D-BOX: A Giant of Premium Formats
OMDIA: PREMIUM SCREENS ARE RISING AND CONVERTING SUCCESS INTO EVEN BRIGHTER PROSPECTS
Per Charlotte Jones, Associate Director at Omdia, premium screens are now an integral part of the cinema industry underpinning the market through higher levels of prestige and buzz around key releases, driving incremental box office and a forging a highly engaged customer base. The growing demand for premium formats has also often outstripped screens; this underlines significant potential to invest in new screens and across multiple formats particularly where premium is under-represented, such as in Western Europe.
Premium formats also played a critical role in the box office recovery with titles over-indexing on premium screens, in turn reinforcing commitment to expand best-in-class screens. As a result, premium is now the fastest growing sector of the market. The number of premium format screens (PLF, 4D and IMS1) rose to over 7,500 at end 2022, up from just over 7,000 a year prior, with Avatar: The Way of the Water acting as a catalyst. This strong growth is all the more impressive when put into context of the recent pandemic and lingering concerns over capital and resources.
Exhibitors are therefore seeing high value in prioritizing investment in premium screens and all the associated benefits such as higher occupancy, pricing and engagement levels. Cinemas need to innovate to keep the moviegoing experience appealing and premium is the most impactful way to do this.
Audiences have gravitated toward premium in the post-COVID-19 era as a way of differentiating from home viewing amid the rise in streaming services and a desire to experience movies in a best-in-class environment. According to Omdia’s research, around one third of the box office of key titles derives from premium screens in the opening weekend, in turn generating even stronger demand for best-in-class experiences.
Underscoring future prospects; the number of screens rose across each type of format led by exhibitor PLF screens in 2022 for the second consecutive year. There was also steady growth in global PLF as well as 4D/IMS1 screens in 2022. IMAX remains the largest global provider of premium screens, followed by CJ 4D PLEX with its multiple brands of Screen X, 4DX Screen, 4DX. D-BOX was again ranked second by individual premium brand..
1. Omdia definition of IMS: Immersive Motion Seating (D-BOX)
D-BOX’S GLOBAL FOOTPRINT- ON THE RISE MORE THAN EVER
Despite already being one of the leading installs in the world as a premium format with close to 820 screens in 39 countries, D-BOX is continuing to expand thanks to the rollout of major agreements with exhibitors such as Cinemark USA, Hoyts Australia and with partners like ECCO in Germany.
As Ricardo Bollier, D-BOX’s Theatrical Global Sales Director explained, at least 36 new additional screens with haptic recliners are being installed by Cinemark in the United States in 2023, with the latest ones having recently opened in Merriam (KS), West Jordan (UT), Milpitas (CA) and Lakewood (CO). With Hoyts, D-BOX is planning to install 18 screens over the same period.
Additionally, D-BOX will soon install the first screen a new country in Europe—and with more than 200 screens, Europe is the second largest region for D-BOX only behind the North American region.
D-BOX’s popularity in these regions stems in part from its flexible configuration options for its solutions, which can be tailored to fit any screen size. Whether it's a dedicated D-BOX auditorium or a section within a larger screen, D-BOX's experience can be customized to fit any space and integrated with other premium experiences.
D-BOX & THE RETURN OF PREMIUM EXPERIENCES
Since the end of the pandemic, there’s been a pent-up demand for immersive cinematic experiences that is driving people to theaters in masses for the enhanced entertainment experience they’re unable to recreate at home.
For reference, researcher Comscore predicts the formats will account for 16.7% of 2023 domestic ticket sales, up from 9.2% in 2019.
D-BOX audiences were willing to pay more for a premium experience as a treat to themselves after the pandemic, and those who tried D-BOX for the first time loved it—D-BOX’s record sales in 2022 prove this fact!
The appetite for premium was clearly demonstrated again last year by D-BOX’s strong catalogue of content which included event films like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. Avatar: The Way of Water left its mark in 2022, as well as other movies such as Minions: Rise of Gru, Jurassic World: Dominion, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. So far in 2023, The Super Mario Bros. Movie made history as one of the highest grossing animation films! Because of these successes, D-BOX has a bullish attitude on the return the theaters and continued premium demand.
Cinema Day in 2022 in targeted markets like USA and Germany contributed to the success of the industry as well as of D-BOX, since families and other moviegoers were able to discover the premium experience thanks to a more affordable ticket price.
The increased demand for premium is not the only factor that led to D-BOX’s recent success, but also the quality of the premium experience itself. For D-BOX, encoding is an artistic concept—haptic designers watch the movies and place just the right amount of haptic feedback in the right scenes, ensuring that it’s never too intense and never too subtle. However, in the end, moviegoers always have the final word and can adjust the intensity of the haptic feedback directly on their seats, which makes D-BOX unique!
COMBINING PREMIUM FORMATS – A WAY TO INCREASE REVENUES
With premium formats becoming more popular amongst moviegoers, and with moviegoers willing to pay an extra amount the get a unique cinematic experience, premium over premium represents a way for exhibitors to increase their revenues. Some premium over premium strategies that are already in place have proven that the concept gets strong results!
Did you know that D-BOX haptic seats have already been combined with exhibitors branded PLF for a few years now? A great example of this is Cineplex Entertainment in Canada, who has been an industry leader with its AVX screens. It’s been demonstrated over the years that D-BOX seats installed in PLF halls tend to get higher occupancy rates, so seeing the value in premium over premium, Cinemark USA has embraced the same strategy by multiplying projects that combine D-BOX seats with their XD screens!
Luxury seating remains a key strategy in markets that can afford a higher average ticket price. Combining recliner seats with the D-BOX haptic science is not a new idea. Did you know that D-BOX installed its very first haptic recliner seats in Hong Kong (Golden Harvest) and in USA (Galaxy Theatres) back in 2014? From the beginning up to now, D-BOX has proved that adding comfort to a high-end haptic experience generates higher occupancy rates. To physically go to theaters, many moviegoers seek to get the same or even more comfort than they would get at home!
To maximize the revenues of these premium options, exhibitors need to market them properly, and scheduling is one of the key pillars. Since a movie typically only lasts a week or two in premium formats, the opening weekend is highly strategic. Blockbusters will remain on screens longer, but advance ticketing remains extremely important for these titles and making premium experiences available for purchase a few weeks prior the release is even more important!
D-BOX works closely with its exhibitors to take advantage of this opportunity. Moreover, D-BOX is currently replacing its DCP servers with new ACR servers, giving studios the ability (and extra flexibility) to easily and quickly push their motion code to exhibitors around the world. The D-BOX ACR rollout is completed in most of its markets including Canada and will be completed in others such as the USA before the end of 2023!
HOW D-BOX WORKS
The perfectly synchronized haptic feedback starts in the post-production phase of a movie, as D-BOX works directly with studio partners to enrich and elevate the storyline in ways the studios originally intended.
This is done by our in-house haptic designers, who leverage different haptic cues related to movements, vibrations and textures to create a haptic motion track unique to each film. It is through these haptic tracks that D-BOX brings a new layer of immersion to a movie’s audio and visuals, captivating audiences in a way that hasn’t been done before.
You won’t get haptic motion for the whole movie, but only for the scenes that make the most of the experience. By engaging and bridging the senses of moviegoers, the D-BOX premium experience is proven to enrich memory recall and is a fantastic way to add to the narrative of non-action scenes in a film!
With most of D-BOX’s haptic designers having a background in sound or sound design and with all of them having gone through D-BOX’s unique training process, they’re able to highlight specific details in the movie while creating a motion track that is in perfect sync and in harmony with the action on-screen.
This is important because it is this precise synchronization that creates a full sense of immersion and that brings the heightened sense of realism, creating the feeling of truly being part of the movie for audiences everywhere.
D-BOX’S UPCOMING SLATE
With strategic partnerships with most major studios, D-BOX is able to encode all different genres of movies for exhibitors, with everything from major action movies to family, sport and horror titles, and to local and international content. So far, 2023 has given moviegoers a handful of must-see films in D-BOX with the latest phenomenon being The Super Mario Bros Movie! D-BOX also released its very first German film in March 2023, Manta, Manta - Zwoter Teil.
With an upcoming movie slate that will include blockbuster titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Fast X, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Indiana Jones & the Dial of Destiny, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, The Meg 2 or even The Nun 2, D-BOX plans to bring the full range of emotions to its fans again in 2023!
BRING D-BOX TO A THEATER NEAR YOU
With so much pent-up demand for premium format and with a more “standard” and expected movie slate, 2023 will be an exciting year for the premium category again!
If you would like to see how D-BOX could move your audiences and your sales, please communicate with one of our haptic experts today!