What makes for the perfect moviegoing experience? If you can watch “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” in the comfort of your own home on an ultra high-def HDR television, why bother going to a theatre at all? Is it for a more immersive environment with better sound and fewer distractions? Is it for a bigger picture with more color and more contrast? How much more would it take to get you off your couch? CINITY, a groundbreaking new presentation format, answers all of these questions.
Amid a growing wave of streaming video services, there has been very little about the motion picture exhibition business that has been alluring. Cinema owners have struggled to find an affordable way to differentiate their offerings from competitors and home viewing environments. The one consistent positive trend worth noting is that when moviegoers show up at cinemas, they increasingly choose premium experiences.
Whether it’s big screen presentations in advanced format auditoriums or immersive experiences with moving seats or 3D glasses, numbers don’t lie; week after week 5% of the 40,000 screens in North America generate over 20% of the box-office revenue. Exhibitors in Europe and Latin America have seen a similar phenomenon evolve over the past two years. Cinema operators examining their profit and loss statements are well aware that earnings from premium large format (PLF) screens are adding substantially to their gross margin. Indeed, the world’s largest exhibitor recently reported that each of their PLF auditoriums now earns as much revenue as four of their standard screens.
Moviegoer preference for PLF auditoriums hinges on finding a first-class viewing experience that differs from what they have in their increasingly high-end home theatre set-ups which offer 4K, high dynamic range, high contrast images with surround sound audio. As more exhibitors look to adopt ever-better PLFs in new and existing cinemas they finally have a technologically advanced, future-proof presentation format that goes way beyond what can be pulled off at home or, more importantly, by any other PLF system, while providing an exceptional return-on-investment; CINITY.
It took the participation of three leading cinema technology providers four years to engineer a cost-effective system that provides a viewing experience that surpasses anything available today. One that allows for the brightest images, three times higher contrast, is capable of 5 times the normal frame rate, with an expanded color gamut that has 34% more color than traditional cinema presentations, while also being capable of screening 3D titles on the largest possible screens. That is precisely what CINITY provides and it was developed in collaboration with some of the world’s most renowned filmmakers.
I’m especially excited to support CINITY as it enters the North American market. The system’s high frame rate capability, its exceptional contrast ratio, brightness and overall image quality means that more audiences can finally see my movies exactly as I envisioned them. I’m committed to working with CINITY to help push the boundaries of filmmaking and in-theater movie-viewing.
– ANG LEE
Following Filmmaker Visions
Directors and studios know that storytelling drives ticket sales, so they are constantly finding new ways to elevate the moviegoing experience. CINITY was conceived as a potential solution that directors such as James Cameron, Peter Jackson, and Ang Lee faced when trying to establish a new way of shooting movies.
Each director wanted to make 3D films though were unsatisfied with the image jitter and artifacts that occur when shooting and playing back at 24 frames per second (fps). IIn 2012 Jackson was frustrated with the audience response to the “Hobbit” trilogy, which he shot 48 fps. So, when Ang Lee set about making “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” he shot it at 120 fps – the first film to ever use such a high-frame-rate (HFR). Even with its high dynamic range and expanded color gamut, both Lee and his audiences were left dissatisfied by the result. Granted, only a handful of cinemas were equipped to even show the film as Lee intended.
That is why when Lee decided to make his next film, “Gemini Man” in 2018 he turned to cinema technology providers Christie and GDC Technology Limited, who along with the China CINITY team, formed a strategic partnership that could project 4K, 3D footage at 120 fps per eye on the world’s largest cinema screens. Together, they developed the CINITY Cinema System which uses one or two Christie CP4450-RGB HFR projectors (depending on screen size) and a customized GDC media server.
The resulting picture quality was so good that China Film Group made a commitment to install the technology countrywide. To date there are over 200 CINITY screens throughout China showing everything from domestic releases to Hollywood blockbusters in the advanced PLF format. By 2021 CINITY auditoriums accounted for an increasingly larger portion of box office grosses for each new release, providing a real-world proof of concept.
We’re excited to know that audiences will have the opportunity to experience the next chapters of Avatar in ways that truly represent the best our industry has to offer, and will be reminded just how special the in-theater cinema experience can be.
– JAMES CAMERON
CINITY Goes International
With CINITY continuing to expand in China, the company began collaborating with James Cameron as the filmmaker completed “Avatar: The Way of Water.” CINITY versions of his previous blockbusters, “Avatar” and “Titanic” were made to showcase the system. Cameron was so pleased with these versions that he allowed ten minutes of “Avatar: The Way of Water” to be screened at CineEurope in 2022 six months before the film’s release. The footage stunned exhibitors throughout Europe, some of whom set out to install systems in their own theatres. To date there are eight cinemas in Germany and Spain, with outstanding contracts for four additional theatres by the beginning of 2024.
Some of these cinema operators were sold on the affordability of the CINITY system as well as the company’s willingness to work with exhibitors wishing to use the advanced technology to power a private label PLF brand.
Ensuring Visionary Content
One reason the CINITY versions of movies are more appealing than previous films released in HFR is a mastering technique known as motion-grading. This post-production process goes beyond a variable frame rate method by using software to review each film shot-by-shot, adjusting the frame rate and smoothing any motion artifacts. Shots with lots of action are projected at a higher frame rate whereas scenes with little movement, such as those with conversational dialogue, might be projected at the standard 24 fps. This reduces the television soap opera effect that plagued movies like “The Hobbit.”
CINITY’s existing relationships with Hollywood studios and local distributors guarantee a steady flow of new releases will be available in the format for exhibitors to program. Most recently “The Marvels,” “Wish,” “Wonka,” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” have all been released in the CINITY format.
Investing in a Cinematic Future
One of the major benefits of CINITY, even for those exhibitors with PLF screens in existing venues, is that the system sets them up for future advances in filmmaking and projection. CINITY is the only system capable of projecting all existing frame rates up to 120 fps in 4K, HDR with higher brightness and a 6,000 to 1 contrast ratio in the widest possible color gamut, all in 3D. In fact, when showing 3D films using two synchronized projectors, it can provide each eye with 120 fps in 4K HDR images. CINITY’s advanced image specifications, such as higher brightness and wider color gamut, are made possible by Christie Real|Laser illuminated projection technology which exceeds all DCI-compliant presentation systems.
As filmmakers inevitably continue to push the envelope in how they shoot their movies to satisfy moviegoers’ thirst for new and innovative experiences, exhibitors with CINITY systems will be ready to present the director’s vision as originally intended without the costly need to upgrade equipment.
Exhibitors wanting to give their PLF screen a technological upgrade with a CINITY Cinema System can work directly with Christie to provide moviegoers with an immersive experience they could never get from their couch.