×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cinema Expo’s hit parade

Polygram, MGM join majors to wow Euro exhibs

AMSTERDAM — International exhibitors and senior distribution execs from the Hollywood studios gave Cinema Expo Intl. a resounding thumbs up on Wednesday as the sixth edition of the exhibition trade fair wound down.

Opinion at Amsterdam’s RAI Convention Center was that Buena Vista Intl. had once again stolen the show, wowing exhibs with Tuesday’s lavish product reel presentation and a “Hercules”-themed gala dinner.

For the U.S. majors, Cinema Expo Intl. acts as a one-stop display window for upcoming titles. UIP screened Universal’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” Warner Bros. unveiled “Batman & Robin,” Fox brought out “Volcano” and “Speed 2: Cruise Control” and BVI had standing-room-only for the well-received John Woo actioner “Face/Off.”

With a fair percentage of European screens still in the hands of indie exhibitors, Cinema Expo also lets the majors woo the theater managers who will ultimately be putting their product in front of the public. Which is where BVI hit its home run.

“The Buena Vista marketing campaign here has been really impressive,” noted a Dutch-based exhibitor. “It keeps attention focused on the Disney films and that doesn’t hurt when you’re deciding which screens to allocate to which picture.” Estimates are that BVI spent $1 million dollars for the promo reel and gala dinner — and that the money was well spent.

Both MGM and Polygram came to Amsterdam to get their message across. “We wanted to reassure exhibitors that ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ will be delivered on time and we feel we did that,” commented Larry Gleason, MGM’s president of worldwide theatrical distribution. “The reaction has been immediate, with exhibitors saying they must have the film.”

For Polygram, this was the first year that the company has screened product, in the form of British comedy “Bean.” The Polygram team scored plenty of points by having “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson drive his trademark Mini through Amsterdam and into Sunday’s gala chowdown to receive his Award for Excellence in Comedy.

“We were here to support ‘Bean’ and because we want to show that we don’t just have ambitions to be a major studio but that we can act like one too and we should be taken seriously,” commented Stewart Till, president, international, Polygram Filmed Entertainment.

The exhibition market’s biggest challenge at the moment is to try to persuade French exhibitors to attend. This year, the event clashed with France’s three-day Fete du Cinema, which gives audiences substantially reduced ticket prices to see pics.

“The Fete is established in the public’s mind and brings in a lot of people, so it’s difficult for us to move,” said Jean Labe, head of France’s National Federation of Exhibitors.

Cinema Expo co-managing director Jimmy Sunshine says he is aware of the difficulty, which is why the 1998 fair will be re-scheduled to run June 15-19. “We hope this will give the French the chance to participate,” commented Sunshine, who anticipates that the number of stand holders — tub-thumping everything from popcorn machines to the latest in projection and sound systems — will rise from this year’s 200 to closer to 240.

Among the heavyweight exhibition companies such as AMC, UCI or Warner Bros. Intl. Theaters, attention is focusing on Italy, Europe’s last virgin territory as far as multiplexes are concerned.

Poor screens and nonexistent air-conditioning inside venues restrict the Italian theatrical business to nine months a year, while legislation limiting the size and zoning of screens has kept a brake on development.

Already Warner Bros. has announced the creation of three multiplexes, UCI is looking to get into Genoa and AMC has been studying prospects for nearly four years. “The difficulty for us is that we concentrate on megaplexes of around 4,000 seats and Italy has put a 2,500 seat limit on cinemas,” lamented AMC Europe’s president, Bruno Frydman.

Frydman and other exhibition specialists know that even if they build screens in Italy business will be slow to develop. “It’s going to take time for the critical mass of modern multiplexes to exist for the distributors to start using the summer period,” said Frydman.

However, the signs are that the Hollywood majors and local distribs are keen for the Italian exhibition sector to make a late entry into the 20th century.

“We have commitments from most of the majors to supply films,” said Warner Bros. Intl. Theater’s Peter Dobson. “At the end of the day if you improve the screens, more people come to the cinema, more films get made and the local industry benefits. We have seen this in Britain and we should see it in Italy.”

More Film

  • 'The Dirt' Review: A Mötley Crüe

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

  • 'Staff Only' Review: Cultures And Values

    Film Review: 'Staff Only'

    Marta (Elena Andrada) is 17, from Barcelona and alternately bored and mortified to be on a Christmas vacation to Senegal with her estranged dad, Manel (Sergi López), and annoying little brother, Bruno (Ian Samsó). For her, the freedoms of imminent adulthood, such as the occasional poolside mojito, are tantalizing close but still technically forbidden, rather [...]

  • Rocketman

    Candid 'Rocketman' Dares to Show Elton John as 'Vulnerable,' 'Damaged,' 'Ugly'

    Elton John movie “Rocketman” dares to portray the singer’s personality early in his career to have been, at times, “ugly,” Taron Egerton – who plays the pop star – told an audience at London’s Abbey Road Studios Friday, following a screening of 15 minutes of footage from the film. It is a candid portrayal, showing [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck's Addiction Drama Set for Awards-Season Release

    Warner Bros. has given Ben Affleck’s untitled addiction drama an awards-season-friendly release date of Oct. 18. The film, which has been known previously as “The Has-Been” and “Torrance,” is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Affleck as a former basketball player struggling with addiction, which has led to him losing his wife. As part of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content