New 3-D Technology Eliminates Special Projectors

Technicolor, the French telecoms and film technology company once known as Thomson SA, has reached its first deal to give a theater chain the ability to show 3-D movies without the need for a digital projector.

The company announced it would install its 3-D solution on 25 of the 150 screens run by New York-based Bow Tie Cinemas, enabling each of its 18 locations to have at least one 3-D screen.

Technicolor says its film 3-D solution costs a fraction of what it would take to install digital projectors, which has enabled modern 3-D movies to be shown at most theater chains.

Technicolor’s solution costs about $4,000 to $6,000 to outfit an auditorium with a silver screen, plus a maximum $12,000 in rental costs per year for a specialized lens. Digital projection systems cost about $75,000 per screen.

“We’ve developed a high-quality solution that addresses the 3-D screen scarcity issue and allows exhibitors an affordable way to bridge the gap to digital,” said Joe Berchtold, president of Technicolor’s creative services business, in a release.

The popularity of 3-D movies and the lack of financing has resulted in a temporary shortage of screens capable of showing the format.

So far this year, 19 3-D movies are expected to hit theaters. But with only about 3,900 to 4,000 screens in North America expected to be ready by the end of March, there is expected to be a logjam at theaters because three, and perhaps four major 3-D movies will be in theaters at the same time. Major releases can often command up to 10,000 screens each at their opening.

Technicolor’s 3-D screens will be ready at Bow Tie Cinemas in time for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.’s next movie, “How to Train Your Dragon,” which is being released March 26.

It will also be available for Warner Bros.’ “Clash of the Titans,” coming out April 2.

Seven movie studios support Technicolor’s solution: DreamWorks, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Overture Films, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. and The Weinstein Co.

Notable studios that have not endorsed Technicolor’s inexpensive format are 20th Century Fox and The Walt Disney Co.

The company resolves the need for a digital projector by essentially halving the size of 35-millimeter film frames and blowing each half up to fill the entire screen. Alternating images are polarized for the right- and left-eye, so audiences wearing polarized lenses will experience the movie in 3-D.

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