-bacteria wipe) and supplies a short 3D film explaining how to use the glasses. Volfoni has been chosen as the supplier both for prestigious festivals, such as Cannes, Venice and Turin, and by various exhibitors in France and Belgium, including Europalaces and CGR. Amongst the events that will linger in the memory of movie fans is the projection of Nightmare before Christmas at the 2007 Venice Festival, with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp in the audience. One film that will shortly be distributed in cinemas equipped by Volfoni is U2 3D, whilst Fly me to the Moon, the keenly awaited production in nWawe 3D computer graphics, by the Belgian Ben Stassen, is on programmes in Belgium at this very moment, in an advance release with respect to the rest of the world.

Spectators receive an antibacteria wipe to clean the glasses with


(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)

From theory to practice

In our “Women in Digital Cinemas” column, a researcher into business communications tells us that it is not sufficient for a cinema wishing to gain a competitive edge thanks to digital technology to simply install the equipment. Instead, it is a question of making potential audiences aware of the advantages that can derive from this innovation in terms of an overall cinema experience. Some people who believe that the digital transition means far more than a change in the way images get onto the screen are the companies that announced the new “Digitalfie” initiative at IDIFF 2008.
A leading supplier of servers, Doremi, an Austrian software company, SiTec, as well as Kino Cinemas, the exhibition company that boasts two unique cinemas in Great Britain - digital projectors only, with no 35 mm - and the consultants Peacefulfish have set themselves the aim of identifying and proposing services linked to digital cinema that are able on the one hand to improve the spectator’s global experience and, on the other, to create added sources of income for the exhibitor. Behind this project is a research study carried out in Finland and Norway to identify audience expectations and demands and compare these with the industry’s point of view.

(Click here to read the whole article)

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)


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