4K Coming to a Theater Near You
Most current digital-cinema systems use 2K (2048x1080) DLP projectors, whereas the Sony 4K projector quadruples that resolution to 4096x2160. There is very little 4K material available today, but most movies are now telecined at 4K and reduced to 2K for digital presentation, so it shouldn't be too difficult to simply distribute the 4K version to any theater with a 4K projector. Also, an increasing number of movies are being shot digitally with 4K cameras. Of course, the bandwidth and storage capacity required for a 4K movie are far greater than for 2K, but with storage prices falling rapidly and bandwidth increasing by the day, this shouldn't be too much of an impediment.
The Sony projector can also accommodate 3D presentations, though the final resolution is 2K in this case. Like DLP, it also requires a special silver screen. Disney now has 17 3D movies in the works, and that trend is expected to expand to other studios.
As you might surmise, the Sony 4K projector is more expensive than a 2K DLP model, and funding for digital-cinema conversions in general has slowed over the last six months. So Sony is working with Walt Disney Studios to provide financial and operational assistance to theaters that want to install the Sony system. On the studio side, Sony's digital-cinema division has signed deployment agreements with Sony Pictures (natch), Disney (of course), Paramount, and Fox.
Clearly, commercial cinemas are desperate to offer something that consumers can't get at home, and 4K certainly achieves that goal. But will it increase ticket prices beyond their already-ridiculous levels, and if so, will moviegoers stay away in favor of their lower-resolution but more-comfortable home theaters? Only time will tell.