Digital demos take center stage at ShowEast

Concession equipment, theater seats on display

ORLANDO -- It wouldn't be ShowEast without the popcorn-machine vendors.

But plenty of other concession-equipment companies, theater-seat manufacturers and purveyors of sundry digital bells and whistles also pitched their goods and services to a steady stream of prospective customers during on the exhibition confab's large trade show floor Wednesday.

Montreal-based D-Box, which has become a ShowEast regular, was demonstrating its specially designed theater seats offering "motion effects" synchronized to scenes in action movies.

D-Box recently announced a deal with Sony to sync its seats in eight U.S. and Canadian theaters with Sony's upcoming sci-fi actioner "2012." Under its arrangements with studios and exhibs, D-Box, film distributors and theater owners each get a one-third split of ticket receipts from its installations.

Maintaining one of the biggest booths on the ShowEast trade show floor, Sony Electronics is demonstrating its new, more compact 4K digital projection system, dubbed the SRX-R320. Barco, Christie and NRC are pitching their own hardware on the basis of reliability, ease-of-use, customer support and other features.

NEC is using a hotel suite to demo projectors including a top of the line NC3200S, which it touts for optimum luminosity. That's a big consideration in d-cinema, as inadequate image brightness can hamper color quality.

Dolby Digital, Kodak and others also numbered among companies booths heavily oriented toward d-cinema wares. Though fewer booths covered the large trade show floor this year - the result of industry consolidation and economic tough times -- those on hand seemed happy enough with floor traffic.

"The show is a little smaller this year, and the aisles are stretched out," said Pat Moore, a marketing vp with digital vendor Ballantyne Strong. "But the appeal of ShowEast has always been that it's a smaller show that allows you more time to talk to people."

But though the recession has affected many of those doing business with theater operators, exhibitors themselves are upbeat that their core boxoffice revenue has proven to be as resilient as ever this year. So it was no surprise that the confab's annual hall of fame luncheon took on a celebratory tone.

"The next decade is going to be even more exciting," DLP Cinema's Tony Adamson enthused from the podium.

Inductees included National Amusements' Bill Towey, MJR Theatres' Mike Mihalich, Anderson Consulting's MaryAnn Anderson, and posthumously Sony Pictures' Bob Capps and Paramount's Wayne Lewellen.

Film screenings continued with Warner Bros.' presenting the Sandra Bullock-toplined sports drama "The Blind Side" and Freestyle Releasing unspooling "Me and Orson Welles," a Richard Linklater romantic drama starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes, Sony was set to show Roland Emmerich's scifi actioner "2012" in the evening.

ShowEast concludes its four-day run at the Marriott Orlando World Center here with an awards gala set for Thursday night.