Tracking the Premium Large Format Cinema Experience & Growth
Published in "Theatre World Magazine"
John Schreiner - Sr. Vice-President,
Senthil Kumar - Co-founder,
Qube Cinema Technologies
Preetham Daniel - Senior Vice President - Asia,
Raj Vartak - Director - Cinema Sales,
Akshaye Rathi - Director, Saroj Screens
The Premium Large Format cinema experience is driven by the need to present the ultimate theatrical experience. Globally, there are around 2500 PLF screens. USA is leading with 50% of the PLF screens, followed by 30% in Asia-Pacific with China leading the market in Asia. What does future behold for the PLF market growth in India?
Enabling the Larger than Life Experience
Akshaye Rathi clearly outlines the discussion by referring to the cusp of an era where there's going to be a very clear distinction between the kind of content the audience consumes in premium large format and the one consumed in smaller screens. The pioneering companies are here to create that differentiation in terms of exhibition platform that will enable movies made for such a scale.
John Schreiner points out that the lines are blurring and one of the reasons is that there's been a massive growth in premium large formats. John emphasizes that cinema operators around the world recognize that they need to provide a cinematic experience that cannot be replicated in home theatre or other formats. Ten years back, IMAX had 300 screens worldover and today it has 1275 theatres. It's mainly because the cinema upgraders recognize that consumers desire that kind of an experience. "If you are upgrading your complex, you really need to focus on the package," says John. He also made references to Transformers and Dunkirk, which were shot using IMAX technology and the projection of these films on IMAX format.
The Immersive experience is not just about "what you see but also about what you here". Raj Vartak spoke about the difference Dolby Atmos is making to the cinematic experience. Raj traces the trajectory of technological core experience. With various offerings by major exhibition chains, a differentiated experience is coming to the fore. The success of the industry, according to Raj, lies in this differentiation. Raj also spoke about the VR experience in cinema and the need to have a specific business model that's suitable for India...finding the "sweet spot", as he puts it.
Senthil Kumar gave a confident reassurance in his opening remarks that cinema as a medium is here for the long run. With Video-on-Demand and mobile phones, people may be choosing easier options of consumption but he feels it's the social experience that matters at the end of the day. According to Senthil, cinema exhibitors will have to make an experience with the brand, which consumers can recognize and expect a certain quality from. Regarding the kind of movies that will be best served with large format -- spectacular movies may be the easy answer. But Senthil also feels any given movie deserves a large format as it can surprise the audience with spectacular detailing.
Preetham Daniel ponders on the definitions of PLF. He talked about the need to package the PLF right. It's not just about making the larger screen but about the packaging. Preetham also reflected on the feasibility of PLF but at the same time reiterated the positivity for the future of the format.
For the exhibitors in India, the choices are quite akin to the "chicken and egg" question. On the one hand, it's about whether one can go for better screen and immersive sound and its feasibility. On the other hand, in the pan-India scenario, the content is still local. Should the exhibitors wait for enough IMAX screens to convert the local content into IMAX format or should there be enough local content, which is worthy of IMAX formats? Wait and watch is the answer!