Friday, 24 October 2014

Michael Winterbottom teams up with Russell Brand

Michael Winterbottom at the London Film Festival (BFI/Getty)
British director Michael Winterbottom is to work with comedian Russell Brand on a polemical documentary about the global economic crash. The film will comprise of mainly archive footage with Brand providing a commentary.

The director told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row: “It's about inequality and why the 1% [of the world's wealthy] seem to have so much and the rest of us not quite so much," he told BBC Radio 4's Front Row.  “Everyone knows about equality and what's going on in the world, so the idea is to point out the ludicrous extremes of our society.”

Winterbottom said he had wanted work with Brand since reading the comedian’s memoir Booky Wook in 2007. “I tried to work with him ages ago when he first wrote Booky Wook and we talked to him about doing a more dramatised version but it didn't happen So this is a chance after a lot of years to have another go.”

The director’s latest The Face of An Angel, inspired by the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy, was premiered at the BFI London Film Festival last week.

Doctor Who special wins Event Cinema Association award

The Day of the Doctor
The BBC’s presentation of the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who on TV stations and cinemas around the world won the top trophy at this year’s Event Cinema Association Awards (ECA).

The special edition of the science-fiction was series broadcast in 94 countries last November, as well as in 3D at cinemas in the UK, US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. The cinema screenings grossed $10.2m at the global box office.

BBC Worldwide was presented with the Gold Award for Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor at the 2nd ECA Awards, held in London last week. The award was accepted by Julia Nocciolino, commercial manager for Doctor Who at BBC Worldwide.

Melissa Cogavin, managing director of the ECA, said:  “We saw a big increase in the number of box office awards given this year which just goes to show how far we’ve come as an industry. I am delighted to see so many great titles, companies and individuals duly recognised for the hard work it takes to make a success of an event cinema release – it’s indicative of the rise of event cinema as a sector and the ECA congratulates them on a great achievement.”

The winners were votes for by the 50-plus members of the ECA, which also held its annual conference in London last week.

ECA Awards 2014

Best Box Office: Gold Award (500,000 admissions and over)
       Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor - BBC Worldwide

Best Box Office: Bronze Awards (100,000 admissions and over)
       Pompeii Live - British Museum/More2Screen
       Nutcracker 2013 - Royal Opera House, Arts Alliance
       Giselle 2014 - Royal Opera House, Arts Alliance
       The Sleeping Beauty - Royal Opera House, Arts Alliance
       Muse: Live at Rome Olympic Stadium - Omniverse Vision

Excellence in Programming Awards
       Pompeii Live - British Museum
       Canonization Live in 3D from the Vatican - Nexo Digital
       Muse Live at Rome Olympic Stadium - Omniverse Vision

Excellence in Exhibition Awards
       Marc Allenby, Picturehouse Cinemas, UK
       Mark Walukevich, Showcase Cinemas, USA

       Graham Spurling, Movies@ Cinemas, Ireland

Event screenings are a boon to cinemas

Screening events has emerged as an important new income stream for cineams, Niels Swinkels, managing director of Universal Pictures International UK & Ireland told the Event Cinema Association annual conference last week.

Swinkels pointed to the rapid growth in event cinema takings. Screenings of plays, operas, music events grossed £18m ($29m) at the UK box office during 2013, more than double its 2012 total. The rate of growth has speeded up this year and by September gross receipts had reached £23m ($37.2m).

“Event cinema will be key to improving the low double-digit use of movie theatre capacity and will help the industry survive,” he said. Swinkels predicted that ports and stand-up comedy presented opportunities for growth, and film distributors should embrace rather than worry about event cinema.

Universal’s presentation of Billy Elliot The Musical - Live last month set new records for event cinema in the UK by taking (£1.9m) $3.1m. “I am convinced the growth rate of event cinema will show positive development in the near future. Records are made to be broken so let that achievement be the new benchmark.”

However, Swinkels did sound a note of caution, pointing to a falling off in the margins generated by 3D films. “The opportunistic approach to 2D-3D conversations and the resulting failure of 3D to add value to the cinema experience has made audiences indifferent to the format,” he told delegates.

“If there is no valuable benefit in exchange for an additional payment in difficult economic times, audiences quickly react. Just as not every movie provide a viable theatrical opportunity, the same is true for event cinema. We need to respect the consumer and always pursue the highest quality without compromise. If we succeed, the cinema experience will prosper, whatever movie is presented on screen.”