NAB: 'Maze Runner 2' Coming to Cinerama-Like Barco Escape Theaters

Execs from Jaunt discuss "inevitability" of virtual reality and immersive cinema.
'Maze Runner'

Roughly 20 minutes of sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will be available in Barco's Cinerama-like Escape format at supported cinemas when the film opens Sept. 18.

The system — which has screens on the front and side walls of the auditorium — was introduced in experimental form during 2014 by showing roughly 10 minutes of Fox's The Maze Runner in the immersive format. (The rest of the film played without the expanded picture on the side walls.)

Escape is currently offered in five U.S. theaters (two in Los Angeles) as well as two in Belgium. Barco is hoping to get to 25 Escape installations in time for the Maze Runner sequel's debut.

Escape, along with virtual reality, were topics on Sunday during the NAB Show's Technology Summit on Cinema, which is produced by NAB and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Fox's futurist Ted Schilowitz (who is also Barco's "cinemavangelist" and a board member of VR technology maker Jaunt) sees these as complementary and about an "inevitable drive to the future."

Also speaking were Jaunt's co-founder and CTO Arthur van Hoff and vp content Scott Broock. Hoff noted that an important next step is to make VR more social by creating shared experiences as well as getting a better understanding of the production grammar, from camera movement to production design.

Currently, mobile devices are driving the VR market, supporting systems such as Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard. Schilowitz noted that additional head gear such as Oculus' Crescent Bay and Sony's Project Morpheus are not yet on the market, but "they are already very good. … Imagine where we'll be in five years or 10 years. The viability for the technology is extremely high."

Jaunt, which has already raised nearly $35 million from investors, has a current model that's about getting content out to launch the market. Further out, it sees potential opportunities for live paid content, such as boxing matches. Asserted Brook: "This isn't next year; it's happening."

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