A Crazy and Exciting New Way of Watching Movies Is Coming to a Theater Near You
With the rise in on-demand and streaming options for home viewership and American reluctance to leave the house at an all-time high, brick-and-mortar theaters have scrambled to keep viewers in the seats. High-end boutique chains have survived by committing themselves to the luxury of the theatrical experience, installing ritzy overstuffed La-Z-Boys in theaters and shrinking down the size of each individual screening room. Now, that enticing sense of extravagance re-imbuing the moviegoing experience with the grandeur it enjoyed during its prewar youth has introduced another exciting innovation to the theater.
A new item from Variety hints that exhibitors in the burgeoning Chinese market and even Hollywood may soon adopt the ‘ScreenX’ format currently popular in Korea. Variety notes that exhibition firm CJ-CGV has made plans to bring the immersive technology to the movie-theater convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas next week with the intention of shopping it around to domestic big-shots. And the shots will be big indeed: ScreenX is a new projection format that delivers a 270-degree image, with screens at the front of the auditorium as well as on either side, contributing to a fuller and more transporting experience overall. Using five different projectors, the film wraps around the audience and places them directly inside the cinematic world.
And while this may be a tantalizing possibility, it’s far from a reality for U.S. moviegoers. Retrofitting an existing theater with the necessary equipment to show ScreenX features costs $400,000 per screening room, a price tag that could be prohibitively high for a struggling business. CJ-CGV has approached the bold new technology as a close cousin of IMAX, to be installed in one or two auditoriums of a multiplex and treated as a novelty with a heightened cost of admission to match. Like a pushback against Sean Parker’s proposed Screening Room plan, it’d be a daring innovation, but faces a long road before it enters the U.S. market. At the very least, we can add the rise of ScreenX to the ever-expanding list of stuff Kanye West has predicted.