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Samsung unveiled a leasing plan, an updated sound system and additional rollout details for its Onyx LED Cinema Screen this week at theater owners confab ShowEast. The Samsung LED Cinema Screen is a disruptive technology unveiled last spring that effectively uses a large video wall instead of cinema projection.
Why switch to LED screens? Samsung vp Stephen Choi has argued that “there hasn’t been anything new to draw audiences into the theaters” and they need “a new experience, to provide the ‘wow’ factor.”
There are now 23 systems installed in theaters worldwide, including one in the U.S., at Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, Calif., which opened last spring; and sites in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The company hopes to have 30 installations by year’s end, Nick Conti, senior business development manager for cinema, told The Hollywood Reporter.
A new financing program from CSI Leasing is now available for U.S. customers, as the cost of a screen could run anywhere from $500,000 to $800,000, which is a hefty price for a theater owner. Pete Lude, chief technology officer of engineering firm Mission Rock Digital, estimates that in comparison, top-of-the-line laser projectors generally cost between $150,000 and $300,000.
The question of how to handle the sound has been a big topic of discussion, as with traditional cinema, there are speakers directly behind the screen, which is not doable with LED panels. Samsung-owned Harman International developed a JBL Professional cinema sound audio system that can accommodate up to 7.1 surround sound, but reactions were mixed. Conti claims Samsung has improved its sound system with additional speakers in a new configuration, which also has been installed at the Winnetka theater.
Conti also reported that Winnetka and other Onyx theaters are currently playing standard DCPs (digital cinema packages, which are the digital equivalent of a film print). But one of Samsung’s selling points for its LED system is brightness to accommodate high dynamic range, and to that end, Conti said Samsung is talking with studios about the potential to create an additional version of their movies, mastered to accommodate HDR and its LED system.
On Monday, Samsung also announced its new resellers, which include American Cinema Equipment, CES Plus Inc (CES+), Cinetech, Entertainment Supply & Technologies, Integrity Entertainment Systems and Moving Image Technologies.
Additionally, the company introduced some new hires for its Onyx business: Christopher Simpson, senior business development manager for cinema, and Doug Harbaugh, solutions architect.
ShowEast runs through Thursday in Miami.
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