DOLBY To Challenge IMAX, Wants to Reinvent Moviegoing

Dolby Cinema
Credit: Dolby

Dolby is of course best-known for audio reproduction, but it’s making an even bigger play from just the ears to the eyes and even the butts as it launches Dolby Cinema this month, a large-format theater experience meant to challenge IMAX’s market dominance.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Dolby, who introduced Atmos immersive sound in 2012, will debut its first Dolby Cinema venue this month at the new JT Cinemas complex in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Dolby Cinema will include special design elements, including “signature entrances that can be programmed to reflect the movie that is playing,” as well as premium seats, giant screens, and Atmos sound. But Dolby Cinema is really trying to position itself as is a superior projection system with the ability to project "high dynamic range" (or HDR), a process in which whites appear whiter and blacks blacker. The system is being pitched to filmmakers and “insiders from Hollywood's technology community” are thought to believe that consumers will see a noticeable between HDR and the budding "Ultra HD" 4K format.

THR has all the technical info for cinemaphiles, but Dolby is reportedly offering exhibitors a partnership to supply them with the equipment for a share of the ticket revenue (exhibitors would be responsible for paying for theater renovation to accommodate the concept). The Netherlands JT Cinemas will charge $18 for standard admission to Dolby Cinema theater, compared to $12.50 for their standard venues.

As Dolby tries to line up theaters in the U.S. to adopt the new system, its also trying to close partnership with film studios to ensure films are created in the Dolby Vision format during postproduction.

THR lists Disney as a candidate for early adoption with 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Brad Bird's Tomorrowland and Pixar's Inside Out as potential fims to showcase what the system can do.

Here is a video touting the Dolby Cinema experience:

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