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Movie theaters talk 3D technology

Are Parkites willing to pay an extra $2.50 to visually experience Alice tumbling down a rabbit hole or Buzz Lightyear voyaging to infinity and beyond?

According to David Corwin, president of the Los Angeles-based company that operates Redstone 8 Cinemas in Park City, the answer is a resounding "yes."

That’s why the theater is slated to receive a second 3D system within the next six weeks.

"3D technology has certainly been well received," Corwin says. "People have proven that they’re willing to pay a little bit more for that experience. In most instances when we’ve played 3D product at Redstone over the past year, we’ve also had a 2D print of the same film, and more people have gone to see the 3D than the traditional 35-millimeter 2D version."

He says that the cost to install 3D technology varies significantly based on the company and the system selected. "There are probably three main systems currently available, and everyone does something a little bit different," he explains. "Each company has a different business model. With some, there’s a nominal initial expense and then they take a royalty going forward, and with others, you can pay a one-time investment."

Metropolitan Theatres financed the installation of one Dolby 3D Digital Cinema system at Redstone last year. "We feel that the technology is better and at the time we elected to put it in there, that was the best system for us," Corwin says.

He estimates the entire system including the projector, glasses and installation fees costs about $25,000. A second Dolby system should be installed before the end of June, he says.

The Dolby system is unique in that, unlike other major systems such as RealD and MasterImage, it does not require the purchase and installation of a silver-coated screen, which Corwin says can cost an additional $5,000 to $7,000.

The Dolby system also uses different technology for its 3D glasses. The glasses are reusable and are collected and cleaned after each screening. They are also sturdier and more durable than disposable paper versions, Corwin says.

Metropolitan Theatres operates 20 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, six of which have installed 3D systems. Its technology surcharge for 3D screenings is $2.50 or $3, depending on the theater’s location.

"That certainly helps pay for the tech and gives us promise that there’s opportunity for additional revenue in the future as there seem to be more and more 3D films in the market," Corwin says.

He also acknowledged that 3D technology will likely change rapidly over the next few years. "We realize it is new and technology will probably change more frequently than it has in the past, but we’ll adapt as it improves and we certainly believe in our technological partners," he says. "We want to be able to provide our customers with the ability to see the latest technology."

The other movie theater in Park City, Holiday Village Cinemas, is expected to receive a 3D system before the end of the year. The theater, which is operated by Cinemark, already has silver screen technology in two of its four theater rooms and is waiting to find out the installation date for a RealD projector.

Some of the upcoming 3D releases include "Shrek Forever After" on May 21, "Toy Story 3" on June 18 and "Step Up 3D" on Aug. 6.

For movie listings and show times at Redstone 8 Cinemas, call (435) 575-0221. Screening information for Holiday Village Cinemas is available by calling 1-800-FANDANGO, Express Code 1172#.


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