Commentary

NCM Upfront, Screenvision Unveils Emerging Filmmaker Series

There are all kinds of “fronts” nowadays in addition to the classic upfronts, reflecting the incredible diversity and fragmentation of video media in the digital age, including NewFronts, OutFronts, InFronts, Back-to-Fronts, and even UpsideDownFronts (okay, I made a few of those up).

Last year, cinema advertising joined the list with National Cinemedia’s first upfront; this year, the second NCM upfront, hosted at New York City’s AMC Loews Lincoln Square movie theater, put a spotlight on “The Bigger Picture” (literally) as it vies with TV for advertising dollars.
 
The “Bigger Picture” includes cinema advertising’s traditional advantages -- e.g., appearing in front of a captive audience on a 40-foot-wide screen with surround sound -- as well as a host of new capabilities introduced by NCM in recent years. They range from mobile and online channels that boast 50 million unique visitors per month, to new interactive digital displays in lobbies courtesy of a partnership with Monster.
 
NCM is also gearing up to launch FirstLook Sync, a new mobile app that allows moviegoers to interact with advertising and other content from the big screen using their smartphones. A new deal with Entertainment Weekly will help brands create custom sponsored content aligned with Hollywood buzz. As for scale, NCM president of sales and marketing Cliff Marks noted that NCM is the top-rated network in the country on weekends, with a reach surpassing any of the TV nets on Fridays and Saturdays, summing up: “Bigger really is better.”
 
To demonstrate the special qualities of the cinema environment, NCM gave ad agencies and clients a sneak peek at epic monster flick “Pacific Rim,” set to open on July 12, along with an appearance by director Guillermo del Toro, who told the audience “we need the big screen. We need the bigger picture, we need the theater. We need the communal experience of seeing it like that. We are validating our experience with a group of other moviegoers that love the experience.”
 
Screenvision, NCM’s main rival, is taking a slightly different tack, offering a new program aiming to highlight the industry’s best up-and-coming filmmakers. Screenvision’s Emerging Filmmakers Series, revealed at the Screenvision Upfront in April, will connect brands with filmmakers to create customized branded entertainment for the Screenvision network.

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The list of filmmakers includes Antonio Campos, the writer/director of "Afterschool"(2008), which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that same year and was nominated for a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature; Matthew Huston, a visual artist whose short films, documentaries and music videos have been exhibited at festivals, including Clermont Ferrand and the Chicago Film Festival; Christian Camago, an actor, producer and writer who starred as Brian Moser in Showtime’s "Dexter" and Eleazar in "The Twilight Saga"; and Andrew Renzi, who wrote and directed the short film "The Fort," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.


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