AMC to Install Dolby Cinema Technology

I’d previously written about Dolby Laboratories’ recently introduced Dolby Cinema technology and design (LDM Vol 21 No 48 Dolby to Take on IMAX in Large Format Theaters). This premium cinema system included Dolby Vision with dual laser projectors from Christie, Dolby Atmos sound and special auditorium design features. The concept was targeted as a direct competitor for IMAX. At the time, the only announced theaters were to be in Europe. The first of these theaters, at the newly constructed JT Cinemas complex in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, opened in December, 2014.

On April 9th, Dolby and AMC Theaters issued a joint press release saying Dolby Cinema will be used in AMC Prime theaters in the US, the chain’s premium theaters. These will be the first Dolby Cinema installations in the US. To find out more, I got in touch with Ryan Noonan at AMC Theatres and Joshua Gershman at Dolby Laboratories, media contacts at their respective companies. Gershman passed on some additional information provided by Doug Darrow, Senior VP for Cinema at Dolby.

According to Darrow, “The first phase involves converting the current install base of ETX and AMC Prime locations into Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime theatres. The first four screens installed by mid-May will be located in Los Angeles, Kansas City, Houston and Atlanta with another four by mid-June in New York City, along with second location sites in Los Angeles, Kansas City and Houston. AMC intends to expand to 50 operating Dolby Cinemas at AMC Prime by December 2018 in additional cities, including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, Denver and Seattle, and up to 100 Dolby Cinemas at AMC Prime by December 2024″.

Darrow indicated that all AMC Prime locations are currently co-located with AMC multiplexes and he expects this pattern to continue with future AMC Prime installations. He added that typically the AMC Prime premium over ordinary 2D AMC prices is about $4 to $6. The base price and the premium vary by location, of course. Currently, for example, the AMC Prime and IMAX theaters at the AMC Empire 25 on Times Square in New York are showing Furious 7 at a ticket price of $20 while the same show in a regular auditorium of the multiplex is available for $15, a $5 premium for AMC Prime. Darrow does not expect AMC to increase the premium with the installation of Dolby Cinema.

“Guests should prepare to be blown away when we launch this amazing theatre experience”, said Gerry Lopez, CEO and President, AMC. “Moviegoers are already demonstrating they’ll drive past other theatres to see a movie in AMC Prime, so combined with Dolby’s pioneering technology, this next-generation Premium Large Format experience will leave them impressed, thrilled and excited by what they see, hear and feel – all from the comfort of their reclining chairs”.

When asked if special color grading was needed for movies to be shown on the 6P Dolby Vision laser projectors, Darrow said Dolby Cinema has the capability to playback any type of content. He added, “Films that will be presented in Dolby Vision laser need to have a color grading pass done to the master. Dolby Vision delivers high dynamic range with enhanced color technology that has been praised by filmmakers for its amazing contrast, high brightness and color range that more closely matches what the human eye can see. With Dolby Vision, the blacks are truly black, colors are vibrant and the contrast ratio far exceeds any other laser and xenon-based image technology out in the market today” Exactly which movie will be used on opening night by AMC in May has not been announced yet. – Matthew Brennesholtz

Analyst Comment

When the New York City AMC Prime theater comes on-line in June, I hope to be there! (MB)