CineAsia: 5 Things Not to Miss

Hong Kong's scenic Wan Chai neighborhood again will host CineAsia

The Hong Kong-based exhibition convention offers regional players a glimpse at Hollywood blockbusters, cutting-edge technology (4D, anyone?) and the latest strategies for combating piracy.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The iconic Hong Kong skyline has become the shooting backdrop of choice for Hollywood tentpoles, including Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, Michael Mann's Cyber and Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction. From Dec. 10 to 12, exhibitors from throughout the region and top brass from the major studios will admire that cityscape from the annual CineAsia convention, a platform for theater owners and global film distribution executives to talk shop about the latest developments. The event offers a wealth of seminars, special presentations and screenings. Here's what's on the agenda:

Previews of Hollywood Blockbusters

One major attraction for CineAsia attendees is its screenings of upcoming tentpoles. This year, the convention boasts four prominent holiday-season titles: Universal's Keanu Reeves starrer 47 Ronin; Warner Bros.' The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, shown in high-frame-rate Imax 3D; and two Disney titles: the animated Frozen in 3D and the Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson starrer Saving Mr. Banks. The stars won't be on hand, but the Disney screenings will include appearances by the studio's David Kornblum, vp theatrical sales and distribution for Asia-Pacific/Russia; and Dave Hollis, executive vp theatrical exhibition sales and distribution.

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Studio Product Presentations

All of the major studios will offer extensive presentations showcasing their upcoming releases. "It is an opportunity for theater owners to get a really good sense of what is in the marketplace for the holidays, as well as into January," says Robert Sunshine, executive director of Film Expo Group, the event organizer. The studios haven't revealed their plans completely, but at press time the presentations were to include sneak previews of Universal's Seth MacFarlane comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West and Fast & Furious 7, as well as Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and its RoboCop reboot from director Jose Padilha.

4D Demonstrations

Organized by D-Box and Dolby Atmos, the 4D motion effects demonstration should be of keen interest to theater owners given the rising popularity of technology that allows movie seats to move in tandem with onscreen action. The demo will take place at the newly renovated Grand Ocean Cinema, where 28 seats are equipped with the D-Box motion system. "We introduced the 4D MFX into our cinemas two years ago, and the response has been enthusiastic," says Wanie Wong, marketing manager at Golden Harvest Cinemas, the only theater chain to have installed the D-Box technology in Hong Kong. "We are going to expand our rollout of D-Box seats at the end of December."

The Awards Ceremony

CineAsia always wraps with an awards presentation that fetes a who's who of regional industry players. This year's honorees include Thailand's SF Cinema City (DLP Cinema Marketing Achievement Award), Walt Disney Studios' Iron Man 3 (Rentrak Asian-Pacific Box Office Achievement Award), Japan's Toho Cinemas (Exhibitor of the Year), Intercontinental Group Holdings' Rigo Jesu and Terry Lai (Lifetime Achievement Award in Distribution) and Beijing Enlight Pictures' Wang Changtian (Producer and Filmmaker of the Year).

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Key Piracy Update

With the recent announcement that China will implement a sweeping reform of its piracy policy -- including the creation of a court to protect intellectual property rights -- all eyes will be on CineAsia's annual anti-piracy talk, this year titled "Protecting Screen Content in Cinemas and Online" and given by the Motion Picture Association's Frank Rittman, senior vp, deputy managing director and regional policy officer for Asia-Pacific. Because the seminar often details the latest strategies and technology for combating piracy, it has become one of the convention's most eagerly anticipated events. Says MPA communications director Stephen Jenner, "The seminar will highlight an up-to-date view of piracy in the region and give us an idea of some of the hotspots and measures to deal with them."