The Future of Movie Theaters
Gimmicks and Gadgets
In order to keep the movie theater experience enjoyable and
original, theaters will continue to amp up their technology to match the
standards of the day. Whether this means
improving the resolution of their projectors or installing a better sound
system, the improvements will generally enhance the movie going experience for
|A very popular gimmick|
|Has Technology Advanced?|
Another way to create a more memorable experience is the use
of gimmicks such as 3-D. 3-D is
currently the most popular gimmick which is odd because it is not improving the
visuals of the movie. It is tricking our
eyes into seeing a depth of field.
Somehow this has taken off as it did in the 50’s and to a lesser extent
in the 80’s. Theaters will continue to
play the 3-D card but I would expect the next stage of this would be a theater
that does not require the glasses.
Whether that means a development of an actual 3-D visual technology or
just more gimmicks remains to be seen. It
won’t be a major surprise to see a glasses free technology developed over the
next 10 years.
|D-Box motion seat|
The rumble seat and/or D-Box is another gimmick that is,
just like 3-D, nothing new. A seat that rumbles depending on the noise level of
the movie can enhance the experience as do the motion ride seats of D-Box in
other theaters. These turn the theaters
into versions of the motion rides of theme parks.
Other gimmicks still in the works include the smell-o-vision.
|Comfy seats |
Already existing in a limited capacity are theaters with
comfortable chairs, food servers at your request and other amenities. Reserved seating exists with IMAX and other
specialty theaters and that idea may continue to expand to other theaters.
|Bigger the better?|
IMAX and other theaters like XD provide superior quality
along with larger screens. The
increasing size of the screen is in reaction to a trend of TVs getting larger
and larger. Countering a trend in the
80’s as the theaters got rid of the largest screens just to make room for more
theaters, the new large screens add an appeal for audiences.
Of course all these perks to improve the theater experience come
at a cost and so only people with disposable income and movie fans will be able
to take part. Others will have to pick
and choose when they take part in these bonuses.
|Jackson shoots The Hobbit|
I hesitate to place the following in the gimmick category
because it is a substantial technology that is meant to improve on a standard
of today. The problem is that it may not
be accepted by audiences. The 48 frame
per second experiment that filmmaker Peter Jackson is using with The Hobbit
is meant to deliver a stark
increase in quality of the movie image.
This and special effect expert Douglas Trumball (who is working on a 60
frames a second format called showscan) are meant to recreate images that are closer to real
life than anything we have seen before.
These changes are meant to eliminate many of the problems associated
with movies today including the motion blur but the result is an appearance
like video that is compared to daytime soap operas. The look of video compared to film gives
video the label as looking cheap. These
processes could look fantastic but the art of film is engrained in our minds
and may be hard to shake.
The improvement of visuals and better sound will make the
theaters more attractive and keep people coming. No doubt that these technologies will improve
as time goes on.
|Good ole film!|
|The latest digital projectors|
Most movie theaters are reveling in the digital projection
and HD. Not only does this make
projecting the movies easier and less expensive but the showing of older movies
is also much easier. Why those cost
savings of not having to purchase film canisters have not funneled down to the
audiences is questionable. I guess we
would be spending lots more to see a movie.
Currently most theaters receive a hard drive with the movie included but
in the near future the internet and satellites will be the main way to
transport movies to the cinemas. All of
this behind the scenes technology will be mostly invisible to the
consumers. At some point servers would
run the projectors and the whole process will become more automated than it is
now. This should be a cost savings for
theaters but that does not mean anything for the audience.
|Say bye-bye to these types of theaters|
This digital technology is all great and all but already
being adversely affected are the small independent theaters still using
film. Film is superior to digital but is
more expensive and harder to upkeep.
Those local dives with poor sound and small screens may soon all go
away. Chains like Rave and AMC should
prosper. While I am not a big fan of
seeing a second run move in a run down low tech theater, I still like the
appeal of the art houses and the independently owned theaters that bring us not
only the odd film from time to time but marathons, classic films and so
on. It would be a shame to see those
theaters go away. Because of their
nature, they have a better chance than the low end theater that just shows a
movie just as it is coming out on disc.
|Hopefully art house type theaters will survive|
People love nostalgia and that is why we still have a few
old drive-in theaters around the country.
Someday movie theaters may be another neat nostalgic oddity that kids ask
their parents about. A day may be coming
where all movies are available online for people to see for the first time in
their homes. A day when 50+ inch TVs are
common and the high quality images of a movie can be enjoyed at home may not be
that far away. I doubt theaters will
vanish as quickly and decisively as the drive-in theaters but many of these
factors are moving in that direction. I
would not expect to see this in most of our life times but it will be
interesting to see what movie theaters do over the next couple of decades to
keep the experience fresh and enjoyable for all.
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