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TOPIC: ShoWest 2001 Report

ShoWest 2001 Report 09 Mar 2001 18:02 #1387

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Ky and I arrived on Monday afternoon. After dropping our bags at the Bourbon Street hole, we went over to Bally’s to see what we could find. We had lunch at Sbarro. We immediately ran in to Bob Valone late of UA and now in charge of many theatres in Hong Kong. We had a nice chat.

We went to find our badges and sign in to the convention. We discovered that our $350 badges didn’t cover the swag bag or any films or meals. It just let us into the Trade Show and a couple of seminars. As you will later read, we didn’t let that slow us down much.

We then went in to the ballroom where we ran in to Chapin Cutler and Russell Alan who were doing the set-up in there. The Ballroom is where they do dinners, luncheons and breakfasts and distributor product reels. It is 300 feet long by 200 feet wide and has no supporting columns. The main screen was 58 feet wide for flat only. They had no scope material. We watched a video loop of a rock concert as they were adjusting the sound from 80 QSC amps and hundreds of speakers.

We then repaired to the digital video rooms where we met Chuck Collins of Digital Projection. They have Digital Cinema projectors available now. We also visited Sony, JVC and NEC. Sony and JVC are using DILA chips with higher resolutions than the DLP chips from the others. Stay tuned.

Then the trades show opened and we got to visit with Bobby Pinkston and Lonny Jennings from Dolby. We ran into Clifton Cloud from ACE Audio Visual and others.

We had dinner at the Japanese place at Bally’s and caught the bus to the Orleans, which has a Century Cinema in it. This was the Independent film Showcase and cocktail party. We ran in to Mark and Doug, our bookers who introduced us to all the distributors like Sony Classics, Fox Searchlight, and others. We then tried to watch an awful film called Sexy Beast with Ben Kingsley. We had to walk out and go and get some sleep.

Tuesday morning I had breakfast with Jon Busch, who is director of projectionists for the Telluride Film Festival and then we went to Bally’s and ran into Jim Bedford of Telluride and talked to him through lunch. Then we went to the trade show.

Tuesday we had a mission. Our drapes in our theatres are old, moldy and teal. They are water stained and need to be replaced. So we thought we would take our square footage to be covered and ask how much it would cost. It wasn’t that simple. There is a process. You have to design it, and you have to have plans. (We do, but not in our back pocket) You have to send out for bid and then plan for a general contractor. We spent one hour with the first guy learning and then spent the next four hours of the trade show visiting with all the great many drape and panel companies.

Tuesday night we had an expensive dinner at the Provencal restaurant in Paris. It was very nice. Then we went to Spy Kids. (A description of that event appears elsewhere.)

Wednesday started with the Technical Breakfast for the Telluride Film Festival. It was great to see all of those people. Then I met Ky at a seminar.

The Primacy of Theatrical Exhibition was the title. The panel consisted of the director of films like Miss Congeniality and Mystic Pizza, Dr. Armand Aserisnky, and Richard Brown. This was a great panel and very reassuring. They all insist that the movie theatre isn’t going away. But they also stated that they didn’t think it mattered if the picture was presented on film or electronically. They did make a vast distinction between movie theatre and what we can offer and television. They think it is important that we leave our house and engage in social interaction at some place like a movie theater. Those theatres give us an excuse to leave our lives. They give us permission to eat things that we don’t usually eat. And that a shared experience is fundamentally more real than a solo experience.

After that we went directly to the Technicolor Electronic Distribution luncheon. Thanks to Tim Rust for inviting us and placing us in the VIP list. (A detailed description of this lunch appears elsewhere.)

We then went to the trade show without an agenda and just looked around.

Wednesday evening we met at the Bourbon Street bar for the second annual Film-Tech Drink. I'd estimate that about 45 to 55 people were around at the peak time. Those in attendance included Sam Chavez, Larry Shaw, Gordon McLeod, John Eickof, Steve Guttag, Kelsey Black, Ky Boyd, Dave B. form CPI, Gordon Bachland, Tim Dulin, The entire QSC crew was also there and handed out t-shirts to all that attended (Thanks Guys!). There were others in attendance that unfortunately I didn't have ample time to talk with. It was great meeting Gordon McLeod, Steve Guttag, John Eickhof and David Bevilacqua from CPI. A glass was raised to John Paytlak and his wife. The usual suspects were there from the Telluride Film Festival. Many low quality beers were drunk. Next year David Bevilacqua and I are planning to secure a suite so that we may be more social and drink better bitter. Yes, Aaron, I will make sure to order "Nukies". Many thanks to the whole gang from QSC for showing up, showing the colors and passing out t-shirts to us all. It is this kind of support and friendship that breeds loyalty and QSC has that. The only thing missing was Brad Miller himself. Many people showed up just to meet him
There were a great many people that said to me, after I introduced myself, yes, I read Film-Tech. There are a great many lurkers out there. The industry is paying attention.
After the Drink, a few of us went to the Rio to quaff some Nukies and gorge ourselves at the seafood buffet. It was a bacchanalian feast the likes we had never seen before. At one point, Ky had three plates of food going.

Thursday we got up early, went to breakfast at the boulangerie and went to the trade show one last time. We talked to our cinema supplier, at the American Cinema Equipment booth and visited the CPI booth as well.
After saying our goodbyes we went to the airport, suffered the usual 2 hour delays getting into San Francisco and drove up to work at our theatre in the evening. Although Ky professed that conventioning is hard work, he did ask if we might visit Show East this year. So I guess he had a good time.

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Re: ShoWest 2001 Report 09 Mar 2001 18:04 #1388

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My biggest disapointment was that I didn't meet Mike Hurley there. I didn't meet anybody that said anything about bigscreenbiz.com.

Oh well, perhaps we will meet at Show East?
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Re: ShoWest 2001 Report 09 Mar 2001 18:05 #1389

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What I heard at the Technicolor Luncheon.

1. The only improvement in the DLP chip this year has been the TI Black Chip that gets the contrast ration up to 1,000 to one. The president of Technicolor said that the technology is “mature.” The resolution is 1280x1024

2. The distributors will save money because it is cheaper to duplicate a digital image and shipping a digital image to thousands of theatres costs the same as shipping a digital image to one theatre. The even gave monitary examples. They say that the distributors will save $6,000,000 on a 3,000 print distribution. They will save $2,000,000 on a 9,000-trailer distribution.

3. They said that a film print degrades after as few as 5 showings. I almost stood up to tell him that I had been showing Billy Elliot for 17 weeks without degradation. He went on to tell the exhibitors that they will save so much in staff costs because it no longer takes an hour to build a show. You can build a show by pointing and clicking in a matter of minutes.

4. On the Exhibition side they failed to demonstrate how it would increase our bottom line except for the following points. Perhaps more people will come to our theatres because of the word Digital. They will give away the first 1,000 projectors. They will undertake all maintenance and cover the costs of all lamp replacements. (I am already pimping my friend who works for them to get us one of those 1,000 free projectors. Not that I need one, but the fun is in the effort.
)

5. The only costs born by the exhibitor is said to be 12 cents per seat. I heard it three ways. 12 cents per ticket sold for digital exhibition. Or 12 cents per seat in that auditorium or 12 cents for every seat in that auditorium no matter what is being shown. GET YOUR HANDS OUR OF MY POCKET! THERE ARE TOO MANY IN THERE ALREADY!

6. They will control all programming. You cannot jack any other video source in to this projector. At the present time past titles will not be converted to Digital. So even if you get Bridge Over the River Kwai from Technicolor, they don’t have it in Digital. You get to pick what you want to show, from their catalogue of shows.

7. They are pushing the security issue. Of course this is of no interest to me. I have never pirated a print nor known anybody that has. I don’t include collectors in this problem; they do more to preserve the heritage than do it for profit, if fact there is no profit. The security issue is only for the distributors.

8. They pushed the alternative-programming angle like rock concerts and sporting events. Of course, it would have to come from Technicolor and Ky can’t see somebody paying us to watch opera on the big screen. He also thinks that PBS and Bravo might have something to say about theatres horning in on their core business. TV is TV and Cinema tells a story.

In short they demonstrated how this would benefit the distributors but not the exhibitors. The process places too much control with the distributors at the expense of the exhibitors. If they had offered a 10-point reduction in film (content) rental to the exhibitors they might have generated more than the tepid applause they received. The film clips were presented letterboxed and the concert clips were presented with that rock concert sound, you know, where you can hear the distortion.

We received a rather gay lunch, consisting of a fruit plate, chicken salad and a chocolate mousse cake desert. Everybody got a leather piece of luggage with a Technicolor Electronic Cinema t-shirt. Some people walked out with multiple bags. The ballroom was very impressive with no less than 10 very large video screens to show I-mag and clips on. But it wasn’t as impressive as the Spy Kids dinner, but that is another story.
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Re: ShoWest 2001 Report 09 Mar 2001 18:07 #1390

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The Spy Kids Party

Miramax has its first children’s movie. It’s called Spy Kids. It stars Alan Rickman as Pee Wee Herman, Antonio Banderas as a spy and features a cameo by George Clooney. The other actors were kids or unknown. It is directed by Robert Rodriguez of Desperado fame.

The film was delivered digitally by Boeing via satellite and shown on a DLP Digital Cinema projector in Theatre Des Arts in the Paris Hotel. The theatre seats well over a 1,000 and the screen was large, but not in relationship to the room. We sat in the upper part of the theatre.

The did run two R rated trailers in front of Spy Kids for films we want. They had Bridget Jones’s Diary and With a Friend Like Harry. Ky thought it was disturbing that in the current atmosphere of concern over what you show kids that there were two R rated trailers on a G rated film. “Oh Shi…taki mushroom!”

Spy Kids is awful and will not be appreciated by anyone over the age of 13. Robert Rodriquez stood on that stage and told the audience that he has never been happier with a print. He told us that the contrast was better and that the colors were closer to his vision than on film. He neglected to say that his first film was El Mariachi but said it was Desperado. He also neglected to tell the audience that when the film was transferred the colors were wrong and that they had to hand carry back up DLP discs, and that is what we watched.

PS the film is mostly CG and that is why it looks ok on video. We and other techs noticed stair stepping on the curves and motion artifacts during fast motion. We also thought the CG was rather poor. The sound in the Theatre Des Arts was very good.

But the party was better!

We went to the bathroom and noticed that if you just went from the bathroom to the party no body stopped you. We were not invited. They had jugglers and acrobats and stilt walkers. There were people performing on the ceiling. People were walking on large balls. They had props from the film and they gave away an Isuzu Axiom to one lucky winner. There was a throbbing techno disco soundtrack and the video screens had silhouetted dancers and looked like strippers. One whole wall was a fiber optic star field.

In short, the party was better than the film.


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Re: ShoWest 2001 Report 10 Mar 2001 14:08 #1391

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Ian,
Nice meeting yourself and Ky at the RTS booth. I saw Mike twice at the Trade Show, once with his wife and once alone.

For RTS it was a very productive ShoWest, we would've liked to get to more of the digital projection booths, but just couldn't find the time. The Trade Show and attendance were smaller than in years past, but ended up being the most productive show we have ever attended.

Greg Borr
RTS
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Re: ShoWest 2001 Report 12 Mar 2001 19:25 #1392

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I'd like to hear more about how many attended events that were not on the ticket. Security seemed very light to a guy who as a boy used to sneak into movies 12 different ways.

The Miramax was a cool event with bungie trapezers and ball walkers and etc.

The best time I had was at the Paramount booth where I was filmed on the green screen and inserted into the Tomb Raider film. Where everyone else just did the same thiong over and over,,,,, shoot a bunch of guys and jump on the sled.... I shot all the guys then sashayed onto the sled and pulled out my cell phone casually talking as I shot through the tunnel. It looks way cool!

Shrek will rock,

Mike Hurley
www.bigscreenbiz.com
Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: ShoWest 2001 Report 26 Mar 2001 08:16 #1393

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What about the trade show? We saw unusual new foods - stuffed pretzels, hamburgers in hotdog shape cooked on hotdog cooker, ice cream pellets in a bag, good-lookin' pizzas that are microwaved on site. Maybe only trendy gimmicks but "new" is always of interest to us! They say that booth number was down, but vendors seemed optimistic/pretty cheery.
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