Sony Launches Branded Premium Large-Format Theater System

A competitor to Imax and Dolby Cinema, the first Sony Digital Cinema theater will open at Galaxy Theatres in Las Vegas this spring.
Courtesy of Sony Electronics

Sony Electronics is launching a Sony-branded premium large-format theatrical system, which will effectively compete with the likes of Imax, Dolby Cinema and theater-branded PLF auditoriums.

The Sony Digital Cinema offing includes Sony laser projection with support for 4K and high dynamic range images, Dolby Atmos sound, and reclining seats. If purchased, the projection and sound systems represent an investment upward of $1 million, though Sony declined to comment on the business arrangement with the theaters.

The first location, slated to open in the spring with a 70-foot screen, will be Galaxy Theatres' Las Vegas Boulevard Mall venue. Sony is targeting theater-owners confab CinemaCon (April 1-4) for its grand opening.

"We strategically chose Las Vegas, a city synonymous with world-class entertainment, for the launch of our new Sony Digital Cinema auditorium at Galaxy Theatres," said Galaxy Theatres president Rafe Cohen. "We strive to exceed customers' expectations of a best-in-class theatrical destination."

The focus on the initial rollout is in the U.S., though Sony will additionally present their new system to international exhibitors during CinemaCon. "We're looking to offer very large, immersive screens," Sony's head of cinema Bob Raposo told THR. "Consumers recognize Sony as a very premium brand, and this will give consumers the confidence that this is a premium experience."

While Sony Digital Cinema will launch with the company's high-end laser projectors, it also has been developing a theatrical system that would replace the cinema screen with an LED screen. Reposo told THR it's "possible" that Sony could later move to offering the LED screen as part of this new PLF system, saying the company believes LED cinema could have "'significant impact" on the business. (Sony won't be showing the LED screen at CinemaCon, where it will instead highlight the new PLF system. A week after CinemaCon, a 32-foot Sony LED screen will be exhibited at the NAB Show, also in Las Vegas.)

Reposo said that theater owners could play a standard Digital Cinema Package (the digital equivalent of a film print) in a Sony Digital Cinema auditorium, though looking ahead "we are exploring specifically graded [versions] for our theaters." That would be consistent with Imax and Dolby Cinema, which also use specially created deliverables.

Said Raposo: "Sony has the capability and tools to be involved in every aspect of a film, from capture, workflow and postproduction, to film production and distribution and experiential theater solutions."