Kinepolis, one of Europe’s leading exhibitors, has announced it will open the first all-laser multiplex in Europe. The new ten screen Kinepolis cinema in Breda, Netherlands will feature both RGB laser as well as a range of laser phosphor projectors, all provided by Barco. The installations will comprise a DP4K-30L RGB laser projector, five DP2K- 15CLP’s and four DP2K-20CLP phosphor projectors, the latter capable of projecting at 20,000 lumens.
In a similar move, Barco has also been the projector choice for the first all-laser multiplex in Central and Eastern Europe, namely the new nine-screen Grinn Film multiplex in Kursk, Russia scheduled to open in Q3 2016. The breakdown of projectors for the new cinema located in the Mega Grinn new shopping mall will be two Barco RGB laser and seven laser phosphor machines. The RGB lasers have been selected as one Barco DP4K-60L and one DP4K -25L unit. In a further move, all screens in the new complex will also feature Barco’s AuroMax immersive sound technology, highlighting the growing push towards the more premium end of cinema in Russia.
Moreover, a new industry standard has been also been set with the launch of the first all RGB laser multiplex. Reel Cinemas will outfit all 22 screens in The Dubai Mall with Barco RGB laser projectors, an industry first. The projector selection will comprise 21 DP4K-22L machines and one DP4K-30L machine. At the same time, one of the screens in The Dubai Mall will also be equipped with Barco’s three screen panoramic screen format. The installations will be managed by local partner CineTech Middle East.
All laser multiplexes are now a feature of most regional cinema markets (North America, Asia, Europe and Africa Middle East) with the exception of Central and South America, which has yet to make this initial leap.
The latest developments come as Barco announced it had completed 125 installations of its flagship RGB laser projectors worldwide, of which over 50 or 40% are actually located in Europe (EMEA), a very high proportion with most recent installs in Estonia and Lebanon. This is up from approximately 100 installs worldwide at the first quarter mark 2016, showing continued strong demand and expansion of RGB laser worldwide. Barco has been the major technology provider behind the switch to all-laser multiplex’s with a total of 15 all-laser cinemas committed. This includes the earlier announcement that Santikos circuit in North America would equip its entire screen estate with a mix of laser and laser phosphor projection.
The majority of all-laser multiplexes (with the exception of the first RGB laser multiplex by Reel Cinema) comprise a mix of RGB plus phosphor models. This dominant selection pattern shows how exhibitors are pushing ahead with the strategy to select one or two RGB lasers for their largest flagship screens based on both cost and performance parameters and the more economic option for remaining smaller screens per venue, where RGB or 6P laser technology may not be required. All-laser cinemas are also an increasingly common feature of new builds such as Kinepolis’s new opening in the Netherlands - with this trend likely to become even more pronounced based on improving terms for total cost of ownership and advances in the performance of projectors under phosphor technology. For first adopters, there will also be positive marketing associations coming from an all-laser set-up.
Other recent large scale orders of RGB laser units include the opening of the first of 100 Dolby Cinema installations (incorporating Dolby Vision and HDR projection developed in conjunction with Christie) with Wanda Cinemas in China, of which around 10 will be operational by end 2016.
Cinemeccanica has also signed a deal with Jinyi Cinemas in China for an order for 100 screens to be retrofitted with its RGB Lux projector units. The order is the largest to date of purely RGB laser units outside of a deal for premium branded screens. The installations will feature in the most significant screens of the Jinyi circuit and will be completed by local partner Caiz Optronics Corp, all in 2016. The units (as a retrofit solution) will feature a variety of LUX models including the 20K, 30K, 45K and LUX 60K capable of projecting up to 60,000 lumens. Laser phosphor has been the dominant laser technology choice to date in China, based on local technology provider CFG Appotronics which has over 1000 screens committed and this is a significant step towards pushing larger scale orders of RGB laser projectors in the territory (as well as globally) outside of a premium branded cinema solution.
As at Q1 2016, there were a total of 178 RGB laser installs worldwide, according to IHS, up from just 24 one year prior.