Tag Archives: SXRD

Daily Cinema Roundup – Friday 8 May

orange-wedensday-witch

- Catch someone taping a film off the screen? You have little choice but to let him (it’s rarely a ‘her’) walk free in the UK, according to Sky News. “Tim Richards, who runs Vue cinemas, told Sky News that while his staff are getting better at catching film pirates, he invariably has to let them go. He said: “We catch these individuals and we can’t do anything with them. It’s extremely frustrating.” But the police say sales of illegal pirated (usually elsewhere) DVDs are a bigger problem and the UK government urges cinema to go after the cinema camcorders with the Fraud Act. Yes, really, don’t laugh;

- UK mobile phone carrier Orange has been running its two-for-one mid-week offer for five years and have clocked up 14m uses (that’s 7m couples). From newmediaage, “The Orange Wednesdays offer has encouraged an average of 300,000 people to go to the cinema each week, saving them an estimated £30m, the operator said. The five most prolific users have redeemed the offer an average of 70 times each.” Apparently “Mamma Mia!” has been the most popular film.Notice that the Orange Witch [Surely she's green and wicked, not orange? - Ed.] from the advert (below) is brandishing a Celluloid Junkie icon popcorn box knock off. Definitely not authorised by us;

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-Imax‘s finances are slowly improving, with Q1 of 2009 showing a narrow loss as the company waits for digital to kick in, according to THR.com. “Toronto-based Imax posted a loss of $2.6 million to March 31, compared to a loss of $10.2 million in 2008, on revenue up 43% to $33.7 million, against a year-earlier $23.5 million. Imax recorded sharply lower R&D costs compared to 2008 when it incurred steep digital projection rollout costs. The first quarter operating profit was $2 million, compared to a loss of $5.6 million in 2008.” Perhaps more interestingly than digitla itself was that revenue from bigged-up Hollywood releases such as “Watchmen” and “Monsters vs. Aliens” doubled from around $15m to over $30m in the quarter;

- Sony PicturesAngels & Demons” had its world premiere in Rome using Sony Electronics 4K SXRD projector. From the press release, “Oliver Pasch, head of digital cinema in Europe at Sony Professional says, “We’re delighted to have played a part in helping Sony Pictures  premiere Angels & Demons. The studio understands the phenomenal value of 4k projection and how it allows audiences from across the world to see more detail than ever before, thus creating a truly unique cinematic experience.”" The film will be released in 4K, so best place to catch it will be Norway or an AMC cinema – click here for full list of 4K locations.

-With the stand-off in Bollywood between Indian film distributors and multiplexes still not showing any sign of ending, exhibitors are starting to look for small films to distribute themselves. From liveMint.com, “In a clear signal that the gloves are off in the dispute with
producers, Fame India Ltd has joined forces with its fellow leading
national cinema chains INOX Leisure Ltd, Cinemax India Ltd, Adlabs
Films
Ltd, Fun Cinemas and PVR Ltd and set aside around Rs40 crore [$8m] to
acquire a film on the open market for release in multiplexes, where the
deadlock has seen all new releases being put on ice since 4 April.
” A handfull of candidate films are hten listed. Meanwhile distributors are saying that they will release their films in single screens and independent multiplexes. Still no word if Hollywood distributors will soon start releasing their films during the stand off;

– If you think Indian multiplex operators have it hard, spare a thought for their colleagues in Iraqi, where cinemas are dying a slow death. From LA Times, “Before the 2003 invasion, Baghdad had 40 cinemas; now there are only
eight. In those days, the theaters opened at 8 a.m. and closed just
before midnight. Today, the theaters shut at 1 p.m. Hashim says only
the riffraff and lowlifes frequent his theater…. Other theaters have closed rather than cater to the new
market — the owners of the now-shuttered Nujoom (Star) cinema
described their clientele after 2003 as “drug addicts, alcoholics and
freaks.”
” We have highlighted the plight of Iraqi cinemas before, but it is sad that there appears to be no hope in sight;

- Reasons why 3D is plenty D’s enough, from UK’s The Mirror. “A cinema at a National Sea Life Centre is so realistic it is causing visitors to feel seasick. Bosses at the £1million 4D screen in Birmingham are handing out sea sickness bracelets after customers complained the images of giant waves, vibrating seats and water spray made them ill.” Isn’t ayone complaining bout the water sprays making their popcorn wet?

– A novel way of attracting customers to cinemas? Bag of cocaine found in Reel Cinema in Grantham by 10 year old. From the local paper, “”Obviously this is a family entertainment venue and children are present. It is very worrying when a ten-year-old comes into possession of drugs like this.” Jonathan had only recently started to let his son do things on his own but the experience has made him worry. He said: “What if a child had picked it up and thought it was sherbet? Or what if he had walked in to find someone taking drugs?” I’ve heard of weed smoking to Cheech and Chong and LSD for “2001: A space Odessey”, but cocaine to “X-Men Originas; Wolverine” seems like a desperate way of improving the film;

Sony’s new 4K can now do 3D

Sony appears to have overcome one of the biggest drawbacks of its SXRD projector – the inability to do stereoscopics without resorting to two stacked projectors. The new wonder was unveiled at Cinema Expo. From THR.com:

Sony has unveiled a 4K digital projector with easy adaptability to 3-D projection. Previously, two of the pricey projectors were necessary to rig an auditorium for 4K 3-D, preventing the wide use of the high-resolution systems for 3-D exhibition.

Once considered the next-generation technology for digital cinema, Sony’s 4K systems have been struggling to overcome cost and manufacturing woes, and more conventional 2K d-cinema systems have remained the prevalent hardware in the marketplace. So Sony executives — hoping soon to remedy the additional 3-D headache — are demonstrating prototypes of the new 4K projectors with the aim of bringing the hardware to market by Christmas.

“It’s from the customer that you get the best feedback,” said Tore Mortensen, a Sony business manager now working with theater operators in Norway to test 3-D 4K projectors in four multiplexes.

Elsewhere at the confab Wednesday, Arts Alliance Media announced a 3-D addition to its alternative-programming offerings for d-cinema.

Interesting to see Tore being quoted, but then it is in Norway where the 4K SXRD has had the largest European installed base to date thanks to the NORDIC Project. [Full disclosure, I have worked in the past to assist the NORDIC project, which looks on course to help make Norway the first country to switch all of its cinemas to digital.]

NBA to be shown live in 3D with stacked 4K

Dallas Mavericks cheerleadersMaverick billionaire Mark Cuban‘s Dallas Mavericks will have their upcoming 25 March game captured, beamed and shown in live digital 3D, through a partnership with Pace Fusion 3D. From the press release:

The March 25 game against the Los Angeles Clippers from the American Airlines Center will be beamed across town via satellite into Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cubans Magnolia Theatre in Dallas West Village where an invitation-only audience will watch unforgettable images through special 3D glasses using Sonys SXRD 3D Projection System on an 18×42-foot screen, making it feel as if youre sitting courtside. In addition to VIP guests, the audience will include over 100 lucky Mavericks fans, who can win tickets to the event by entering an online sweepstakes at mavs.com 

FSN Southwest will utilize the proprietary PACE/Cameron Fusion Sports System to capture the action on the court and deliver a unique depth of field perspective to the Magnolia Theatre audience. Each of the four 3D systems that will be used is designed with two high-definition cameras that capture the left eye and right eye imagery separately and create one three-dimension effect. The result is a wow visual experience that makes the action seem so close and spectacular most viewers will probably forget theyre sitting miles away in a movie theatre. 

To display the game stereoscopically two SXRD’s will need to be stacked. While some may scoff that this highlights the SXRD’s inability to handle 3D from a single projector, it should be noted that a growing number of theatres are opting for stacked DLP 2K solutions instead of signing a long term licensing deal with RealD. Call me sexist or call me just-not-interested-in-basketball, but I’m wondering how well Pace will capture the cheerleader action in 3D.  

How much did AMC pay for 54 Sony 4Ks?

AMC logoThe tail end of ShowEast brings the announcement that AMC Theatres will install 54 of Sony’s 4K projectors in four of its new cinemas. The press release gives the details of how many projectors will go into which multiplexes and when:

Sony will provide 54 SXRD 4K digital cinema systems at new AMC theatres in Dallas (12 screens); Indianapolis (14 screens); Riverside, Calif. (16 screens); and San Diego (12 screens). Work will begin next month, with the theaters scheduled to open in December.

The theaters will feature a combination of Sony’s SRX-R210 10,000 lumen* model and the SRX-R220 18,000 lumen* unit. The systems, which were specifically designed for theater applications, will be paired with Sony’s LMT-100 Media Block servers.

“This inaugural effort with AMC Entertainment is the latest example of the exhibition and motion picture industry’s continued adoption of 4K digital cinema technology,” said John Scarcella, president of Sony Electronics’ Broadcast and Business Solutions Company.

But if you read the whole press release there is something missing. A quote from AMC. No ‘We are thrilled to be working with Sony to bring our patrons the highest quality digital….yadi…yada…’ And this tells us off that there is something unusual about this announcement and deal.

More specifically, how much did AMC pay for these projectors and on what terms were they installed?

Sony SXRDIt seems strange that AMC, which is part of DCIP, should decide to suddenly install fifty odd projectors when they are presumably just months away from concluding VPF negotiations with the Hollywood studios, which will form the basis for funding the rollout in 2008. It’s also not as if there is pressure to install 4K projectors in time for an upcoming 4K film release, like there is for 2K projectors for the digital 3D version of ‘Beowulf‘ this autumn. Which leads me to guess that AMC must have got these projectors from Soy on very favorable terms. Perhaps even free. Because DCIP has already been testing the 4, so it is not as if AMC needed a beta field test. For Sony, this gives them more prestige than the single US exhibitor deployment with Muvico. They must also be hoping that this will put them in a better position for when DCIP places its order for 2008.

Having said that, good things are being said about Sony’s Theatre Management System (TMS), plus the Hollywood studios have made clear that they will not pay VPFs for equipment going into new cinemas, where no 35mm projector or print is being replaced, and these are all new sites. Still, we will have to wait for AMC’s next 4K filing to get any details on what AMC did or didn’t pay for this. Until then, any article about the AMC-Sony deployment should end with the disclaimer ‘Financial details of this transaction were not disclosed.’

4K projectors coming to the home already

JVC 4Kx2K No sooner has Sony not succeeded in making the SXRD 4K the preferred projector standard for cinemas (unless you count Muvico and Norway) then Japanese rival JVC launches a 4Kx2K projector for the home at the CEATEC trade show in Japan:

Victor Company of Japan Ltd. exhibited a projector with the display pixel count of 4096 x 2400 at CEATEC Japan 2007, which runs from Oct. 2 to 6, 2007.

Supporting the so-called 4K x 2K resolution, the new projector has an enhanced definition compared with the company’s existing 4096 x 2160 model, Victor said. The projector can throw a 200-inch picture from about 7 m away. The contrast ratio without an iris mechanism is 10,000:1, and the luminance is 3,500 lm.

The projector employs a 1.27-inch (3.2 cm diagonally) Direct-Drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA) microdisplay device, which is Victor’s proprietary product, for the display device. Compared to the 1.7-inch D-ILA microdisplay device used in the company’s existing projector, the size of the device in the latest model is reduced by about 43%.

It will not be out until the first half of 2008 and I’m not sure what you would want to play on it (four Blu Ray movies at the same time? Or 16 standard DVD players as inputs) but I’m sure someone will come up with innovative use for it.

The irony is not lost on Sony that JVC was the first to push the SXRDish D-ILA technology in cinemas, but ceded the ground to Texas Instrument’s DLP techonlogy after the Star Wars: Episode 1 shoot-out. Sony is actually turning out extremely good home cinema projectors based on the SXRD – better even than the DLP ones – but they are still not swaying cinemas, with about 98 per cent of the market opting for 2K DLP Cinema projectors.

IMAX goes even bigger in China

IMAX china pandaLarge format (LF) cinema operator IMAX has signed its largest deal yet in China with a ten-screen agreement with Wanda Cinema Line Corporation for the People’s Republic. The first couple of installations will take place before the year is out, according to this article from Reuters:

The agreement marks IMAX’s largest ever multiple-theatre deal in Asia. Under the terms of the sales agreement, all of the theatres are to be installed either with IMAX’s MPX(R) theatre system or the Company’s new digital projection technology, which is currently in the advanced stages of development. Wanda Cinema Line Corporation is the top performing and fastest growing exhibitor in The People’s Republic of China with 121 screens in 15 locations. All ten IMAX theatres are expected to be installed by the end of 2010 and bring the total number of IMAX theatres scheduled to be open in The People’s Republic of China to 39.

Don’t hold your breath about the digital technology that is in ‘advanced stages of development’, as people in the know tell me that it is little more than three Sony SXRD 4K panels wired together. But it goes to prove that China and India is where it’s at in terms of new cinemas, be they multiplexes or LF ones.

UPDATE: There is an article in the Hollywood reporter that emphasisez the retail-real estate angle of the deal:

Imax co-CEO Rich Gelfond said he was drawn to Wanda Cinema because its parent, the Dalian-based Wanda Group, is a major property developer in China. As a result, Wanda can control the pace of its aggressive building plans.

“They are one of the few multiplex operators that controls their own fate,” Gelfond said. “Most multiplex operators need to go to a mall (developer) and cut a deal.”

Gelfond added the Wanda Group sees value in Imax screens bringing additional traffic to its core cinema and shopping mall businesses.

So while showing films in cinemas is a way to build marketing momentum for films on DVD/BD/HD-DVD for the studios, so too is building cinemas a way to grow foot traffic in shopping malls catering to the growing middle classes in emerging markets.