Founded in 1999 by Dr. Man-Nang Chong and headquartered in Hong Kong, GDC Technology Limited is a leading global digital cinema technology company with a long history of first to market innovations. GDC claims the largest installed base of media servers and theatre management systems in the Asia-Pacific region and the second largest globally. Twenty-five of the world’s top 30 exhibition companies depend on one or more GDC products to continually enhance the moviegoing experience, increase efficiency and reduce operational costs, the company says. GDC holds 34 patents globally, including in the USA and China. Despite the pandemic, the last eighteen months have been busy ones for GDC. Early in 2021, the company received the prestigious Red Dot award for the design of its Espedeo Supra-5000 RGB Plus Laser Phosphor Cinema Projector. That was followed up last August with GDC receiving the International Cinema Technology Association Teddy Award for Manufacturer of the Year. And, closing out the year, in December the Cinema Technology Community named the Espedeo Supra-5000 the Best New Auditorium Technology of the Year. I recently spoke with GDC’s senior vice president Tony Adamson about a wide range of topics, including those awards. Here is our conversation.
Digital Cinema Report: What do awards mean to GDC?
Tony Adamson: At GDC, we are proud of the numerous business and product awards. Similar to box office sales or “number of hamburgers” served, GDC views awards as an example of credibility that comes with several benefits. We take great pride in winning awards from credible third parties and firmly believe awards have been one reason for solidifying our reputation as a trustworthy brand that delivers. Another benefit is everyone on our team feels better when we receive a prestigious award. They appreciate being recognized for their hard work. At the end of the day, aren’t all companies – whether on the buy-side or sell-side – seeking leadership in their industry? An industry award allows GDC to differentiate itself from our competition and showcases our leadership. It is also an encouragement for us to keep innovating digital cinema solutions to exceed the ever-changing cinema trends.
DCR: In August 2021 GDC featured a mini theatre at CinemaCon 2021. Tell us about your mini-theatre concept and how it could benefit exhibitors.
TA: It’s no secret that GDC is a huge believer in the boutique cinema concept. Although it is extremely popular in Asia and Europe, the emerging trend is picking up steam in the US due to the pandemic. Today, many moviegoers prefer watching a movie in a small intimate auditorium with the same sight and sound instead of a large auditorium with a big crowd. This has led to moviegoers renting an auditorium for private screening. One of the mini-theatres benefits is to offer a smaller crowd with luxurious seats. Also, given the retail store closures, it offers the potential opportunity for exhibitors to turn the unused retail space into luxurious boutique cinemas. When a mini-theatre can support cinema-on-demand, moviegoers can choose what and which movie they want to watch. Recently, a Taiwan exhibitor, Century Asia, has built a complex with 16 luxurious VIP auditoriums that are all powered by Supra-5000 projection system; the 16-plex cinema offers the largest number of movie titles in Taiwan.
DCR: The Supra-5000 and the mini-theatre concept seem to be part of a bigger strategy. Is that the case?
TA: Yes. In today’s ever-changing cinema industry, it’s important to have a long-term strategy. GDC would like to contribute to the cinema industry by offering a Cinema Package which includes the Supra-5000 cinema projector for exhibitors to build mini theatres. An exhibitor can take advantage of a Cinema Package which leases the DCI-certified cinema projection system built with professional cinema audio processor, and other professional audio equipment. Exhibitor can benefit from the Cinema Package by having a fixed monthly expense fee, and hence there will be no CAPEX for all the audio-visual equipment. Within the contracted period, the exhibitor has the option to receive operation service such as show scheduling and programming, and maintenance service. Our Cinema Package is a one-stop solution comprising all the needed audio-visual equipment, operation, and maintenance services.
DCR: Another part of your CinemaCon exhibit was the GoGoCinema platform, which you first introduced in 2018. As with many ventures, the pandemic must surely have impacted that. What is the latest with GoGoCinema?
TA: We successfully launched GoGoCinema in Singapore and Shanghai in November 2019, which was impacted by the pandemic. However, we learned a lot from the launch and have spent the last year improving the platform. We recently launched GoGoCinema in the US with B&B Theatres, which has been extremely involved with suggesting further enhancements. Our plans include to add additional circuits in the first half of 2022.
DCR: In September 2021 GDC unveiled two built-in audio processing features of the SR-1000 integrated media block, which give users the option to bring immersive audio to their screens with an upgrade to 16-channel DTS:X immersive sound. Then, earlier this month, you announced the option to upgrade the GDC SX-4000 Standalone Integrated Media Block to DTS:X supporting the SMPTE immersive audio bitstream standard ST 2098-2. Clearly, GDC sees the importance of immersive sound in movie theatres. Talk about that and about your relationship with DTS and the value it brings to your company.
TA: GDC is proud to be associated with DTS. DTS is one of the leading companies dedicated to superior multi-channel audio technology. The DTS:X immersive sound technology is widely used in cinema and various consumer platforms. We are pleased to be a close partner with DTS and work together to deliver cinematic surround sound for a 360° audio experience to moviegoers worldwide. GDC’s IMB solutions including SX-4000 and SR-1000 become even more competitive and comprehensive by offering an upgrade option of DTS:X immersive audio solution with IAB support. With SMPTE’s ST 2098-2 immersive audio bitstream, it is now possible to mix and deliver more immersive content to DTS:X screens. GDC's support of IAB upgrades for theatres with DTS:X sound represents the ongoing commitment of GDC and DTS to DTS:X theatres worldwide. We also now improve our offering with 24-channel DTS:X decoder integrated with SR-1000 media server. GDC has been working hard to provide a better price-performance immersive audio solution.
DCR: In October 2021 GDC made two other announcements specifically related to the Supra-5000 projector. First you signed a non-exclusive reseller agreement for Cinemeccanica to market and sell and service the projector to its partners and customers across Europe. That was followed by the announcement that Ecco Cine Supply and Service will sell, market and service the projector to the German theatre market and beyond. Ecco recently installed a Supra-5000 in the iconic Cinecitta Nürnberg. Partnerships like these and the one with DTS seem to be an important part of GDC’s ongoing strategy. Is that the case and are you open to other similar business relationships?
TA: Yes, business relationships are vitally important to GDC. We work with hundreds of dealers around the globe that understand the importance of the highest quality installation and service level demanded by today’s exhibitors. Our success over the years is built on a strategy of delivering innovative products and building business relationships. Supra-5000 is a unique product specifically designed for the mini-theatre market. The product requires a progressive and hugely experienced partner with years of expertise in the cinema industry. You can expect more announcements in the future with respect to business relationships formed to keep up with the growing mini/micro/boutique cinema market.
DCR: Finally, what can we expect next from GDC?
TA: GDC is best known in the industry for its commitment to improving the moviegoing experience with innovations. Since our inception, we’ve been able to surprise the industry by keeping our innovations under wrap until the product or solution is ready to launch. We’ll introduce our latest products at CinemaCon in April 2022.