Euro exhibitors ponder 4K dilemma

Theater owners question value of 2K projectors

AMSTERDAM — The spate of 4K digital cinema deals in the U.S. is causing ripples in Europe, with exhibitors questioning their previous commitment to 2K projection.

“Suddenly in the U.S. we all see that huge deals are being made on 4K, plus the Sony 4K becomes ready to show 3-D, which was previously not the case,” said Europalaces topper Franck Lebouchard, at Cinema Expo, Monday.

The Gallic chain was considering a limited number of 4K installations in the coming months, but is now re-thinking. “My life was simple two weeks ago,” Lebouchard added.

Studios present were not prepared to back one system or the other. “We think 2K is fantastic, we think 4K is fantastic,” said Jason Brenek, Disney’s senior VP for worldwide digital cinema and programming.

But he was downbeat about the business case. “There aren’t a lot of places around the world where consumers have shown a willingness to pay a premium for 2K digital cinema other than for 3-D, and we don’t think that 4K is necessarily going to justify a price premium above and beyond 2K.”

Mark Christiansen, executive VP operations at Paramount Pictures, also sat on the fence, having been unimpressed by side-by-side tests of the two systems.

“There’s a lot more to the image than just the resolution: contrast, color depth, brightness. All these things probably have more to do with what you perceived the quality of the image to be than the resolution.”

Competition may make the case, however. “If your competing theater says we have 4K so we are better than the guy down the street who has 2K, you may have a marketing issue,” he added.