Barco Escape has suspended operations effective immediately, Digital Cinema Report has learned exclusively. Barco Escape was installed in thirty-one theatres around the world and there were several studios ready to commit to projects when the decision was made.
Barco has been streamlining operations of late and was looking for a content services provider partner to supervise productions in the Barco Escape format. Todd Hoddick, CEO of Barco Escape Barco, said negotiations with one internationally known company were underway and, although they were close to completing a deal, in the end none could be reached.
Barco unveiled Barco Escape at CinemaCon 2014 to some acclaim but at that time the concept was essentially a blank canvas. The concept became much more fully realized when Barco Escape was introduced to audiences in September 2015 when it featured select scenes from director Wes Ball and 20th Century Fox’s hit film The Maze Runner in the format.
Barco Escape received Digital Cinema Report’s Catalyst Award for innovative technology introduced at CinemaCon 2015.
That same year a special performance event with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga was the first film to be shot natively for Barco Escape. The highlight, perhaps, for Barco Escape was the 2016 release in the format of Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek Beyond.
I spoke exclusively with Hoddick about the decision to end Barco Escape. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
Digital Cinema Report: The decision to shut down Barco Escape must have been a difficult one, especially for you personally. What factors led to this decision?
Todd Hoddick: As a technology provider, Barco needed a strategic partner to bring content services enabling the business to achieve scale. While Barco can provide best in class technology and manufacturing, content production isn’t a core competency.
Barco identified a great strategic partner in the content services sector, but that partner wasn’t able to move as quickly as we needed when entering a new marketplace.
Without a steady and reliable pipeline of Escape content, we felt that ending the Escape business was the right and fairest thing to do for our customers.
DCR: How did the market respond to the Barco Escape format?
TH: Thanks to exceptional audience reactions and strong box office results, the response from the industry, exhibitors and studios was very positive.
DCR: What was the highlight of Barco Escape for you personally?
TH: For me, the highlight was when I was able to watch audience reactions in cinemas around the world. It was always special to see audiences as they experienced something new, compelling and exciting in the cinema.
DCR: What steps are you taking with your studio and exhibition partners to phase out Barco Escape?
TH: The Escape management team and I are reaching out to all of our customers to find the best way to wind down the Escape business for each exhibitor.
DCR: What does this move say about Barco’s commitment to the motion picture business?
TH: Barco remains deeply focused on its core cinema business. Barco’s newly formed cinema joint venture will drive products and services for the cinema market, including continued cinema innovations designed to differentiate the cinema experience and increase value for exhibitors.
DCR: If you care to respond, what’s next for Todd Hoddick?
TH: My first priority just now is to take care of our customers, and the team that supported the business for the last 5 years. Once I know my customers and my team are well positioned, I’ll find a quiet beach and look at my personal options.