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by Daniel Loria

You don't get too many exhibition veterans who started their careers in the chemical industry. Valmir Fernandes made that very transition when he helped launch Cinemark Brazil, growing the business into a market leader as general manager for 10 years. Fernandes was promoted to head Cinemark International in 2006, where he has spearheaded projects such as introducing the private-label premium large-format concept, Cinemark XD, to screens across Latin America. BoxOffice talked to Fernandes and got a closer look at Cinemark's overseas business.

What were some of the highlights for Cinemark International in 2014?

We definitely started the year worried about the impact of the World Cup. Not only because it was taking place in Brazil, but also because of the strong participation of other Latin American countries in the tournament and the fact that it would be held in the region for the first time in a while, meaning time zones wouldn't be an issue. The good news is that we finished the year ahead of the previous one. We performed better than the domestic industry; by itself, that was an achievement, because to outperform in a year with such a distraction in the region, and specifically with our strong position in Brazil and Argentina-with Argentina getting to the semifinals-was not an easy time for us. But we managed to offset all that distraction and perform really well. We also initiated operations in Bolivia in early 2014 and continued growing in almost every country in Latin America. I would say even with the difficulties the region is facing, business has been very good for us, and we expect to continue to perform well in Latin America.

What do you think the future holds for a country like Brazil, where exhibition seems prime for expansion but the country's economy is showing signs of slowing down?

The movie business continues to be very strong. I'm not seeing problems as long as we continue to have a great crowd, and that's exactly what we are getting. I don't feel we have the same problems that other sectors are facing, particularly because the unemployment rate continues to be very reasonable. I'm not making any forecasts, but up to now things have been good other than the fact that the whole world has been affected by the devaluation of other currencies against the dollar, but I think currency devaluation is a problem for any global company regardless of the region. Even in Brazil, with the political problems, the corruption, I don't think there will be an impact on our business in 2015. The only thing that may, and I'll be very clear, may have an impact is if people start to get worried about future investments. But that would impact three or four years from now, not 2015 or 2016. In fact, I believe we are looking at very good years, and I also expect some solid local product in Brazil to help us.

As an exhibitor that has had an international presence for a long time now, is there any way you can prepare for something like currency devaluation?

As long as you have developed sound projects, they will go through the times of uncertainty or oscillation in the currency. The good thing is that our business, other than imported equipment, is totally conducted based on local currency. We know some things get more expensive, and we know some things get less expensive when you look at things in dollars, but our way to look at this is to manage the business as if we are a local company. We manage the business looking at all the drivers and all the elements in local currency, and then after managing the business in local currency, we translate whatever the results are to dollars. But we try to be very tight to operate everything as a local company that's not even looking at the dollar, other than the fact that my imports are getting a little bit more expensive. But then I also have some local costs that are going to be cheaper-construction costs and things like that. We know the currencies are going to go up and down, and we're going to wait for better times because we have gone through it before.

We've seen Cinemark expand throughout Latin America over the past couple of years, reaffirming its faith in the region. You mentioned Bolivia as a new market. What goes into finding a new territory?

When we look at new opportunities in the area, we normally link it to either a growth potential or a very, very reasonable and attractive deal that would put us in a different country. We entered Bolivia because we felt it was a very under-screened and underdeveloped market similar to the ones we first found when we entered Latin America. We found a very high-quality project to participate in, and you get into a new country and suddenly began selling an additional 800,000 to million tickets. We continue to look for similar opportunities. We are opening in a few months in Curaçao, and we're opening in Paraguay at the end of the year or early next year. There are also opportunities in our existing territories, going to cities and areas that remain under-screened or with no theater offerings. I think what we are going to continue to see happening in Latin America is that the market is going to grow, not only because it has the potential to grow in the cities where we are already present but because there are markets that can be untapped, and then suddenly you have another project that is selling a half million tickets in a year. You'll see this trend popping up in different regions where the movie business is not present.

 

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By Daniel Garris

Universal's Furious 7 took in $29.16 million this weekend to lead the weekend box office for a third consecutive frame. The seventh installment of the blockbuster franchise featuring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and the late Paul Walker was down 51 percent from last weekend. This weekend's hold was respectable, especially when taking into account the size of the film's grosses thus far and the added presence of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and Unfriended in the marketplace. Furious 7 has grossed a massive $294.51 million in 17 days of release. That leaves the film just $5.49 million away from reaching the $300 million domestic milestone. Furious 7 is currently running a very impressive 45 percent ahead of the $202.81 million 17-day take of 2013's Fast & Furious 6 and a slim 3 percent behind the $302.45 million 17-day gross of 2012's The Hunger Games.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 debuted in a not-so-distant second place with $23.76 million. Sony's modestly budgeted Kevin James led comedy sequel debuted in line with expectations. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 did open 25 percent below the $31.83 million debut of 2009's Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but the sequel had been widely expected to open below its predecessor due in part to the six-year gap in between films. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 did open 18 percent ahead of the $20.07 million start of 2011's Zookeeper. The solid opening weekend performance is good news for James, who will appear in Sony's upcoming Pixels this July.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 opened with $7.29 million on Friday (which included an estimated $450,000 from Thursday evening shows), increased a healthy 38 percent on Saturday to gross $10.09 million and is declined 37 percent on Sunday to gross $6.38 million. The film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio was 3.26 to 1, which is evidence of the film's appeal with family audiences. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 did receive a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore. While the film is highly unlikely to match the strong holding power of its predecessor, it will still have a solid chance of holding up well in the weeks ahead due in part to facing a limited amount of competition for family audiences (outside of Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron).

Universal's Unfriended debuted in third with $15.85 million. The ultra low-budget horror film from Blumhouse Productions opened on the low end of pre-release expectations. While Unfriended was unable to break out to the degree its high level of online activity had suggested; the film still performed well this weekend with its small price tag in mind. The potential for Unfriended may have also been limited a bit by its R rating. Unfriended opened 20 percent below the $19.88 million start of last year's Ouija.

Unfriended opened with $6.82 million on Friday (which included an estimated $656,000 from Thursday evening shows), fell 12 percent on Saturday to gross $5.99 million and declined 49.5 percent on Sunday to take in $3.03 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday at an understandably front-loaded 2.32 to 1. Unfriended received a C rating on CinemaScore, which is respectable by horror film standards.

Home placed in fourth this weekend with $10.61 million. The successful 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation fell 43 percent from last weekend, as the film took a bit of a hit from the new competition from Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. While it has been relatively front-loaded for a computer animated film, Home continues to exceed expectations in a big way with a 24-day take of $142.92 million. That places the film just ahead of the $142.44 million 24-day take of 2013's The Croods.

Fellow Fox release The Longest Ride rounded out the weekend's top five with $7.02 million. The Nicholas Sparks adaptation starring Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood fell 46 percent from last weekend's debut. That represented a respectable second weekend hold, especially given that Sparks adaptations often experience sharp second weekend declines. The Longest Ride has grossed $23.68 million in ten days. That is on the low end of expectations and places the film 35 percent ahead of the $17.55 million ten-day gross of last year's The Best of Me.

Meanwhile, Monkey Kingdom debuted in eighth place with $4.58 million. The latest nature documentary from Disney's Disneynature label opened on the low end of its modest expectations. Despite receiving the widest launch ever for a Disneynature film (2,012 locations); Monkey Kingdom delivered the softest opening weekend performance to date for Disneynature. Monkey Kingdom opened 4 percent below the $4.78 million start of last year's Bears.

Monkey Kingdom took in $1.55 million on Friday, increased a slim 7 percent on Saturday to take in $1.66 million and declined 18 percent on Sunday to gross $1.36 million. That gave the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.95 to 1. Monkey Kingdom will likely hold up well during the week, thanks in part to a promising A- CinemaScore, the past midweek strength of Disneynature films and from Earth Day falling on Wednesday.

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LOS ANGELES -- Moviegoers will be eager to get to their local Carmike theater early starting next month to participate in a new on-screen interactive platform the company is offering in partnership with TimePlay.

TimePlay Inc., a leader in the multi-player interactive industry, has announced today that they have teamed up with Carmike Cinemas Inc., a leading entertainment, digital cinema and 3-D motion picture exhibitor, to offer its proprietary social mobile platform starting on about 100 screens at Carmike theaters across the U.S.

By downloading the free TimePlay app on their smartphones and tablets, moviegoers will be able to interact in real-time with content on the big screen, compete for prizes and receive special offers from Carmike and advertisers.

TimePlay's proprietary technology transforms a smartphone into a game controller, which consumers can use to control outcomes on the big screen as they participate in interactive experiences, sparking live, friendly competition between family, friends and strangers in the theater.

"Waiting for the movie to start has never been more entertaining, or engaging," said Carmike Cinemas President and CEO David Passman. "The new TimePlay technology is also part of our company's strategy to increase alternative content revenues, while at the same time, enhancing the movie-going experience for our guests."

The platform has become so popular that consumers are coming to TimePlay-activated theaters earlier and participating more in the movie-going experience. TimePlay first deployed its interactive platform at Cineplex Inc., one of North America's largest cinema operators, in 2011. Cineplex now offers the TimePlay platform on 725 screens across Canada and regularly achieves a 40 percent participation rate among frequent moviegoers and a 35 percent redemption rate for advertising offers. Successful pilot programs have also been run in Mexico and Europe, where the participation is as high as 70 percent.

"TimePlay is very popular with consumers and with advertisers," said Jon Hussman, President and CEO of TimePlay Inc. "Our new partnership with Carmike represents our first major step into the U.S. and we're thrilled to be working with a company known to be an innovator in the exhibition industry."

TimePlay is an asset for advertisers wanting to get in front of a captive pre-show audience. It scores an impressive 93 percent for advertising awareness and 94 percent for correct brand association - significantly outperforming the same metrics for television advertising. TimePlay's platform also includes technologies that enable interactivity in advertising and trailers, in gaming and at business meetings, which allows attendees to participate in real-time polls and Q&A sessions and receive information directly to their mobile device.
The TimePlay app is available for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices.

 

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PRESS RELEASE

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More key 4K projection customers, new dual projection solution for large screens, latest news on new solutions - and a unique Event Cinema initiative with the National Theatre and Vue Entertainment International

Culver City, California, April 20th 2015 - Sony comes to CinemaCon with news of exciting customer wins, a new 4K solution for large screens, more information on its vision for the future of the cinema industry - and a ground-breaking partnership to screen world-class drama from the National Theatre in Sony 4K to Vue cinema audiences.

"It's been an exciting twelve months since our last visit to Las Vegas for CinemaCon", says David McIntosh, Vice President, Sony Digital Cinema 4K Solutions for Europe and the Americas.
"We're seeing concrete sales momentum, with ‘early adopters' looking to replace their first-generation 2K projectors, alongside equipping brand new screens.

"What's clear in all our conversations with customers is the priority they continue to place on all facets of Sony 4K image quality" notes McIntosh. "This isn't purely about brightness: operators also value the industry-leading contrast ratio and colour that our R500 projector family delivers. It's an endorsement of our continuing strategy to deliver the highest-quality projection solutions on the market - today and tomorrow."

Sony 4K projection now gives audiences the best possible picture experience, from mid-sized theatres and boutique screens to major chains and large multiplexes. Introduced officially at CinemaCon, Sony's easy to use SRX-R515DS dual projection solution brings true 4K picture quality to larger screens.

The SRX-R515DS combines two Sony SRX-R515 projectors to deliver a 30,000 lumen total output. This dual configuration delivers reference light levels for 2D presentation on screens up to 19.5m/64 feet for 14ft-L on white screen with 1.8 gain, or 3D on screens as large as 23m/75 feet for 4.5ft-L on silver screen with 2.4 gain (installation conditions dependent). Boasting on average an 8000:1 contrast ratio, the SRX-R515DS assures fabulous images with rich, deep blacks and sparkling highlights.

Read the press release on Sony's SRX-R515DS dual 4K projection solution for larger cinema screens

Vue standardises on Sony 3D
Leading cinema operator Vue Entertainment International is converting almost 400 of its Sony 4K projection systems in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Denmark to Sony Digital Cinema 3D. Upgrading its fleet to Sony 3D further enhances Vue's customer offering - giving audiences' supreme picture quality at every performance, whether they're watching in 3D or 2D and provides the operational attractions of standardising on an all-Sony 3D presentation solution. The operator has already standardised on Sony 4K projection across the group's Vue and CinemaxX branded European estate. Unlike ‘triple-flash' systems that rapidly present different images to each eye in turn, Sony Digital Cinema 3D dual lens solution provides smooth, immersive flicker-free 3D images without distracting flashing effects.

Independent art-house and boutique cinema operators
Sony's flexible, cost-effective R515P and R510P projectors are increasingly the preferred choice with independent exhibitors and boutique cinema chains. Recent UK independent customers include Curzon that is equipping seven sites across its network with Sony 4K technology.

Emerging markets
In recent months, Sony Digital Cinema Solutions Specialist dcinex (Ymagis Group) has won significant contracts in Greece with customers Ster Cinemas and Odeon Cinemas, representing over 60 systems in total.


Following on from its large-scale adoption in many countries, Sony 4K is fast becoming a must-have choice in other markets that are currently transitioning to digital. Leading Turkish boutique chain CINEMApink has completed a 110-screen all-Sony conversion that includes 25 3D systems. Appointed late last year as an official dealer for Sony Digital Cinema 4K projection systems, Omega Cinema Systems has enjoyed considerable sales success in the region, supplying 4K projection systems to local customers including two brand-new sites in Ankara with cinema operator CineVision.

Event Cinema landmark: partnership with National Theatre and Vue Entertainment International
Sony continues to lead the way in helping operators and content owners capitalise on the fast-growing Event Cinema market, spanning live and recorded presentation of cultural, sports and other events. In 2014, Sony helped bring The National Theatre's acclaimed stage production of ‘War Horse' live in 4K to movie-goers in London's West End. The same year, Sony and Vue Entertainment teamed up to screen two matches of the summer's 2014 FIFA World CupTM in 4K at Vue's prestigious Westfield multiplex.

Building on this impressive track record, Sony Digital Cinema has recently announced a ground-breaking initiative in the UK with the National Theatre (NT) and leading exhibitor Vue Entertainment International to screen four NT Live stage productions for Vue audiences in 4K. A milestone in Event Cinema, this unique three-way partnership represents the first agreement of its kind between a leading cultural brand, a cinema chain and an electronics manufacturer. Over the next year, audiences at Vue cinemas across the UK will be able to enjoy a world-class cultural experience without travelling far from home. The four shows will be captured with Sony industry leading 4K cameras PMW-F55s, for screening as a 4K DCP across Vue's UK estate that is equipped exclusively with Sony 4K projection systems.

Read the press release on Sony Digital Cinema, NT Live and Vue International.

Looking ahead to the future
Sony confirms that it is continuing its development of new-generation digital cinema solutions including an alternative light source. Promising significant benefits to theatre owners in terms of picture quality, brightness and colour gamut, operational flexibility, reduced maintenance and lower ownership costs, alternative light source will complement and strengthen Sony's existing portfolio of conventional cinema projection solutions.

"We've always been committed to give exhibitors and their patrons the absolute best possible picture quality" confirms David McIntosh.

"Laser light source will be one of the game-changers in the industry in the near future. But it's got to significantly outperform other solutions that are already well proven, and it's got to be at a price that make commercial sense to exhibitors. When Sony does bring laser to market - at the right time, and the right price - we certainly won't disappoint our customers", says McIntosh. "In the meantime, we continue to support and evolve our best-selling family of industry-leading projectors that will keep on giving audiences an amazing 4K experience for years to come."

About Sony 4K Digital Cinema

Sony Digital Cinema 4K technology lets moviegoers experience exceptional picture quality from every seat in the cinema - with spectacular detail, contrast and colour on any size of screen. Sony Digital Cinema 4K projection systems give audiences a more immersive, emotionally engaging visual experience you simply can't get at home - in 2D or with a choice of smooth, easy on the eye 3D solutions. Sony 4K offers four times the resolution of an HD TV or previous-generation 2K digital cinema projectors.


4K is the choice of audiences and industry alike, winning Hollywood's commitment with releases from Paramount, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures. It's won the support of Hollywood heavyweights like Martin Scorsese ("The Wolf of Wall Street"), Christopher Nolan ("Dark Knight Rises", "Interstellar"), M. Night Shyamalan ("After Earth"), David Fincher ("The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo", "Gone Girl"), Paul Greengrass ("Captain Phillips") and Harald Zwart ("Karate Kid"), who have all released blockbusters in 4K. It's also the choice of award-winning director Nuri Bilge Ceylan who won the coveted Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for "Winter Sleep" that was shot in 4K using Sony's F65 CineAlta camera for cinematic release.
The only manufacturer currently deploying 4K projection systems in volume, Sony serves many of the world's biggest and most prestigious cinema chains, as well as small independent screens and art house cinemas.

Website: http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/products/digital-cinema
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SonyDCinema4K
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SonyDigitalCinema
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SonyDCinema4K

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE

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Culver City, California, 20th April 2015 - At CinemaCon this week, Sony 4K Digital Cinema announces a powerful, easy to use new dual projection solution that brings true 4K picture quality to larger theatres.

The SRX-R515DS combines two Sony SRX-R515 projectors to deliver a 30,000 lumen total output. This dual configuration delivers reference light levels for 2D presentation on screens up to 19.5m/64 feet for 14ft-L on white screen with 1.8 gain, or 3D on screens as large as 23m/75 feet for 4.5ft-L on silver screen with 2.4 gain (installation conditions dependent).

Audiences are pulled right into the action with immersive 4K detail and rich, lifelike colour. Boasting on average an 8000:1 contrast ratio, the SRX-R515DS assures fabulous images with rich, deep blacks and sparkling highlights.

Native 4K resolution ensures that movies shipped to theatres as a 4K DCP are projected with the highest possible picture quality. Even 2K images from a 2K DCP, 3D DCP or HD alternative content are automatically up-scaled to 4K pixel resolution - now even when operating in 3D mode.

It's quick and easy to switch between 2D and 3D presentation without requiring lens swaps. Included with the standard package, adding static 3D filters to each projector is all that's needed to reconfigure the system between showings. Unlike other ‘triple flash' solutions, 3D with the SRX-R515DS is smooth, natural and easy on the eye - just like every Sony Digital Cinema projection system.

Inside our acclaimed SRX-R515P digital cinema projector is an innovative High Pressure Mercury (HPM) lamp array. The SRX-R515 is the world's first fully DCI compliant 4K digital cinema projector to use an array of six High Pressure Mercury (HPM) lamps, meaning alongside spectacular picture quality, cinema operators can enjoy simple maintenance and low ownership costs. The advanced HPM (High Pressure Mercury) multi-lamp array allows quick, easy lamp cartridge replacement with no need for special training, protective clothing or re-alignment.

Just as importantly, the multi-lamp array cuts the risk of revenue-threatening ‘dark screen' outages following lamp failure that can occur with conventional Xenon sources. Even if one lamp fails during the performance, presentation continues uninterrupted at slightly reduced brightness, without impairing audience enjoyment of the show.

The SRX-R515DS projector pair can be operated either side-by-side or stacked vertically to suit any projection booth. Set-up is quick and easy, using the smart auto alignment system that comes included with the package. Auto alignment ensures accurately-calibrated images across the whole cinema screen. Alignment can also be performed easily at any time during routine maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

The XCT-S10 cinema server and XCT-M10 integrated media block (IMB) are included with the system. An optional license for Dolby Atmos support for a thrillingly immersive surround sound experience is separately available.
"Going large with a dual projector system doesn't have to mean compromising picture quality", says David McIntosh, Vice President, Sony Digital Cinema 4K Solutions for Europe and the Americas. "Don't have any doubts about image quality or operability of multiple projection systems. This is just like running a single projector, but twice as bright!"

"Our new SRX-R515DS further enhances the Sony cinema projection line-up, bringing true 4K images to every theatre, from small auditoria right up to larger screens", continues McIntosh. "Whether you're projecting in 2D or 3D, audiences can enjoy the very best experience with every show.

"With image quality that's far superior to other new light source technologies - and at a very attractive price - this offers a compelling big-screen proposition to the market for years to come."

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About Sony 4K Digital Cinema

Sony Digital Cinema 4K technology lets moviegoers experience exceptional picture quality from every seat in the cinema - with spectacular detail, contrast and colour on any size of screen. Sony Digital Cinema 4K projection systems give audiences a more immersive, emotionally engaging visual experience you simply can't get at home - in 2D or with a choice of smooth, easy on the eye 3D solutions. Sony 4K offers four times the resolution of an HD TV or previous-generation 2K digital cinema projectors.

4K is the choice of audiences and industry alike, winning Hollywood's commitment with releases from Paramount, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures. It's won the support of Hollywood heavyweights like Martin Scorsese ("The Wolf of Wall Street"), Christopher Nolan ("Dark Knight Rises", "Interstellar"), M. Night Shyamalan ("After Earth"), David Fincher ("The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo", "Gone Girl"), Paul Greengrass ("Captain Phillips") and Harald Zwart ("Karate Kid"), who have all released blockbusters in 4K. It's also the choice of award-winning director Nuri Bilge Ceylan who won the coveted Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for "Winter Sleep" that was shot in 4K using Sony's F65 CineAlta camera for cinematic release.

The only manufacturer currently deploying 4K projection systems in volume, Sony serves many of the world's biggest and most prestigious cinema chains, as well as small independent screens and art house cinemas.

Website: http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/products/digital-cinema
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SonyDCinema4K
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SonyDigitalCinema
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SonyDCinema4K

 

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