German exhibs nix 3D World Cup

Operators gives thumbs-down to technology

Excitement about planned 3D theatrical telecasts of the World Cup soccer tournament, due to kick off in South Africa on June 11, is fizzling out in Germany, where major exhibs have given a thumbs-down to the technology in its current form.

Cineplex Deutschland, a nationwide association of multiplex and theater owners that has the most 3D screens in Germany, and Nuremberg-based exhib group Cinecitta are among operators that turned down the 3D World Cup broadcast after viewers at test screenings reported the footage suffered from low resolution, interlace effects and poor production standards.

Andreas Cruesemann, Cineplex’s head of sales and marketing, said the 3D technology used by international soccer governing body FIFA is simply not up to standard for a theatrical presentation.

“We want to show A-level content, we want to show the best quality. When the content is not what we expect, we don’t want to offer it.”

Cruesemann added, “We can’t take money for an experiment. That’s why we said no. We are not saying no to soccer or 3D screenings. We will be very happy when it’s working. We were really disappointed last week because we expected more. If the picture was good of course we’d pay for it.”

Richard LaBerge, executive VP for tech provider Sensio, told Daily Variety the German exhibs most likely saw a May 5 test of the worldwide network that was never meant for their eyes.

“I don’t know who invited the exhibitors,” said LaBerge. “I would assume it was Aruna.”

Aruna is the Swiss company that obtained the 3D out-of-home rights, only to have FIFA pull them. (Daily Variety, May 20). Whether or not that was a result of the unenthusiastic response to the 3D presentation is not clear.

LaBerge said it was “risky” to show that test, as it was expected to reveal problems with the video. “We did not recommend they show that to exhibitors.”

Exhib chains Cinemaxx and Cinestar have not ruled out carrying the games in 3D but say production values have to be much improved before they sign on.

LaBerge said there will be more screenings for exhibs once the video problems are resolved. The entire project is being done at breakneck speed to make the June 11 deadline.

FIFA, which could not be reached for comment, is partnering with Sensio and using the tech provider’s 3D format to deliver live telecasts via satellite.

Exhibs also have the option to present World Cup matches in 2D as free public screenings.

(David S. Cohen contributed to this report.)

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