Alternative approaches to entertainment distribution/consumption

Started by Sleepless, September 06, 2013, 02:08:09 PM

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I hadn't heard about this new, 'non-projection' screen (for theater use) until this afternoon when I was speaking with an industry projectionist/repair/maintenance guy.  I'm curious, and the Winnetka 21 is close enough for me to check out...

  How the New LED Cinema Screen Could Change Filmmaking and Moviegoing

APRIL 20, 2018
by Carolyn Giardina

The first LED cinema screen in the U.S. was unveiled Friday at Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, where Warner Bros.' Ready Player One will be the first movie offered on the new exhibition system, starting Saturday.

The Samsung LED Cinema Screen marks a radical shift from the theater projection systems that have been used since the birth of cinema. Instead, the LED screen is more akin to a giant television screen, and its use would render the projection booth a thing of the past.

At its unveiling Friday, Samsung shared new details about content creation for the screen — and what it might mean for both studios and filmmakers.

Why switch to LED screens? Samsung vice president Stephen Choi argues that "there hasn't been anything new to draw audiences into the theaters" and they need "a new experience, to provide the 'wow' factor."

So far, the images that the screen produces have impressed many in Hollywood, including Jerome Dewhurst, senior color scientist at postproduction facility Roundabout Entertainment. He contends that the LED screen's "pure black is much deeper" than other systems.

It remains to be seen whether the non-expert eye of the average moviegoer will see a noticeable difference, and whether audiences will then be willing to pay a premium for it. At launch, Pacific Theatres Winnetka is not charging a premium for the LED auditorium. But, in time, theaters may choose to charge a premium ticket price to watch movies on a LED screen.

In order to prep movies for exhibition on the new LED screen in theaters, Samsung hopes to outfit postproduction facilities so that filmmakers can view their work on an LED display. The first color grading (digital intermediate) postproduction suite to offer a Samsung LED Screen in North America has now opened at Roundabout's Santa Monica facility. It offers a 17-foot screen that can play 2K resolution, standard or high dynamic range, 7.1 surround sound and offers a Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve color grading system. Samsung hopes to add its screens in more post houses.

According to Samsung, its Cinema Screen can play a standard DCI-compliant Digital Cinema Package (the digital equivalent of the film print) if the images are standard dynamic range. But for a high dynamic range (HDR) grade, it would require a separate version, meaning that the studios would need to make another deliverable. Studios are already creating multiple versions of their films, including digital 2D, digital 3D at different light levels, Imax, Dolby Cinema and local languages. The more deliverables, the more time and expense films must spend in postproduction.

The reason for the new HDR version — meaning that the images have a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks — is that the LED screen is brighter than what is typically projected in theaters, which is 14 foot-lamberts (a measure of luminance in cinema). In comparison, the LED screen has a peak brightness level around 300 nits (a measurement of brightness), which Samsung estimates could display roughly 88 foot-lamberts.

The new Samsung LED Cinema Screen in Chatsworth is 34 feet wide and 18 feet high, with all of the features of the smaller screen at Roundabout, but it can additionally support 4K resolution.

When introduced to the press on Friday, the theater presented trailers of Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time in standard dynamic range; various Amazon trailers including Life Itself in HDR; and some ARRI-provided demo material shot with its new Alexa LF large format camera, also in HDR.

Ready Player One was screened in its entirety in standard dynamic range, and Samsung confirmed that it therefore didn't create a new version of the film.

But on the HDR front, this screen does underscore a concern voiced by many cinematographers last week at NAB Show, that in the digital realm, their images can be manipulated and changed all too easily in postproduction. In fact, Ready Player One cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner Janusz Kaminski lamented that cinematographers are losing control of the images they shoot.

The cinematographers' participation in color grading can vary, as some lensers have guaranteed involvement in their contracts while others do not.

Roundabout's Dewhurst emphasized that he encourages the DP's involvement. "It's Roundabout's view that an HDR theater requires a dedicated grading session, not an automated system, to create the deliverable," he added, recommending that the LED HDR grade could be the master version, used as the starting point for other versions of a movie.

Samsung installed its first two LED screens in South Korea.    
L.A. Theater Debuts First LED Video Wall in U.S.
Dewhurst also revealed that Roundabout has already started to invite members of the American Society of Cinematographers to see the screen and discuss the creative work.

Samsung has additionally been showing their LED screen to filmmakers and Hollywood studio execs. The screen might be of particular interest to James Cameron, Ang Lee and other filmmakers exploring the use of higher frame rates. Ready Player One was screened on the Samsung system at 24 frames per second, the standard in cinema. But the tech manufacturer contends that it's working to get the system up to a high frame rate of 60 frames per second.

The question of how to handle the sound has been a topic of discussion for the past year, since Samsung first announced its LED Cinema Screen plans. This is because in traditional cinema, there are speakers directly behind the screen, which is not doable with LED panels.

For this theater auditorium, Samsung-owned Harman International developed a JBL Professional cinema sound audio system that can accommodate up to 7.1 Surround Sound. Harman's cinema solutions manager Dan Saenz explained that the new configuration places the front speaker directly above the screen and incorporates some filtering technology, designed to make it appear as though the sound was coming from the screen; and it places an additional speaker in front that bounces high frequency sounds off the screen and into the audience, also aimed at creating the sonic experience of a traditional theater.

Still, the biggest hurdle to a rollout could come down to the cost. Samsung said the cost of a screen could run anywhere from $500,000 to $800,000, 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 to $300,000.

Samsung argued that there are other benefits that could help offset some of the cost, citing as an example that the LED Cinema Screen's life span is estimated to be 17 years. "And we're looking at financial companies to see if there are options available," said Samsung's Choi.

The company also pointed out that unlike projection systems, a LED screen could be used with ambient light in the room, potentially making it an attractive option for dine-in theaters, gaming or other such users.

While Pacific Theatres Winnetka is the first U.S. theater installation, the Samsung LED Cinema Screens are available in several international venues, including two in South Korea and one each in Zurich, Bangkok and Shanghai. Samsung expects to have at least 10 installed worldwide by the summer, and roughly 30 by the end of the year.

While currently focused on 34-foot screens, Samsung is also working on a 46-foot 4K LED screen, which it aims to introduce in late 2018.

The Samsung LED screen will be on display next week at the theater owners convention CinemaCon, and Sony will show its Crystal LED cinema screen during the confab as well.


Something Spanish


Why do you say that?   This is a 'theater-sized' screen (at this point probably for 600-800 seat venues)--with a much better-quality image.    I think the theater experience may be doomed--but I'm not sure this 'non-projection' method would contribute, necessarily.  (Although as the cost comes down, this level of quality would be available in the home...)

Something Spanish


also, subscriptions are open for the newly ReAnimated FANGORIA mag -- rejoice


The Corpse of Anna Fritz is pretty great. There are a handful of good horror flicks I've watched in the past few weeks that I should get around to posting about in the Horror thread.
My house, my rules, my coffee


Paramount Was Hollywood's 'Mountain.' Now It's a Molehill.

After decades of nearly slapstick mismanagement — spinning off TV and missing the internet — the studio behind "The Godfather" is fighting for its life.


Can Megan Ellison Reverse Course on Annapurna's Financial Troubles?

QuoteA throng of Hollywood elite in a tent on the freezing beach gave a standing ovation when "If Beale Street Could Talk" won the best feature prize at the Independent Spirit Awards in February.

Barry Jenkins also took directing honors for the film, an adaptation of James Baldwin's classic novel that was produced by Annapurna and Plan B.

Looking over the rows of boldface names, including Timothée Chalamet and Glenn Close, Jenkins singled out his absent benefactor, who was at home stricken with the flu: "Megan Ellison!" he exclaimed. "Financiers do not put their money behind black authors. Thank you for your money, my dear. James Baldwin thanks you."

Jenkins is not alone in heaping praise on Ellison, who is known in the creative community as someone who consistently backs auteur directors, among them Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze and David O. Russell, making sizable investments in risky movies that major studios frequently shun.

But many industry observers and insiders are hesitant to spray champagne for Annapurna Pictures, whose shaky financial health gets overshadowed by all the accolades.

Take "Beale Street." Ellison is looking at a write-down of between $8 million and $10 million on a movie that was critically beloved but little seen, an individual familiar with the release told Variety. Compounding the situation is "Vice," Ellison's other big awards bet that cost around $65 million and scored eight Oscar nominations, including one for Christian Bale's turn as Dick Cheney. Industry figures estimate that "Vice" will lose $20 million, though an individual familiar with Annapurna pegged the number at closer to $15 million. Nicole Kidman's compelling but hit-and-miss cop drama "Destroyer" grossed only $1.5 million domestically and will represent a $7 million loss, another insider said.

These numbers are par for the course at Annapurna. Since 2016, when the company moved into distributing and marketing its movies as opposed to strictly producing them, it has endured major financial setbacks under a strategy to pridefully spend what it takes to get visionaries seen and heard. Of the eight films it has released since 2017, only one, "Sorry to Bother You," is expected to be minimally profitable, another insider said.

The company declined to make Ellison or other executives available for interview for this story. Ellison, however, did respond to the story on Tuesday, tweeting at Variety's co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller. "come on @Variety_Claudia — nice way of supporting women," she wrote. "I have done good things for this industry and you want me in it. Btw my money and I look more like this... and my dad thinks I'm dope as f—." She included a gif of Beyonce being showered by dollars.

Annapurna is the latest in a long line of indie studios whose grand ambitions have collided with the brutal economic realities of the business. Moviemaking is capital intensive and risky, and the history of Hollywood is littered with the corpses of disruptive studios that collapsed when the hits dried up. Relativity Studios, Broad Green Entertainment and Global Road are just a few of the recent players to have flamed out. Given Ellison's family money, Annapurna has had much more of a financial cushion than other indies. Her brother, David Ellison, enjoys the same luxury with his company Skydance Media. But their billionaire father, Larry Ellison, has made it clear that he's tired of Annapurna losing money and has brought in financial advisers to help guide his daughter.

"If you're going to do what Annapurna wants to do, you have to hit every time," says Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations. "It's wonderful to be a patron of the arts, and there is a foothold for these adult dramas in the market, but you can't ever miss."

The joint venture with MGM, forged in 2017, has not taken a rosy path. Despite dipping into Annapurna's deep pockets to roll out the upcoming 25th installment in the James Bond spy series, per the initial agreement Annapurna would not be allowed to flash a title card bearing its logo before the movie's opening credits. The squabbling got so granular that the then MGM communications chief would bark at journalists for including Annapurna in stories about the film, which is coming in 2020 from director Cary Fukunaga.

Under the expanded United Artists deal, the kumbayas are audible. An equitable board consisting of Ellison and her business and legal affairs chief, Chris Corabi, as well as MGM chief operating officer Chris Brearton and Motion Picture Group president Jon Glickman, jointly leads the company. The realignment has effectively sent Ellison's core movie-releasing team (including former longtime Harvey Weinstein distribution guru Erik Lomis and feature publicity executive Adriene Bowles) to work for UA. The move helps reduce Annapurna's bloated overhead but raises questions about its long-term viability.

Prior to the joint venture with MGM, Ellison wanted to transform Annapurna into a full-fledged studio, creating a company that not only produced movies but oversaw all aspects of their release, from the creation of the posters to the deals for television rights. As the flops mounted, the company also had to contend with the exodus of key executives over the past year, including president Marc Weinstock and production chief Chelsea Barnard. Ellison moved to right the ship by elevating TV head Sue Naegle to chief content officer and naming Ivana Lombardi to Barnard's post.

At the height of Annapurna's perceived misfortunes, several buyers considered offers on its film library. One such prospective purchaser was brother David, according to two individuals with knowledge of the family. Megan Ellison would not entertain such a proposal, especially because Skydance has drawn the ire of many in Hollywood for hiring John Lasseter, said one of the insiders. The former Pixar guru who was forced out of his job amid accusations of sexual harassment.

Despite its waning financial fortunes, Annapurna just premiered the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, "Booksmart," at SXSW. The low-budget film underscores the company's goal to boost gender equality among directors, said one insider familiar with the project.

Ellison is also pushing into the animation space and partnering with stop-motion studio Laika on the sasquatch tale "Missing Link." In the fall, the studio will release (under the UA banner) Richard Linklater's "Where'd You Go, Bernadette," starring Cate Blanchett; the film underwent a significant reshoot last year.

Development is also still active at the company. As part of its production pact with Brad Pitt's Plan B, Annapurna has optioned the rights to the soapy noir novel "The Silent Patient." Naegle will develop the book into a feature film with Plan B producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.

The movie follows a famous London artist who inexplicably shoots her fashion-photographer husband five times, then falls mute. It's a far cry from arty collaborations like "Beale Street" and "Vice."

"Sounds like it'll make some money," said one top film sales agent.

For Ellison and Annapurna, turning a profit would be a pretty novel concept.




I wouldn't go that far. She's not exactly throwing her money behind unknowns, we're talking about PTA and a guy who
was fresh off a BP win, though funnily enough their one Box Office semi-success this year was from first time nobody in Boots Riley.
That article is presumptuous at best, more likely sounds like someone reading BoxOfficeMojo jumping to conclusions and cobbling together a story
(or, all journalism now).

Why the entertainment press seems so ravenous to go after the few who try and produce somewhat original work,
even if unsuccessful, I will never understand... Get your jumbo popcorn and get in line for Captain Marvel in IMAX or go home. That's the attitude I'm getting here.


But how do you explain 60 millions for Vice? It's ridiculous. Even if you like the filmakers, you don't need to give 40 more millions than what they need to make a movie. Because other studios don't even try anymore doesn't mean that there's some kind of absurdity with the way Annapurna works. It's great for us because we get the movie as long as it lasts—these articles just show that it won't last any longer. They're not responsible of Annapurna's cash flow.

I do think she sees herself as that Beyoncé gif she tweeted: throwing bills all around her, carelessly. I'm very happy that a billionaire's daughter used her money that way, but why journalists shouldn't write about the way Annapurna works? Especially when we were all guessing that it would end up like that: it's not their fault if this isn't a sound business. It underlines the craziness of this business, where you can't really guess hits. Except, yes, when they're Marvel movies (or superheroes movies, most of them worked except some of the DC movies), and that's why all the industry moved toward them.

Jeremy Blackman

Where's the actual evidence that Annapurna is even conceived of or intended as a money-making operation? Or that Larry Ellison is truly upset? I can't find any such quote from him, just an anonymous source. I'm sure he'd like these movies to make some money back, but it's unclear to me that there is even remotely any existential threat to Annapurna. Do people realize how much money they have?


I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they didn't cover the whole budget for Vice, more like a third of it or less with the rest coming from pre-sales and other things, but yeah that's a ridiculous number for what it is. McKay comes from doing studio comedies which are always the most bloated-budget films. Just looked it up and The Other Guys cost 100 Million (!) which is insane.

I do think that money going to these established filmmakers could be better served to go towards young, hungry writer-directors, like how they did with Riley. Then we could possibly see a new version of the 90s indie generation.