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2007 Technology to Watch: 2.35 Home Theaters

When the first widescreen movies were launched in the 1950s the purpose was simple: bring the customers back. At the time, the commercial cinema business was in steep decline and TV was to blame, especially color TV, which hit in 1953.

So when the hoopla of Cinerama emerged, hopes were pinned high for its positive impact, and it did not disappoint. In fact, the first 'rama' movie "This is Cinerama" out-grossed every other film of 1952, and it did so while playing in only a single theater, the Warner in New York City.

So why does this matter to integrators? The custom electronics business is not in sharp decline as the commercial cinema industry was in the 1950s, but it is experiencing a big change.

The cost of video as a category is plummeting, and the profit structure required for specialists to thrive and provide the exceptional services they're known for is being challenged. Something new, something better and something with real value for custom electronics clients is needed.

Enter Cinemascope for the home. Runco International first showed the digital technology to recreate the Scope native screen format for home cinema back in January 2003 at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

It was a spectacular demonstration showing over 40 foot-lamberts of brightness on a 9-foot x 22-foot screen (commercial theaters have 8 to 16 foot-lamberts of light intensity on average). The scale and system cost of this first demonstration (well over $100,000) was akin to the arrival of Cinerama in 1952.

Soon after, the technology Runco calls Cinewide was launched to cover a wide and affordable price range, a little like the arrival of Cinemascope in 1953 by 20th Century Fox, its cost effective answer to Cinerama.

To find out more about the role of 2.35 home theaters in 2007, check out
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