The Star Cinema Grill in Richmond, Texas, a Houston suburb, made history in June when it installed the largest Samsung Onyx LED Cinema Screen in North America. Now that a few weeks have passed, I wanted to get a sense of how the screen was working, how moviegoers were responding to it and, also, to learn more about the challenges that went into installing such new technology. To do that I spoke with several of the key players involved in the selection, purchase, installation and operation of the Onyx screen.
The Big Picture
As is widely known, Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology debuted in June 2012 with the release of Disney-Pixar’s hit film Brave. Two years later Dolby introduced its premium large format theatre concept Dolby Cinema, which incorporates Dolby Atmos sound with Dolby Vision high dynamic range images, luxury seating and other custom design features. This month, another Disney-Pixar movie, Toy Story 4, opened in Dolby Cinemas across the globe, one of several high profile films set for release this year. I recently spoke with Dolby’s Michael Archer, vice president, worldwide cinema sales, and Jed Harmsen, vice president, cinema and content solutions about the Dolby Atmos experience and where the technology goes from here.
Am I alone in thinking that filmmakers and exhibitors have embraced the digital cinema transition with more enthusiasm, creativity and intelligence than the Hollywood studios? Given that Hollywood started the drive to digital, that would be incredibly ironic. I ask this because, last week in Vanity Fair, Nicole Sperling wrote a fascinating article about the current debate apparently raging in Hollywood over the question: what is a movie? But the article raised a different question for me: in the second decade of the digital cinema era, what is a movie theatre?
In the global business of motion picture exhibition the importance of the Digital Cinema Initiative can’t be overstated. It’s entirely possible that the digital cinema transition would not have happened without DCI. What was true more than a decade ago is true today: technology that doesn’t get its seal of approval can’t be used to distribute or show a Hollywood movie. But times have changed and so have the demands of the marketplace. Fifteen years ago, it made perfect sense to have the DCI – a de facto arm of the major Hollywood studios – dictate what technology was favored over another because the studios were funding the transition. However, as the virtual print fee agreements fade into history, manufacturers and exhibitors are on their own financially. Which leaves us with this: everyone agrees that cinema standards are important. The question, in 2019 is, who gets to decide?
On Saturday night at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored PIX with a Technical Achievement Award. The award recognized Eric Dachs, founder and CEO; Erik Bielefeldt, director of research and development; Craig Wood, technical director; and Paul McReynolds for the design and development of the industry leading security mechanism for distributing media. Prior to the awards ceremony, Digital Cinema Report spoke exclusively with Bielefeldt and Wood to talk about the company’s continued innovation in the evolving world of content collaboration from film to digital to next-generation data rich requirements.
The final roster of speakers has been set for the first Digital Cinema Summit. These top digital cinema technology authorities from around the world will address a range of issues facing professionals in all phases of the motion picture industry. The half-day event takes place February 6 at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam the Netherlands. Nick Dager, Editor & Publisher of Digital Cinema Report created the Summit in conjunction with Integrated Systems Europe. The theme is Transforming the Moviegoing Experience; its purpose is to give digital cinema technology center stage.
The first speakers have been confirmed for the Digital Cinema Summit scheduled for February 6, 2019 at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam the Netherlands. Created by Digital Cinema Report in conjunction with Integrated Systems Europe, the theme of the half-day event is Transforming the Moviegoing Experience.
The first Digital Cinema Summit, presented by Digital Cinema Report in conjunction with Integrated Systems Europe, will be held February 6, 2019 at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam the Netherlands. The half-day event will highlight how advances in digital cinema technology are transforming the entire moviegoing experience. It will feature top digital cinema technology authorities from around the world addressing a range of issues facing professionals in all phases of the motion picture industry. The purpose of the event is to give digital cinema technology center stage.
Technology fails. Anyone reading this article knows that even better than I do. That’s been a fact of life in the motion picture business from the earliest days. Film jammed in cameras and projectors, light bulbs burned out unexpectedly, and sound systems malfunctioned for no apparent reason. In each case, the people involved addressed the problem and moved on. Thankfully, technology today is more robust and reliable than ever before and when something goes wrong it’s often easier to fix than ever before. But technology isn’t always the issue. Increasingly in today’s competitive entertainment environment, the important issue is customer relations.
Each year, Digital Cinema Report presents the Catalyst Award to the best new technology introduced at CinemaCon, the annual convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners. At this year’s show, held April 23-26 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, people from more than seventy countries gathered to discuss the latest issues, trends and technologies in motion picture distribution and exhibition. One technology trend stood out. For many reasons, until now, event cinema has been an exhibition afterthought. That changed this year. This year three of the seven Catalyst Award winners were specifically designed to facilitate event cinema. Event cinema is on the rise.