Great home theaters can provide customers with the absolute pinnacle of cinematic entertainment. With the right equipment properly configured, you’ll deliver an experience exceeding anything one could find in a commercial theater—all with the unbeatable convenience and comfort of home sweet home.
But no matter how sonically sophisticated and visually extraordinary the theater, lack of first-run content access at home drives eager movie lovers out to the local multiplex to compete with the public for prime seats to the newest feature films. PRIMA Cinema is addressing this final, gaping flaw in the home theater concept, by bringing first-run movies into customers’ homes on the day of their theatrical release.
On Tuesday, March 1, Crestron’s New York City Design Center was the setting for presentations from PRIMA Cinema and Kaleidescape that informed visitors about how these companies are helping transform the “home theater” from an advanced entertainment system into a bona-fide movie theater within the home.
“This is that theater experience, in the house,” said Ken Vanemon, regional sales manager at Sapphire Marketing, which represents PRIMA, Kaleidescape, and Crestron, among other industry brands. “You have clients that will never go to the movies [anymore]; Steve Jobs was one of the movies that PRIMA had, that got released only in New York and L.A., but it was on PRIMA.”
With the PRIMA system, according to Haley Patterson, strategic partnerships at the company, films are automatically downloaded to the network-connected unit as they are released, and authenticated users can then play whichever titles they like by simply scanning their finger on a sensor. Films are only available for the duration of their theatrical run, after which they become unavailable.
Presently, the company only offers a 1080p model, for a price tag of $35,000 (it’s also available to dealers for a showroom price of $10,000, which includes free sample screenings of available titles up to 10 minutes). A 4K version, which also includes Dolby Atmos capability, is planned for release in the third quarter of this year for $50,000, with the option for purchasers of the earlier model to trade in their device for a full refund, paying only the difference for the upgrade.
PRIMA Cinema’s hardware, showing the fingerprint authentication scanner.
Even if you can afford the initial investment, PRIMA isn’t for everyone; the company takes great care in ensuring that the rest of a potential customer’s AV equipment is up to spec to play the content in its full quality, according to Patterson.
“There’s a site survey involved, so we know exactly where PRIMA is being installed, what components are going with it to make sure that everything plays nice before we’re onsite,” she said. “We have a tech onsite from PRIMA to be there with you to make sure you’re supported properly and the client has the best experience possible.”
The player can only be installed in a dedicated home theater (with some exceptions granted for New York-area residences) with a seating capacity of no more than 25. But for those who meet the requirements and can afford the cost—each film is an additional $500 per screening—the experience is exactly what you’d get at the movies, with 10-bit color, aspect ratios identical to the theatrical masters, and uncompressed PCM audio.
For a demonstration, Patterson played the trailer for the upcoming Illumination Entertainment animated film The Secret Life of Pets, through the showroom’s PRIMA player, which was connected to a large flat screen display built into the wall, with in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. Even in a non-theater setting such as this, the trailer gave a telling indication of its audio fidelity and flawless video capabilities as compared with a true cinema experience.
Just as PRIMA is working to complete the home theater experience with broader access to content, Kaleidescape continues to strive to make watching all of the movies available for home video—plus all of the films in your collection—easier than ever before.
Dave Donald, product evangelist at Kaleidescape, gave an animated introduction to the company’s platform before moving on to describe the details of its newest suite of 4K-capable products, the Encore line. “It’s not only a matter of knowing what to do; it’s knowing how to do it correctly that makes all the difference,” he said, outlining the company’s philosophy.
For Kaleidescape and its new Encore line of products, as well as its download store, “doing it correctly” is more than just getting the full quality of movie releases—“bit-for-bit copies of the original,” as he put it—but also the interface through which the user accesses all of the content, which currently features some 11,000 films from six of the seven major studios (currently, only Paramount is missing, although the companies are already in conversation).
Donald and Tim Barnes, VP of sales operations, gave a demonstration of the interface, which, in classic Kaleidescape style, displays the user’s film library in a matrix of cover art. When the selection square lingers on a title, the matrix automatically reorganizes, surrounding the selection with similar movies (by genre, actors, director, etc.). They then played some sample scenes from the roughly 100 available 4K UHD titles, including a documentary on Alaskan wildlife with footage of whales leaping from shimmering water and a segment of the re-mastered Lawrence of Arabia, revealing the captivating color depth and transfixing detail made possible by UHD.
Kaleidescape’s Encore line
Like the PRIMA demo, the Kaleidescape player delivers a seemingly flawless presentation of content—all movie and audio data is fully downloaded before playback, alleviating the dips in quality endemic to streaming services, as well as allowing the fullest possible quality of video and audio. (According to the company, Kaleidescape’s newest players utilize 24.5 Mbps audio, which is 45 times greater than the standard 512 Kbps of streaming solutions.)
Donald also announced a coming software upgrade to the Kaleidescape system software—due in June or July of this year—that will allow the Encore line to communicate fully with the older Premiere line. With the upgrade, Premiere system owners will be able to port their downloaded movies over to the new Encore system, as well as allow the newer models to play movies imported from discs to the Premiere system—effectively merging the two systems.
And while you’ll only be selling PRIMA systems to your clients with the finest, ultra-high-end theaters, the new price points on the Kaleidescape Encore suite ($2,295 to $7,995) certainly make it a suitable component for the typical dedicated home theater client. For the ultimate lovers of cinema, however, both of these systems are almost essential to round out the perfect home theater experience—one that will keep them glued to their screens for days on end.