Barco-branded experience at Regal LA Live extends beyond cinema
By Annlee Ellingson
L.A. BIZ
March 31, 2016

Moviegoers aren’t saying, “Let’s see it in Barco!” Yet. The Belgian visualization technology company is branding its cinema experience like Imax and Dolby before it with a full-theater takeover at the AEG-owned Regal L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.

Regal L.A. Live: A Barco Innovation Center is previewing its naming-rights partnership — among the first of its kind for an entire cinema complex — for the press on Thursday and opening to the public on Friday with a neighborhood block party and free concessions for ticket buyers. But the movie theater is just the start in a global deal that will see Barco products play a role at concerts and live events at AEG venues around the world.

Under the deal, two auditoriums will be equipped with Barco Flagship Laser projectors, with the remaining screens to be outfitted by the end of the year. Regal L.A. Live will be the first all-laser multiplex on the West Coast.

“I’m very excited about the laser projectors,” Shelby Russell, VP of marketing for AEG and L.A. Live, told me. “Everyone’s showing the same movies, so for us to have a better picture quality than other movie theaters out there is important.”

One auditorium will be outfitted with Barco Escape, the three-screen panoramic movie format that was installed in about 20 theaters worldwide for last year’s “Maze Runner” sequel.

The company plans to deploy the system in 150 locations this year and another 350 next year, Escape CEO Todd Hoddick told me, with expectations to deliver four Hollywood movies in the format by the end of the year, eight in 2017 and a dozen per year after that.

“What we’re doing is making product improvements and lining up a slate of movies and content so that the exhibitors can have confidence that when they do the installation, there’s going to be a nice pipeline of content for them,” he said.

In addition, multiple auditoriums at L.A. Live will be installed with Barco Auro immersive sound, and the lobby and concourse areas will be outfitted with about 60 digital displays, lights and other technologies that will immerse visitors in a cinematic experience from the moment they walk through the theater doors.

Hoddick, who started his career at the Walt Disney Company, compares Barco’s new lobby experience to Disneyland’s Main Street.

“You can’t take people from the parking lot and the bill collectors and the 405 and all the issues in the world and drop them into the middle of a fantasy or a romance,” he said. “You need to give them a transition. So the lobby for us is really our Main Street — it’s where the storytelling begins so you can get people into the right frame of mind to escape the real world and participate in a romance or a thriller or an adventure.”

Barco works with studios to create movie-themed content that’s synched across the lobby screens, lighting and music.

The Barco Innovation Center will serve as a permanent, evolving showcase for the company’s technology and aims to position the theater as a premier venue in the entertainment capital of the world.

“It’s all about the feedback,” Hoddick said. “The reason that we’re doing this is to hear from the audience, to hear from the directors.” This is especially true in the case of Escape. “Making sure that we do this close to Hollywood … is absolutely critical as we work with filmmakers around this new language and this new experience. They need a place to go and sit and see it and be a part of it, and this is close to home for them of course.”

“We’re in the heart of the movie industry, so to showcase [the Barco] movie experience to the industry is very important,” AEG’s Russell added. “Certainly we feel that these technologies will help add to that and hopefully entice more movie premieres and film festivals as well.”

The AEG-Barco partnership is not limited to the Regal L.A. Live, however. “We’re working with AEG and L.A. Live to deliver these compelling experiences in their venues across the world,” Hoddick said. “You’re going to see a change to things like concerts, live events, hockey games, basketball games — bringing compelling technology to really put on the best show and entertainment experience we can for them and for their audience.”

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