10 Things That Matter at CineEurope
With international box office booming, the Amsterdam-based annual exhibition confab will tackle Hollywood's hot topics.
Ridley Scott will screen the first footage of his red-hot and ultra-secret sci-fi horror film June 28. He has been guarding the Prometheus plot like it was nuclear launch codes, so expect CineEurope attendees to go all Comic-Con for the first peek at the 2012 feature starring Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace.
2. Titanic 3D Footage
CineEurope has proved a lucky charm for James Cameron, who screened footage of Titanic and Avatar here before going on to become king of the world ... and king of Pandora. This year, Cameron is back with exclusive footage of Titanic 3D, the stereoscopic remastered version of his 1997 smash hit. Fox will release Titanic 3D worldwide April 6, 2012, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. Footage will be screened in the evening June 28.
3. Chris Dodd/Ad Weststrate Keynote
The president of the MPAA and its European counterpart, UNIC, will try to rally the troops with state-of-the-business keynotes during the confab's opening ceremony the morning of June 28. After his timid remarks on China while at a film festival in Shanghai recently, will the former senator ramp up pressure on the Chinese government to become more open to Western exhibitors?
4. Cinema of the Future Panel
3-D may be showing signs of fatigue in some markets, but as this year's international exhibitor of the year, Moshe Greidinger puts it, "we are still in the midst" of the digital revolution. The switch over from 35 mm to hard drives is changing everything from booking and programming to piracy concerns. This is the panel you want to catch to ensure your business model isn't put up against the wall.
5. The Emergence of the Russian Market
Russia has become the fourth member of Europe's exclusive billion-dollar club -- named for how much a territory's box office makes annually -- alongside the U.K., France and Germany. Russia's growth has been breathtaking: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides earned more there during its first weekend -- an estimated $28.6 million -- than the total Russia take of the previous installment in the franchise. "Russian box office is booming; it's unbelievable," says CineEurope managing director Robert Sunshine. "And I think it is going to sustain that growth. The territory is still very under-theatered."
6. Blockbuster Previews
Lackluster box office this year has whetted appetites ahead of CineEurope. Euro exhibitors hope the studios' summer slates -- which include surefire franchise hits such as the final Harry Potter installment and tentpole hopefuls Green Lantern and Cowboys & Aliens -- will revive receipts in the second half, allowing theaters to finish the year with a bang. Attendees will get a better idea of how the summer will shape up thanks to sneak previews of Paramount's Transformers: Dark of the Moon (in RealD 3D), DreamWorks' robot boxing flick Real Steel and Warner Bros.' raunchy comedy Horrible Bosses.
7. In Praise of Harry Potter
Much of Euro exhibitors' hopes will be laid at the feet of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 because the series recently became the biggest worldwide franchise of all time with $6.4 billion in global box-office receipts, $4.37 billion of that coming from the international marketplace. The final entry in the Potter series, and the only one shot in 3D, screens exclusively June 30 at CineEurope. In addition to a sneak preview, the conference will celebrate by handing three of its top honors to Potter alumni. David Heyman, producer on all eight Potter movies, will receive CineEurope's Producer of the Decade award, and two Warner Bros. International execs who have been key in driving the franchise's success overseas -- Nancy Carson, executive vp distribution, and Thomas Molter, senior vp international distribution -- will receive the International Distributors of the Year honor.
8. The Future of VOD
European exhibitors group UNIC, for the first time the official sponsor of CineEurope, has come out strongly against plans by some studios to introduce a premium VOD window that, critics contend, will erode theatrical revenue -- a concern that's echoed by American exhibitors. It isn't on the official CineEurope itinerary, but premium VOD is certain to be a major talking point in closed-door meetings between studio execs and theater owners.
9. The Millennium Trilogy Seminar
European blockbuster franchises are about as common as Dutch downhill skiers, but Sweden's Millennium Trilogy -- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, based on the Stieg Larsson best-sellers -- are proof the continent can erect its own tentpoles. The trilogy has grossed more than $214 million worldwide, launched the international careers of stars Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist and spawned a Hollywood remake by David Fincher. Millennium producers Yellow Bird will receive the confab's European Box Office Achievement Award and reveal some of the secrets of their success during a panel discussion June 29.
10. 20th Anniversary Party
Three years ago, the cloud of the worldwide financial collapse hung over Europe's box office. Things didn't bode well as the continent's premier exhibitors event finished its second decade. But the champagne will be popping June 28 at the Amsterdam RAI's Diamond Lounge for CineEurope's 20th birthday bash. Box office is generally surging, digital conversion is speeding up, and European exhibitors are suddenly optimistic. "It's great to have our 20th anniversary at a time like this, when business is picking up, distributors and exhibitors are working closer together and everyone is in a good mood," says Sunshine.