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Dolby to Expand Dolby Vision Footprint In Theaters Worldwide

by July 01, 2024
Dolby Set to Expand Dolby Vision

Dolby Set to Expand Dolby Vision

Dolby Cinema is my favorite movie-going experience. Sure, IMAX can be fun too, but unless a movie was actually shot on IMAX cameras, I think Dolby Cinema is the way to go. Dolby Cinema combines the best implementation of Dolby Vision HDR projection and Dolby Atmos immersive audio, using Dolby-approved gear in a Dolby-designed environment, complete with premium seating. Even the ambient lighting is designed by Dolby. Here in the USA, AMC Theaters has a monopoly on the Dolby Cinema experience, so you won’t find Dolby Cinema auditoriums anywhere else. According to Dolby, AMC’s Dolby Cinema auditoriums generate the highest average per-screen box office among all the premium large format (PLF) offerings, including IMAX. Naturally, Dolby gets a piece of the pie, and the company is now aiming to make that pie substantially larger. Dolby has recently announced a new campaign to bring “the combined Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos premium moviegoing experience to even more theaters and audiences around the world.” Does that mean more Dolby Cinema theaters? Not exactly. Essentially, Dolby is offering theater owners the opportunity to deliver Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos without all of the extras that complete the official Dolby Cinema package. You might not get the fancy reclining seats and the special ambient lighting, but you will still get the meat and potatoes of the Dolby experience. And because this new offering is separate from Dolby Cinema proper, the exclusivity deals that Dolby has made with theater chains like AMC don’t apply, so any theater can potentially get in on the action.

Dolby Cinema Movies

As of now, there are many theaters in the USA and around the world that offer Dolby Atmos sound in some auditoriums, but are not official Dolby Cinema partners. Until now, these theaters did not have access to the Dolby Vision laser projection systems that provide the picture-quality excellence that Dolby Cinema is known for. But for the first time ever, Dolby is making those projection systems available à la carte. The only catch is that these projectors can only be used in auditoriums that also offer Atmos sound. Dolby says that this new solution gives exhibitors “access to the visceral and awe-inspiring experience of Dolby Vision picture-quality together with Dolby Atmos immersive sound — the same technologies that power Dolby Cinema — allowing audiences to see, hear, and feel the film exactly as the filmmaker intended.” Thanks to the relatively wide reach of Dolby Atmos, Dolby’s global brand recognition, and a robust content pipeline, the company should be able to greatly expand the number of theaters worldwide that can deliver a “Dolby experience” with this new offering.

Since the advent of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, these technologies have enhanced the premium moviegoing experience in a meaningful way — at least for enthusiasts like you and me. More than 600 theatrical features have been released (or are in the works) featuring both of these technologies, including just about every recent box-office hit, from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse to Dune: Part Two. Dolby Cinema has grown fairly rapidly since the opening of the first Dolby Cinema auditorium in 2014. Over the last decade, Dolby has established 28 exhibitor partners in 14 countries, opening approximately 300 Dolby Cinemas worldwide, about half of which are here in the US. But there are more than 10,000 cinema screens worldwide that feature Dolby Atmos, and this new offering means that many of them will be given the option to upgrade to Dolby Vision as well. These numbers underscore how potentially significant this offering could be for Dolby.

Christie E3LH Dolby Vision Cinema Projection System With Developer Mike Perkins

According to the company, last year (2023) marked the strongest year in history at the box office for Dolby Cinema, with domestic Dolby Cinema ticket sales overtaking pre-pandemic levels, with a 7% increase over 2019. And what was the biggest weekend of all time for Dolby Cinema? If you guessed the Barbie/Oppenheimer weekend of July 21st through the 23rd, you guessed right. Then in February of 2024, the Dolby Atmos Cinema Sound System and the Christie E3LH Dolby Vision Cinema Projection System both made another kind of history when they were honored with two Scientific and Engineering Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the prestigious Scientific and Technical Awards, which celebrate groundbreaking innovations in cinema.

At Dolby, our passion is creating immersive entertainment experiences, and we can’t wait to bring the transformative power of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to even more theaters around the world. Coming off of Dolby Cinema’s strongest year at the box office, we’re thrilled to provide exhibitors this new offering, which will unlock significantly greater opportunities for moviegoers around the world to love movies more in Dolby at premium theaters.

— Jed Harmsen, Head of Cinema and Group Entertainment at Dolby

More information: Dolby




About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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