CinemaCon: Barco Escape Inks Multi-Picture Deals With Cross Creek, Fundamental Films

Ethan Hawke - H 2015

Ethan Hawke - H 2015

Cross Creek Pictures and Fundamental Films will each release multiple movies in Cinerama-like Barco Escape, a tri-screen theater system aimed at creating a more immersive experience with three screens stitched together on the front and side walls of an auditorium.

The announcement on Tuesday during theater owners confab CinemaCon follows Monday's news that J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot, Paramount and Skydance will release a special version of Star Trek Beyond for Barco Escape when the film opens on July 22.

Per the deal with Fundamental, the production company will produce two or more of their upcoming titles, with plans to start with 24 Hours to Live, a thriller starring Ethan Hawke, directed by Brian Smrz and produced with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road. It is scheduled for a summer 2017 release.

Cross Creek — which recently inked a three-year co-financing, production and distribution deal with Sony Pictures — committed to go into development on a film in Barco Escape by 2017. “We’re excited to partner with Barco Escape to bring our films to a grander stage for some of our most-anticipated projects," said Cross Creek's Tyler Thompson.

The deal with Shanghai-based Fundamental underscores Barco’s international expansion plans, as there are already Barco Escape installations in Shanghai and Beijing. Said Fundamental's chairman Mark Gao: “Barco Escape’s ultra-wide format offers the largest canvas available in theaters, empowering us to put our audience inside the action like never before in our upcoming movies.”

Also planned for a 2016 Escape release, as previously reported, is Scott Waugh's 6 Below, which is being shot entirely for the format.

In all, Barco aims to release four movies for Barco Escape this year, followed by eight in 2017 and at least 12 per year starting in 2018, according to Barco Escape CEO Todd Hoddick.

Barco expects to have roughly 50 Escape-equipped theater installations in time for the Star Trek Beyond release. Looking further out, it projects at least 100 by the end of the year and 3,000 in next three to five years.

Escape was introduced in 2014 with 20th Century Fox's The Maze Runner, which included the expanded tri-screen imagery in seven minutes of the film, at a handful of supported theaters. As part of a multiyear deal with Fox, that was followed by Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, which incorporated 20 minutes in the Escape format.

In 2015, Barco announced a development deal with Jerry Bruckheimer.

Barco is demonstrating Escape, along with its laser projection systems, Auro Max immersive sound system and lobby experience, this week at CinemaCon.