A California-based manufacturer, integrator, and distributor of technology and equipment, Moving iMage Technologies (MiT) offers a wide range of products and services to the motion picture exhibition industry, including custom engineering, systems design, integration and installation, enterprise software solution, digital cinema, A/V integration, and customized solutions for emerging entertainment technology.
MiT Co-Founder and Executive VP of Sales & Marketing Joe Delgado joined Boxoffice Pro ahead of the company receiving the Vendor of the Year Award at the 2022 Geneva Convention. An industry veteran, Joe spent fifteen years at Christie in roles such as National Sales Manager, Director of Sales, and Vice President of Sales. During his tenure, he helped Christie become a major force in the cinema industry. Previously he held various positions at JVC, including sales representative for video products for the Los Angeles and Las Vegas markets.
The last few years have been financially tough on the cinema industry. What are you hearing from your clients about upgrading to newer tech?
I think that NATO did yeoman’s work to get that SBA [small business administration] money flowing. There are time constraints on those funds. I think that our customer base has chosen to take advantage and [are] making competitive decisions, strategic decisions, to upgrade technology and amenities. I think that for the most part, when you look at what the SBA distribution was, that’s a big chunk of our customer base. 80 percent of our customer base tends to be that small, medium size independent [chain]. They’re strategically spending on technology and amenities. Recliner upgrades, upgrades to their concession, bars, and restaurants. We’ve been the beneficiary of that for sure.
What’s been the number one thing that your customers are looking for when they come to you?
We’re primarily a technology and integration company. It has been big ticket items: projectors, servers, audio upgrades, screens, and remodels that were stalled pre-Covid. [There’s also a focus on] maintaining compliance with the ADA, for the hearing and visually impaired. We’re the manufacturers of the USL brand of accessibility equipment, which we purchased back in April from our friends at QSC. Everybody has to make sure that they’re staying on top of it.
When it when it comes to cinema tech, what are your customers’ big concerns?
I think it’s a myriad of things. Through no fault of the customer, they had no choice but to shutter these facilities. The industry as a whole was rocking and rolling pretty well, and when you shutter certain technologies for an extended period of time, you don’t know what you’re going to come back to. It could have been the projection, the audio, lines in their beverage dispensers, HVAC. There’s a myriad of facility issues when you shutter a building and don’t regularly come back to do routine maintenance. I think that was probably the biggest concern. There were a lot of things like that we had to be ready for. I think we did a pretty good job of stocking up on certain things that we estimated we were going to need.
Speaking of getting cinemas ready, we’re moving into Q4 and Avatar: The Way of Water is on the horizon. Can you speak about MiT’s digital technology solutions for 3D? How are you working with cinemas to get them ready for Avatar?
We actually have a manufactured line of 3D integration products for the various systems out there. We’ve seen a significant uptick in 3D, which the industry hasn’t seen in years. We’re ramping up, and we started shipping what we call XL Movers for the RealD product. That’s already started happening. People are having to almost re-learn 3D. It’s been a while since 3D was predominant in the industry. We manufacture certain products that facilitate that. We’re in pretty good shape for whoever needs to get back to plug and play 3D. We’re here for them.
As exhibition continues to revitalize, what do you feel have been some of the positives?
I think part of our shared experience is having that personal touch. I think that adds to the amenities that we as an industry have invested in and the technology that we have invested in. People make a difference. I’m a firm believer in that. When I go to the movies, I like somebody taking my order. If I have a question, it’s always nice to have a person there. People make the difference.
It’s so embedded in the theatrical experience. Having a communal experience, not only when you’re watching the movie, but in your experience of the theater itself.
Absolutely. I think that when we started going to amenities-based models, the exhibition industry did a great job of accommodating and educating their personnel for that. When you leave your house, you get that personal touch. That keeps you going back to that certain location, wherever that location may be. I think technology is a tool, it’s not a replacement. That’s how we see technology at MiT. It’s not intended to replace, but to enhance.
What are some of MiT’s priorities as a company, as we move into Q4 of this year and look forward to 2023?
What we learned during Covid was that efficiencies matter. Obviously, we learned that the hard way, but nonetheless, it’s all about quality assurance, efficiencies, and resource management. We’ve got a suite of products in the SaaS (software as a service) business that allows the exhibitor to really hone in on their quality assurance and resource management, to get the most out of their day-to-day operations. That’s [called] CineQC. We’ve also made the investments in accessibility. We feel that everybody should be going to the movies, there shouldn’t be barriers to entry. [Since] assuming the USL accessibility line, we’re continuing to upgrade that. We have product called Image Translator, which allows for multi-language translation in the cinema. In one auditorium, you can have as many languages as are available from the studios on day-and-date for non-English proficient speakers. I think there’s something like 70 million non-English proficient speakers in the US. These are our neighbors, and they have never been able to go to the movies because of language barrier. Those are the things we’re emphasizing. Efficiencies and generating more turns at the box office.
How does Image Translator work as a bridge for the language barrier?
You put on a pair of augmented reality glasses that are completely transparent, so you’re looking at the image and you’re hearing the audio, but projected onto the glasses is whatever language you determine. So you could be sitting next to a Spanish speaker, a Mandarin speaker, a French speaker, a Korean speaker, all in a single auditorium. If the languages are available from the studios day-and-date, exhibitors can market that and reach out to those communities. It also does dubbing. There really is a pretty significant opportunity to reach out, right here in the US, to a bunch of folks that traditionally didn’t go to the movies because of the language barrier. Those are things, that because of the investments from the equities market, we’re able to emphasize now.
Congratulations to Moving Image Technologies, which is being honored as Vendor of the Year at the 2022 Geneva Convention.
When [show organizers] John [Scaletta] and George [Rouman] got ahold of me, I thought they were spam calls. They finally sent me an email and said, “Man, you’re a hard guy to give good news to!” It is a huge honor. We’re also big into eSports; we have a venture with Sandbox. After that initial conversation, we’re bringing in Sandbox as part of the convention. We’ll be showing the eSports business model and presenting that to exhibitors at the after-dinner party at the Emagine Theatre. That’s another initiative that we’re very, very excited about. We’ve been going to Geneva for many years. Our chairman Phil Rafnson is from that area. He’s ridiculously excited and honored to be going back. We’re humbled and honored.