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Monday, January 09, 2006

Corrected: Landmark adds Barco to the mix

This is big news: Landmark is no longer exclusively committed to Sony's 4K high-resolution digital projectors.

Although this Hollywood Reporter piece creates the impression that the company has ditched Sony's 4K projectors in favor of Barco's lower-resolution (and cheaper) 2K models, that isn't the case. It seems that Landmark co-owner Mark Cuban simply "thought a little competition was good" between the two companies, according to a comment he posted on CinemaTech. "We didn't dump Sony at all," he wrote. Question now is, which projector will Landmark install in greater numbers?

Crabtree writes:

    The chain previously planned to convert its 200-plus screens to Sony's projectors. Since introduced in 2004, though, the Sony system has been delayed because of such technical issues as lack of server support and low light display

Painfully for Sony, the news came out the same week that Sony chairman Howard Stringer touted Landmark as the first customer for Sony's 4K projectors, during a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. Still, Sony's projectors may be deployed in Landmark's auditoriums before Barco's.

Here's the most recent CinemaTech posting on Landmark, in which Mark Cuban says via e-mail that "installations are in progress. We have installed our first 4ks and continue to install and test. Nothing final till these are battle tested."

Here's the press release from Texas Instruments, which makes the DLP chips inside the Barco 2K projectors. It says:

    DLP Cinema projectors from Barco will be installed at select Landmark Theatres throughout the U.S. In addition, DLP Cinema and DLP(R) technology from Texas Instruments will be promoted at Landmark Theatres featuring the technology to let moviegoers know they are about to get a unique and powerful theatre experience through an on-screen trailer and inclusion in Landmark marketing materials.

    The relationship will kick off with the "day and date" simultaneous theatre, cable television and DVD release of Steven Soderbergh's Bubble on January 27, 2006, a first for the movie industry. Bubble will be screened digitally on DLP Cinema projectors in Landmark theatres where available.

Some speculation on my part: it'd probably make the most sense for Landmark to install one or two of the 4K Sony projectors in each of its multiplexes, creating 'premium' experiences - and then put 2K Barco projectors in the remainder.