15
Jun
10

Clash of the Titan XC

This week Friday (June 18, 2010) Consolidated Theatres will debut a new moviegoing experience with the opening of their new Titan XC (extreme cinema) screen at their Ward location. They have taken one screen (theater 8) and have renovated the entire theater and will feature (from Consolidated Theatre’s press release):

  • A wall-to-wall screen 66 feet wide and 35 feet tall
  • Pristine digital images with “the most advanced 3D”
    • a new “state-of-art,” NEC digital projection system
    • XpanD 3D system
  • Unsurpassed Sound
    • Dolby Surround, 7.1 audio channels
    • 75,000 watt digital sound system
    • 18 speakers on the walls, 14 in the ceiling, doubled the number of subwoofers
  • Leather Seating
  • Reserved Seating

While it all sounds nice and fancy, I’m going to hold judgement till after I take in Ward’s Titan XC myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for improving the moviegoing experience here in Hawaii and I’m a big fan of Ward Theaters, but let’s face it . . . Ward needed to do something to keep up with the IMAX theater at Regal Cinema’s Dole location.

Since opening last year, Dole’s IMAX has definitely been a money maker for them with a number of films coming out in IMAX (most notably James Cameron’s Avatar). With the only commercial IMAX theater on the island, and tickets for the theater being sold at $17 a pop (compared to a $4 3D surcharge on top of normal ticket prices) it’s easy to see that Ward has been losing out on a niche that only Dole has been capitalizing on.

There are several stumbling blocks that Ward will need to overcome for the Titan experience to be successful. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Titan XC is not something that moviegoers recognize. It’s not a name brand like how IMAX is. Everyone remembers when they were younger and we had a “real” IMAX in Waikiki or having gone to the mainland and seeing big IMAX screens there. We know what it is. IMAX is a name brand, and more importantly it’s a format that Hollywood is formatting their films for (select scenes in Transformers and The Dark Knight were shot in IMAX). Sadly the “Titan XC” brand is something that moviegoers are not familiar with and as far as I can tell, not a format of any sort. Hence the marketing campaign which has been going on for the past two weeks. In order for people to know about something, you have to tell them about it. And if you’re going to tell them about something, make sure you tell them it has all the newest bells and whistles.

The NEC NC3200S digital cinema projector. Is this the driving force behind Ward's new Titan XC?

The second problem I foresee is the technology itself. The digital projectors used in theaters currently conform to Digital Cinema Initiatives specifications as set forth by the Big 6 studios (Warner Bros, Sony, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Fox). Currently these standards seem to be below the resolution presented by digital IMAX. Simply put, unless this new NEC digital projector is indeed “state-of-the-art,” I don’t foresee the projection quality being better than it would be in IMAX (not sure which model Ward is installing, but the newest NEC projectors will be able to upgrade to a higher resolution standard than what is required–possibly at a later time). If this turns out to be the case, Ward could have a tough time selling moviegoers on this technology once word gets out. Again, I’ll need to reserve judgement until I can see the technology in action.

However, Ward’s new Titan experience does have two things going for it:

  1. Reserved Seating–Cavemen had the wheel, Edison had his light blub, Bell had the telephone, and now Hawaii finally has reserved seating for movies. How would you like to not have to hassle with waiting in line on opening night? Just show up 20 minutes before the show starts, buy your food and sit down without having to worry about finding a seat? Sounds so easy right? I mean really, sports and the airline industry have been doing it for decades, why not the theaters as well? This semi new feature (Ward previously did have a concierge service that allowed for reserved seating–as a subscription service) is a great selling point as it will take some antagonism out of the movie going experience. The downside–it’s only for one theater.
  2. Price–For about two weeks after Consolidated announced Titan XC I was very hesitant as no where did they announce the ticket prices for this new “experience.” However last week they finally set the ticket prices and I have to say that they’re really trying to do their best to compete with Dole. Take a look:
  • Adult – $14.25
  • Senior/Child – $11.00
  • 3D Adult – $16.25
  • 3D Senior/Child – $13.00

Compare these prices to Dole’s IMAX where ticket prices are $17 for adults, $14 for kids, and $13.50 for seniors (in either 2D or 3D) and Ward is definitely undercutting Dole. This will definitely turn the tide in Ward’s favor if the technology is as good or better than Dole’s IMAX. If not, you still have the consolation of paying about $4 more than a regular Ward ticket price for the amenity of reserving your seat–still, not a bad deal.

After it’s all said and done though, having more viewing options for moviegoers can never be a bad thing. I just hope that Consolidated hasn’t rushed blindly into competing with Dole by giving us window dressing in the form of Titan XC. Hopefully I can check out the new Titan XC experience this weekend. And if I do, expect a follow up post to hash everything out.

——————————————–

Additional Reading:

The Titan XC webpage on Consolidated’s website, with a link to their press release and ticket prices.

Rachel Gibson of Consolidated Theatres talking about Titan XC on Wake Up 2Day

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