Mexican fighter Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (pictured) will face off against Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto on November 21. Fathom will be broadcasting the event to select cinemas across the United States. Photo courtesy of Fathom Events.

by Daniel Loria  

There are moments that are just meant to be seen on the big screen. The score was tied after 118 minutes of a grueling playoff final between soccer archrivals Mexico and the U.S. played on October 10, with the winner set to qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Two minutes before the end of extra time, Mexican defender Paul Aguilar chased down a ball as it innocently floated inside the U.S. 18-yard box. There was nothing U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan could do as the resulting volley hit the back of the net and broke the hearts of U.S. fans everywhere. There are few things that passionate Mexico fans (such as, for example, the author of this article) could enjoy more on the big screen. Fortunately, those moments promise to become more common in the coming years, not only because of Mexico's on-field dominance against the United States, but also due to the growing adoption of alternative content by North American exhibitors and its embrace by audiences.  

The Mexico-U.S. match was made available live in North America through Fathom Events, the inaugural program in its partnership with Fox Sports 1. Live sport has long been considered the golden goose of alternative content, its overwhelming potential mired in the legal swamp of broadcast rights. "The rights are a minefield, but we're slowly getting it figured out," says Fathom CEO John Rubey. "We've done British Premier League soccer, we've done several events with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the NHL stadium series. You see a lot of audiences coming out for those who want to experience the scale of the cinema together as a family; parents don't want to take their kids to a bar with people smoking and drinking. We can provide an experience where there's scale in a family-friendly environment."  

Fathom's business has grown since spinning out from its previous majority owner, NCM, in late 2013. While NCM still owns a minority share of the company (4%), the majority is split between top exhibitors Regal, AMC, and Cinemark. "In 2013 we had 2 million admissions, in 2014 we had 2.5 million, and we've already blown through 3 million this year with an entire quarter left to go," says Rubey, addressing the rapid rise of alternative content in North America. The pace of growth is in line with the global growth of the business as a whole. The latest IHS report on alternative content (termed "event cinema" in the report) signals a 32.1 percent year-over-year growth in 2014 that resulted in a global gross of $277.2 million. At that pace it will reach $1 billion worldwide by 2019.  

Alternative content found a foothold in North America through arts and culture programming like live opera and theater. In many ways, Fathom's transformation into a market leader can be traced to its fruitful partnership with the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series. Already in its 10th season, The MET: Live in HD combines core content (live opera performances) with special features exclusive to cinemas, becoming an experience in itself as opposed to a simple broadcast. "They give you an experience that you can only see in the theater," says Rubey. "It really sets the standard for the live cinema experience."  

Several other companies are following a similar blueprint, approaching alternative content as an event and experience in its own right. Arts Alliance, specializing in arts and culture programming and events with a broader popular appeal, scored a huge hit working with boy band One Direction. Brad Carroll, managing director of North America at Arts Alliance, cites the band's "passionate and engaged fan base" as crucial to the event's success. "Their fans were eager to get to the theater and share an experience with other fans as soon as they were aware the opportunity was available. It did not take a lot of convincing that they wanted to go; they just needed to know it was there."  

Bud Mayo, president of Carmike's Alternative Programming and Distribution division since Digiplex, the circuit he founded, was acquired by the Georgia-based exhibitor last year, has also been busy offering viewers a premium, exclusive event experience at the movies. Carmike has recently paired up with distributor Nehst Out to create DigiNext, a direct-to-consumer movie-release platform that can be a key to the further growth of alternative content in North America. DigiNext will be screening the concert film American Saturday Night: Live from the Grand Ole Opry, a country music show featuring backstage moments for cinema audiences, in select cinemas December 4-10. Mayo points out that these special events are quickly expanding beyond the opera and concert stage. "We are seeing traction with Bollywood and other ethnic product," says Mayo, adding that "anime and faith-based features" are also making an impact. Rubey sees the same trend with Fathom: "Our audience has never been wider or more diverse."  

Gaming is one of those new, surging categories. "We think gaming potentially offers more promise than anything else we're looking at right now," says Rubey. U.K. exhibitor Vue Entertainment took a bold stance in its support of competitive gaming, or eSports as it's come to be known, earlier this year with the opening of a dedicated eSports gaming arena in London's Fulham neighborhood in alliance with GFinity, one of the biggest eSports companies in the world. "Thirty of our sites are committed to showing that content," said Johnny Carr, content manager of Vue, at a panel at CineEurope this summer. Vue partners with gaming companies that already come in with significant sponsorships, like League of Legends-sponsored by Coca-Cola. "We can't just put it on screen and expect people to turn up. We have to give them an incentive to come out of their bedrooms. We have to partner a gaming company; we have to create an event."  

Despite the diversity of product, alternative content at the cinema doesn't have to stray too far from traditional moviegoing fare to find success. Fathom partnered with Fox to present The Night Before our Stars, a special screening event of The Fault in our Stars, on the eve of the film's release in 2014. The event included a live Q&A with stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff, along with author John Green and director Josh Boone, with audiences submitting questions via a Twitter hashtag; performances by artists from the soundtrack; and a commemorative charm bracelet for all those in attendance. The $25 ticket price contributed to at least $5 million in additional box office for Fox, according to Fathom. The company returned to the concept this summer with a similar prerelease event for Disney Pixar's Inside Out.  

Bud Mayo still believes there is room to grow in the immediate future. "Progress is being made with major, well-marketed releases," he explains, citing several high-performing programs, "but theaters have not fully committed to marketing and audience building for smaller, more targeted titles." He considers 2 to 3 percent of admissions in North America to be a realistic benchmark for alternative content, setting the bar on his team at Carmike higher, 4 to 5 percent of admissions, as goals to reach in the coming years. John Rubey echoes that sentiment in his own analysis of what alternative content can mean for the industry. "It's not going to overtake theatrical," he says, "but if you put a good alternative content title on Monday through Thursday, it will likely make more money than all the other auditoriums combined." 

Read more

nov6.pngSony and MGM report that Spectre bagged $7.9 million on Veterans Day Wednesday, bringing its six-day domestic total to $90.96 million. That puts the 24th installment of the James Bond franchise 21 percent behind the pace of 2012's Skyfall and 15 percent ahead of 2008's Quantum of Solace.

Fox and Blue Sky's The Peanuts Movie posted $7.8 million in a close second place yesterday, giving it a healthy $56.8 million total since opening last Friday. That puts the well-received pic just 3 percent off the pace of Wreck-It Ralph.

In third place, The Martian took in another $1.5 million yesterday. In the process, the blockbuster film hit the $200 million domestic threshold.

Goosebumps moved up to fourth place for the holiday with $1.4 million yesterday. Its total now stands at $68.55 million.

Filling out the top five, Bridge of Spies added $0.94 million on Wednesday. Its domestic haul is now $56.9 million.


Read more



Included among the five winners of the 2015 HPA Engineering Excellence Award, sponsored by the NAB Show and being recognized tonight, is Dolby Laboratories, for its Dolby Vision projection system. In recognition of this outstanding achievement, the HPA acknowledged the technical brilliance as follows:

The Dolby VisionTM projector displays high dynamic range (HDR) images with a contrast ratio greater than 1,000,000:1 and projects a color gamut of Rec2020.

"Christie congratulates Dolby on this award, which reflects the close working relationship between Dolby and Christie, culminating in 2014 with the two parties co-designing new, proprietary HDR technology leveraging customized, high-frame-rate (HFR) capable Christie 4K laser projection heads," said Craig Sholder, EVP Business Development and Strategic Planning for Christie.

"Combined with Christie's 6P modular laser light sources, this technology delivers the high-contrast images and ultra-brightness that define Dolby Vision - the visual manifestation of Dolby CinemaTM - a premium cinema offering that combines spectacular image and sound technologies with inspired design to make every visit a completely captivating cinematic event," added Sholder.

The HPA Awards recognizes outstanding achievement in editing, sound, visual effects and color grading for work in television, commercials and feature films. A number of the Special Award winners have been announced previously, including Leon Silverman, recipient of the 2015 HPA Lifetime Achievement Award. ESPN Digital Center 2 will also be recognized with the HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation, and five companies will be honored with Engineering Excellence awards; Canon, Dolby, Panasonic, Quantel and Sony Electronics.

The award will be presented to Dolby at the HPA Awards gala this evening - November 12th, 2015 - at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, California.


Read more


B&B Wentzville Tower_Exterior (lr).jpg

Installed by Sonic Equipment Company, Theatres Feature 6-Story High Curved Screen

CYPRESS, Calif. - (November 12, 2015) - Christie®, a leader in creating and sharing the world's best visual and audio experiences, announced it is the exclusive provider of digital cinema projection and high performance speaker technology for Missouri's newest B&B Theatres Wentzville Tower 12, located in Wentzville, which opened on November 5. Every B&B auditorium is powered by a Christie SolariaTM Series DLP projector and has Christie Vive AudioTM, the cinema industry's only purpose built line array speaker solution, with installation by Sonic Equipment Company, a leading provider of cinema sales and services. The B&B Theatres Wentzville Tower 12 introduces the state of Missouri to the revolutionary performance of Christie Vive, whose unique ribbon driver technology and line array speakers help unlock the dynamic range of motion picture soundtracks.

The Wentzville Tower 12 includes the first B&B Theatres to have two B&B Grand Screen® auditoriums, both featuring massive wall-to-wall curved screens which are among the biggest in the country at over six stories wide and three stories tall. The superior performance of Christie projection technology fills the screens with bright and vibrant images and deep, saturated color, while Christie Vive Audio ensures movie-goers a real-life audio experience in every seat of the house. Patron comfort is paramount, with all 12 auditoriums featuring electric reclining leather seats. The theater's B&B Marquee Bar and Grille also offers a full bar and lounge where guests can enjoy food and cocktails before, during or after the movie, and take them into any of the 12 auditoriums.

"The Wentzville Tower 12 is one of our most exciting theatres to date and is a great addition to the community," said Bob Bagby, president of B&B Theatres. "Sonic Equipment did an exceptional job of installation. Their ongoing technical service and maintenance provide us with the utmost in security. The selection of Christie projection and speaker technology ensures that our guests enjoy a state-of-the-art movie-viewing experience that is unlike any they've ever known before."

"Sonic Equipment is committed to helping exhibitors of every size bring the magic of digital cinema to communities across America," said Ron Hageman, executive director at Sonic Equipment Company. "Christie's complete cinema solutions are our top choice for installations because their unmatched quality and reliability are essential to our reputation as a trusted source for exhibitors looking to build an entire theatre or upgrade their current facilities."

"Bringing Christie Vive Audio to Missouri is the latest milestone for our cinema sound solutions, which are winning industry praise for their exceptional timbre matching, enhanced voice intelligibility, and low distortion," said Patrick Artiaga, director of business development, Audio Solutions, Christie. "We are proud that B&B Theatres selected the complete Christie cinema solution, from digital projection to sound technology, to help make B&B Theatres a top destination for entertainment."

Christie Vive Audio provides a hyper-accurate audio experience and unlocks the full dynamic range of the DCI digital cinema audio and supports leading formats such as Auro 11.1, Dolby Atmos, 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound. The complete solution features screen channels, wall and ceiling surround speakers that use unique ribbon driver technology in a single-enclosure line array design, purpose-built for cinema environments. Christie Vive Audio system continues to establish its reputation worldwide as the next standard in immersive sound for cinema.

Read more


By Daniel Garris

Spectre grossed $7.32 million on Tuesday to lead the daily box office for a fifth consecutive day. The latest installment of Sony and MGM's James Bond franchise was up 38 percent over Monday's performance. Daily percentage increases were especially strong in general on Tuesday thanks in part to the eve of the Veterans Day holiday. Spectre has grossed a solid, but unspectacular $83.04 million in five days. That places Spectre a significant 24 percent behind the $109.11 million five-day start of 2012's Skyfall and 10 percent ahead of the $75.71 million five-day take of Quantum of Solace.

The Peanuts Movie held steady in second place with $3.05 million. The 3D computer animated adaptation from Fox and Blue Sky was up a very strong 76 percent over Monday. Family films experienced especially strong daily percentage increases yesterday. The Peanuts Movie is on the verge of reaching the $50 million domestic mark with a healthy five-day start of $49.00 million. The film is running 14 percent behind the $56.75 million five-day take of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph and a slim 1 percent behind the $49.45 million five-day start of 2007's Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Fellow Fox release The Martian took in $1.05 million to remain in third. The blockbuster Ridley Scott directed 3D sci-fi film starring Matt Damon was up an impressive 70 percent over Monday and down just 29 percent from last Tuesday. The Martian has grossed $198.51 million in 40 days, which leaves the film just $1.49 million away from reaching the $200 million domestic milestone.

Disney and DreamWorks' Bridge of Spies continued to claim fourth place with $0.728 million. The critically acclaimed Steven Spielberg directed thriller starring Tom Hanks was up 53 percent over Monday and down 31 percent from last Tuesday. Bridge of Spies has grossed $55.93 million through 26 days, which gives the film a current total gross to opening weekend ratio of 3.64 to 1.

On the platform front, Open Road's Spotlight took in $33,370 for the day, while Fox Searchlight's Brooklyn took in $22,536. Both awards seasons hopefuls are currently playing in 5 locations, which gave Spotlight and Brooklyn respective daily per-location averages of $6,674 and $4,507. Spotlight has grossed $363,487 in five days, while Brooklyn has taken in $289,462 in seven days. Both films will expand into additional locations this coming Friday.

Read more

Subscribe to Articles Feed