rrMarcus.pngRolando Rodriguez had already left the exhibition business when he was offered the top job at Rave Cinemas. Rodriguez had established himself as a veteran figure in the exhibition industry throughout a storied career at AMC before taking an executive role at Walmart. He returned to exhibition and was a key factor in turning around Rave Cinemas, culminating in the circuit's sale to Cinemark in May 2013. Rodriguez wasn't out of the exhibition business for long thereafter, as he was appointed president and CEO of Marcus Theaters that same summer. Now a year into his tenure at Marcus, BoxOffice catches up with the veteran exhibition executive to talk more about the business.

You're a veteran in the exhibition business. What made Marcus such an enticing option for you at this point in your career?  

My career track really started within the industry. I spent 30 years with AMC and took a side trip with Walmart, where I spent nearly five years. I was recruited to become the president and CEO of Rave Cinemas, which was owned by a private equity group. Their intention was to spin off that circuit within a three- to five-year period of time based on turning the company around and achieving the kind of returns we were looking for. We were fortunate enough to have a great team that was able to do that in a two-and-half-year period of time. I also sit in the NATO Executive Board of Directors, where Steve Marcus also sat for those years I was in charge of Rave, and we got to know each other. The timing for me was perfect, since Bruce Olson, my predecessor in this position, decided to retire after a long and distinguished career right around the time we sold Rave. I was one of the several candidates that Marcus was considering and, through the course of many interviews, I was able to join a well-respected brand in Marcus. It was also intriguing to me that it is a company that isn't just made up of theaters but has a broad view of the food-and-beverage and hospitality industries. That, combined with what I felt was a great company and great people, that's what brought me here.  

Now that you've been at the company for a bit, what are some of the main goals you want to achieve moving forward with Marcus?  

I joined the company on July 30, 2013, and we set out to build short- and long-term goals. We are making them happen, beginning with amenities like Take 5 and our lounge concept. We've introduced Zaffiro's Express, our branded pizza program, and have expanded it to many of our locations. And this has combined with a very strong remodel program that introduces our large-screen format expansion of Ultra Screen DLX, along with Dream Loungers, which is our branded recliner-seats program. That, coupled with the marketing initiatives we've put in place, including our discounted ticket day on Tuesdays, has really propelled the company into a nice position. Our ultimate goal is to see continued growth, and that will come from new amenities in our circuit, from organic growth, and from potential acquisitions.  

You mentioned large-format screens and reclining seats, along with a renewed focus on concessions. Is it safe to say you are currently focused on raising the value-added propositions for your consumers at existing locations?  

We've committed to more than $50 million of investment to our existing theaters in those areas. Within any industry, being relevant and forward thinking for the consumer is essential for any growth company. Retail, food and beverage, or entertainment-we need to provide a true price-value relationship with that consumer. For many years as an industry, we concentrated on sound, especially in the 1980s and '90s. Then we combined that great sound with the large-screen format. And after adopting stadium seating, we are now truly matching what people have at home with our reclining seats. That's within the context of providing the best experience at our theaters. And while audiences are at the theater, we want to provide a true total social experience with our lounges where you can enjoy your time before or after the movie. The idea should be how you provide that hardworking family a great three-hour experience instead of a great two-hour experience.  

Can you tell us about your experience in adopting a value-pricing program?  

We are living through a difficult economic time, and we never want to affect the weekend experience, but we had forgotten about a consumer out there who has been hit very hard by the economy. This consumer has stopped going to the movies, and, frankly, you have entire families that can no longer afford a night at the movies. We picked Tuesdays for a five-dollar admission for that reason, and we also provide free popcorn to members of our loyalty reward program. For a family of four that is a member of our free loyalty program, you now have the ability to afford taking your family to the movies, and you get the popcorn on us. We have a social responsibility to the consumers we had lost in our community, and we wanted to provide them an opportunity to enjoy a great moviegoing experience at our theaters on Tuesdays.  

How is the Midwest region different from operating anywhere else in the country?  

As you know this is the heart of America-these are hardworking folks who are committed to their families. They obviously don't have all of the other entertainment components that many of the other large cities have. Actually, we do have the Green Bay Packers, where it's like going to church every Sunday. So when folks spend their entertainment dollars, particularly for us in the Midwest, we provide the level of amenities and entertainment components that many of the other large cities have.  

Marcus owns about 85 percent of the real estate of its cinemas. What sort of advantage does that provide?  

That speaks to the commitment of the Marcus family in its investments. This is a company that has been in existence for 79 years and is truly committed to the theater business. It adds an extra dimension for us; it's close to our heart. We have a commitment to that community and to the company to make sure the theaters are as good as they can be. We are not dictated by equity investors; our commitment as a company is to show we are here for the long term.  

What do you enjoy about the Geneva Convention?  

I've gotten to know many of the members of NATO of Wisconsin and from other sister states. This is the CinemaCon for exhibitors in the Upper Midwest. All operators and business owners have the opportunity to have NATO provide education and a trade show for us. It's a truly small-town feel for a lot of key exhibitors to participate in a show of this scope. NATO also makes a big commitment to raising money for charities like Variety and Will Rogers through the course of that week.  

What are the obstacles facing exhibition in the coming years?

I think there are opportunities for us in the long term; it's making sure film grosses grow and that attendance grows alongside it. Flat or declining attendance is a big cause of concern, and in any healthy business you need to have the growth in revenue and attendance. I think a big part of that is making sure that our price-value relationship is closely aligned with the consumer. It's important that we place a priority on amenities inside our theaters, so consumers can have a great experience inside our cinemas.  

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severtsoncorp.pngNow Including Microperf Options, the Industry-Acclaimed Severtson SēVision 3D GX and Ultra Wide 3D Screens Can Now be Shipped Folded in Smaller Packaging with No Loss in Structural Integrity or Performance Abilities; Int'l Shipping Costs Reduced by Up To 70 Percent

Mesa, Arizona, USA, Sept. 4, 2014 - Severtson Screens (www.severtsonscreens.com), a global leader in innovative and quality projection screens for the cinema, commercial, pro AV, and home theater markets, is pleased to announce the new folded SēVision 3D GX line of cinema projection screens now includes Severtson's acclaimed microperf screen as an option for international shipment. Severtson Screens will introduce the updated line at ShowEast, held in Hollywood, Fla. from Oct. 27-30 at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, booth #106. Severtson Screens personnel will also be on hand to discuss the new microperf folded cinema screen options at Kino Expo in St. Petersburg, Russia from Sept. 23-26.

"Launched at the recent CinemaCon 2014 event to rave reviews and popularity worldwide, our new folded shipping method now makes international distribution of our industry-acclaimed SēVision 3D GX highly affordable, reducing international shipping costs by up to 70 percent," explained Toby Severtson, president and CEO of Severtson Corp. "Besides standard white and sliver screens, we are proud to introduce the immensely popular microperf option to our folded SēVision 3D GX line of cinema projection screens for international shipment."

Micro-perforation (microperf) screens are the screen of choice for high-end, premier theatres. The Severtson microperf viewing surface eliminates moiré which is often problematic of screens with larger perforation, yet continues to provide a more realistic soundstage allowing speakers to be placed directly behind the screen. The practically invisible pinpoint holes in the material allow sound to be smoothly transmitted through the material while preserving audio quality. The Folded SēVision 3D GX line of cinema projection screens offer up to 15 percent better sound transfer over standard perforated screens, while providing optimum visual performance at the same time, resulting in the ultimate audio and video experience for theater customers.

Added Dan Maxwell, Severtson Corp. V.P. & Chief Operating Officer, "Since we introduced the folded SēVision 3D GX line earlier this year, we have had to increase production in our Mesa, Arizona facilities to keep up with the international demand. Now, with the addition of the microperf option, we are excited to offer this top of the line product to our customers located around the globe who have been looking for such a screen, but shipping costs associated with such large packages as this were out-of- reach for so many up until now."

Now, Severtson Screens' microperf 3D screens can be folded and packed into a much smaller crate without any loss in structural integrity or performance abilities. Severtson's new folded screen process not only reduces international shipping fees, the smaller packaging simplifies delivery to theaters and is more convenient for installers, as well.

The new folded line of SēVision 3D GX and Ultra Wide cinema screens are now available for delivery to international destinations, having numerous advantages, including:

• available in standard (white and silver) or micro perforation

• coated surface that is harder to bruise and scuff

• small micron flake coating produces a sharper image that eliminates graininess in bright scenes

• viewing angles range from 30 to 40 degree half-gain depending on the specific screen gain requested

• use of a proprietary non-leafing flake vs. a leafing flake promotes longevity by eliminating degradation of the optical properties over time

• perfect for all large cinema applications, such as movie houses, museums, universities, etc.

According to Severtson, in the past, the idea of folding a screen for shipment, delivery, and installation has been deemed impossible because there was no method of doing it without degrading the quality and performance of the screen, or ruining it altogether.

Today, the cost offset on shipping as well as the screen's performance and longevity increases savings for the customer. This is huge news for the international market that desires a state-of-the-art silver 3D cinema screen, but, up until now, simply could not afford the shipment and installation cost because of how such a large screen had to be prepared, packed, and shipped.

Severtson Corporation is a member of the Giant Screen Cinema Association. They have manufactured cinema screens for theaters in countries all over the world, including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, Thailand, Scotland, China, Russia, and many more. To meet the challenge of creating extremely large screens, Severtson Corporation designed a robotic spray-arm application system to paint its high- performance optical coating in-house on screens as large as 67.75ft. x 150ft. (20.7m x 45.8m). It is currently the largest in-house cinema screen optical coating system in the world.

Approaching its 30th anniversary in 2016, Severtson Corporation continues to be a global leader in innovation and quality. The Severtson family's extensive experience in manufacturing small home theater screens and large cinema screens has given Severtson Corporation the expertise to meet the needs of the professional and consumer AV markets for both indoor applications as well as large outdoor venues.

With its three Arizona-based production facilities and its state-of-the-art robotic application system, Severtson has massive production capabilities and an unusually wide array of screens. The screens range in size from massive movie theaters, comfortable home theaters, and everything in between.

For more information, please visit www.severtsonscreens.com, call 480-610-5155, or email sales@severtsonscreens.com.

About Severtson Screens

Mesa, Ariz.-based Severtson Screens, which celebrated its 25th global leader in innovative and quality projection screens in the home theater, pro AV, and cinema markets. Its low rejection rate coupled with the high quality of all its products has made Severtson Corporation the industry standard for quality and customer service worldwide.

From its unlikely origins in the family kitchen to today's three modern production facilities, Severtson Corporation has remained committed to the principles of innovation and uncompromising quality that have made them who they are today.

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Cinebarre.jpgby Ken Bacon

Twenty minutes southeast of Boulder, Colo., sits one of the most livable cities in the United States, if Money magazine is to be believed. Louisville is certainly noteworthy. It is the home of SNC Space Systems' Dream Chaser, the low-Earth-orbit vehicle that may be taking astronauts to the International Space Station later this decade. And now it is the home to one of the country's premiere cinema eateries-Cinebarre. And it is out of this world.

Entrepreneur Terrell Braly, in partnership with Regal Entertainment Group, is a grand showman. Texas tall, brash, and gregarious, Braly knows how to throw a party. On July 31, the Cinebarre CEO and chairman opened the doors to a just a few invited guests-over 600, in fact-to the newest in his family of cinema eateries and the second in Colorado. Braly and his crew-many of them family members-transformed the 20-year-old monster of a multiplex, formerly Regal Colony Square Stadium 12, into a cinema showplace in just 90 days.

Chad Rankin, Cinebarre's VP of construction, describes the process: "Total construction project time was under 12 weeks with two weeks being demolition. Any time you remodel a 40,000-plus-square-foot building at such an expeditious rate, you uncover several unforeseen special challenges. By adding a large commercial kitchen and two bars, the remodel takes several skilled people that must be on top of their game. The key is to surround yourself with good people that can take direction on the fly. I've found that managing projects of this scope and short time frame, one must be able to adapt and overcome many daily obstacles in order to stay on schedule. Some challenges are big and some are small, but they all must be treated the same because one little thing can have a domino effect on the entire project."

Rankin worked with Renew Urban Theatre of Charleston, South Carolina, who specialize in cinema eateries. Renew Urban's motto is "Graciousness," and that attitude was certainly exemplified in one of their installers, the charming Jonathan Crump, who was thrilled with the finished result. "Spectacular," he told us while sipping a well-earned CineBrew.

Cinebarre Boulder, as the theater is now called, is the eighth location Braly and his talented squad have opened in recent years. Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) was featured in these pages several years ago when it was named one of BoxOffice's Marquee Theaters. Cinebarre Boulder certainly lives up to that standard.

The black-and-silver-themed venue is lined with classic movie posters enlarged to gargantuan proportions and red-upholstered couches and chairs accompanied by black-and-silver storage trunks that double as coffee tables.

Braly says of his newest store, "We give the civilized, mature person the experience of watching a movie the way it was meant to be: in a full-service dinner-and-movie setting without the distractions of the standard ‘mall' movie theater."

VIP Night guest, Army Wives star Terry Serpico said, "Terrell and the staff at Cinebarre Mount Pleasant (S.C.) opened their doors to Army Wives and gave us a home to screen our season premieres. We'd have a red carpet and press line. A big party. The environment at Cinebarre made it feel old-Hollywood glamorous."

Guest Tuesday Bebbe said, "Cinebarre is our second home. We eat dinner and watch a movie once or twice a week. If it's not playing at Cinebarre, we wait for it to come out on DVD. Love the leather chairs and great food!"


The cinema eatery is a growing concept that more circuits are entertaining. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, probably the most well-known cinema eatery in the country, was an in-theater dining pioneer. In 2005, Entertainment Weekly called it "The Best Theater in America." The CEO at the time? Terrell Braly. The man knows how to put on a show. And a hell of a party.

Katie Clayton, Cinebarre's director of special events for the East Coast and Signature Events, with Cinebarre VIP NIght guest John Ratzenberger (Cheers, Wall-E). Cinebarre special events nationwide include Monday Night Football, $6.00 Tuesdays, Cry Baby Day, Sons of Anarchy premiere in Mount Pleasant, S.C. (partnering with Harley-Davidson), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest event in Salem, Ore. (where the film was produced), and various smaller fund-raisers and one-time events.

Cinebarre CEO Terrell Braly (center) celebrates with wine consultants Tom Smith and Elizabeth Smith during VIP Night. Founders of Wine News, the couple are working with the Cinebarre team to reimagine the theaters' wine lists. "We culled wines from the world's most distinguished regions," Elizabeth Smith says. "They met one or all of the following criteria: grown in a foremost appellation for the varietal; easy-drinking and accessible; and boasting an outstanding quality-to-value ratio." In addition to being a wine expert and fine art photographer, Tom won a Super Bowl ring with the 1973 Miami Dolphins.

There is nothing a food-service worker loves more than a brand-new kitchen. The Boulder facility is huge, having replaced one of the original auditoriums. Orders come in from either the bar or any of the screening rooms, are then prepared to order, and raced out by food runners who deliver the burgers, pizzas, and snacks to patrons at their seats. Theatergoers may order at any time-before or during the film. The full menu is also available to visitors who choose to just enjoy the bar. On Day One, the kitchen was in full fury as servers, runners, and cooks put their training to the test, as it was also the opening day of the megahit Guardians of the Galaxy.

Offering in-theater dining at a movie theater presents challenges that go well beyond delivering food freshly prepared, tasty, and on time. Cinebarre chose New Zealand-based Vista Entertainment Solutions' suite of software tools to manage its ticketing and food-and-beverage operations. The key package, Vista Cinema, has three modules-Box Office, Concession Sales, and Food & Beverage to help cinemas manage all aspects of theater transactions. Andrew Purdy, Vista's Los Angeles-based consultant, traveled to Boulder to ensure that not only were all systems go, but that staff were thoroughly trained. Vista also offers Veezi for smaller independent theaters.

Cinebarre Boulder's circular bar is the centerpiece of the poster-festooned lobby. In addition to the central bar there is a service bar dedicated to making cocktails for in-theater filmgoers. In addition to General Manager Matty DesMarias, several members of the Mountlake Terrace, Washington, Cinebarre crew traveled to Boulder to help train and prepare the new staff. With VIP Night featuring a hosted bar, the bartenders were tested by fire as the event drew 660 thirsty guests including Cheers! regulars Norm and Cliff (actors George Wendt and John Ratzenberger), who kindly posed for photos with fans.

Cinebarre Boulder's maximum capacity is approximately 860. The 11 auditoriums range in size from 46 to 143 seats. The original stadium seats were removed for the renovation and replaced with new Signature Rockers from Irwin Seating Company. To accommodate dining, every other row of the original seats have been replaced with long dining tables, which has the additional benefit of providing substantial legroom. Lighting in the auditoriums is precisely controlled to ensure not only a great moviegoing experience, but to allow patrons to clearly read the menu, see their drinks, and ensure that the food runners can see where they're going.

The menu features pub fare with flair-chicken fingers are Goldfingers, the club sandwich has been dubbed Fight Club, sliders are Slideways, and the pepperoni pizza is The Italian Job. For the popcorn fan there is Children of the Popcorn, while the tub of corn tossed with fresh rosemary is called, of course, Rosemary's Baby. Fancy a cinnamon roll? Try the Princess Leia, so named for reasons only a Star Wars nerd will understand. In addition to wine and specialty cocktails, the theater also has its own branded beers, CineBrew and CineBeer. And with the Denver-Boulder area renowned for its microbrews, it's no surprise the beer list is top notch.

VP of Creative Affairs Vanessa Rankin has concocted a preshow that is unique to the Cinebarre experience. Filmmakers from around the globe submit short films to Cinebarre's Vimeo page with the very best selected for the preshow. A new preshow is assembled each month and uploaded to Cinebarre's FTP server so each theater can download and ingest into their film servers. Films are between three and seven minutes in length, while the entire preshow is 30 minutes. Since many of the theaters allow children, the selected films must be G or PG. Animation is popular, and many student films have made the cut.

 

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aug29.png

By Daniel Garris

Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy grossed $1.39 million on Tuesday to remain in first place at the daily box office. The blockbuster sci-fi superhero adaptation from Marvel has now led the daily box office for the past eleven days. Guardians of the Galaxy was down 76 percent from Monday's inflated Labor Day performance and down a healthy 34 percent from last Tuesday. The film has grossed a tremendous $282.59 million through 33 days of release. That leaves Guardians of the Galaxy $17.41 million away from becoming the first release of 2014 to reach the $300 million domestic mark.

Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles placed in second with $0.861 million. The successful franchise re-launch fell 77 percent from Monday and 48 percent from last Tuesday. While the film's box office run is slowing down now, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to exceed expectations in a very big way with a 26-day take of $167.14 million.

The November Man claimed third place with $0.861 million. Relativity's action thriller starring Pierce Brosnan was down 62 percent from Monday, which represented one of the day's stronger daily percentage holds among wide releases. The November Man has grossed $12.63 million in seven days. That is in line with pre-release expectations and places the film 19.5 percent behind the $15.69 million seven-day start of 2011's The Debt.

Let's Be Cops took fourth place with $0.722 million. Fox's low-budget action comedy was down 65 percent from Monday and down a respectable 45 percent from last Tuesday. Let's Be Cops surpassed the $60 million mark on Tuesday and has grossed a very solid $60.22 million in 21 days.

Warner's If I Stay rounded out the day's top five with $0.711 million. The low-budget drama starring Chloë Grace Moretz was down 71 percent from Monday and down 54 percent from last Tuesday. If I Stay has grossed $33.04 million in twelve days. The film continues to perform well given its modest price tag and is running 21 percent ahead of the $27.21 million twelve-day take of last year's Carrie.

Universal's As Above/So Below landed in sixth on Tuesday with $0.672 million. The low-budget horror film was down 59 percent from Monday, which represented one of the day's stronger daily holds among wide releases. As Above/So Below has grossed $10.96 million in five days. That is on the low end of expectations and places the film 3 percent behind the $11.31 million five-day start of 2011's Apollo 18.

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sonypictures.pngBased in New York, Executive Will Seek Out Literary Opportunities for all film and television divisions

CULVER CITY, Calif., September 3, 2014 - Ryan Doherty has joined Sony Pictures Entertainment in the newly-created position of Vice President, Literary Development, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group. He will be pursuing book-to-film-and-television opportunities for all content divisions across Sony Pictures Entertainment, including Columbia Pictures, Tom Rothman's TriStar Productions, Screen Gems, and Sony Pictures Television. Reflecting the growing importance of the international publishing sector to filmed entertainment, Doherty will be based at Sony Pictures' headquarters in New York.

The studio has long had a commitment to seeking out top manuscripts as the source material for its films, from recent successes like Captain Phillips, Moneyball, Julie & Julia, and the Robert Langdon series, to upcoming franchises The 5th Wave and Goosebumps. Adapted programming on the TV side has included a variety of series, miniseries and movies such as "Outlander," "Masters of Sex," Steven King's "Bag of Bones," "Coma," "Having Our Say," "Into Thin Air," and the popular Jesse Stone series of movies based on the novels by Robert B. Parker. As a full-time executive, Doherty will deepen and expand the studio's efforts in these areas.

Commenting on the announcement, Belgrad said, "Sony Pictures has a strong track record of adapting literary material into successful television and films. By bringing Ryan in to this new executive position in New York, we are strengthening our commitment to finding the highest quality and most commercial source material for each of our divisions. Ryan is a rising star in the publishing world, with great taste and strong relationships in that community. We are lucky to have him."

Doherty was most recently a Senior Editor at Ballantine Bantam Dell, a division of Penguin Random House. There, he focused on narrative nonfiction, including history, pop culture, personal narrative, and biography. Among his many recent successes, he edited the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin, Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones, and the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley. He was also in charge of the film tie-in efforts for the Random House group. Doherty graduated from Georgetown University with a joint BA in English Literature and Economics.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to http://www.sonypictures.com.

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