CinemaCon 2012: Panel Says Opportunities Surround Live and 3D Alternative Content

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LAS VEGAS--Alternative content will see growth and account for an estimated $315 million globally during 2012, projected IHS Screen Digest senior analyst for cinema David Hancock, Monday at CinemaCon.

During an alternative content panel, stakeholders discussed potential opportunities in genres from sports to opera, and Brad LaDouceur, vp of alternative programming for Cineplex Entertainment, emphasized that “we truly believe live in 3D will be a game changer.”

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Upcoming live 3D productions for the cinema will include coverage of the Wimbledon Championships.

Sony and All England Lawn Tennis Club have a three-year partnership aimed at bringing Wimbledon to 3D-ready digital cinemas around the world. Live 3D coverage, in partnership with Wimbledon host broadcaster BBC, is also offered to broadcasters.

A year ago, the debut Wimbledon 3D coverage went to 170 screens in 23 countries, as well as six broadcasters including the BBC. This included the men’s singles semifinals and finals and the women’s singles finals.

Dave Cowlishaw, head of digital cinema business development for Sony Europe, reported that this year, various matches will be shot in 3D, but only the men’s final will be available in theaters. He related that this decision aims to allow the team to be more focused in areas such as marketing. Sony is targeting at least 400 screens worldwide for the live finals.

“There is definitely a global appetite for broadcasts of live sports in 3D,” he asserted, adding that he believes there are also opportunities for 3D TV and cinema viewing of live events to coexist.

Dan Diamond, senior vp, NCM Fathom Events, which had roughly 19,000 screens in its in-theater network, said, “We need to create diversity. Showing opera over and over again is not enough.”

Fathom broadcasts a 3D Metropolitan Opera series that resulted in nearly 900,000 tickets sold during its 2010-11 season.

Diamond reported that Fathom is also working with Hollywood studios to turn ”classic movie anniversaries into events.”

In sports, upcoming Fathom events including the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto fight, May 5 in Las Vegas.

Diamond noted that remaining challenges for monetizing alternative content includes targeted marketing and finding the right financial models.

An estimated 75,000 digital cinema screens are now installed worldwide, with roughly 40,000 offering 3D capabilities.

In related news, RealD announced that its RealD 3D system is now installed in approximately 20,200 auditoriums worldwide.

On Monday the International 3D Society reported that it has completed a survey about the 3D theater experience.

In a poll conducted by the organization, 52% of those surveyed had seen at least one 3D movie in the last three years. Asked to describe their experience, 71% said that their 3D experience surpassed watching conventional 2D movies, according to the Society.

The poll involved the Society by Opinion Research which conducted interviews of roughly 1,000 Americans age 18 and up between April 5-8.

Also as CinemaCon opened, THX announced its latest THX Certified facilities and THX Approved equipment. These include James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment MBS Media Campus in Manhattan Beach (in progress); Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood; Basecamp Films, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (in progress); Meyer Sound, Berkeley, Calif.; and SonicPool in Hollywood.

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