philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Hollywood Uses Bigger Screens to Tell Sophisticated Stories

17spectacle3D-master675“There is a kind of show business in the fall that we’ve never had before,” said Greg Foster, the chief executive of the IMAX Corporation’s entertainment unit. He spoke of the confluence of films aimed at adults, many in 3-D, that will be delivered in IMAX and other large (and premium-priced) formats this year, pointing toward higher seasonal ticket sales, and perhaps a significant shift in viewing habits.

Some film executives see potential for industry transformation, if mature viewers indeed flock to a more sophisticated lineup of event films. “The word I would use is ‘necessary,’ ” Tom Rothman, the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s motion picture group, said of the envisioned change.

If adults are more willing to don 3-D glasses — among those ages 50 to 59, 3-D viewing hit a peak in 2013, when Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” was a hit — that is partly because film exhibitors and related companies have been courting them to fill newly created capacity.

This year RealD, a supplier of 3-D technology, pushed its screen count past 27,000, up more than 6 percent from last year, even as 3-D viewing among the young fell sharply from a high in 2011, when “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” was a draw, before rebounding this summer. Similarly, the Cinemark, Regal and AMC theater chains now operate more than 430 proprietary premium large-format screens, up 34 percent from 320 in 2013.

IMAX, a giant-screen pioneer, has pushed its global screen count to almost 1,000.

“The more palpable and immersive the experience,” he said, “the more personal the film feels.”

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