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Estoril : la révolution numérique en marche

décembre 20, 2010


Saturday, November 13th

Moderation: Michael Gubbins – Consultant & analyst (UK)

Régine Vial – Les Films du Losange (France)

Peter Buckingham – UK Film Council (UK)

John Dick – EACEA/MEDIA Programme (Belgium)

Eveline Ferwerda – Cinema Digitaal (Netherlands)

Jean-Paul Commin – ADEF (France)

Christine Eloy – Cineart (Belgium)

Luis Froes – Valentim (Portugal)

The last session of the weekend was dedicated to digital transition in theaters across Europe and how professional are dealing with new costs involved with digital equipment locally.

Peter Buckingham opened the discussion with a presentation of an interesting initiative in the UK based upon creating an event around the screening of a selected movie. So-called SECRET CINEMA creates a buzz around screening a movie (which title remains secret until last minute) in pop up cinema (temporary venues converted into theaters for the time of the screening).

Lawrence of Arabia made 300 000 pounds during a weekend in September in the occasion of a happening like this. The interesting aspect about this initiative is that art house movie may experience difficulties in order to find its audience in traditional distribution networks (mainly because it s hard to keep the copy in theaters week after week) but distributed through innovative ways, art house too may prove profitable, especially through non theatrical exhibition which is not taken really seriously by professionals. Distributors role could therefore be evolving and now also consists in assisting people in creating their own screenings (which has become possible thanks to digital copies) and facilitate these new ways of creating events and promotion around movies.

John Dick from the MEDIA PROGRAMM, which grants funding to selected projects in order to help digital transition, then got right into the main challenge facing the industry today: the cost sharing of digital switch in theatrical exhibition. The whole cost of this transition can’t be supported by the program, and both exhibitors and distributors financial support is a prerequisite to the switch from 35 mm to digital.

The main issue right now is that distributors are asked into a participation in the VPF (Virtual Print Fee), which is negotiated on a case-by-case basis, but evolves around 700 Euros per copy This participation is aimed at compensating the cost involved for exhibitors for getting digital equipment. It’s a transitional costs for distributors who still need to release their movie in 35 mm in order to access theaters that have not yet proceeded the switch. In the future, the digital exhibition may reduce notably P&A costs for distributors. The main issue is to evaluate the transition timeline for distributors to cover exhibitors’ costs in the digital era.

Regine Vial from LES FILMS DU LOSANGE (France) pointed out the ongoing discussions in France upon this topic, and gave a presentation of the legal frame developed by the French Parliament in order to facilitate and border the transition. The law establishes an obligation for distributors to participate in the costs of digital transition through VPF (obligation to pay a digital contribution based on a fee per copy released digitally). This obligation is set to last for the next 10 years, but this is still a controversy topic among concerned professionals.

Another problem raised by digital exhibition is the possible competition from non-films contents in theaters (Opera, Sports, Concerts…). French distributors are trying to make it mandatory for such program right holders to contribute to VPF as well.

These are issues that distributors all across Europe are also facing with nowadays. The workshop allowed everyone to share the local experience, and put in common information in order to face this transition successfully, above all in order to continue indie promotion and art house screening across Europe.


Distributors launch the subject of the efficiency of the viral marketing: as it’s really time consuming to maintain all the social networks, is it efficient? (concretely on admissions). But nobody has now the answer. It’s really difficult to get results, because social media is creating communities: sometimes you have a strong community and disappointing figures, sometimes it’s the opposite. Another distributor underlines cleverly that traditional marketing tools never guaranteed admissions… so that’s the same thing with the new ones!

The tools are existing to share the info, but they’re not used (CDInet database with all the info that distributors need to update on their movies), there is a real need of communication, of data/sharing info.

Adeline Monzier from Europa Distribution pointed out that the next ED meeting will be in Sofia focusing on social marketing, it will be addressed to marketing staff.

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