Not too long ago, the death of movie theaters was widely reported. Ticket sales were way down and cinema conglomerates were desperately trying to rent out their empty venues for meetings and parties. Today, that trend has reversed itself, and we find ourselves in the biggest box-office surge in at least two decades, according to The New York Times. Ticket sales are up 17.5 percent to $1.7 billion this year, while attendance is up nearly 16 percent.
We’ve all heard tales of the Hollywood boom during the depression, when “escapism” was the name of the game. In the decades since, there are usually peaks in attendance whenever the valleys appear in the financial reports. It’s simple human nature, of course. Let’s go immerse ourselves in someone else’s story when our own is not presenting many happy endings.
But the AV industry has also tracked some coinciding highs and lows over the decades. Movie theaters boom when a new audio or visual technology is introduced to the public. These buzz-generating, spectacle- inducing feats of technological
progress usher in new audiences and welcome back former customers.
Next comes the consumer electronics adaptation of new algorithms and effects, which leads to more home viewing over a period of time. Movie theaters suffer a bit, and subsequently, new silver-screen innovations are sparked.
The buzz in recent months has been all about 3D. With so much potential in applications from commercial, scientific, and home theater, the third dimension is expanding all around us. The only question is when and where it will hit first—in the theaters or at home.
It seems that cinema is winning this battle. IMAX theaters have been adding 3D content to their rosters for years, in many cases displaying 3D films created by scientific and historical institutions. This has been a significant draw for museum visitors and IMAX theatergoers. It’s just about impossible to resist a 3D film about dinosaurs or the solar system.
But now 3D is coming to a theater near you. The marketing genius behind Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience has been a welcome change for movie theaters. Now the question is, how will this technological boon impact the commercial AV integration business?
Presentation systems indubitably need to keep pace with the seat-filling excitement of theaters, especially because 3D offers a new angle of discussion. Museums are notably ahead of the game in this category, but smallerformat 3D flat-panel displays offer much potential in smaller facilities.
By all means, if escapism can be served by audio and visual technology, then perhaps the movies will present a happy ending for our industry as well.