Talk to Doreen Sayegh for any length of time about why she decided to renovate and reopen the Cranford Theatre in Cranford, New Jersey, and the word magic is sure to pop up. In most cases, she’s referring to the magic of the cinema experience. But she says the one thing she loves above all is, “The looks on children’s faces when the lights dim and the picture hits the big screen; it’s magical.” It’s one of the many reasons she truly enjoys what she does for a living.
The Big Picture
“Looking at sightlines in 3D from the eye of the patron is an important consideration,” says architect Theresa English, AIA, of TK Architects International in Kansas City, Missouri. “Previously, we would look at a single section from a single vantage. It wasn't super effective if the rows or screen or both were curved.”
Much has changed in motion picture technology since the 2009 release of the first Avatar. Today the audio quality is better and movie projectors and TV screens are delivering much bigger and brighter images. Thanks to high dynamic range, the images have more color and contrast. Resolution has improved as well. But as good as these images are they have a downside: they exaggerate visual artifacts such as motion blur and judder. Until recently, the one aspect of filmmaking that hadn’t advanced in nearly a century was the motion itself. Today, though, when the public finally gets its chance to see Avatar: The Way of Water in movie theatres, they are certain to notice its look, because James Cameron’s film is the highest profile feature to date to benefit from Pixelworks TrueCut motion grading technology.
In the late 1990s, a relatively small group of men and women, mainly in Hollywood, had the radical idea of reinventing the motion picture business, a business that had been working successfully for more than one hundred years. Twenty years ago this month, Digital Cinema Report began reporting on that effort and chronicled one of the most amazing transitions in history. The changes did not happen easily or quickly and there were many people opposed to the very idea. But there’s no need here to rehash every battle; this is not a history. Rather, this is what five motion picture industry leaders and I think were the top twenty most significant developments in making that change a reality. For weeks we asked readers to tell us what they thought belonged on the list, and from that list we chose the final twenty. In addition to me, the judges, in alphabetical order were Tom Bert, director of cinema technology, Barco; Brock Bagby, executive vice president, chief content and development officer, B&B Theatres; Cedric Lejeune, vice president of technology, EclairColor; Loren Nielsen, vice president, content and strategy, Xperi Corporation; and Leon Silverman, advisor, 2030 Vision, strategy and industry relations, MovieLabs. Here then is Digital Cinema Report’s Twenty-Twenty.
Shenzhen Timewaying and Arts Alliance Media have launched the new DCI-certified 20-meter 4K HeyLED cinema screen, becoming the world’s largest digital LED cinema screen on the market. Presenting a giant leap in cinematic LED displays, the HeyLED 20-meter cinema screen combines pure color, true black, and a high contrast ratio with patented high pixel fill rate technology to enable a visual experience never seen before in exhibition.
This has been a momentous year for PVR Cinemas. In March, the company announced that it was merging when INOX Cinemas. When that deal is finally approved, which is expected in the coming months, the combined entity will become the largest film exhibition company in India operating 1,546 screens across 341 properties in 109 cities. In May PVR entered into an agreement with Oma Cinema of France to introduce the concept of cinema pods in the Indian market. Through its vertical architecture, Oma provides the audience with an intimate cinematic experience with tiered balconies, or pods, enabling viewers to enjoy a sociable cinema experience while enjoying a perfect view of the screen. Later that month, PVR introduced 270-degree on-screen experiential cinema advertising. The car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki was the first advertiser to use the platform to launch its new 2022 Maruti Suzuki Brezza. In July the company announced it was working with Cinionic to convert all its screens to laser projection. And last month it worked with Amazon to present a truly unique cinema ad. The commercial begins with a voice-over giving a command to Alexa to dim the lights. To the audience’s surprise, not only do the lights in the film dim, but the theatre lights dim as well. I recently spoke via email with PVR Cinemas CEO Gautam Dutta and Cinionic CEO Wim Buyens to speak about innovation and its role in cinema’s future. Here is our conversation.
Kathryn Jacob is CEO of Pearl & Dean, the London-based cinema advertising company. To offer just a partial list of her many accomplishments, in 2016 Jacob and Sue Unerman co-authored the book The Glass Wall: Success Strategies for Women at Work and Businesses that Mean Business published by Profile. In 2020 the two women and a man named Mark Edwards co-authored the book Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work. The many boards that Jacob serves on include serving as chair of Home Manchester, an iconic arts venue. Since she joined Pearl & Dean, the company has created the world’s first 3D interactive advertisement for 02, brought pop up cinema to all parts of the UK, and worked with Virgin Atlantic and Ambassador Theatre Group on new ways to reach consumers. On August 1, Jacob began an eight-year term as president of SAWA Global Cinema Advertising Association. Despite the many challenges of the past two years, she remains confident that the industry will bounce back soon because, in her words, “The cinema medium is unique in the media landscape.” I recently spoke with Jacob, via email, about her new role at SAWA and a wide range of other topics related to cinema advertising.
Launched in 2014 by the Korean producer of premium film formats and cinema technologies, CJ4DPlex, ScreenX is the world's first digital multi-projection theatre technology to enable a 270-degree panoramic movie watching experience. ScreenX uses a proprietary system to expand specially selected sequences of a film onto the left and right-side walls of an auditorium, surrounding the audience with exclusive imagery that makes them feel as if they’re inside the movie, creating a truly immersive experience. In the beginning, exhibitors, especially in the United States, were slow to embrace the new technology. In part, that was because so many were pre-occupied with the challenge of simply converting from film to digital projection and, in part, because CJ4DPlex was a new brand to them. But growing success in Korea and hard work by a lot of people paid off. In 2018, the ScreenX technology proved its worth at the worldwide box-office, with the successful panoramic release of Marvel Studios' Black Panther.
Cinema chains PVR and Inox said they have received the approval of the Securities and Exchange Board of India for their merger, clearing an important step in the regulatory process. The two companies announced in March that they were planning a merger to create India’s largest multiplex chain with a network of more than 1,500 screens.
When the MSG Sphere opens in Las Vegas sometime next year, it promises to get even more attention than it has already, which is saying a lot. To date, most of the media coverage has focused on the construction of the massive complex, a story well worth being told. But, while some people have gone so far as to label it the future of entertainment, it’s difficult to understand why, given that to date the people running the sphere have offered few details about what kinds of shows and events it plans to host. And most of the reporting about MSG Sphere has attributed the idea behind it to James Dolan, who is invariably described as the project’s billionaire brainchild. Few, if any of the reports that I’ve seen, have added anything more about the man, which seems like an oversight and, possibly, a serious oversight.