'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' 'Inside Out' Bolstered Dolby Vision Theatrical Launch

The new format supports high dynamic range imagery, which will be a big topic at CES.
Courtesy of Lucasfilm
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Catapulted by blockbusters including Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, the theatrical rollout of Dolby Vision, a new format that supports high dynamic range, began with a high-profile debut in 2015.

In fact, Dolby Vision (in addition to Dolby Atmos sound) was even used for the recent premiere of The Force Awakens, in both Hollywood's El Capitan and Dolby Theatre — two of the three premiere venues.

High dynamic range means that the system can display a wider range between the blackest blacks and whitest whites in an image, and it is central to Dolby's plans for Dolby Cinema, a large-format offering that combines Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and a proprietary premium large format theater configuration. Dolby Vision launched last spring and already at least one movie from each of the major studios has been released in the format — some of which are high-profile contenders for Oscar nominations. In addition to The Force Awakens and Inside Out, 20th Century Fox’s The Martian and Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur were both released in the format. The latest to debut is a Dolby Vision version of The Revenant.

Rounding out the list of 2015 Dolby Vision releases are the format’s debut release, Disney’s Tomorrowland; Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, from 20th Century Fox; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, from Lionsgate; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, from Paramount; Pixels, The Perfect Guy and Goosebumps, from Sony; and In the Heart of the Sea, San Andreas and Pan, from Warner Bros.

Disney has already announced that The Jungle Book will be released in Dolby Vision when it opens in April. More titles are being planned but haven't yet been announced (though it's hard to imagine that Disney isn't at least considering a Dolby Vision release for the upcoming Star Wars titles.)

To see the Dolby Vision version of a film, viewers need to visit a supported theater. Currently in the U.S., there are roughly 10 Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime locations that support the format, in addition to the El Capitan. There are also four Dolby Cinema locations in Europe.

Dolby is also working to release the format for home entertainment, which will include supported TV sets, select supported titles for digital download and support from the new Ultra HD Blu-Ray format. There will be more news about Dolby Vision and additional proposed HDR formats for home entertainment next week at CES in Las Vegas.