Peter Knight observes that CineEurope 2021 will be remembered by many as the time that the industry was able to come together for the first time in person in nearly two years.
Having been postponed from the traditional June date because of you-know-what, this year’s CineEurope convention provided the first real opportunity for the industry to celebrate a restart after a very unwelcome hiatus of almost two years. Armed with COVID health & safety measures, a slightly smaller tradeshow and fewer delegates than usual, the four day event was still as full of energy as ever, and there were plenty of new products to be explored.
A Brief 30-Year History
Not only the first in-person event in 18 months, 2021 was also CineEurope’s 30th anniversary. Originally created and organised by Prometheus Global Media Film Group Expo, CineEurope started life in 1992 as Cinema Expo International and was held at Brussels International Conference Centre, Belgium. It then changed venues and moved to the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in the Netherlands, in 1995.
For its 20th anniversary in 2011, the 30th Anniversary convention was renamed as CineEurope before moving from Amsterdam to the current International Convention Centre (CCIB) in Barcelona for its 2012 edition. And since 2015, the Film Expo Group has partnered on the event with the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC).
Taking a Tour Around the Tradeshow Floor
The tradeshow was noticeably – but understandably – smaller than normal, with many companies opting not to have any physical presence at all this year after a financially challenging 18 months. And some companies, even if they were present at the tradeshow, had taken a smaller stand than usual. By far, the largest number of companies represented were those specialising in cinema seating or, for those with a penchant for the classic cinema snack, popcorn.
However, there were still plenty of stands to wander around and visit. It was such a simple, yet enjoyable, pleasure to catch up with several of the different companies and the new products they had on display. Some of these new products included CineZ’AM, an eGate for movie theatres, a number of which are being installed across France.
Cinionic took over the main auditorium to show off their new 15,000 lumen Series 4 projector, while on the trade stand the company’s Laser Upgrade Kits for the Series 2 projectors were displayed. These kits mainly sit within the lamphouse area of the projectors with a small external box and take a minimum amount of time to upgrade.
Dolby presented both the Dolby System 128 speakers, designed for midsized screens. And the new Dolby Atmos Cinema Processor CP950A rackmount audio processor that is capable of Dolby Atmos rendering.
Some of the – plentiful – seating providers included names such as Ferco Seating, Figueras Seating and Simko Seating. They all displayed examples of their product ranges, available to be trialled and tested by those in the vicinity or for anyone with particularly tired legs. Ferco displayed the Tala and Rex seats, while Figueras demonstrated the Riva Heritage LoveSeat and Simko Seating, the Ametist.
Martek displayed their EcoWall Units, as part of their Zero Waste programme, designed to create an impact in the foyer with an attractive dispensing system for cinema snacks such as nuts and Pick ‘n’ Mix.
StepGuard by Light Tape, the advanced lighting system, introduced customers to their new wayfinding illumination system, designed for direct view or cove illumination. And Christie Digital proudly displayed Christie CounterAct with Care222 technology – a UVC light technology disinfection product, developed specifically in response to the pandemic.
One particular technology highlight of CineEurope for this writer was the demonstration of GDC’s new projector, the Espedeo Supra-5000.
Make sure to read a more in-depth profile and review on pages 24-27.
Sustainability: Growing Back Greener
The focus of this year’s sustainability theme was the world’s problem with packaging. And as the world’s biggest beverage company, Coca-Cola recognises its responsibility to help solve it. Ana Gascon, World Without Waste Director for the company in Europe, shared how Coca-Cola aims to create a systemic change for their packaging through a focus on three fundamental areas: “design”, “collect” and “partner”.
With disposable packaging widely used across the industry, Finnish company Huhtamaki is a key global player in sustainable food and drink packaging options. Head of Sustainability, Neil Whittall talked through the Single-Use Plastics directive, the implications of the choices retailers have to make, and what can be done to work together to do the right thing for the planet and business.
Güneri Tugcu, Senior European Channel Manager for Digimarc, shared how technology is playing its role in supporting sustainability through the power of digital watermarking, something that was also demonstrated on the tradeshow floor. This technology works by improving recycling levels and engaging consumers, further pushing towards the end goal of a “World Without Waste”.
Ladies and Gentlemen…Mr Tom Cruise
A rather special, A-list guest made an appearance at the Paramount Studios slate presentation. Indeed, the details of the slate presentations matter the most to many CineEurope attendees, allowing cinema owners and film programmers to get a taste of what is coming up in the next 12-24 months. For the larger studios and distributors, these are often opportunities for them to go the whole hog in showcasing their showmanship.
And for many years, star talent was an expected element of said showcases. But due to a COVID-shaped smaller show this year, it was a delightful surprise for household name and industry veteran Tom Cruise to appear on stage, to discuss his upcoming projects and proclaim his unwavering support for the theatrical experience. Cruise spent a good 20 minutes talking, before showing some behind-thescenes footage of him carrying out death-defying stunts. He then shared the first 13 minutes of “Top Gun: Maverick”, a very specific number of minutes you might think, but if you see the film when it’s out next year, you’ll see why. A gripping opener, and then some.
Good Vibes All Around
The general vibe at this year’s CineEurope was one of palpable excitement for an industry almost reborn and with much to look forward to on the horizon. It demonstrated once and for all that the industry is anything but dead and, actually, has so much to offer that there wasn’t enough time in the four days to see or experience it all.
And there were visible emotions as attendees saw industry friends and colleagues in person for the first time in over a year. Many embraces were made between those wearing green wristbands (red ones were worn by those not wanting any physical contact). But there was definitely love in the air throughout the four days, made to feel safe by ample COVID measures put in place. And, of course, apart from the slate presentations there were plenty of opportunities to get together and socialise, usually in an outdoor setting (thank you, Spanish weather). Two of these occasions that particularly stood out were the CJ Cinema Summit Bambu beach bar drinks, hosted by Celluloid Junkie and Filmgrail, at which time just seemed to disappear – always a good sign. And the second being the Cinema Technology Community (CTC), Event Cinema Association (ECA) and Vista drinks reception, held at Casa Carmen, just over the road from the CCIB.
CineEurope is now back in its usual slot of 20-23rd June for the 2022 conference. Let’s hope that the next six months show that the 31st CineEurope will, once again, be a cause for celebration.
“Emerging Stronger: Charting the Path for Growth”
As cinemas have reopened this year, extremely strong retail revenues per guest have been reported. Is this simply that it’s easier for guests to buy their food and drinks during quieter times, or are customers looking for a treat after periods of lockdown? Or is there something more to this trend?
This Coca-Cola session moderated by Oli Delaney, European Away from Home Customers Director, shared new research exploring the drivers behind these behaviours and discussed the key opportunities to leverage these insights to drive sustained growth for the long term. Panelist Hendrik ten Napel, Pathé Netherlands, shared the changes they have seen in food and beverage (F&B) consumption over the last 18 months and how they have adapted as a company, while continuing to drive industry-leading efficiencies.
The third panellist, Dino Borri from high street Italian company Eataly, explained how in these unparalleled times, they have continued to create unique experiences for people to eat, shop and learn about good food.