BARCELONA— Some people have all the fun. On an all-time roll of $3.8 billion worldwide B.O. gross through Monday – a Hollywood studio speed record – Universal saw Guillermo del Toro, helmer of one of its biggest fall plays, “Crimson Peak,” lionized at Barcelona’s CineEurope exhibitor confab with the International Filmmaker of the Year Award.
The other star of Tuesday’s proceedings was DreamWorks Animation’s Jack Black, on hand in Barcelona to present DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 3,” distributed by Twentieth Century Fox International.
Meanwhile execs analyzed event cinema and cinema theaters’ burgeoning move toward premium large format screens, one of the fastest growing phenomena in the international exhibition business — both trends underscored by record receipts for “Jurassic World.”
Talking to a packed auditorium, del Toro unveiled new footage of his gothic romance “Crimson Peak,” starring Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam, which is one highlight of a new U lineup that also includes Baltasar Kormakur’s climbing thriller “Everest,” a Working Title Films, Universal Pictures and Walden Media presentation in association with Cross Creek Pictures. “Everest” was screened in its entirety at Barcelona, in what was said to be an industry sneak-peek first. Universal’s show-reel presentation, most of it unseen footage, took in “Hail Caesar!,” “The Visit,” “Jem and the Holograms,” “The Danish Girl,” “Warcraft,” “The Great Wall,” “Trainwreck,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Steve Jobs,” “Ride Along 2,” “Krampus,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Sisters.”
CineEurope presentations – specific films’ content, audience reaction and exec comments — were out of bounds for most of the press, including Variety.
Bigger Universal movies will increasingly often be seen in Western Europe and beyond on premium large format (PLF) screens, whether digital Imax, Maxx, Barco Escape or Dolby Cinema.
David Hancock, head of the IHS Technology film and cinema department, moderated a round table, one of CineEurope’s most significant, about PLF’s significantly rapid ramp-up. Panelists were Andrew Cripps, president of Imax EMEA; Bob Mayson, RealD managing director; Helen Moss, Paramount Pictures International International Distribution SVP; Christof Papousek, Cineplexx Group CFO; and Andreas Spechtler, Dolby Intl. president.
A recent IHS Technology report points to PLF as “one of the fastest growing and most active areas of cinema exhibition with significant potential to grow in size over the next ten years.” According to its findings, the PLF cinema market registered a 16.2% increase from first half 2014 to year-end, the number of premium large format screens rising from 1,401 to 1,628 worldwide.
“Cinema now exists in a very busy world which, in the last 10-15 years Internet especially has changed so much. Now there are film-viewing options everywhere, and people will now look for comfort and experience and enhanced experiences, and are willing to pay for that bit above,” IHS Hancock told Variety at CineEurope.
According to the IHS Technology report, Western Europe was the fastest-growing PLF territory in the second half of 2014, more than doubling its premium large format screen count to a year-end 72, up from just 34. This was followed by Asia Pacific (up 38.4%), Latin America (up 16.1%). North America registered the lowest regional gain, at 8.3%.
“The reason why ‘premium’ has become such a big thing in cinema in the past two years is that cinema is moving into that space where you are able to claim more money off the consumer because you are offering something more,” Hancock added.
“In the past, that was done in a rather half-hearted way, but now companies have the tools to do that effectively,” he said, suggesting that technology will increasingly drive new cinemas and many theaters will offer much-wider programming, including e-sports and Event Cinema, as cinemas become wider, multipurpose venues.
Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, co-presidents of worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution at Twentieth Century Fox International, unveiled its studio lineup –mostly unseen – of, among other titles, “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Deadpool,” “Hitman: Agent 47,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Victor Frankenstein,” “Ice Age 5” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” “Fantastic Four 2,” “Paper Towns,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,” and “Table 19.”
Used for presentations by all major Hollywood studios, Lionsgate and some of Europe’s biggest indie studios – Studiocanal, EuropaCorp – as well as French promo org UniFrance, CineEurope closes Thursday with its 2015 honorees awards ceremony.
Recipients include Warner Bros. Pictures International for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” winner of Rentrak’s International Box Office Achievement Award, and Imax Corp., recognized with CineEurope’s Award of Achievement Through Innovation.
EuropaCorp’s Christophe Lambert will pick up CineEurope’s Producer of the Year, Nordic Cinema Group’s Jan Bernhardsson International Exhibitor of the Year and Twentieth Century Fox’s Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus CineEurope’s plaudit for Global Distributors of the Year.
CineEurope runs June 22-25 in Barcelona.
John Hopewell contributed to this report.