Theater owners learn eco-friendly lesson

ShoWest showed off its green side on St. Patrick’s Day, with exhibitors displaying eco-friendly theater practices.

Panelists at Green Screen: Environmental Advances in the World of Cinema, including Cinemark VP and director of theater operations Steve Zuehlke, tubthumped green cinema initiatives and gave tips on how the industry can reduce its carbon footprint.

Zuehlke highlighted key practices on the exhib side such as the installation of fluorescent lights, water conservation and chemical monitoring. He described them as practices that exhibs can “take home today.”

Still, with the explosion of digital and 3D cinema, Zuehlke and other panelists said they are looking at new ways to be environmentally friendly.

AMC construction manager Kerry Stanley said the conversion to digital cinema has eliminated film print waste, with the possibility of decreasing the approximately 1 million miles of film currently processed in a year.

Also, the use of silver screens — a prerequisite for some 3D providers — has limited the amount of light needed in digital projection, meaning smaller lamps and less energy. Even 3D glasses are recyclable.

At the peak of its theatrical run, Twentieth Century Fox’s 3D “Avatar” used approximately 2 million glasses a day, and with the influx of 3D product entering the market, that number is sure to rise.

Cereplast, a bio-based plastics manufacturer, has teamed up with Occulus3D to offer biodegradable 3D glasses set to launch this summer.

Dolby Laboratories also announced eco-friendly, reusable 3D glasses.

“The film industry is thought of as an entertainment engine, with laughter, tears and profit being the main parameters in the equation,” said Ioan Allen, senior VP for Dolby. “Well, we’ve shown that the environment is also an issue high up there.”

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