Sony Unveils New 4K Projector

The trade show floor at Cinema Expo 2008 is filled with the customary popcorn, theater-seat and tech vendors, but Sony Electronics reps are steering prospective customers to a secret demo suite to view something potentially much more watershed. Sony has unveiled a 4K digital projector with easy adaptability to 3-D projection. Previously, two of the pricey projectors were necessary to rig an auditorium for 4K 3-D, preventing the wide use of the high-resolution systems for 3-D exhibition.

Once considered the next-generation technology for digital cinema, Sony's 4K systems have been struggling to overcome cost and manufacturing woes, and more conventional 2K d-cinema systems have remained the prevalent hardware in the marketplace. So Sony executives -- hoping soon to remedy the additional 3-D headache -- are demonstrating prototypes of the new 4K projectors with the aim of bringing the hardware to market by Christmas.

"It's from the customer that you get the best feedback," said Tore Mortensen, a Sony business manager now working with theater operators in Norway to test 3-D 4K projectors in four multiplexes.

Elsewhere at the confab Wednesday, Arts Alliance Media announced a 3-D addition to its alternative-programming offerings for d-cinema. Arts Alliance will feature a first-ever 3-D opera presentation when it adds a Royal Opera House production of Hansel and Gretel to its programming lineup next year. Plans call for up to a half-dozen Royal Opera performances to be offered to patrons at cinemas throughout Europe and Australia.

Warner Bros. showed a brief montage of clips from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a sixth installment in the $4.48 billion franchise that's set for a holidays release. Warners international distribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek told exhibitors that Prince would be distributed in "digital, 35mm and Imax, with select scenes in 3-D."

With five 3-D movies in various stages of production, Disney execs also touted extra-dimensional 2009 releases including Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol. Disney international distribution topper Anthony Marcoly said next summer's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time -- one of three titles involving uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer -- is expected to launch the studio's next major film franchise.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter