Barco Escape

At some point, movie theaters found themselves in the unfortunate position of playing catch up. Where theaters were once the epicenter for entertainment, rising ticket prices and the exponential improvement of home theater technology have all but pushed them to the endangered species list.

Innovation was needed. IMAX was a good start. A screen so big no home can duplicate it. 3D is a mixed bag. It’s more expensive and, frankly, better in the home setting. Sound systems such as Dolby Atmos are great, but most of what makes it special is very nuisanced.

So what’s next? Well, it might be Barco Escape, a technology influenced by the super Cinerama craze of the 1960s, where an additional screen is placed on either side of your normal screen, giving a massive panoramic experience. The first film to be presented in Barco Escape is this week’s release, The Maze Runner. Five theaters across the country are offering the film in Barco Escape and myself and Peter Sciretta just had to try it out for ourselves.

Below, read more about Barco Escape and watch a video blog of our thoughts, criticisms and praise for what the company is calling “a little taste of the future.”

Barco Escape is currently available at these five theaters

  • Cinemark 18 & XD at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles
  • Cinemark Paradise 24 & XD in Davie, Florida
  • Cinemark Legacy Theatre & XD in Plano, Texas
  • Cinemark at Seven Bridges and Imax in Woodridge, Illinois
  • Cinemark’s Redwood Downtown & XD in Redwood City, California

Here’s our video review with all the info you’re going to want. But if you don’t want to watch, or listen, I’ll put some of the same thoughts below.

We went to a special screening at the Cinemark 18 in Los Angeles. It was a Cinemark because Barco is the company who makes projectors for Cinemark. Only seven minutes of the film were presented in the format, but that didn’t make it any less intersting. You obviously notice the huge screens when you walk in. Here are some photos from the theater:

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Here are the Pros and Cons of Barco Escape:

Barco Escape Pros:

  • A unique, immersive, irreplaceable theatrical experience.
  • Just the beginning of a growing technology.
  • In this iteration, can pretty much be retrofitted into any theater.
  • Fantastic potential to expand the scope of a filmmakers vision.
  • Every seat in the theater gives a different experience.

Barco Escape Cons:

  • At least now, none of the theaters are customized to Escape so the screen angle is a little constrictive.
  • Only a very small percentage of the movie is formatted (this will probably change over time)
  • Filmmakers are generally not part of the process.
  • Graphics not 100% fully integrated.
  • Light from main screen reflects off side screens when not in use which can be somewhat distracting

So yeah, at the moment, Barco Escape isn’t the savior of the theatrical experience. But the potential is there and the potential is big. They have a deal with 20th Century Fox to develop more films so it’ll be exciting to see where it goes.

If you still have questions, here’s the official video for the company that shows you what it looks like in action:

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