Creating an Experience: New Cinionic venture expands the definition of moviegoing

Features
Technology

“We need to increase the WOW effect for today’s cinemagoers,” says Cinionic CEO Wim Buyens. “We are in the midst of a changing cinema landscape, where exhibitors must deliver increasingly immersive entertainment to captivate today’s moviegoers.”

Every day, the world’s creative community produces additional content. Although much of it is destined—or at least targeted—for the big screen, there are many other ways to experience this wealth of entertainment, from tuning in to traditional linear broadcast television channels via old-fashioned rabbit ears to cable, satellite and OTT delivery.

Successful movie theatre owners must remain vigilant and cognizant of the rapid pace of this ever-changing competitive landscape. The overwhelming majority of the world’s exhibitors have successfully upgraded their projection systems from analog to digital at some point over the past decade. Many PLF (Premium Large Format) screens, including IMAX and other branded systems have also been installed.

Lots of theatre owners are also improving other aspects of their physical plants to keep their facilities on the cutting edge of the latest wave of technological innovations. Having the newest highest-res projector, surround sound system or reclining loungers in your theatre isn’t the whole story, however.

“The exhibition industry needs to sell the experience, not the equipment,” warns Buyens. Movie theatres need to give today’s discerning consumers, including those media-savvy Millennials—who seemingly reject traditional forms of advertising and insist on being talked to authentically and honestly—a reason to get off their comfortable couches.

They must be enticed to leave their homes and apartments, and to disengage from their streaming devices, which are increasingly providing stiff competition for cinemas. Movie theatres, of course, offer a shared social experience with a roomful of strangers as an outlet for discretionary dollars. The naysayers point to the long-term trend of decreasing theatre attendance (offset for the most part by increasing ticket prices). The optimists can cite the recent, record-breaking Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther box-office blowouts.

But the fact remains…an increasing number of people across the globe have some form of large projection screen, or even a home theatre, in their residences. Smartphones have also become an essential and integral part of many people’s daily lives.

Whether for work or leisure, these mini-computers instantly connect the user to a plethora of online entertainment content from a variety of platforms, including an increasing number of subscription providers. Compelling online entertainment is available in every conceivable language, emanating from all corners of the planet.

According to Buyens, “We must all work together [as an industry] to enrich the overall cinema experience and provide guests more for their entertainment dollar, while still remaining profitable, and even growing revenues.”

Barco, one of the worldwide leaders in sight, sound and sharing solutions for exhibitors, recently formed Cinionic, together with several joint-venture partners. The goal: a winning combination of products, services and technology for the worldwide cinema ecosystem.

Barco brings its expertise in visualization and image-processing technology. Appotronics is a Shenzhen, China-based leader in laser phosphor projection technology, specializing in light source retrofit modules. China Film Co. Ltd. (CFG) offers a powerful combination of premium cinema solutions and content. CITICPE’s expertise is in structuring financial consulting services.

As was plainly evident to anyone who visited their large, multi-faceted suite at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon 2018, Cinionic means business. They are offering high-quality cinema experiences and unique entertainment options across the entire theatre footprint. The overriding aim is to increase customer engagement, while raising revenues and enhancing operating efficiencies, benefiting the movie theatre owner and providing an enhanced, more immersive experience for their clientele, the cinemagoer.

In Vegas, the Cinionic JV showcased Smart Laser High Contrast projectors, designed to deliver best-in-class image quality for the smaller screens and auditoriums in the multiplex. Cinionic is also facilitating customer retrofits of lamp-based projection systems to laser-illuminated devices—hence the catchphrase, “Laser as a Service.”

Before one enters the auditorium to relax and settle in for the upcoming tentpole or indie feature, Cinionic is striving to assist exhibitors and product or service advertisers grab your attention with a line of turnkey lobby solutions.

These are designed to help drive overall cinemagoer engagement via haptic (relating to the sense of touch) promotional movie posters, plus full lobby takeovers. Also, Augmented Reality (AR) and Family-Friendly Virtual Reality (VR) attractions are beginning to become more popular in theatres, and Cinionic is there with lots of new ideas for exhibitors.

In addition to the official JV launch, Cinionic was not shy about heralding a wide array of other organizational developments throughout CinemaCon. These included:

* Announcing that Barco’s cinema manufacturing and engineering departments are now located together in Kortrijk, Belgium. The brand-new, state-of-the-art production facility—affectionately referred to as “The Engine”—is geared to creating the cinema projectors of the future. 

* Teaming with digital cinema integrator Bardan to outfit the Santiago, Chile-based Cineplanet multiplex exclusively with Barco laser projectors. Also, in a collaboration with Bardan and Cacinesa, providing projectors for the first-ever 100% laser theatre in El Salvador.

* Launching a cutting-edge, turnkey visualization solution together with Ultrahaptics, engaging patrons in an interactive, sensory experience in the cinema lobby.

* Inking an agreement for 600 Barco laser projectors with Cineworld Group, the recent acquirer of Regal Cinemas.

* Signing CJ CGV Cinemas to an exclusive projector agreement. CJ already has a significant share of its circuit outfitted with Barco projectors, and the leading cinema chain continues to aggressively expand its footprint throughout Korea, China, Southeast Asia and the U.S.

* Joining forces with AdPoD LLC to capitalize on recent advancements in AI (artificial intelligence) to fuel digital conversations using advertising platforms that engage and track moviegoers in the theatre lobby.