The CinemaCon exhibition floor is traditionally filled with popcorn poppers, candy, cinema seats and projectors. But next year, there could be a whole new crop of exhibitors from the consumer electronics industry, such as LG, Sharp or Vizio.
Samsung showed an LED cinema screen — a large version of a video display — at this year’s just-concluded CinemaCon exhibitors convention. And there are now at least six consumer electronics and LED technology companies looking to enter the theatrical exhibition business, according to an industry insider. While the source declined to name the companies, the reason was evident: The LED cinema screens which were introduced this year could replace conventional cinema projection with what are effectively LED video walls.
“Many of the studios think LED is the best thing since sliced bread,” said National Association of Theatre Owners head John Fithian. Presumably, studios like the new screens for their brighter picture and high dynamic range, which was been often cited among proponents of the technology. But Fiithin also added that others argue the new systems are simply a giant TV screen, and some seasoned filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan, have expressed serious concerns about the technology.
Sony Electronics — which also offers digital cinema projectors — is developing a Crystal LED cinema screen, which was also on display at CinemaCon. Sony has emphasized that it wants to work with filmmakers to get the rollout right, but also acknowledged that it hopes to have its first LED screen in a cinema within the year. The company also reported that it will be installing an LED screen for screening and postproduction uses on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, as well as at its soon-to-open Sony Digital Media Center in Glendale, California, in order to engage filmmakers.