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Exhibitors bet on high-tech cinemas despite VOD competition

Dolby Entry
Dolby Entry
Mike Renlund via Flickr

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Video on demand demand, so large chains and independent theater owners alike are trying to find ways to keep customers’ behinds planted firmly in a theater seat, popcorn and soda in hand.

AMC Entertainment is teaming up with audio giant Dolby to build 100 new, high-tech movie theaters across the country, 14 of which will be right here in Southern California. AMC and Dolby are promising fancy new features like reclining seats that also vibrate with the action on-screen as well as Dolby’s Atmos sound system, which creates lifelike sound and music that will surround movie-goers during the film. AMC says it will debut the new Dolby Cinema locally in Burbank in May.

The plan is the latest move by theaters to keep up with the increasing popularity of video-on-demand. Films like ‘The Interview’ and ‘Snowpiercer’ were day-and-date releases, meaning they were put out in theaters and on VOD simultaneously.

Could movies like these spell the end of theaters as we know them? Will high-tech theaters like the Dolby Cinemas push back on day-and-date releases? Why are companies continuing to invest in high-tech theaters when there is such a push to divert films to VOD?


Doug Darrow, Senior Vice President of Cinema at Dolby Laboratories

Paul Degarabedian, Senior Media Analyst for the media research company Rentrak