At April’s CinemaCon, NATO chief John Fithian touted 4D technology as one of the drivers that would help lead 2015 to a record year at the box office. Seoul-based CJ 4DPLEX today says its 4DX immersive cinematic experience has reached its own record with 10M moviegoers and $150M at worldwide turnstiles across the first 10 months of 2015. This is the first time the technology — which brings audiences right into the action via motion, vibration, water, wind, lighting, scents and other special effects — has hit the 10M mark in a calendar year. The technology is available in 215 auditoriums in 35 countries, up from 128 venues in 28 countries in 2014. This year, 70 titles have been screened in 4DX including Jurassic World, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Furious 7. Growth has been strong in Japan, which will reach 33 sites this year. In China, there are plans to have 53 by year’s end. The UK’s first 4DX cinema opened in January with Kingsman: The Secret Service spying an 80%-plus occupancy rate on its first weekend. Ultron topped that by filling more than 92% of all seats, and Furious 7 was nearly at capacity at opening. Further screens will be opening in the UK and Switzerland this month, and expansion is planned throughout the West. Overall, the company aims to reach 300 4DX theaters by the first half of 2016.
Germany’s Beta Cinema has acquired world rights to Ali’s Wedding, a Matchbox Pictures comedy by Australian director Jeffrey Walker (Modern Family). Currently shooting, the film follows the son of a Muslim cleric who finds himself caught between his sense of family duty and following his heart after a reckless lie sets off a catastrophic chain of events leading to a highly anticipated traditional wedding. Written by Osamah Sami, who also stars, and Andrew Knight, it’s produced by Sheila Jayadev and Helen Panckhurst. Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon, Nina Stevenson, Greg Sitch and Ian Kirk are exec producers. The Dressmaker and Moulin Rouge‘s Don McAlpine is DP. Madman has Australian/New Zealand distribution rights.
Leopard Films USA, producers of HGTV’s House Hunters International and The Filthy Rich Guide for CNBC, has hired Richard Cook as VP Talent. The New York-based company is looking to build on its lifestyle slate and expand into new genres, with a strong focus on character-driven docusoap formats and factual entertainment. Cook joins from Pulse Films, where he was Acting Head of Television, responsible for formats such as The Cruise Ship (ITV) and Pro-Gamers (C4). He previously was Head of Television at 10 Group and spent eight years at Eyeworks/At It Productions, also as Head of Television.
FremantleMedia has appointed Andrew Bott as its CFO. Based in London, Bott will sit on the Operating Board and be responsible for all financial reporting and controlling for the group as well as corporate financial strategy, risk management, and will provide finance expertise and support for all M&A activity. He also will lead the Group Finance team. Bott joins from BBC Worldwide, where he is currently CFO; he previously was CFO at BBC Worldwide’s North American arm, where he oversaw finance aspects of the launch and expansion of the company’s LA-based production business, the growth of the BBC America network and digital growth across U.S. SVOD and EST markets.
Toonami has picked up rights to Dragon Ball Super, the franchise’s first all-new TV series to be produced in 20 years. The program will make its pan-regional launch in mid-2016 on Toonami, Turner’s kids brand dedicated to delivering superhero and action-adventure animation in South and Southeast Asia. It will be an exclusive first-run premiere on Toonami in Southeast Asia and India, which also will be its English-language world premiere. Reuniting the franchise’s signature characters, Dragon Ball Super follows the aftermath of Goku’s fierce battle with Majin Buu as he attempts to maintain Earth’s fragile peace. The series is overseen by Dragon Ball’s original creator, Akira Toriyama, and produced with Fuji Television.
Oriental DreamWorks has appointed Peilin Chou as Head of Creative, Feature Animation. She will oversee creative development for all ODW feature animation theatrical releases and be
based at the company’s Shanghai headquarters. The exec was previously VP Original Series at Spike TV and was part of the initial team that launched the network and pioneered its original animation programming. Her earlier posts include Director of Development at Nickelodeon and development executive at Walt Disney Feature Animation. ODW’s Kung Fu Panda 3, a Chinese co-production, releases Stateside and in the Middle Kingdom on January 29.