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Coronavirus paints unclear picture for movie theatres heading into 2021 – Global News

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If anything is certain about the future of movie theatres in 2021, it’s that nobody can be certain about anything.

After a year that saw Canada’s film exhibition industry roiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, industry observers say the country’s cinemas are sitting at a critical juncture with no clear path forward.

Read more:
‘It’s kind of scary to see it happening’: Toronto film industry limps back amid COVID-19

Most theatres across the country were dark over the usually bustling holiday movie season, as they were for the majority of the year in many major markets. The few screens that continued operating did so at a fraction of their usual capacity.


Click to play video 'Low cases of COVID-19 mean NS film industry is open for business'



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Low cases of COVID-19 mean NS film industry is open for business


Low cases of COVID-19 mean NS film industry is open for business – Oct 8, 2020

Some say sustained closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could spell doom for the movie theatre business, which has been battered in recent years as ticket sales declined and streaming giants like Netflix chased the same audience.

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“There were enormous challenges to this industry long before COVID ever forced us into lockdown,” says Jason Gorber, a film critic based in Toronto.

“But it’s really easy to be cynical and think movie theatres are dead. I don’t think that’s the case at all? There’s a real opportunity for change and for theatres to actually come back, bigger and better in some ways.”

However, Gorber and other industry experts recognize a happy ending for Canada’s movie exhibitors is far from certain at this point.

They predict the road ahead for 2021 will be riddled with crucial developments, and potentially setbacks, that could set the trajectory for the future.


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Hollywood North gets big boost from streaming giant Netflix


Hollywood North gets big boost from streaming giant Netflix – Sep 25, 2020

Among the most urgent questions is the speed of a nationwide vaccine rollout that could determine how quickly moviegoers return to theatres.

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Several anticipated blockbusters are lined up for later this year, including much-delayed James Bond entry “No Time to Die,” in April and “Fast & Furious 9” in May. After a year of schedule reshuffles, none of those release dates seem certain, especially if lockdowns continue or moviegoers lack the confidence to return to theatres en masse.

“People are going to be a little bit skittish about gathering and there’s probably a percentage of the audience that’s gone for good,” predicts Louis-Etienne Dubois, an assistant professor at Ryerson University who serves as director of the school’s Future of Live Entertainment Lab.

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“There’s a loss any way we cut it.”

Big changes were already afoot in the movie theatre business at the start of the pandemic as Hollywood studios wrestled with exhibitors over more flexible theatrical windows that would allow movies a faster leap to streaming and rental platforms.


Click to play video 'Toronto film industry limps back after COVID-19 closures'



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Toronto film industry limps back after COVID-19 closures


Toronto film industry limps back after COVID-19 closures – Aug 19, 2020

For years, movie theatre owners had been the victors, keeping a 90-day exclusivity window for major releases, but the pandemic forced their hand in making exceptions.

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It opened the floodgates for seismic changes, including shorter theatrical runs, and unprecedented studio decisions that saw planned theatrical releases re-routed to home theatres.

The sudden shift has shaken the industry, sometimes leading to dramatic public spats between Hollywood executives and lobbyists for exhibitors.

David Hancock, a London-based senior research manager at Omdia who scrutinizes the global film market, says the suggestion theatres are on death’s door is pure “hyperbole.”

“Everyone’s losing the plot of it,” he says.

“Cinemas are fundamentally an extremely valuable social and economic force. They provide a good place to launch a film, and people to come together, and they’re the only place outside the home you can watch a film properly.”

Read more:
Coronavirus: Canada creates $50M fund for film, TV productions without insurance

Hancock says he’s not convinced that streaming platforms will eliminate the movie theatre experience any time soon. People still thirst to watch entertainment on a big screen, he argues, and it’s a multi-billion dollar business that he doesn’t believe can be sustained on low-cost streaming platforms.

“Movies have a value,” he says. “And they need that value to make as much money back as they can, to justify $200 million in production costs and another $200 million in marketing. If you start to mess around with that, the whole thing starts to fall apart.”

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However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be widespread consolidation of cinema chains in some countries, or a sharp reduction in the number of movie screens as smaller markets lose their multiplexes.


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Diversity and representation in the Canadian film industry


Diversity and representation in the Canadian film industry – Nov 29, 2020

For Canada’s largest movie chain Cineplex Inc. and second-largest operator Landmark Cinemas, the possibility of a sluggish return to normalcy could be devastating.

During the first three quarters of last year, Cineplex’s revenues plummeted as provincial COVID-19 measures dramatically reduced theatre capacity, and a lacklustre slate of films drew smaller audiences.

Cineplex’s share value has dropped more than 70 per cent since the start of the pandemic, as a $2.8-billion takeover by London-based Cineworld fell apart, and the virus forced the company to lay off staff.

Last month, Cineplex announced plans to shore up $57 million by selling its Toronto headquarters and using that money to repay debt.

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The company’s CEO Ellis Jacob is confident cost-cutting efforts will help weather the storm until audiences are back in the seats.

“I feel that we will have a huge pop when things start to get better,” he says.

“We feel 2021 is going to be an awesome year in this business.”


Click to play video 'Cineplex theatres reopen across Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic'



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Cineplex theatres reopen across Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic


Cineplex theatres reopen across Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic – Aug 21, 2020

Jacob points to other countries that have seen moviegoers return in record numbers once pandemic measures eased. China saw solid ticket sales for some homegrown films in the months after lockdown, while Japan smashed box-office records with anime hit “Demon Slayer,” which became the country’s top-grossing film of all time in December.

Whether North American audiences can muster up similar enthusiasm for “Black Widow,” the next entry in the Marvel franchise, or a Ghostbusters sequel, remains to be seen.

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Cineplex has a few options it could pursue to bring audiences back.

Jacob has expressed interest in testing out “dynamic pricing” for movies, a model similar to airlines and hotels which fluctuates the cost of a ticket based on demand. In theory, it could draw cost-conscious moviegoers outside of peak hours.

The company could also make a belated foray into the all-you-can-watch subscription movie pass, which allows cardholders regular access to theatres. The concept has been a hit with moviegoers at U.S. chains for years, but Jacob has not confirmed this model as part of Cineplex plans.


Click to play video 'Saskatchewan movie theatres avoid being ‘handcuffed’ by COVID-19 restriction on food, drinks'



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Saskatchewan movie theatres avoid being ‘handcuffed’ by COVID-19 restriction on food, drinks


Saskatchewan movie theatres avoid being ‘handcuffed’ by COVID-19 restriction on food, drinks – Dec 1, 2020

But before cinemas even think about innovation, they need federal and provincial leaders to acknowledge the damage caused by shutdowns and make good with financial support, says Ken Charko, director of the B.C. division of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada.

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Leaders in Quebec have already announced $4.6 million in grants to help the province’s cinemas get through COVID-19 closures. The money will go exclusively to Quebec-owned theatres, rather than national chains like Cineplex. Charko, who runs the independent Dunbar Theatre in Vancouver, wants to see similar gestures from other provinces.

“The government needs to help the industry? until we get to the point where we can survive and thrive,” he says.

“Whenever there’s great change, I believe there’s opportunity for growth. The steps that happen going forward will define that.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Android 12 might introduce an answer to iPhone's Back Tap feature – Notebookcheck.net

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Can Google get double-taps on rear panels working in Android 12? (Source: Google)
The betas for Android’s next major update may not be too far away at this point. This version is the one now rumored to implement a feature in which a phone can respond to double-taps on its rear panel to open shortcuts. Android 12 is also said to add App Pairs, a new form of split-screen mode, as well as more effective third-party app-market access.

iPhones have had the ability to respond to the new Back Tap shortcut type for the latest few updates to iOS. Google had been rumored to get an analog for the Android OS working (for Pixel phones at the least) in the current major version; however, that never really panned out, somehow. Now, however, it may be available as a finished item in Android 12.

The double-tap on the rear panel gesture was once slated to replace the Active Edge feature that was introduced in the Pixel series, but dropped in the 4a onwards. Now, there are rumors that it might be integrated into the Android 12 upgrade.

This major upgrade’s first beta can only be about 6 months away at the most at this point. Some additional leaks point to the possibility of App Pairs, an updated form of splitting the screen that allows 2 apps to share a display while they work in tandem. For example, Chrome could pair with Google Maps in order to research a specific location.

App Pairs may thus mirror Samsung’s relevant UI tweak that allows multiple apps to share a foldable device’s screen more effectively. Therefore, its presence in Android 12 might be an effort to bring devices with these next-gen form-factors more into the mainstream.

Android 12 might also be the version in which Google allows greater access to sources of apps that are not the Play Store. It is not as though they exist, although adding them to a “typical” non-Apple mobile device is not quite as straightforward as being pre-installed by default, of course.

On the other hand, Google is also now said to be on the brink of enforcing a rule in which all in-app purchases on its own Store are paid for through its own billing system. This has been done for a number of reasons, the most prominent of which is probably the Mountain View giant’s increased surety of getting its 30% cut of all revenue made on the Play Store.

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Apple warns against putting an iPhone 12 too close to your pacemaker – Yahoo Movies Canada

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The Canadian Press

Central African Republic alleged rebel handed to intl court

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An alleged rebel commander from Central African Republic has been detained and turned over to the International Criminal Court by authorities in the troubled African nation, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the capital, Bangui, in 2013. The court announced the surrender of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, of the Seleka rebel group, on Sunday night. He was detained on a warrant issued by the court under seal in January 2019. Fighting raged in Bangui in 2013 between the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels, who seized power from then-President Francois Bozize, and a mainly Christian militia called the anti-Balaka. The violence left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more. The Hague-based court already has detained two alleged commanders of the anti-Balaka, Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, whose trial is scheduled to start next month. Said is the first suspect detained from the Seleka side of the conflict. A judge at the court who issued the arrest warrant found “reasonable grounds to believe that, from at least March 2013 until at least January 2014, a widespread and systematic attack was conducted by members of the Seleka against the civilian population and those perceived to be collectively responsible for, complicit with or supportive of the former Bozizé government and, later, of the Anti-Balaka,” the court said in a statement. Said is charged with crimes including torture, persecution and enforced disappearances. The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, welcomed the arrest. “As I have previously stated, my office will relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of atrocity crimes in the Central African Republic. Today is another manifestation of that commitment,” she said. The detention came with Central African Republic again in turmoil. On Friday, the government declared a 15-day nationwide state of emergency as a coalition of armed groups seeks to overthrow the newly reelected President Faustin-Archange Touadera. Mike Corder, The Associated Press

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Players Unlock A New Secret Weapon In Assassin's Creed Valhalla After Hitting A Pile Of Rocks – Kotaku

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Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Players have discovered a new hidden and powerful bow in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. All you have to do is find a specific pile of rocks and hit it a few times and reload your save. Though, this isn’t the intended way to get the weapon.

Players have discovered that a small, unremarkable pile of rocks in the northern area of the main Valhalla map holds a strange and powerful secret. If you hit these rocks… nothing happens. Unlike similar rock piles in the game, this pile won’t break. However, if you hit this pile of rocks a few times, save your game, and reload, well nothing happens. But repeat this a few times, for most players, it takes about three reloads, and eventually, you’ll unlock Norden’s Arc.

JorRaptor did a great video showing off the rock method, how players even figured it out and how powerful the bow is. (Spoilers: It’s very deadly.)

This hunter bow is an Isu weapon. The Isu were an ancient civilization of super-powerful beings who enslaved humans and… look, you probably don’t care and I don’t have the time to fully explain it. They were powerful and aren’t around anymore, but their relics and weapons still exist, like this bow. That’s the short version.

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My new bow

My new bow
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

I gave this method a try and got lucky. On my very first reload it worked. Though I deleted the save. Because, while this method works reliably, it doesn’t seem like the way Ubisoft would have intended players to unlock this special weapon. It seems like a glitch.

This was confirmed earlier today by Darby McDevitt, the narrative director on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. McDevitt explained on Twitter, in a reply to a JorRaptor tweet, that this method was a “clever brute force hack” that might be useful for speedrunners.

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However, he clarified that there is an actual in-game way to unlock this bow, but didn’t say how. Though when someone pointed out that some player must have solved the secret by now, McDevitt vaguely responded “Someone almost has.

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