Christie Granted Patent That Would Let Cinemas Stream Movies to the Home

Movie Theater Interior
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

empty movie theater

Cinema tech developer Christie has been issued a U.S. patent that could enable exhibitors to stream movies directly from their cinemas to customers' homes, potentially giving struggling theater owners a way to supplement their businesses while the pandemic has caused many cinemas to remained closed.

"Christie’s patented approach places the dynamics of when, how and for how much that [movie content] is made available to consumers directly in the hands of exhibitors to decide,” says Brian Claypool, executive vp of cinema at Christie, in a released statement.

Studios have responded to the pandemic's impact on cinema by pushing back release dates of many tentpole movies, and in some cases, creating alternative plans. Disney, for instance, released tentpole Mulan and intends to debut Pixar's Soul on its Disney+ streaming service.

Explains Claypool in a released statement: “We all love the cinema, and there is nothing quite like the in-person, big-screen experience at your local theater. It has been exciting to see how adaptable exhibitors have been in getting people back into many theaters around the world, and we hope to see more and more people returning to their local cinemas. However, we are under no illusions as to the many challenges that exhibitors face. This technology enables exhibitors to securely show customers premium cinematic content on their own terms, opening an additional potential revenue stream, in these difficult times."

Here's how it works: Operating with Christie’s integrated media block (which is used by Christie customers around the world as part of their digital cinema configurations), the patented hardware and software combines with the capabilities of Christie’s streaming and networking products to allow the theater to deliver content over IP networks directly from the cinema to consumers' homes, the company explained.

According to Christie, the system follows its security specifications and could support delivery options from compressed H.265 streams at 4Mbps to uncompressed 8K at 120Hz at 100Gbps, claiming with "zero latency over affordable Ethernet components."

The patent was also issued in Europe and is pending in other regions.