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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A 4K test in Japan, this month

Surprising news this morning from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, about a market test of 4K projection technology that'll involve Warner Brothers, NTT, and two projector manufacturers, Sony and JVC.

Nicole Sperling writes in the Reporter:

    The 4K projection and delivery test, which will take place over the next year, represents the first tryout of the high-resolution system in a commercial theater. To date, d-cinema tests in North America and abroad have been conducted with projectors featuring the lesser HD or 2K resolution.

    The field test will begin in three Japanese theaters Oct. 22 with the release of "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride." It will be conducted by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Warner Entertainment Japan, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, NTT West and Toho Co. The announcement was made at a news conference today in Tokyo, where Warners debuted the full 4K release of "Corpse Bride" in addition to some demonstration footage from "Batman Begins."

From what I've heard, this test will start before Landmark Theaters in the U.S. gets delivery of its 4K projectors from Sony.

The Reporter piece continues, speculating that 4K tests could take the wind out of the sails of companies that make 2K projectors:

    "There is room for both 2K and 4K to exist in the market," Warner Bros. Entertainment technical operations president and chief technology officer Chris Cookson said. "In the more traditional venues where you sit farther from a smaller screen, 2K and 4K shouldn't look much different. There is a difference between the two resolutions in the newer, steeper theaters where the seats are closer to the screens and the screens are larger. We are welcoming both into the marketplace. They both offer a much more stable picture then film."

    However, Warners' beta test could slow down the current momentum of the 2K rollout plans currently being circulated throughout the distribution and exhibition communities. According to sources close to Christie/AIX's 2K rollout effort, which already has Walt Disney Pictures onboard, the company is close to signing several exhibitors to put Christie's 2K projectors into their theaters. Those theater chains might now want to hold off on that implementation until results from the 4K test are available.