The ultra-big screen experience arrived in Johannesburg this week with the opening of the city’s first IMAX theatre, courtesy of the new Terminator movie
The IMAX experience came to Johannesburg this week, as Ster-Kinekor officially opened the doors of its fifth IMAX theatre in South Africa, and the first for the Johannesburg area, at its cinema complex at Cradlestone Mall, west of the city.
The venue opened for the premiere of the much-anticipated Terminator: Genisys in IMAX 3D.
The opening of this IMAX theatre follows the success of The IMAX Experience at four other Ster-Kinekor sites that have opened during the past year and a half. These include Gateway in Durban, The Grove Mall in Pretoria, Cape Gate in Cape Town, and Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth that opened in mid-June.
One of the cinemas at Cradlestone Mall has been transformed to accommodate the impressive floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall IMAX screen and superior acoustical treatment. The design of the auditorium and the seating layout ensures a thrilling IMAX experience at every screening, while the cutting-edge, dual-projection system delivers crystal-clear images. Coupled with its customised theatre design and powerful digital sound system, IMAX creates a unique cinema environment that makes audiences feel as if they are in the film.
Ster-Kinekor and IMAX have confirmed that the sixth theatre will be installed at the completely revamped Ster-Kinekor site at Eastgate shopping mall, which is scheduled to open towards the end of October this year. This latest deal brings Ster-Kinekor’s IMAX commitment to six theatres in under two years.
Says John Sikiotis, Managing Executive of Ster-Kinekor Theatres: “We believe this new cinema will prove as popular with local cinema audiences as our other four IMAX theatres have been. We have no doubt that when our new Eastgate cinema complex opens later this year, movie lovers will also flock in their droves to the IMAX theatre there.”
Representing IMAX at the Cradlestone Mall opening was Giovanni Dolci, VP Theatre Development: EMEA at IMAX Corporation, who said: “It is wonderful to be back in South Africa again, and so soon after the successful launches of the other four IMAX theatres. We are impressed with the success of these sites since they started trading, and look forward to this new theatre achieving equally positive results.
“We entered into the initial partnership with Ster-Kinekor at the end of 2013, in the belief that it would not only raise our visibility in South Africa, but also set the stage for mutual growth opportunities in the region. It is encouraging to see that this is bearing fruit, with this theatre here at Cradlestone opening just a few weeks after Baywest, and a few months after Cape Gate.
“It is clear there is a growing appetite for films in the immersive IMAX format here in South Africa, and we look forward to working together with Ster-Kinekor to further entrench the IMAX brand in the local market,” commented Dolci.
Sikiotis added: “The IMAX Experience takes viewing a film to the next level. With blockbuster titles such as Marvel’s Ant-Man (31 July), Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (07 August) and Everest (18 September) scheduled for IMAX release in the next few months, we are looking forward to giving our audiences even ‘greater moments’ on the big IMAX screen.”
Netflix to make SA series
The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.
World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.
The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.
The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.
South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.
“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.
“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.
The series is due to start production in 2019.
Showmax shoots its first local drama
Showmax has completed filming its first commissioned drama, as it builds out its roster of original content.
The Girl From St Agnes, Showmax’s first original drama, wrapped on 28 November 2018 after filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Johannesburg. The eight-part whodunnit premieres on Showmax on 31 January 2019. It is the second series in a programme designed to build out its roster of exclusive, original content.
As Netflix takes hold as South Africa’s preferred streaming video-on-demand service, Showmax owner MultiChoice has made a string of strategic announcements designed to take the DStv paid satellite broadcasting service into the streaming era. Original content is critical to this strategy, as Netflix is on track to become the world’s biggest movie studio.
Showmax is available in 70 countries.
“Our first Original – last year’s light-hearted comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary – had the most successful launch day of any series on Showmax ever,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “This is a complete change of direction: The Girl From St Agnes is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing and taps into the current conversations in South Africa about #metoo and teen sexuality.”
At St Agnes, a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands, a popular and beautiful student is found dead at the base of the old mill. Fearful of the scandal it might cause, the school is quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld a tragic accident.
But drama teacher Kate Ballard doesn’t believe it. On the night of her death, an upset Lexi had been trying to contact her, and Kate had ignored her. Now wracked with guilt, Kate attempts to piece together the terrible truth.
The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn’t know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi’s killer won’t be the only person exposed…
Newcomer Jane De Wet was handpicked to play Lexi by legendary South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee (Tsotsi), who’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards in the last three years, for The Looming Tower and Roots.
Kate is played by Nina Milner, who modelled for Vogue Germany and at Paris Fashion Week last year and most recently starred in Troy: Fall Of A City as Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.
Jane and Nina are joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes internationally recognised South African talent like Robert Hobbs (District9), Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live), Tessa Jubber (Wallander), Karl Thaning (Dredd) and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City) opposite local favourites like Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word), Zakeeya Patel (High Rollers), Graham Hopkins (The Lab) and three-time South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) winner Jerry Mofokeng (Heist, Tsotsi), not to mention hot new talent like Paige Bonnin and Tristan de Beer.
The Girl From St Agnes is being produced by Quizzical Pictures, winners of the SAFTA for Best Drama for six of the last eight years, as well as a Peabody. Producer Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures’ managing director, is drawing on her own private school experiences, which sparked the original idea for the show. This is the first time Harriet has produced a series, rather than just executive producing, since 2009’s Hopeville, which won Best Drama and Miniseries at Rose d’Or, was nominated for an International Emmy, and was a finalist at Monte Carlo.
Catharine Cooke, who won this year’s Best Director In a TV Drama SAFTA for iNumber Number, co-directed the shoot with Cindy Lee, a commercials director helming her first drama series, having previously worked as the social media director on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror. Double SAFTA winner Gillian Breslin (Umlilo; 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) is head writer. This makes Girl From St Agnes a rare TV series commissioned, produced, written and directed by women.
“What links Girl From St Agnes, Tali’s Wedding Diary and the other Showmax Originals in the pipeline is our aim to work with the best South African talent and be the home for brave, quirky and at times edgy local stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” says Candice. “Creating new characters that audiences come to love and follow is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to establish a platform for more ‘Tali’s’ across varied genres.”
All eight episodes can be binged on Showmax from 31 January 2019.