'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Premiere: Disney and Dolby's Six-Month Effort to Prep the Theater

The Dolby installation included hanging 2,500-pound overhead trusses to hold the ceiling speakers and additional power and AC.
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The 'Last Jedi' team inside the Shrine Auditorium before the Dec. 9 premiere screening

For Saturday night’s star-studded premiere of The Last Jedi in Los Angeles, Disney and Dolby started installation on Tuesday to convert the enormous, multipurpose Shrine Auditorium into a perfectly tuned screening environment.

That included installation of a 70 ft. wide by 30 ft. high screen, a Dolby Vision high dynamic range projection system (and a full projection booth) and 193 speakers for 40 channels of Dolby Atmos immersive sound.

High above the guests, the Dolby Atmos system included hanging a pair of overhead trusses to hold the ceiling speakers, each of which weighed approximately 2,500 pounds.

Disney and Dolby began work on design of the setup six months ago, according to Michael Kern, Disney’s vp of special events production, who produced the premiere. “We have been doing this with Dolby for so long we have a shorthand,” he said of the massive but smooth effort.

The Dolby Vision projection system includes dual Christie laser projectors; the projection booth also encased a backup Xenon projector and a third projection system for red-carpet playback. Kern said that designing the projection booth included power and AC requirements to meet the 70 ft. screen and speaker setup.

The sound configuration involved the efforts of Dolby, Disney, sound designer Alex Guessard and project manager Drew Aldribge.

“It’s thrilling to put these kinds of events together,” said Kern. “We look forward to these big events. You bring in the best of the best.”