By Danny Jeremiah, Head of Cinema Products


    Towards the end of April, representatives from across the cinema industry gathered in Las Vegas once again for the largest convention of the year. Exhibitors, distributors, suppliers, and movie stars alike were there to showcase and discover the latest in digital cinema technology, concessions, and content.

    CinemaCon 2018 collage

    This year was especially exciting for us, as we debuted our first interactive booth. Members from every part of the industry stepped up to our content management races for the chance to win an Amazon Echo Spot smart speaker. We’d like to thank everyone who stopped by, and once again congratulate all of our winners.

    One contestant won an Amazon Echo Spot by building a schedule for 28 screenings in a blistering 14 seconds

    One contestant built a schedule for 28 screenings in a blistering 14 seconds using our Theatre Management System (TMS), if you’re coming to CineEurope we would love to see you set a new record!

    While our contestants were busy finding out just how quickly their cinemas could be building their schedules and playlists, I was attending all the seminars and talks I could. These are my top takeaways from a packed 4 day schedule.


    1. It’s all about the experience

    This was the number one talking point, and it was highlighted again and again. On the opening morning, Jay Baer gave a fantastic keynote on the true value of your customer service; it is the only thing your competitors cannot steal from you. Throughout the event speakers and panellists gave many examples of the unique shared experiences that cinemas offer. Although lobbies are being spruced up and concessions are being updated, the fundamental belief in the magic of cinema is alive and well.

    For an insight into what the theatrical experience of the future might look like, you just need to take a look at CJ CGV’s flagship site which includes a movie memorabilia store, restaurant with movie-themed food and even a podcast studio! This is a site designed to enhance the core offering of movie-going to encourage customers to stay engaged for as long as possible before and after the show.


    2. Exhibitors and studios are starting to use (and share!) data….a bit.

    Whilst the panel was coy as to the extent that data is being exchanged between the Exhibition and Distribution arms, a panel that included executives from Cinemark and Walt Disney Studios acknowledged it was at least starting to happen.  It also highlighted that a ‘Chief Data Officer’ would become an essential part of any Exhibitor’s leadership team in the near future.

    Perhaps the most interesting insight into the use of data came from Fox Chair Stacey Snider who told a story about The Greatest Showman. Following a disappointing opening weekend of just $9m (which left Stacey “in the foetal position on the kitchen floor”) Fox started analysing the audience that was going to see it.

    The movie had been marketed as a ‘biopic musical’ but the people that were showing up were actually more typical fans of ‘feel good/rags-to-riches’ movies. Stacey attributed this insight and the subsequent change of marketing strategy as crucial to the movies eventual $173m+ at the domestic box office.


    3. Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) may be dead 

    PVOD, or selling access to films to viewers at home while they are still playing in cinemas, was causing a stir at CinemaCon 2017, but there was no mention of squeezing the release window in any session I attended, or on the tradeshow floor this year. Perhaps following the clarion call Cinepolis CEO Alejandro Ramirez Magana made during his NATO Marquee Award presentation, the studios have backed off on this particular fight.


    4. ...But High Frame Rate (HFR) definitely isn’t, not if Avatar and Titanic producer John Landau has anything to do with it.

    During a panel on meeting the expectations of today’s savvy moviegoers, John Landau preached the value of HFR, if as more of an artistic decision than as an opportunity to market another premium ticket price. Avatar 2 (and 3, 4 and 5) will all make use of HFR, and if he’s to be believed about the medium’s impending popularity, prepare for some huge DCPs!


    Were you at CinemaCon 2018? What were your biggest takeaways? Let us know in the comments below!

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