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A CEDIA Expo for the Cinema Connoisseur

We were finally able to gather as a community, but are some key home theater players being left out of the conversation?

CEDIA is a community. This aspect of our trade association was powerfully exemplified as we gathered recently in Dallas for CEDIA Expo 2022. Yes, Expo included all the de rigueur tradeshow elements — registration, education, booths, and booming subwoofers. However, most notable were the joyous reunion scenarios, where people gave up on the awkward “fist bump or handshake?” and just hugged! It was a little like a homecoming. And rightfully so!

Luxury Home Theater
This luxury private cinema journey began when the owner visited CEDIA Expo for inspiration. Photo courtesy of Paradise Theater.

Although CEDIA is an industry trade association, one that has grown and diversified since its early days, a core identity perseveres. An essence of creativity and passion, not unlike that found in artistic communities, prevails. A sense of purpose to bring our clientele extraordinary and elevating experiences almost overrides our business sense. Compared to serious industries, we are like the busker, playing for tips when we are an industry of maestros. A fact the audience would realize if they could only hear us.

Also by Sam Cavitt: Building the Best Team

So, the CEDIA community has gathered. This is essential if a community is to thrive. It is in the strength of numbers we can fortify our identity — including passion, creativity, and value. Sharing our innovations with our peers, in an environment of positive tension, we are reminded just how good we all are and that we must always progress in order to excel or even keep pace to the benefit of our audience, as well as ourselves. The synergy of worthy competition driving us all to advance our collective craft is an ideal example of a rising-tide phenomenon. One that will float more and bigger, better boats for us all. A phenomenon dependent on effectively communicating our value to our audience.

Notably, this year’s CEDIA was the first full-force, face-to-face Expo since the pandemic compelled both the industry and the audience to stay home. While nobody would choose the reason for our homebound status, one outcome of that seclusion was an increased awareness of the importance of our home environment, specifically, our home’s entertainment environment. More specifically, it brought increased awareness and demand for private cinemas. The unfortunate episode that resulted in our collective sequestering and the tumult experienced by the commercial theater industry brought our segment of the industry much-needed attention. Effects of the pandemic still resonate, as CEDIA keynote speaker, Greg Durkin, felt it necessary to opine that movie theaters “are never going to actually die, people will always crave going out to a movie every now and then.” How, then, should the professional side of the private cinema community respond?

A further reflection on that keynote topic reveals more insight for us to consider. Luke O’Brien, director of content operations at Kaleidescape, discussed this subject in a CEDIA podcast. As Luke so eloquently framed it, “CEDIA is so much about ‘how’ — how do we hear, how do we see [content, movies, music, etc.]?” These professional and technical considerations are essential for an industry that places high value on performance. But, as Luke points out, “The ‘what’ question is the driving [factor] — what do we watch, what are the choices we make?” These choices in turn can influence the options we as an industry are able to offer! But Luke, sharing his personal experience in relation to the topic, brought up what is the most important consideration of all — “Why?” If our audience is not attracted to and has no strong desire to experience what we have to offer, the story of how and what may fall on deaf ears.

Luke, a self-proclaimed cinephile, related how his first love is the movies, celebrating the experiential and transportive aspect of “this emotional expression art,” calling it “something profound” and went on to describe an epiphany experienced upon discovering private cinema himself, when he realized, “I could have this at home!” Aha!

Also by Sam Cavitt: Building A Private Cinema Community

So, the CEDIA community did gather. It was quite possibly my favorite CEDIA gathering. High praise considering many award-winning years and moments of personal accomplishment. But all that pales in comparison to the experience of sharing the collective accomplishments of kindred spirits in person. To paraphrase a favorite client, such “beautiful, shared experiences are better!”

That is why I wonder what we can do to open the doors to the rest of our community. There are segments of our greater community who do not know they belong. One such example is the creative community. For film and music creators, we create venues in the home in which their works live on. If the creative community sees our work as vital and beneficial, what greater value will we command? We do reach out to our architectural and design colleagues, but are we truly including them? Ultimately, though, it is the absence of our audience that is telling. What if, like Art Basel, the international show for luxury jewelry and horology, we curate experiences where our audience is given a taste and the opportunity to experience that aha moment when they realize, “I must have this in my home!”