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CinemaCon: Barco Woos Theater Owners with Panoramic ‘Escape,’ Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

CinemaCon: Barco Woos Theater Owners with Panoramic 'Escape,' Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

The enhancement installation costs about $200,000 for projectors, screens and special servers, says Barco CinemaVangelist Ted Schilowitz, who gave me an advance peek at Cinequest in February. But Barco is working with exhibitors to bring down the cost for them, in an effort to see the format deployed in as many theaters as possible.

Jumping on board the Barco train is event-movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“Armageddon”), who has joined Barco’s board and is partnering with them to develop projects for the format, which will allow filmmakers “to expand the creative vision of our films,” Bruckheimer says.

The Hollywood studios and theater owners are more invested than ever in turning multi-plexes into “event” destinations for BIG MOVIES, as they believe that’s the best way to lure customers out of their homes and away from their mobile phones. Young men, especially, are proving to be a fickle demo, distracted by video games, online video entertainment, television, concerts and sporting events. They have been staying away from theaters in droves, while women are a mainstay these days. 

Twentieth Century Fox, which is entering a five-year multi-title agreement with Barco, has already played “Maze Runner” in the Escape format on seven screens built out with two extra sides, as the main film was projected at the center and digitally enhanced game-based imagery widened the immersion on both sides. The maze-running action centerpiece worked well to enhance the intensity. (It’s exciting to think about 3D and IMAX expansions.)

“This is a deployable alternative high-end cinema experience,” said Schilowitz. “We’re pushing the format, experimenting and learning, but it’s not our primary goal to dictate what people do creatively.” (They also have footage shot with GoPro cameras.)

Also looking great was footage from the upcoming Barco-produced “Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett In Concert,” which was the first film shot for the format, filmed at the Grand Palace in Brussels on September 22, 2014 with 15 Red Epic Dragon cameras feeding three separate panels, including panning 270 degree panorama shots. At one moment, the left panel was an over-the-shoulder from Gaga’s POV of greeting Bennett, while the right panel went the opposite way.

Barco also sponsored three local San Jose filmmakers chosen by Cinequest who shot new shorts to screen with the new Barco Escape system, including intense father-daughter heroin drama “Withdrawal,” from multi-tasker Vijay Rajan. For next year the festival is launching a filmmaker contest for the new format.

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