Cinemas can’t lure viewers away from Netflix with big screens — so now they’re trying three big screens.
Movie houses across the world are increasingly adopting a new gimmick called ScreenX, which surrounds audiences in 270-degrees — one screen at the front, two at each side — for an experience that is supposed to be more immersive than the home film-watching experience.
The South Korean technology has been around since 2012, and is now installed at more than 150 theaters across the globe — recently debuting in the UK’s largest cinema chain, which eventually plans on rolling it out at more than 100 of its locations.
Three cinemas in the US have also installed ScreenX — two in California and one in Las Vegas.
Last year’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” was the first film released in the US to utilize the three screens, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer described the panoramic viewing experience as “exciting” at the time.
“Seeing our film span three entire walls of an auditorium, and to be able to have the film extend beyond the screen has been exciting,” he enthused in a press release.
But a reviewer for Los Angeles Magazine said only around “10 to 15 percent” of the film actually included the extra visuals, and said it didn’t really live up to expectations.
“The main screen was the same size, but the visuals extended down the walls and into the audience’s peripheral vision. Of course, theater walls also have things like doors with lighted “exit” signs, so they aren’t a perfect viewing surface. Even so, ScreenX had my attention,” the mag wrote.
“The extra-wide ocean looked great — and then it was gone,”
Since then, “Black Panther” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” were both released in ScreenX format — but again reviewers weren’t blown away.
“While some of the African vista shots are beautiful, the visual quality of the extended footage projected onto the ScreenX theatre walls is not of the same high quality as the main film footage,” Business Insider wrote of “Black Panther.”
“While we enjoyed some of the expanded visuals, the overall experience was underwhelming.”
It’s a costly experiment — it costs about $400,000 for the suite of projectors and control center needed for ScreenX, according to a Variety report.
And some movie buffs note that 3D was also supposed offer an immersive viewing experience to draw customers back to the silver screen — but interest seems to have faded.
“In 2009, when films like ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Avatar’ were coming out, [3D] was the great new thing,” says Variety film reporter Robert Mitchell.
“That lasted for a couple of years until people started to realize that some films were being made that didn’t really use the enhancements well. And it started to put people off going.”
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