L.A. Theater Debuts First LED Video Wall in U.S.

Theater_LED_Wall - Publicity - H 2018
Seung-ho Yoo/Courtesy of Samsung

A year ago at CinemaCon, Samsung and Sony introduced a disruptive vision for the next stage of cinema: replace projectors — a staple of movies since the start — with large LED video walls.

And on Friday, just prior to CinemaCon 2018, Samsung will help open the first LED cinema screen in the U.S., at Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, a suburb of Los Angeles, where audiences will be able to get a look at the cutting edge of film exhibition.

The screen is 33.8 feet wide and 17.7 feet high with nearly 9 million pixels, though Samsung’s LED Cinema screen technology is modular, enabling a variety of sizes and configurations. It supports 2K or 4K resolution, 3-D, high dynamic range imagery and meets studio consortium Digital Cinema Initiatives' technical specification for cinema use.

Samsung partnered with Harman International to configure and install a JBL Professional cinema sound audio system in the Chatsworth venue as well.

Samsung LED Cinema screens are installed in five international venues, two in South Korea, and one each in Zurich, Bangkok and Shanghai.

Tech vets who’ve seen demonstrations admit that the images these LED systems can produce are impressive, including their wide dynamic range (blacker blacks and whiter whites). However, a number of key factors still need to be addressed — most notably cost, says Pete Lude, chief technology officer of engineering firm Mission Rock Digital.

He explains that LED screens are now priced in the range of 6 to 8 cents per pixel, meaning that a cinema-size screen could run $500,000 to $700,000 — a hefty sum compared with a laser projector’s $150,000 to $300,000 price tag.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.