“It’s not just a European event anymore.”
Andrew Sunshine, president of the Film Expo Group, is talking about CineEurope, the official convention of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which opens its 28th edition on June 17 at the Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
“The show has really grown in stature over the last five to 10 years,” Sunshine continues. “You hear it at CinemaCon all the time: It’s a global industry. And if you look at where we’re positioned within the global market, our international shows, CineEurope and CineAsia, represent a lot more of the box office than just North America. CinemaCon is branded as a global show, but CineEurope has also taken on a whole new role.”
At press time, delegates from 67 countries were planning to attend the show, including from places as far away as Japan, Malaysia, and Brazil.
Still, CineEurope maintains its status as the key annual event for European cinema owners. “Just as NATO supports CinemaCon, having UNIC as our partner, bringing their members in, is what really helps drive our show,” Sunshine says. “UNIC now represents 37 countries. The challenge within Europe is that you have 37 countries that all have different languages. All can potentially have different rollout dates, different marketing materials in multiple languages, censorship in some markets. One of the presidents of distribution said to me just the other day that his international team, in his opinion, works 10 times as hard as the domestic distribution team. It’s a unique challenge. Having UNIC there being able to bring everybody together is the most important thing for us.”
CineEurope this year is bringing in a programming concept from CineAsia, with sessions on emerging markets. The Monday morning schedule will kick off with a “Focus on South Africa,” presented by Aboobaker “AB” Moosa, CEO of South African circuit Avalon Group, followed by a “Focus on Serbia” with Christof Papousek, chief financial officer of Serbian exhibitor Cineplexx. Sunshine expects these sessions examining breakout markets to become an annual CineEurope tradition. “I think it’s important to have these countries talk about what’s happening there and maybe share some information with other people.”
The busy Monday morning agenda will also include a roundtable with three leading executives—Universal Pictures International distribution president Duncan Clark, Cinépolis CEO Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, and Vue Entertainment CEO Tim Richards—moderated by Boxoffice and Webedia Movies Pro CEO Julien Marcel. Then, Lucia Recalde, head of the European Commission’s Creative Europe Media unit, moderates a panel exploring how theaters can attract the large segment of the European population that never goes out to the cinema.
Other focus sessions take place on the trade show floor, a CineEurope tradition that began a few years ago. “We made it bigger last year and we can accommodate up to 400 people,” Sunshine notes. “We do programming there now Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I think that helps drive people to the trade show and keeps people invested in the different technologies that are happening.” Topics this year include premium cinemagoing experiences, customer insights, film theft, accessibility, movies on demand in private cinemas, and “creating the ultimate viewing experience.”
Along with the educational component, “these shows are all about product,” Sunshine says. “We get tremendous support from all of the studios when it comes to product. I don’t know if it’s because it’s the international market, but we have all the studios coming back and doing product presentations again this year or screening a movie.” Film screenings announced at press time were Universal Pictures’ comedy-fantasy Yesterday, about a world without The Beatles, and Warner Bros.’ horror sequel Annabelle Comes Home. Sony and Disney will also be screening major titles. Cinionic is the show’s projection partner, and the booth will house six projectors, including two laser setups.
Sunshine adds, “We’re doing something special for the first time in the big theater with the Event Cinema Association. We’ve been working with their new executive director, Grainne Peat, a wonderful lady. Europe is very, very strong for alternative content in theaters, so the ECA is going to have companies like Trafalgar and Fathom and their other members present their upcoming product.”
For the second year, CineEurope will be presenting special Gold Awards, inspired by ShowEast’s long-running Hall of Fame awards. “The Hall of Fame was created to recognize people in our industry, not only top executives, but also some of the under-the-radar people,” Sunshine explains. “The European version started as a program to thank those who helped us launch Cinema Expo over 25 years ago. That was successful, and then the idea came basically to create a hall of fame. But we decided to call it the Gold Awards, The concept is to recognize and salute the person who’s dedicated their life to this industry and would never be recognized in another fashion. All of UNIC’s country associations submit recommendations, and then UNIC and their committee make the final selections. This is something that they’ll be able to cherish—they get their moment in the sun. We expect it to be even more successful this year, just by the number of names that were added to the list of potential people.”
Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, the CineEurope awards program on Thursday, June 20, will also honor Disney and Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War with the comScore European Box Office Achievement Award, and Peter Fornstam, managing director of Nordic circuit Svenska Bio and chairman of the Swedish Exhibitors’ Association, with the UNIC Achievement Award. International Exhibitor of the Year honors go to pioneering Croatia-based circuit Blitz-CineStar, to be accepted by founder Hrvoje Krstulovic and CEO Jadranka Islamovic. And Mark Viane, president of international theatrical distribution, and Mary Daily, co-president, worldwide marketing and distribution at Paramount Pictures, will accept the “International Distributor of the Year” Award.
“We always want to recognize executives who are doing good things for their studio,” Sunshine says. “Mark and Mary have worked very, very closely with Jim Gianopulos to put together what’s going to be a tremendous new slate of films. They’re excited as hell about what they’ve got coming forward the rest of this year and beyond. They’re going to do a 90-minute product presentation. We’re recognizing them for their contributions to the industry, not only going forward, but for what they’ve done in the past.”