This past February, DTS and CJ 4DPlex announced a strategic alliance to bring DTS:X immersive audio technology to ScreenX theatres worldwide. What the companies didn’t announce at the time was that their first joint project together was already up and running in Liberty, Kansas. B&B Theatres brands their premium large format offerings as Grand Screens, which counts as typical Midwestern understatement because, at four stories tall and seven stories wide, the new B&B Theatres Liberty 12 currently features the largest ScreenX auditorium in the world.
When the DTS-CJ 4DPlex alliance was announced, Bill Neighbors, senior vice president and general manager, cinema, home, digital media and streaming solutions, at DTS parent company Xperi said, “DTS:X immersive audio technology complements CJ 4DPlex’s ScreenX immersive visual presentation, offering an amazing end-to-end product for exhibitors. Additionally, our global presence brings additional resources that will help grow our combined offering in 2019. I am confident that moviegoers will love the experience.”
Brock Bagby, executive vice president, of family-owned and operated B&B Theatres, would be the first to agree with that statement. He said that since the new theatre opened last July people have driven from as far as one hundred miles away to enjoy the experience. Bagby said a typical customer response has been “Absolutely fantastic.”
To date, customers have not been dissuaded by the extra eight dollars that B&B charges for ScreenX; in its first nine months the theatre has received only one complaint about the higher ticket price. Part of that success, is undoubtedly, the uniqueness of the experience. B&B has the only ScreenX theatre in the state of Kansas and when it opened last July it was the only one in the United States. (At last count there are now four.)
At 56,000 square feet and with twelve auditoriums, Bagby said this is the largest theatre B&B, the nation’s seventh largest theatre chain, has ever built from the ground up. Talking with Bagby, it soon becomes clear that the new theatre was a labor of love. Reflected in that is the fact that the theater’s Lyric auditorium is a tribute to B&B’s first theater, built in Salisbury, Missouri in 1924. The wall sconces outside came from that theatre.
All of the auditoriums feature heated electric leather recliners and moviegoers can bring in food and drinks from the full-service jazz restaurant. The complex also features an MX4D theatre from Mediamation.
In Grand Screen 1, the ScreenX format envelopes moviegoers inside a 270-degree panorama of screens. In all, said Bagby, there are more than 250 feet of screen.
“Since this was a new build we were able to accomplish a lot more,” said Bagby. He believes that adding ScreenX as a retrofit would have been much more difficult. “We fit the room around the screen.” As an example, because this was a new build there are no exit signs on the sidewalls to interfere with the ScreenX images. There are speakers on the sidewalls, which B&B is in the process of changing but he said so far no patrons have complained about them. It seems that once the movie starts, people just don’t notice the speakers.
Grand Screen 2 is identical to Grand Screen 1, except that it does not have ScreenX. But Bagby said it was designed with ScreenX in mind, should B&B decide to add a second theatre in the at Liberty 12. There is a four-dollar upcharge for Grand Screen 2.
Once the decision was made to install ScreenX, Bagby said the company focused on the technology to support it. “We did tons of work” assessing all the available sound options before building the new theatre. Bagby says he and his team chose DTS:X because it was “the most modular option available and could work in all types of rooms. We’re very happy.”
There are two Christie Digital Cinema projectors for the main Harkness screen and five Christie projectors for each sidewall. The rest of the technology in B&B’s Grand Screen concept includes:
GDC SX4000 server with DTS:X rendering
QSC Qsys Core 510C audio processor with DTS:X rendering
JBL 9320 4732T screen speakers
JBL 9310 side and rear surround speakers
JBL 5628overhead height speakers
Crown CDi 4|1200amplifiers
Crown DSi 2000amplifiers
Crown DSi 6000amplifiers
Sonic Equipment Company served as system integrators on the project.
Bagby said B&B currently has eleven DTS:X auditoriums and that there are at least seven more in the planning stages. As for ScreenX, he said, “We have a second one coming,” although he didn’t want to announce where it is as yet. Several more ScreenX theatres are also in the works.
CJ 4DPlex www.cj4dx.com