THX has announced that the first 'THX Ultimate Cinema' will debut in Los Angeles this spring/summer, with more locations to follow. At least 30 movies will be specially mastered each year.
THX Ultimate Cinema
For 'THX Ultimate Cinema' the company partnered with Cinionic to install 4K and HDR-capable dual laser projection systems from Barco. The audio system of the theater's choice must be THX-certified and must exceed 7.1 surround. Dolby Atmos is supported.
- “We are excited to collaborate with Cinionic to bring the THX Ultimate Cinema experience to audiences around the world, starting with Regency’s Westwood Village Theatre in Los Angeles” said Min-Liang Tan, CEO of THX. “THX and Cinionic are respected technology leaders in cinema, and we are confident that this strategic relationship will help meet the demands of exhibition and consumers to make premium entertainment experiences more attainable.”
With the announcement, THX - founded by filmmaker George Lucas - is entering the premium large format (PLF) segment where it will compete with IMAX and Dolby Cinema. IMAX has been around for the longest and has over 1500 screens across many regions, while Dolby Cinema is approaching 200. THX is late to the party but it is planning to use its strong brand to muscle into the field.
30 specially mastered movies each year
Hollywood studios must create special versions of movies for Dolby Cinema and IMAX, and the same is true for these new THX-branded cinemas.
The company says that it will support at least 30 specially mastered movies each year. That sounds like a lofty goal with only one cinema location announced so we can probably expect more locations in the near future.
It also begs the question; will these specially mastered THX movies be released on disc or online?
Notably, THX Ultimate Cinema - like Dolby Cinema - is based on laser projectors and while these are sometimes referred to as HDR-capable, some industry people have started labelling them EDR (Enhanced Dynamic Range), pointing out that LED displays are required for HDR in the cinema. Samsung installed the world's first LED cinema display in Lotte Cinema World Tower in South Korea in 2017.
- “The new projection system featured in the THX Ultimate Cinema offering delivers a fantastic image on screen,” said Lyndon Golin, CEO, Regency Theaters. “We are very excited to be able to provide an enhanced cinematic experience to our studio partners for premieres and moviegoers alike.”
The first THX Ultimate Cinema will be the 1400-seat Regency Westwood Village Theatre (née Fox Village Theatre) that will launch in spring/summer 2019.