This Friday, exhibition history is being recorded at Prestonwood Creek in North Dallas, Texas. Universal Studios’ Oblivion will be presented at Look Cinemas in the first auditorium built from the ground up with the revolutionary audio format in mind. The opening also marks the premiere of the very first film that was natively rendered – or mixed and conceived from the start – in Dolby Atmos.
“We wanted this to be the finest presentation house in the country,” explains Tom Stephenson, founder and chief executive of Look Cinemas. “Simply put, it offers the best possible way in which to watch a movie. Everybody gets that the theatrical experience is about the screen, digital projection,” he adds, “but to Look Cinemas, the audio side was terribly important as well. For us, Dolby Atmos is the best immersive, multi-dimensional sound experience ever created.”
Since Stephenson and his team were building their state-of-the-new-art, 11-screen, 1,900-seat complex, co-located with two top-chef restaurants that also serve three dine-in auditoriums, from the ground up, they saw and seized upon an additional opportunity. “We asked the Dolby tech guys how could we build the most perfect auditorium for them. They really helped us out. The auditorium became a little bit shorter and a little bit fatter, more of square shape,” if you will. “Everything, including speakers on the sides and ceiling, was designed to show off Dolby Atmos to its greatest advantage. It wasn’t just a matter of re-adapting another room,” though this is something that Dolby has been doing with much success around the globe, “but to be purposely building an auditorium for this technology.”
The process resulted in a wider 70-foot wall-to-wall and 50-foot floor-to ceiling screen (21 by 15 m). “I literally mean that,” Stephenson keeps his finger less than 8 inches (20 cm) apart. “Obviously one of the great things about Dolby Atmos is how pure and great the audio is. While this is terrific in the actual auditorium,” he laughs, “you don’t want it to end up in the next auditorium. We spent a lot more time and money and worked with sound engineers to make sure that sound didn’t bleed through.”
“We call it ‘Evolution,’ and the tagline is ‘It’s Not Just a Theory,'” Stephenson concludes his observations. “Sight, sound and screen technology have evolved and we believe that our cinema is literally the next stage in great presention and the next step in a long, great history of theatrical exhibition creating better and better spaces to enjoy movies in.”
Here’s looking at you, Tom.