There’s an interesting piece today on Film Journal International about the how Christie Digital is positioning and using Arsenal Media, the Montreal creative shop it acquired in June, to reshape the cinema experience outside the actual theatres.
The combined companies are going to a very familiar customer base with a proposition that the outside facades and lobbies of cinemas should also be fully part of the movie-going experience. Christie sells world class projection systems, but now also has its MicroTiles display blocks, LCDs and tight-pixel LED blocks to fill the display canvas of lobby and exterior walls.
“The industry has gone through a huge transformation in the projection booth over the past ten years, and now it is time for the lobby to get digital too,” says Kevin Romano, senior director, Global Media, at Christie, in the piece. “The exterior of cinemas and their lobby areas have for the most part remained the same over the past 30, 40 years as other public spaces and retail environments have embraced digital display technology.”
Romano in the interview adds that multiplex façades could be transformed by projection mapping and movie titles and visuals lighting up giant digital marquees. Once inside, “you should be embraced in digital technology as well.”
By that he means “not just pushing content to the consumer, because this could possibly be considered passé and not engaging. Today’s generation wants to interact with these displays and needs to have all their social-media options available to them. Our setup of networked displays gives them the ability to do so, as well as offering engagement opportunities not only for theatre operators but also for the studios and our brand partners.”
Denys Lavigne, who founded Arsenal Media and now carries a Christie card, suggests in the story that digital in and outside theatres is still pretty pedestrian. “Instead, Christie wants to bring more of an experiential component into the cinema environment. And surely the cinema is a great place to deploy more sophisticated digital experiences because it offers such great content and great characters that people have strong emotional connections to.”It’s a smart move in a buncha ways.
First, this is a well-established vertical market that knows and trusts Christie. Second, Romano and Lavigne are right about cinemas having pretty predictable digital efforts (not always, but normally). Third, projection mapping costs and tech are getting to the level that they can be standard installs and not just big-ticket special events. Imagine those big posters on exterior walls being full-motion video at night, or a whole building wall setting a tone for a new flick. And finally, Arsenal has the industry cred and portfolio to do really great experiential work.
I had a great chat with Denys last week. Crazy busy guy, but he’s clearly enjoying where things are going with his new masters.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.