View CEO Tim Richards discusses AI, distribution and arthouse cinemas.

special: View founder and CEO Tim Richards caused a stir last month with an interesting appearance before the UK Parliament's British Film and High-End TV inquiry.

Commissioned by the influential Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the bipartisan inquiry spent several weeks interviewing industry figures as part of an investigation into the current state of film and TV production in the UK. Richards appeared in the session alongside Picturehouse managing director Claire Binns and Studio Canal UK CEO Alex Hamilton, who both expressed rather dismal conclusions about the current and future position of independent British cinema. Richards, however, was a dissenting voice.

The long-time Vue chief set out an optimistic vision for independent British cinema through the performance and variety of films shown on its screens in the UK and Europe. His only gripe was that the market isn't finding enough projects for service operators, which is why he told us he's decided to “accelerate” plans to launch a distribution arm at Vue. .

Earlier this year, Vue released the breakout Italian drama. There is still tomorrow. From UK debut filmmaker Paula Cortelli. Richards tells us that Cortellesi's film is just the first feature he and his in-house team plan to launch live. In Cannes this morning, Richards also announced that Vue has partnered with producers Andy Peterson and Annalize Davies, and virtual production outfit Dimension Studios, to execute a slate of UK films. Richards and the Wave team are in Cannes where they are busy in the market, identifying projects and collaborators.

Below, Richards talks to us about moving further into direct distribution of films in the UK and Europe. The former BFI chair also broke down how Vive is using artificial intelligence to program its cinemas and how it will “dramatically improve” the cinema experience with updates to Vive's physical sites. On” intends to change.

Deadline: Tim, my local cinema used to be the VUE just off Upper Street. And I'm often amazed by the variety of films shown there. Orth House and Commercial.

Tim Richards: It is believed that some cinemas play some movies and others don't. That was probably true 30 or 40 years ago, but not anymore. Right now, there is virtually no difference between an independent, art house cinema and a multiplex cinema operator. We are all playing the same movies. Multiplex operators are playing more independent films than picture houses. They are also running more independent films than everyman cinemas. And that's because we have more screens. The future of the industry depends on more people watching movies. 70% of the gross revenue of independent films comes from multiplex operators, which indicates how important we are to the independent film ecosystem.

DEADLINE: Why do you think this binary still exists in people's minds?

Richards: I think people reminisce about the old days. The real demarcation point was when digital projectors were introduced. Earlier it was physically difficult to screen more than one film in a day. The films came in a box and they were heavy. A major advance in technology was putting them in self-winding plates. When digital projectors were introduced, it allowed operators to show more films to more people. It was the beginning of the end of classic art house cinema. There are probably half a dozen cinemas in Britain that still hold to these original ideas. I put the watershed in Burston in this category. I have a lot of respect for them and love what they do. But as I said in the inquiry, when I checked the schedule for a week at Watershed, Alex Garlands. Civil War It was on every big screen. Even Watershed is showing commercial films. If you look at the big three operators, between the three of us we have shown 94 movies out of the top 100. So yes, there were some films that we didn't show. But in general, we are actually providing.

At Vue, we've been able to play more movies to more people thanks to AI. 46% of the films we show are actually foreign language and that's not a number that many people would think or recognize, but that's what we're doing. And a lot of that is because of AI.

Deadline: How Are You Using Artificial Intelligence?

Richards: We are a global technology pioneer. We started eight, about nine years ago. We're just starting to talk about it. Before, for corporate reasons, we just moved things along. We hired a group from San Francisco that was building AI models for hedge funds in New York. We started using very complex modeling to build our programs. We went through 53 models in beta over two years and it was around the 30th model that we knew we were on to something special and as our confidence grew with the technology we rolled it out to more cinemas. started

But AI is responsible for booking all our screens and it determines what screen we play in which cinema and at what time. Our business is movies, but in periods where we have a little extra screen time, we've been hosting music, theater and sporting events. And AI will also schedule alternative programming events around our feature films.

Deadline: I'm sure all your competitors are now trying to find a way to copy it.

Richards: Well, it's not something that happens overnight. There are some off-the-shelf packages available right now, but ours is a proprietary system that we developed ourselves and is a classic AI that is constantly learning and evolving. We have introduced it in Italy and we are seeing very promising results there similar to what we saw in the UK and we will be rolling it out in all our markets.

deadline: So VUE picked Paola Cortellesi's There is still tomorrow and distributed it in the UK. And from what I understand, Vue will now go further in fetching and distributing slates. Can you tell us more about that?

Richards: For us, it's a circle we tried 15 years ago, but we were too early. We jointly produced three films, ET 3D, me and Orson WellesAnd The Disappearance of Alice Creed With Gemma Arterton. So we're getting back to business. There are some amazing films coming out this year that I am personally and professionally excited about. But we don't have as many films as we need. So we decided to accelerate our plans for a distribution vehicle. I saw There is still tomorrow. When it was released in Italy only by word of mouth. I was blown away by it. Some movies entertain, some movies scare, some make you laugh and some are pure art. Paula somehow managed to combine them all in one film. So I thought this is a film that we have an audience for in the UK and nobody is bringing it over here.

We started discussions with the producer and Paula and agreed to bring it to the UK and promote it. So this is our first film. Our plan is to take the best local films from our markets, the best Polish and German, Dutch and Italian films and show them to all our customers in our markets.

DEADLINE: What kind of films do you want to make?

Richards: good question. It's very film-specific. Our AI knows a lot about our audience. So it knows that there is a small Turkish community near Islington where we can put up additional screens for those audiences with Turkish films. We know that there is a large Polish community in certain areas of the country where we will bring more Polish films. We can open a film depending on the number of screens and locations we have in the UK and across Europe. We also have a market leading website so we can use our website to communicate directly with our customers in all our markets. We can show all these movies to our users. And that is our goal.

Deadline: This will be exciting news for many in the industry. This is what many are crying out for, big pockets and ambitions.

Richards: I have spent the last 25 years of my life trying to support and promote British independent film, which is my true love. I know how much moviegoers benefit from a theatrical release, even if it's short and limited. It still helps drive an ancillary income stream, helping to convey the message that it is of high quality. As a result, we have held a number of film launches in Leicester Square to try and showcase emerging talent. So it's a natural evolution for us to start commercializing it through a distribution vehicle.

deadline: Will you build a dedicated acquisition and distribution team?

Richards: We currently have a very talented team responsible for bringing There's Still Tomorrow to the UK. But we are going to reinforce it with some special skills, especially with Asian films.

DEADLINE: Will you be launching films at Cannes? And what kind of directors and producers do you work with?

Richards: At that time everything remains nameless. But we are accelerating our plans on it. But equally, there were rumors in the artistic community that we were starting to do it and it flooded inboxes from all over the place and it was based on rumours. So there is no lack of discussion that we are going to do. But we are initially going to be very selective with the top films that we believe in. And then over time we're starting to expand it.

DEADLINE: During your evidence to the inquiry you briefly said that the BFI should not be afraid of commercial film and talent. Can you explain what you mean?

Richards: The BFI is an internationally recognized organization and is class leading. This is only part of what the BFI does but on the filmmaking side it is responsible for identifying and nurturing emerging talent and that is something it is very good at. The advice I gave was that one should try not to be afraid of commercial films. So with budding talent, if it appears in advertisements but still needs a little help, they shouldn't be afraid to support it.

Deadline: When you look five or 10 years into the future, what do you hope your company will look like and what it will do?

Richards: What I love about our industry is that when you think there's nothing left to do, 20 things pop up. Between now and Christmas, we are completely renovating 14 large cinemas with leather recliner seats, and laser projectors, and we are upgrading them significantly. But we are also going to dramatically change the look and feel of cinema. We have some really exciting plans for our future cinema designs that are a big departure from the past and we'll be unveiling that this summer.

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