CJ + Christie: Storytelling, Technology, and Community – the Everlasting Ingredients of the Cinema Experience
Cinemas around the world are beginning to light up their marquees once again after COVID-19 has kept them closed for more than a year. Throughout the ongoing pandemic, the ability to release new movies theatrically was impractical, forcing exhibitors to search for alternative routes to reach audiences, often without success. Many wondered about the fate of theatrical exhibition, given the risks of large audiences sharing the same indoor space for the length of a movie.
But, is it even possible to eradicate an entire art form, especially one as popular and economically significant as the global film industry? Would society really allow a multi-billion-dollar industry with a vast production infrastructure to completely collapse? These are the existential questions that leading cinema solution providers like Christie found themselves answering for customers over the past year. Upon closer review however, such erroneous speculations quickly unravel since cinema, as a cultural touchstone and business, cannot die. In fact, as projectors flicker back to life, a long list of blockbusters await their turn to be shown on the big screen.
This is because cinema has its roots in storytelling; an activity as fundamental as sitting beside a fire sharing life’s secrets. We are the only species that tells stories and we’ve done so longer than recorded history—from cave drawings to modern motion pictures. Homer, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, and Christopher Nolan all have one thing in common; they are well known for being great storytellers. The only aspect of storytelling that has changed through the millennia is the technology we use to tell them. As a technology manufacturer focused on the cinema industry, Christie plays an instrumental role in the survival and evolution of cinematic storytelling through the innovations they develop.
Theatrical storytelling, whether it is the staging of a Greek tragedy, a baroque opera, a Broadway musical or a screening of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, has simply evolved over time with the technology available to tell bigger and more grandiose stories, but the meaningful transformation of the collective consciousness sustains it. Christie believes cinema may transform, but never die, as long as cinema, like storytelling, continues as an inherently human art form.
To understand the future of cinema, first there needs to be an understanding of the unique emotional experience movie theatres generate, made possible through a combination of storytelling, technology, and community. Like many of you, numerous Christie staff members started out working in neighborhood movie theatres, finding magic in the cinema itself and lingering in memories of experiences shared with audiences.
“Finding ways to unite a storyteller’s vision with exhibitors who deliver that vision to audiences has guided our efforts since our foundation,” says Brian Claypool, EVP Cinema at Christie, “I started out in this industry working on the Christie P35 GPS film projector, Xenon lamp console, and Autowind platter system which dominated the projection booth for decades. From the digital revolution at the turn of the century, to our current line of CineLife+ projectors, we remain determined to provide the innovations that make cinema the best storytelling experience, helping people continue to build the memories created together. That magic, we believe, existed since the beginning and is just as relevant today; perhaps even more so as we recover from one of the most isolating periods in recent history.”
Just ask Thomas Edison, who in the late 1800s learned that while his kinetoscope may have been a unique and timely invention, people preferred to watch moving pictures together, projected on a screen—like his counterparts, the Lumiere brothers were doing during 1895 in Paris with their Cinematographe—over viewing scenes through a peephole by themselves using his new motion picture viewer.
Like these motion picture pioneers, Christie continues the advancement of the technology required both by cinematic auteurs and leading exhibitors. Whether it is an arthouse film, a blockbuster, or an animated children’s matinee, people choose to go to the cinema to experience a story in a way that cannot wholly be achieved in a home setting. Throughout the past year, Christie never stopped developing state-of-the-art solutions that illuminate larger-than-life pictures and immersive sound, allowing cinema auditoriums to transport audiences out of everyday life.
We look forward to exploring the revival of cinema alongside Christie in the forthcoming year of epics.