Showeast 2012: Sony Focused On Digital Cinema Conversion

Sony Logo - H 2012

Sony Logo - H 2012

The technology maker continues to offer Virtual Print Fee deals, previews a new 4K projector designed for small to mid-sized theaters, and demos high frame rate support.

With many predicting that the end of film might not be so far off, Sony has arrived at this week’s Showeast theater owners confab in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to preview a new model of its 4K digital cinema projector and restate that its Virtual Print Fee (VPF) deals remain available in the U.S. and Canada.

VPFs are the financing models that the industry adopted to help pay for the conversion from film projectors to digital systems, which can reach six figures. To help theater owners handle the costs, studios pay exhibitors VPF fees on each movie they release. But availability of those deals is starting to expire.

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“[Some] VPF deals for the U.S. and Canada ran out at the end of September. Ours are available until March 31, 2013,” reported Gary Johns, senior vp, digital cinema solutions at Sony Electronics. The deadline to sign up for Sony’s program in international markets extends even further out.

In addition to its SRX-R320P digital cinema projector, Sony is bringing to market the SRX-R515P, a 4K digital cinema projection system designed for small to medium sized screens and independent theaters. The new projector—which will be previewed at Showeast—will be available by the end of the year through its VPF program, or available for  purchase next March at a price that Sony says will be lower that its existing projector.

An estimated 13,500 Sony 4K projectors are currently installed in theaters worldwide.

At Showeast, Sony will also highlight its high frame rate upgrade for its projection systems, which supports 48 and 60 frame per second, for 2D or 3D.

STORY: Showeast 2012: Is the End of Film One Year Away? 

Next month, Warners plans a platform release of a 48fps 3D version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While the movie will have a wide release on Dec. 14, most theaters will play the movie at 24-frames-per-second, which has been the standard frame rate since the arrival of talkies. A 48 fps version of the movie--a first for a Hollywood feature--will be made available in “all major markets” in North America though it will play only in selected theaters.

At Showeast, Sony additionally will show its Entertainment Access Glasses with audio, designed for hearing and visually impaired movie-goers. The technology allows for the projection of subtitles that are only visible to the viewer.