Posts Tagged ‘Behind the Scenes’

My Trip to ShowEast

October 22, 2010 3 comments

By Jeremy Bronson
E-Marketing Coordinator

Last week, I was able to attend ShowEast, the annual motion picture trade show and convention in Orlando. Since my job deals largely with online marketing and website work, it was great to see what goes into all the other aspects of theatre programming, exhibition technology, and our relationships with the movie studios.

Getting Around
The ballrooms and lobby areas of the Orlando World Center Marriott were converted to host several hundred attendees hungry for new movies. Posters for upcoming pictures lined the hallways and a trade show floor was full of new offerings. Everything from 4k digital projection systems to theatre seats to concession technology was on hand. In fact, we even saw the company that provides our online ticketing software there and we were able to troubleshoot a website issue live from the trade show floor.

We had several meetings with representatives from studios (Sony, Paramount, Fox, etc.) We catch up on what movies they have coming out soon and talk about how we’d like to promote them. For example: Can we get large stands for this movie? Should we bring in a local classic car company to help promote that one? Will we be able to give away a merchandise packs for this one? (Etc.) These were scheduled with just a few people and occasionally involved tasty offerings or dinner meetings.

The convention draws people from all aspects of the movie business, and companies of all sizes. For example, one night we had dinner with a couple who runs a one-screen movie theatre in Canada. Their showtimes never change, so they distribute their upcoming titles on a flyer that local businesses post in the window!Morning Glory

Throughout the day we attended different presentations and panel discussions. The keynote address the first day was about movie piracy.  We learned about how it happens, and new technology that’s being introduced to combat it – like infrared cameras that detect other cameras, take photos of the operator, and automatically send them to the police. The frequency of piracy is always shocking to me, since nothing compares to the immersive experience of seeing a new movie in a full house on the big screen. There was also a panel discussion about independent movie releases.

What would an event like this be without getting to watch some upcoming movies? We saw 9 movies during the week. Each one was introduced by someone from the studio that’s distributing it. They spoke about the release schedule for the movie, as well as the other movies they’re distributing this year that they’re looking forward to. They asked us not to blog, tweet, or post online about any of them, so I won’t say what we saw… however, I can say there are still many great movies coming out this year!

Several of the nights included recognition of valuable members of the movie industry, and featured recognition into the “ShowEast Hall of Fame” for those with particularly valuable contrbutions.

Although my co-workers and I were traveling on business, it didn’t stop Flick from visiting Downtown Disney and getting his picture taken with several Disney characters.

The New!

October 8, 2010 1 comment

By Jeremy Bronson
E-Marketing Coordinator

If you haven’t noticed yet, we just launched our new website this week. You can check it out at! So what went into the design and development of this big project for us?


An early draft of the new home page.


Goals and the Process
Why do people visit our site? What are they looking for when they visit? How can we improve that experience? These were the questions we asked when determining the look, layout, and functionality of a new site. We wanted to provide easier and more prominent access to current features, as well as quicker load times to allow better navigation between pages, titles, and days.

The design process began earlier this year with some sketches of layouts, discussion with managers over functionality needed, and consultation with others on the Marketing team to figure out how this site could reflect our current branding. I mocked up all the designs in Photoshop, created the front-end code and basic jQuery functions, and handed it off to our web developers at Springthrough. After a few weeks of adding content and testing, it was ready for release this week!


Mockup of the menu.


The “Now Playing” dropdown featres the 12 most recent releases. The “locations” menu offers links to all the theatres. Both of these menus are accessible from any page on the site. The home page has a large call-to-action for finding showtimes. Want to see what’s coming soon? We display 4 weeks’ worth of upcoming releases right on the home page.

The artwork gets more focus, too. Larger images are used for movie posters as well as around to let the artwork stand out. Let those multi-million-dollar ad campaigns shine!

Behind the Scenes


Golden Ratio overlays on the home page


Without getting too technical, the technology that runs the site makes it way easier for us at Celebration! too! This means our movie and event information will be more accurate and up to date than ever before. Now, some technical notes from the design & development side:

  • CSS3 techniques were used for drop-shadows, text-shadows, and rounded corners.
  • Sprites were used for the buttons on which roundedness and shading could not be sacrificed.
  • The home page featured image is sized to the golden ratio, as is its relative size to the body copy.
  • Museo is implemented via @font-face in the menu and headers.
  • The jQuery carousel on the home page is powered by the Nivo Slider.
  • The contact forms are powered by Wufoo.
  • The site is powered by Springthrough’s proprietary .NET CMS.

    My handy image creation guide


    And we’re not done yet
    We consider this new site a big step, not a destination. The new website will serve as a platform on which we hope to introduce new and improved functionality. How about Big Screen Movie Club member profiles where you can see all your points and the movies you’ve watched? That’s coming soon! How about a monthly concession coupon – and maybe the ability to purchase concessions online? We’re looking into that too. Same with integrating this blog into the site so it’s not externally hosted. And, an improved social experience with better Facebook integration is in the works as well, so you can easily share and talk about the events we offer.

    See below for some images from the website design process… and stay tuned for more great things at!

    Eclipsing MD: Raising New Hope for Kids

    Emily LoeksBy Emily Loeks
    Director of Education & Community Partnerships

    When most of us think of the word ‘eclipse’, our minds fix on an image of a lunar or solar eclipse, in which light from the sun or moon is blocked out.  With the recent phenomenon of the Twilight films, it’s also possible that some of us think of vampires or werewolves (preferably, with their shirts off…)! The Fehsenfeld Family is hoping for a whole other kind of eclipse, though: the blocking out or cure of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the number one fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during childhood (one in every 3,500 boys), and a disease that affects their son Tyler. Tyler, now 10, was diagnosed with Duchenne MD at age five, and has begun to experience the progressive loss of muscle strength that ultimately begins to impact the function of the heart and lungs.

    The Fehsenfeld family has found hope and encouragement from an organization called ‘Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy’ (PPMD), whose primary focus is research dedicated towards treatment and cure for individuals with Duchenne. Trials are currently being conducted on drugs that show early evidences of being able to trigger the body to create dystrophin, which protects and helps grow new muscle!  With the plan to launch a new local chapter of PPMD called F.A.C.E.S. (Families Advocating, Connecting, Educating and Supporting), Fehsenfelds hatched the idea of a fundraising premiere making use of the vastly popular ‘Twilight:  Eclipse’ movie!

    Setting Up
    This is just the kind of vision that Celebration! Cinema loves to engage with!  We were able to get permission from Summit Entertainment for an early “group show,” and then we all went to work on the creation of an event that would both serve to raise funds and public awareness for this extremely important need.  Months of work (including that of a student committee) went into the preparations:  a simulation of the ‘Cullen House’ was donated and created by Artisan Craft Homes; the GR Public Museum crafted some giant ‘trees’ in the Beacon lobby at Celebration! Cinema; a literal forest of other trees (some potted, and some cut) were donated by local tree nurseries; restaurants (D&W, Coldstone Creamery, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Sweet Cakes by Design, Mad Dog, and others) contributed all varieties of edible delicacies… and the party was off the ground!

    A Successful Fundraiser
    June 29th was a really special night.  Over $130,000 was raised for the launch of F.A.C.E.S.!  Several families of boys with Duchenne MD, including some of the boys (who managed to sit through – and even confess to enjoying ‘Twilight: Eclipse’) were able to be present and share their stories and their hopes.  550 Twilight fans spent an evening being educated and inspired by families and boys who are living lives to the fullest that they can, given the constraints & challenges that they’ve been dealt.  We were all ‘moved’ to hope for a new kind of eclipse:  one in which Duchenne MD doesn’t stand in the way of life, play, work and pursuit of all variety of passions for the children with this disease.

    See below for a photo gallery from this event!

    Emily Loeks is the Director of Community Affairs at Celebration! Cinema

    “The Karate Kid” Contest Winner’s Private Tour

    By Jamie Murray
    Marketing Intern

    Between May 28th and June 10th we held a Karate Kid Contest on our website. The contest was promoted through the Celebration! Cinema Facebook page, Twitter account and e-newsletter. The winner of the contest received a private screening of The Karate Kid for up to 10 people, complimentary concession combos, a backstage tour of the projection booth and VIP Karate Kid Prize Packs that included jackets, t-shirts, chopsticks and more!

    Our lucky winner was Chris Eels from Jenison, MI. Chris brought 10 of his family members to watch the private screening of The Karate Kid. On Monday, June 21 Chris and his family arrived at Celebration! Cinema RiverTown where they were greeted by managers and had their concession orders taken. Each person received a complimentary ‘pick 3’ combo!

    A Private Tour
    After placing their concession orders, the group was taken to the upper level of Celebration! Cinema to take a tour of the projection room. On the tour they saw both working digital projections and 35mm projections that were not being used at the time. The guests were also showed where 35mm films were assembled and got a quick explanation of how it was done. The guests were able to see actual 35mm film reels and even got to hold them to see how heavy they were. They were given an explanation on how the 3D digital projectors work and were able to see the projection of a 3D movie in action. The tour lasted about 15 minutes and then they were escorted down to their theatre to watch the show.

    Once in the theatre, employees had concessions waiting for the guests. They eagerly got their concessions and took their seats to begin enjoying their private screening. Before the lights were dimmed down and the movie began, the guests were handed their prize packs.

    At 7:30 p.m. the movie started playing and the happy guests sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the movie!

    See below for a photo gallery from the evening:

    Jamie Murray is a Summer 2010 Marketing Intern at Celebration! Cinema.

    TV Commercial Shoot at Celebration! Cinema!

    Jennifer GaroneBy Jennifer Garone
    Marketing & Events Specialist

    On Friday, June 4 we asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers if they were interested in 15 seconds of fame. They answered the casting call! On Tuesday, June 8, about 80 of our best fans showed up at Celebration! Cinema North to be extras in 15 second television commercials.

    Getting Paid in Concessions
    As guests checked in on the day of the shoot, they were given a $10 Celebration! Cinema gift card and a coupon for a free combo to use as a later date. The extras were then ushered into the IMAX auditorium where they witnessed the production crew setting up lights and a green screen and working with the paid talent on the initial scenes. Our extras enjoyed their unlimited complimentary pop & fresh popcorn (8:30 a.m. is not too early to enjoy movie treats!) as they watched the Hollywood magic unfold. Answering movie trivia and questions about Celebration! Cinema earned the extras free movie SWAG during down times of the shoot.

    Once the crew had the initial scenes for the IMAX commercial in the can, the extras piled into the seats surrounding the hired talent and filled the role of “movie theatre audience”. The group was packed with naturals and it only took a few takes of “act scared!”, “act excited!”, “act like something is hilarious!” before the director called, “that’s a wrap!”

    Flick the Movie KidCommercial #2
    The crew then moved to a digital auditorium and we brought in a new batch of extras for to film a scene for the second commercial, which will be a generic ad for Celebration! Cinema. After following the same format as we did for the first commercial (SWAG give-aways during downtime, instructions to “act sad! Act happy! Act scared!”) the extras were genuinely thanked for their participation. Within minutes of being dismissed, the extras began tweeting and posting Facebook messages raving about their fabulous experience.

    Green screens and vikings
    We needed more space to shoot three of the scenes for the second commercial, so after the shooting in the digital auditorium was complete, the crew made the move to the theatre lobby. Unsuspecting theatre patrons stopped before and after their movies to watch our hired talent acting in a variety of costumes. (It proved highly entertaining to see an actor in full chain mail, wielding a sword and shield and screaming like a Viking in the middle of a theatre lobby, particularly since the scenes were shot in front of a green screen, which means the background will be added during the editing process.)

    After a 10 hour day, the filming was done. It was a very exciting process and I’m glad that so many of our fans were able to be a part of it. We expect to have the final commercials within a few weeks, and in addition to airing on television, we’ll post them to our Facebook page.

    Thank you to all of our fans who answered our casting call!

    Jennifer Garone is the Marketing & Events Specialist at Celebration! Cinema

    Transitioning to Digital IMAX at Celebration! Cinema Lansing

    By Bob Brown
    Chief Projectionist

    Digital IMAX Transition at Celebration! Cinema LansingIn early May, the Celebration! Cinema Lansing IMAX theatre switched from the traditional film-based projection format to the latest IMAX digital format.   The transformation took about two weeks to complete.  All of the old equipment had to be removed; new projection port windows installed and new sub speakers had to be set.

    The main reason behind this transition is to better serve our Lansing guest in assuring that Lansing will be showing the latest IMAX releases.  In December, Lansing was not able to receive a film print of AVATAR.  This situation made it clear to J.D. Loeks, President of Loeks Theatres, Inc. that a change needed to be made.

    About the New Technology
    The Digital IMAX system is based on using two 2k Christie digital projectors.  IMAX has “souped up” these projectors with their proprietary image enhancing real-time monitoring system.  This system relies on a camera that monitors the screen at all times and makes any necessary corrections to the image that you see on the screen, assuring that the show is always the best it can be.

    Along with the new projectors, we upgraded the sound system by installing new amps, upgrading the current speakers with new crossovers to better reproduce the sound, and installed 16 new sub speakers.  After the speakers where upgraded, a sound engineer from IMAX “re-tuned” the speakers to the auditorium to ensure the absolute best sound reproduction for our guests.

    What about the old projectors?
    During the installation, the old projectors were taken out. However, during the install installation in 2003, these projectors were dropped in the booth through the ceiling using a huge crane.  We thought that we could remove these projectors, which weigh 1500 pounds using a furniture mover and lots and lots of manpower.  After some struggles, we managed to get them down from the booth and transported them to Grand Rapids where they will be used for training, a source of parts, and other uses.

    See below for a gallery of some of the pictures we took during the upgrade:

    Bob Brown is the chief projectionist and a certified IMAX SPP Technician at Celebration! Cinema.

    Old White Guy Meets 50 Cent

    Ron Van TimmerenBy Ron VanTimmeren
    Vice President, Programming

    50 Cent at Celebration! CinemaI have teenage children but that’s about as close as I’ve ever gotten to 50 Cent… until Tuesday night (5/11/2010).  That’s when I came face to face with the man, the myth, the legend who, in his movie roles, is credited as Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.  What a cool guy.

    50 was at Celebration! Cinema North to support his movie Caught in the Crossfire along with Producer Randall Emmett and Writer/Director Brian Miller.  Curtis, Randall and Brian all spoke before and after the movie and they were sincerely thankful for the audience support, the City of Grand Rapids support and the support of the West Michigan Film Office and the Michigan Film Commission. As a result of the generosity of the filmmakers, the star and the guests, we were able to raise $7,690.00 for the West Michigan Film Office!  Rick Hert and his “crew” there are doing a wonderful job facilitating the development of show biz and show biz jobs here in West Michigan.  We all want to keep the Michigan Tax Incentive for movie-making going!

    Curtis looked great.  He has been on some kind of movie-star-loosing-weight-for-a-role diet, so he seems trim compared to older pictures I have seen of him.  He’s an attractive guy who knows how to put together the jeans and tan shirt & boots look.  He has a killer smile and charm… “I want to get my Obama on”, he says about meeting and greeting guests and the media.  He likes filming in Grand Rapids because “It’s quiet for me.  And it was easy for me to concentrate”.  Jackson and Director Brian Miller (who is from Grand Rapids) joked about 50 staying at Miller’s parent’s house, about 50 being shot in real life, about police officers and real life criminals – all in good fun.

    Caught in the Crossfire – as the title implies – is a “crackerjack” action/suspense/cops and robbers thriller and will be distributed by Lionsgate Home Video (direct to DVD).  Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has a several movies in various stages of production and post-production… 17 total movies he has been part of according to  We hope he’ll come back again sometime.

    Caught in the CrossfireWhen I asked him what he would like from the concession stand, he replied, “Sprite”.  Yes, Sierra Mist was OK.

    View a photo gallery from the Caught in the Crossfire premiere at Celebration! Cinema.