The three-day CineAsia movie convention wrapped Jan. 26 with generally high marks from attendees for the films screened, business conducted at the trade fair and overall organization.

The inaugural event at the Westin Stamford Hotel drew 750 participants from 25 countries, and had 90 exhibitors of cinema and concessions equipment. Many of the trade show purveyors reported lots of business either clinched on the spot or in the offing.

At the closing night gala dinner, Warner Bros. Intl. exec VP Ed Frumkes was being feted as distributor of the year, Village Roadshow founder Roc Kirby was saluted as exhib of the year and Jackie Chan accepted the award for actor of the year. Chan’s latest pic, “Rumble in the Bronx,” was screened for attendees, plus “Disclosure,” “Legends of the Fall,” “Star Trek: Generations” and Chinese pic “One of the Lucky Ones.”

At a concessions seminar on closing day, it was said that traditionally Asian audiences go to the cinema and walk straight past the concessions stand or at best buy trifling amounts of popcorn or candy.

Generally the concessions facilities are lousy and folks prefer to buy their edibles elsewhere and bring them to the cinema.

That’s all changing thanks to the new multiplex operators, the seminar was told.

By simplifying choices for customers by reducing the product range to the bestselling items, improving merchandising displays and value-pricing, some exhibs have transformed the concessions biz.

Spending rockets

Average spending per head at United Artists cinemas in Hong Kong has rocketed from a limp 3¢s; to 60¢s; and at some locations $1, said Lisa Carmel, the exhib’s concessions project manager. Carmel implied the company is achieving its target of 80%-90% profit margin on sales.

Even so, Asian cinemas have a long way to go to attain the voracious popcorn and candy trading in Europe. Average spending per head in the U.K. in 1984, pre-multiplex era, was 28 pence (44¢s;), said Millard Ochs, Warner Bros. Intl. Theaters prexy. Today at Warner theaters in the U.K., the spending averages £1.20 ($1.88), and by volume buying the company slashed its food bills from 42% to 25%, Ochs told the seminar.

Coca-Cola Intl. consultant Joe Martindell gave Asian exhibs a tantalizing vision of the potential upside of the drinks and candy biz. Exhibs in the U.S., U.K. and Australia derive 30% of their revenues from concessions – and 75% of their total profits, he said.

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