Barco has scored a hit in the immersive audio turf war previewed at April’s CinemaCon. Global chain Cinemark is siding with the open sound format employed by Barco’s Auro 11.1 over competitor Dolby Atmos. The theater company has committed to deploying Auro 11.1 in over 150 premium Extreme Digital (XD) screens beginning this year in its “tier one” markets, including North America. Dominant sound specialist Dolby has seen its Dolby Atmos system used exclusively on major studio projects including WB’s Man Of Steel, Pacific Rim, and Gravity, Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness, Disney’s Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Monsters University, and Fox’s Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters and Wolverine. Meanwhile Auro 11.1′s major native productions thus far are highlighted by DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods and Fox’s Turbo – a modest start. (Sony’s Elysium was mixed in both Auro 11.1 and Dolby Atmos.) But Cinemark operates 467 theaters in 39 US states, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and 10 additional Latin American countries, and their business means at least a minor victory for Barco’s immersive audio contender…
The battle over next-generation “immersive audio” is afoot, even if its top two major competitors are playing nice on the surface. For now. NATO’s pushing the theatrical innovation hard this year at CinemaCon, where industry leader Dolby scored crucial placement of its Dolby Atmos system in the main Coliseum theater for all major studio events. Today reps for Dolby and #2 rival Barco spoke in a panel discussion of how they, studios, and theater owners might work together to establish standards that would allow both Dolby Atmos and Barco’s Auro 11.1 immersive audio systems to co-exist. But some on the periphery are expecting a full-blown format war to erupt leaving a single victor dominating the field globally — and so theater owners are treading carefully. Theater upgrades to either premium audio system will involve the costly installation of additional speakers. Nobody wants to invest in a losing format. Especially after spending big cash to convert to digital.
The three companies made the joint announcement today at NAB. They’ll work together to integrate the Dolby 3D format into Cameron-Pace Group’s 3D video content production workflow and develop a premium glasses-free in-home 3D experience using Dolby 3D. Cameron-Pace’s 3D content will be showcased at Dolby’s booth at the conference, which runs through Thursday. “James Cameron and Vince Pace’s artistic and technological vision make CPG a great partner in our quest to make glasses-free 3D successful for creative professionals, broadcast networks, consumer electronics manufacturers, and ultimately for consumers”, said Dolby’s Roland Vlaicu in a statement.
The bottom line, as Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Tom Sherak told me this morning, is that, “I wanted to stay in Hollywood. And the Board Of Governors said the awards should definitely stay in Hollywood. I think the Board always felt the awards belonged in Hollywood. There is a connection between the Oscars and Hollywood, and the feeling was it was the right place to stay.” January 11th when reports in other trades were strongly indicating a possible move by the Oscars out of the then-named Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland (to most likely the Nokia downtown), I said this was highly improbable. And now with today’s announcement, scooped by Deadline, that CIM has made a naming-rights deal with Dolby and signed a new 20-year lease for the Oscars with the Academy, no move happened. And quite frankly it never was seriously going to happen. As I wrote then, it took the Academy over 40 years to return to Hollywood after detours to the Santa Monica Civic and the Shrine and the Music Center, and the illustrious movie organization wasn’t about to give up so easily. Prior to the debut show at the Kodak Theatre in 2002, the last time the quintessential Hollywood awards show was actually in Hollywood was at the Pantages Theatre in 1961. Plus the Kodak, now Dolby Theatre, was and is a beautiful venue for the show even if …
We’ll probably hear a lot of announcements like this one over the next few days as movie technology companies try to wow theater execs who are gathering in Las Vegas for their annual CinemaCon convention. Dolby Laboratories is putting its marketing muscle behind a new audio platform called Dolby Atmos that it says will provide theater audiences with “a life-like, sensory experience” with sounds that can seem to emanate from almost any place in the auditorium. The technology can handle 128 audio inputs, and feed signals to as many as 64 different speakers. Dolby CEO Kevin Yeaman calls this “our most significant innovation in years and represents the future for entertainment sound in cinema.” Dolby will deploy it in several “premium global locations” this year in the U.S., Europe, China and Japan with plans to roll it out widely in 2013. The company says that the technology gives sound designers and content creators more control — and enables them to easily monitor and
Bloomberg is reporting that Dolby Laboratories is in naming-rights talks with owners of the venue formerly known as the Kodak Theatre. Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January and was only halfway through a 20-year rights deal when it pulled out just before this year’s Oscar ceremony (media outlets were asked to refer to the venue as Hollywood & Highland Center during the Oscarcast). The Bloomberg report says landlord CIM Group is “open to more offers” for naming right and discussions could end without an agreement. Oscar organizer the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does have a say on any prospective theater name — although this choice seems to be right in the venue’s wheelhouse as both Dolby and Kodak are longtime Hollywood players and Dolby has been a leader in digital cinema technology. The Oscars are the theater’s marquee tenant, so it will be interesting to watch negotiations with the Academy one year away from having to decide whether it’s staying put at the Hollywood & Highland Center or moving the Oscars elsewhere; its lease with CIM is up ahead of the 2014 Academy Awards.
SAN FRANCISCO (December 19, 2011) — Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB) today announced it has engaged Sid Ganis to support its cinema business and expand relationships with the industry’s creative leaders. Ganis, who most recently served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will advise senior management on a variety of initiatives to better serve the creative, production, and exhibition communities. Ganis is one of the most recognized and respected motion picture executives in recent history. He has held various global corporate and strategic positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment, including president of worldwide marketing for Columbia TriStar, vice chairman of Columbia Pictures, and president of marketing and distribution for Columbia Pictures, as well as key posts at Lucasfilm, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Twentieth Century Fox.
San Francisco, October 18, 2011—Dolby Laboratories, Inc., (NYSE: DLB) today enabled the first discrete 7.1-channel surround sound entertainment experience available to streaming media using Dolby® Digital Plus audio. VUDU, a leading subscription-free, video-on-demand movie service and wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., began streaming Walt Disney Pictures’ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 audio today.