Tag Archives: Christie

Christie’s New Projector Is Portent of Battle Ahead

What do you do once the majority of multiplex screens around the world are converted to digital? You mop up the remaining screens and look for new markets. That’s what we can read between the lines from the launch of the new Christie Solaria One projector at ShowEast. The projector, which is based on Texas Instrument’s new S2K DLP Cinema® chipset, 8K to 10K lumens output. While no price is given, it is expected to retail for as much as $10,000 less than Christie’s current cheapest projector. Similar projectors are coming from Barco, while Sony has already announced its cheaper entry into their market space (see previous post).

This is part of a deliberate and concerted strategy to maximise the market uptake reflecting the reality of global digital cinema penetration. With global uptake standing at just over two-thirds, with countries like Norway and Holland already having 100 per cent conversion, the question is which type of territories and cinemas remain. The brutal truth is that this 66-67 per cent represents 85-90 per cent of box office revenue generating screens. There is thus little financial incentive for converting the remaining screens and less money and almost no VPF schemes to do so. So the OEMs are launching products to mop up this last market, which faces it’s digital-or-die moment in the next 12 months.

While it is the most advanced multiplex chain of its continent, it is nevertheless telling who the client flagged in the press release is:

Ster-Kinekor Theatres, the largest cinema exhibitor in South Africa, will be first recipient of the solution, having ordered 198 projectors from the Christie Solaria One line. Ster-Kinekor Theatres CEO Fiaz Mahomed commented, “The Christie Solaria One projectors offer superb quality with a heightened viewing experience for movie lovers. These projectors are perfectly suited for smaller screens and are very cost-effective.”

What will be perhaps more interesting to see is how these new projectors filter through to new types of screening venues. not just Steven Spielberg’s home cinema, but growing mixed-use venues and bijou cinemas become possible with smaller and more affordable projectors. This will inevitably have an effect on booking patterns of film and other content. As the industry approaches the end of its one-for-one analogue-to-digital swap outs, the door to new and exiting digital cinemaa opportunities open.

Japanese Earthquake May Not Impact The D-Cinema Supply Chain

Texas Instruments DLP

Shortly after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan on March 11th numerous rumors and speculation have swirled around the exhibition industry over its impact on the availability of digital cinema equipment. In part, this was spurred on by Texas Instruments reporting that their manufacturing plant in Miho, Japan, about 40 miles northeast of Tokyo, “suffered substantial damage” during the quake.

Because third of the output at TI’s Miho plant is dedicated to DLP production. The DLP chip is one of the most important parts in digital cinema projectors manufactured by Barco, Christie and NEC, so it was initially thought that the industry would once again face a shortage of equipment. However, since then both Barco and Christie have publicly said they have enough inventory on hand to meet demand for months, if not a year, into the future.

As the number of emails coming in to Celluloid Junkie with questions about the issue increased to more than two dozen, I felt it appropriate to give TI a call for an update. What I learned was that, most importantly, all of TI’s personnel are safe and unharmed. The company’s fabs in both Miho and Aizu-Wakamtsu (about 150 miles north of Tokyo) were damaged in the earthquake. At Miho, the building withstood the earthquake, though the manufacturing equipment inside was damaged as it got tossed around with all of the shaking.

By the end of March repairs at Miho were finished on the facility’s infrastructure systems that deliver water, gases, chemicals and air. Most significantly, the fabs cleanroom was recertified. At the time, 90 percent of the plant’s equipment had passed electrical tests.

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Christie Takes 3D To The End Of The World

Packewaia Cinema Large.jpg

Cine Packewaia in Ushuaia, Argentina

Quick, tell me what is the southernmost location in the world where you can see a movie in digital 3D? Silly question I know, but it’s thanks to Christie, the projector company, that I can even ask it.

The company sent out a press release yesterday announcing their digital cinema projectors had been chosen by The Packewaia Cinema (Cine Packewaia) in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on earth. The city of 65,000 rose out of a former naval facility only ten years ago and is now the capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, otherwise known to English speakers as the “Land of Fire”.

The Packewaia Cinema is run by Gama Producciones and appears to have only one screen, which is now not only equipped with a Christie projector, but also Dolby 3D.

The release was filled with gems such as this from Craig Sholder, Christie’s vice president of Entertainment Solutions:

“It seems appropriate that ‘the land of fire’ has embraced the ‘hottest’ trend in the industry: 3D digital cinema.”

Probably the most interesting information contained in the announcement was the unique way Xenon Cinema Technology had to install the projector. Not all films are released digitally in Argentina, in fact it can sometimes take weeks before a film print makes its way as far south as Packewaia, so the 35mm projector couldn’t be completely abandoned.

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Christie Gets DCI Compliance And New Manufacturing Faciltiy

Christie's CP2220

Christie's CP2220

It’s been a busy week for Christie. The company’s CP2220 was the first series 2 digital cinema projector to pass the Compliance Test Plan (CTP) put in place by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) to gauge whether equipment meets their published specification. As well, they announced the opening of a new manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China.

While many d-cinema equipment manufacturers claim their products are DCI compliant, it wasn’t until October of 2007 that a testing process was made public and testing entities were selected. Christie can now officially say the CP2220 is DCI compliant, having fully passed all tests that make up the CTP, including procedural and design reviews. Because Sony says the SRXR320 is compliant on their website I’m not sure if it’s the first digital cinema projector to pass the CTP, or just the first series 2 projector to pass it.

In the press release announcing the test results, John Hurst of CineCert, one of DCI’s icensed testing entities, said:

“We are very pleased to confirm that the Christie CP2220, featuring Texas Instruments’ Series 2 DLP Cinema technology, has passed all the requirements of the CTP.”

Passing the CTP is a huge milestone for a d-cinema technology vendor as it is the only way for equipment to become DCI compliant. Hollywood studios require all equipment playing their content to be DCI compliant. In making sure a piece of equipment meets all of the DCI specifications, one of the CTP’s main goals is to verify a device’s interoperability and content security features.

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Panavision Heads Into Theatres With Hybrid 3D System

Panavision Logo.jpg

When one thinks of Panavision, what immediately comes to mind is all of the motion picture camera systems they have manufactured since the mid-1950s, ubiquitous on the sets of countless hit movies and television shows. The thought of 3D, be it digital or on 35mm, is probably the last thing any industry professional would ever associate with Panavision. Well, that’s all about to change and I’ll explain why.

On Friday of last week, the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF) was kind enough to let me tag along on their annual pre-ShoWest industry tour through Los Angeles. When we arrived at Panavision I was a little baffled why a group of exhibitors and digital cinema manufacturers would want to visit a company better known for what happens on a movie set rather than a movie theatre. After a quick tour of their Woodland Hills, California facility, the group was ushered into a screening room and it became immediately obvious why were there.

We were greeted by John Galt, Panavision’s Senior Vice President of Advanced Digital Imaging, who gave us a very brief PowerPoint presentation on a project he’d been working on since the middle of 2008. Turns out while the media was busy hounding Panavision with stories about how labor strikes and production slowdowns had adversely affected the company, they have quietly been working on a 3D system for both film and digital projection. That would explain the reusable 3D glasses we were handed.

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Christie Releases Digital Cinema Trailer

Surfing around the Internet last week I stumbled across a promotional trailer for Christie, the motion picture projector manufacturer. The new trailer (see below) can be found on Christie Digital’s YouTube channel. To date, it has been viewed 280 times since it was uploaded on January 14th. The trailer is 25 seconds long and promotes Christie’s line of digital cinema projectors powered by DLP chips. It seems 3D content was taken into consideration during its production.

With the conversion to digital the number of equipment manufacturers that can be found in any given projection booth has potentially doubled. This could potentially lead to at least two minutes worth of preshow for d-cinema vendors, promoting servers, projectors and 3D technology. This isn’t even taking into account satellite content delivery providers, integrators or theatre management system developers. And I’m sure I’m leaving someone important out.

Have a look at Chrisitie’s new trailer and let us know what you think.

YouTube Preview Image

TI’s 4K Announcement Causes Waves – Wither 2K Now?

The announcement on Celluloid Junkie that Texas Instruments is developing 4K projector solutions is causing waves throughout the industry. The story was picked up by both THR.com (DLP making the jump to 4K) and Variety (TI leaping into 4K fray), which despite their headline both acknowledge that TI was effectively forced into this situation by the Sony tie up with Regal and AMC.Perhaps the best other coverage came from Eric Taub in the New York Times:

TI has always said that 2K is good enough, with tests showing that consumers can’t see the difference.

TI has been against 4K, until they were for it. On Thursday, the company announced that it would now market 4K technology, which will be incorporated into their next-generation projector technology to be manufactured by a variety of partners.

The company will continue to sell 2K projectors to the majority of its customers, according to Nancy Fares, business manager for TI’s DLP Cinema Products Group.

Ms. Fares said that this is not a case of TI trying to play catchup to Sony, which recently announced a number of large contracts to install its 4K projectors in AMC, Muvico, and Regal Entertainment cinemas. Texas Instruments has been working on 4K technology for two years, she said.

And when TI said that most consumers can’t see the difference between a 2K and 4K image, the company is sticking to its guns.

Their 4K technology will only be installed in about 20 percent of its customers’ theaters, the “brightest and biggest” with screens 70 feet and larger in size.

TI has meanwhile put out a press release providing details:

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It’s Official: TI Targets 4K; Cinemark Makes Deal

dlp_logo1It’s official: On the heels of our previous Celluloid Junkie post on this subject, TI announced that it plans to develop 4K as an extension of its next-gen DLP Cinema projection technology.

The new platform—which TI said would comply with the DCI spec—is slated to launch at the end of the year and initially support 2K. TI aims to offer 4K sometime in 2010.

Meanwhile, Barco inked a deal to deploy TI’s developing 4K technology to the Cinemark theater chain—a notable move, as additional DCIP members Regal and AMC both recently announced deals with Sony.

“Regal and AMC are no stranger to DLP Cinema,” said Nancy Fares, business manager for DLP Cinema Products Group. “I hope this will give them an option to think about.”

Fares reported that a 1.2 inch 4K chip would be developed and released first, “but there are not limitations.” She added that TI would also continue 2K development. 4K, she said, would offer choices, including support for 2D screens as big as 100 feet, and 3D screens as big as 75 feet. It’s not expected that the developing technology will be able to be retrofitted to the current system.

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Cinema News Roundup – 29-30 May

-Thinking of searching your cinema patrons bags for camcorders? You could end up like a somewhat indiscreet Canadian cinema owner who was ordered to pay C$10,000 in damages to a woman and her daughter for violating their privacy. From CTV.ca, “Security guards didn’t find any video equipment in the family’s bags, but did turn up a large selection of snack food, which they asked the family to take back to their vehicle, Lurie said. “They did so willingly. But they continued the search of the bags and while searching they also uncovered some birth control pills belonging to the older daughter,” Lurie said.” Needless to say, this proved a bit of a surprise to the mother, who promptly sued Cinemas Guzzo in Montreal. Mr Guzzo, VP of the cinema says searches of patrtons bags will continue, but “I don’t want to put my hands in your bag. In fact, leave the bags in the car.“”;

- BECTU, UK’s Media and Entertainment labour union, has launched a study of how the future will impact cinema technicians. The unions website lists a set of ‘Future challenges’:

* How will an increase in digital projection affect projectionist roles?
* What new skills challenges do staff face?
* Is there room for new skills to be developed alongside the current skillset?
* Are significant job losses a necessary consequence of digital projection?
* How will digitisation affect career development?

These are important questions and it is good to see BECTU taking this up at an early stage. Hopefully in addition to the Cinema Exhibitors Association and to the BKSTS, BECTU will also co-ordinating it with other public efforts in the UK, such as those of Skillset, in the digital field;

- NEC is touting its new high brightness projector ahead of this weekend’s US release of Pixar’s “Up.” The NEC NC2500S-A 2K digital cinema projector will be used at New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre, according to the press release, which goes on to say that it, “allows 3D content to utilize the full 2K resolution of the 1.2” DMD from Texas Instruments using triple flash technology for smooth motion. With an increase in resolution and brightness of up to 33 percent, compared to previous generations, the boost in performance means a greater viewing experience for theatergoers.NEC is offering this upgrade “free” to all pre-existing customers, presumably meaning that they will swap out older projectors.. NEC wishes to make it clear that it is NOT offering this upgrade “free” and that it is a parts upgrade, not a complete swap of the projector;

– Active 3D eye-wear company XpanD is supplying its glasses to Spanish exhibitor Yelmo. From the press release, “Yelmo Cines, which has a prominent presence with 370 screens and growing, a driving annual attendance over 12 million and a leading position, will continue to help drive the digital expansion by installing 29 XpanD 3D screens in 2009, six which are already operating.” Technically, XpanD is not installing ‘screens’ as you can move the glasses and IR transmitters between any auditoriums in a multiplex. Interestingly no mention of Arts Alliance, who had previously trumpeted how they were helping expand Yelmo’s digital capabilities for 3D. What’s the Spanish word for ungratefull?;

- Despite the economic downturn in Gulf state cities like Dubai, the multiplex boom continues according to Khaleeji Times. “Watching movies is going to get a lot better with The Dubai Mall all set to open the Reel Cinemas, one of UAE’s largest cinema complexes featuring 22 screens and a seating capacity for 2,800 people. The highlight of the cineplex is the introduction of the Hollywood Chic design concept, which ensures a modern ?cinema experience.” It will also feature the first dedicated art-house halls in a Dubai multiplex, called Platinum Movie Suites. The company is a joint venture established between Cathay Organisation Singapore and Emaar Malls Group Dubai in 2007;

- Possibly stung by the decision of AMC and Regal Cinema to go with Sony’s 4K projectors, Christie Digital has put out a press release announcing that “Independent exhibitors continue to embrace proven Christie DLP Cinema® projectors.” Upon closer reading the press release turns out to be about Christie’s work with dealers and re-sellers for the 2K projectors to offer “more customizable programs that provide marketing and sales support, technical advice and expertise, maintain spare parts inventory, and deliver a streamlined RMA process which resolves issues quickly and speeds up the advanced warranty replacement process.” It then goes on to list several testimonials. All true and important, but no doubt Christie would have preferred to put out a press release with the name ‘Regal’ or ‘AMC’ in it, rather than ‘Classic Cinemas’ and ‘Essex Cinemas’, fine independent exhibitors though these may be;

- Growth in 3D and large format (LF) cinemas is what is driving Ballantyne of Omaha’s expansion of its cinema screen manufacturing capacity at its Canadian Strong/MDI Screen Systems subsidiary, according to this press release. “The expansion effort, which began in the latter half of 2008 and will continue through 2009, is focused on expanding plant capacity and productivity, as well as improving production methods to further enhance screen quality.” The expansion wil tripple capacity. It goes without saying that it is great news in these tough times to see an industry and company expanding instead of laying of people or asking for bail outs;

- AMC is raising $300m worth of capital to help pay for $250m worth of debt, according to this announcement. “AMC Entertainment Inc. (“AMC” or the “Company”) announced today that it is proposing to issue $300 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2019 (the “Notes”) in a private offering that is exempt from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). The Company intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from this private offering to purchase the Company’s outstanding $250 million aggregate principal amount of 8?% Senior Notes due 2012 (the “2012 Notes”)” The difference of $50m will be used for ‘other general corporate purposes‘;

Two historic cinema buildings in Scotland’s two principal cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, face demolition. The razing of Clerk Street’s Odeon Cinema (pictures right) has been given the go ahead by Edinburgh’s City Council, but “Proposals to demolish the auditorium of an historic cinema in Edinburgh are “not justified”, according to a report commissioned by Historic Scotland,” reports BBC News. Meanwhile, The Scotsman reports that, “a historic former cinema in Glasgow is facing demolition after fire ripped through it in the early hours of yesterday morning…The Coliseum had fallen into disrepair and was on the Register for Scotland Buildings at Risk list. Originally a theatre, it opened in 1905 and was based on the now demolished Ardwick Empire in Manchester, and seated almost 3,000 people.” It was the first cinema in Glasgow to show ‘talking pictures’, but like all-too-many UK cinemas only survived as a bingo hall in its last 15 yearts of existance.

Daily Cinema Roundup – Monday 11 May – “I have been in this business since 1972, and I have never seen such a bad time.”

cctraintour
-We have come across cinemas on wheels, before, but Disney is going on step further by installing a digital 3D cinema in a train as part of its promotion for “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”. From the press release: “”Disney’s A Christmas Carol” Train Tour kicks off Memorial Day Weekend 2009 in Los Angeles, traveling across the country with stops in 40 cities, culminating in New York City in November. Visitors will be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the magic and the cutting-edge technology of “Disney’s A Christmas Carol.” Pictured above is the state-of-the-art 48-foot-wide, 3D theatre–the first inflatable 3D theatre ever to go across the country–which will be erected onsite in each city showcasing an exclusive sneak peek of “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” in Disney Digital 3D.”” Digital cinema projectors provided by Barco, server and 3D equipment by Dolby, touch panels by HP and trian by Amtrak – only no word who is supplying the distinctly rickety and non-plush looking chairs;

- Digital Cinema integrator Cinedigm (formerly AccessIT) has been thrown a financial life line by its largest creditor GE Commercial Finance. From the press release, “The amendment significantly relaxes the financial covenant ratios that C/AIX is required to meet every quarter through the maturity of the loan in 2013. In addition, the new arrangement allows C/AIX to pay approximately $5 million in cash to its parent company, Cinedigm, as well as increase its ability to pay annual fees to Cinedigm. Reflecting the current market conditions, the amendment increases the interest rate on the credit facility from 4.5% to 6% above LIBOR and sets a LIBOR floor of 2.5%. C/AIX will pay a 0.5% amendment fee on the outstanding balance of $183.9 million.” The deal is a vote of confidence and saves Cinedigm and Christie/AIX, but staying afloat and surviving is not the same as expanding and thriving;

- Of the 53 films screening at the Cannes Film Festival 50 will be screening in digital, but the press release from Christie frustratingly doesn’t tell us which three won’t. Instead we learn that “20 [films] screened digitally in 2007 and 37 in 2008” and “Christie will provide over 19 projectors for the world’s leading film festival,” but they don’t name and shame the digital refuseniks. Is it famous film fanatic Quentin Tarantino? Or some obscure Chinese director who smuggled out a Super16mm documentary in a concealed can? We want names. So if you are involved, feel free to leak them to us anonymously in an e-mail or in the comments section. We know you want to;

-Things are going from bad to worse in India, where the stand-off between the Distributors and the Exhibitors is turning into a WWI-style war of attrition. Now the single screens are becoming the collateral casualty, according to the Economic Times. “For those who could not survive with just cancelling shows, shutting shop was the only option. Single theatres like Regal and Roxy, and the multi-screen Apsara in South Mumbai, have been closed till further notice, while the 1,200-seater Liberty theatre, a Yashraj and Barjatya favourite, also closed shop for two weeks, though citing air-conditioning repair as reason. “I have been in this business since 1972, and I have never seen such a bad time.” Multiplexes are surviving partly thanks to revival of Marathi films, but the government is suffering from single screen closures as Maharashtra state has a 45 per cent entertainment tax on tickets, while Uttar Pradesh (India’s most populous state with 190m people) taxes single screens at 60 per cent;

- The Bollywood stand-off is having repercussions abroad, with Hollywood soaking up audiences left high and dry in the Middle East, according to United Arab Emirate’s The National. “Indian film has a major presence in the UAE, given the country’s large expatriate Asian presence, but the movies are popular with Arabs and other communities too, and most open to packed houses. Several have had grand premières in Dubai even before their releases in India, among the most recent being Jodha Akbar and Delhi-6. Last year Yash Raj Films, a leading filmmaker, entered into an agreement with Dubai Infinity Holding to build an entertainment district in the city themed around films made by the production house.” Anyone living in Mumbai knows that the city is effectively twinned with Dubai, so the ripples will be felt for some time across the Arabian Sea;

0805_shortwaveint- Up-and-coming London area of Bermondsey Square is getting a 50-seat ‘uniplex’ (pictured above) called Shortwave Cinema, described by the owner as “the first cinema to be built in 21st century Britain.” From Londonist, “The brainchild of “local DJ, filmmaker and renaissance man” Rob Wray, Shortwave has a pleasingly retro moviehouse look, with comfortable old seats re-housed from the Electric Cinema and a black and red colour scheme within. Matching the old-school aesthetic, the cinema intends to eschew blockbuster releases and instead program independent fare: they’re currently showing the adaptation of David Peace’s Red Riding Trilogy, while future releases include Chilean film Tony Moreno and a season of London documentaries from the 1950s.” Looks like a worthy successor to the frankly-not-missed Lux Cinema in up-and-already-came area of Hoxton;

- Australia is set to get its first all-digital multiplex as Greater Union unveils its latest multiplex at at Robina town centre on the Gold Coast. From Perth Now, “AHL says digital cinema technology means it can now screen everything from overseas concerts, to international operas, ballet, theatre and live sports. “From a satellite feed of a U2 Concert to the State or Origin on the giant Vmax screen, it is an exciting development,” it says. The centres will retain Greater Union’s popular premium luxury Gold Class program.” Hmmmm, Vmax – not to be confused with Imax;

- The booming North American box office has dragged Canada’s Cineplex Galaxy back in black, according to THR.com. “Toronto-based Cineplex Galaxy, which operates 130 multiplexes country-wide, posted earnings of CAN$3.7 million ($3.16 million) to March 31, against a loss of CAN$2.3 million in 2008. Revenue rose 11.2% to CAN$211 million ($180 million), compared to a year-earlier CAN$189 million. Total boxoffice receipts rose 11.5% to CAN$133 million ($113.5 million), from CAN$116 million in 2008.” Expect 3D to be big at Cineplex Galaxy as it rolls it out on 122 screens by the end of May.