Leading French exhibitor, CGR Cinemas, has stated its intention to use all RGB laser projectors to power its approximately 700 screens across 73 locations with Christie as its exclusive laser projector provider. The major French exhibitor has placed an initial order for 200 Christie Reallaser systems, of which 100 will be deployed in 2019 and 100 in 2020. The screens that will be upgraded are the CGR Classic Screens. There have been no further details on a timeframe for the remaining CGR screens. CGR will utilise the full selection of Christie RGB pure laser models to accommodate a variety of screen sizes and requirements including the flagship CP4325-RGB, plus the prospective lower cost CP2315-RGB and CP2320-RGB, plus any further models to be released over the next year.
CGR has already invested in Christie RGB laser technology for its premium format ICE screens. CGR introduced its first ICE screen in December 2016 and has since expanded significantly to reach 19 as at H1 2018 with further locations already planned.
The deal marks the largest bulk order of Christie’s RGB projector line to date. It also outlines a potential roadmap to reach full RGB laser penetration of CGR screens, beginning with a first wave of replacement targeted at just under 30% of screens, but without a definitive end date. The deal provides a positive reinforcement of GCR's current experience of RGB through its premium ICE screens and in general its long-standing relationship with Christie. CGR first partnered with the technology provider to become the first European exhibitor to be fully digitised some ten years prior.
For European exhibitors this also sends a strong message about next generation standards for replacement technology as CGR follows in the steps of both Kinepolis and to some extent Cineworld in embarking on a first wave of replacements through laser (although CGR will be the first to use exclusively RGB laser).
This is also commitment to RGB laser as a long term technology over other competing presentation formats such as laser phosphor and more recently LED in the cinema environment. Crucially, the deal follows the launch of Christie’s more affordable range of RGB projectors in the CP2315-RGB and the CP2320-RGB both of which are 2K resolution and with a reported list price of under $100,000. The technology is based on solid state green laser diodes as opposed to frequency-doubled green laser. As a result the lasers are directly coupled which also saves on costs on expensive fibre and potentially power based on cooling mechanisms too.
The lower cost line of RGB projectors demonstrates how RGB now has the potential to be opened up to the mainstream market, rather than simply the reserve of premium screens. The development also suggests there could be two distinct RGB market segments based on technology attributes and pricing factors.
The move also potentially opens up the debate about how to maintain the an edge for premium or PLF screens over standard screens, if they are all utilising RGB. In repsonse, PLF is about a package of superior technology attributes in conjunction with comfort, sound, auditorium features and branding. While a wider range of RGB projectors (and prices) opens up the market up to more screens, larger or PLF screens will still require top of the range RGB projectors.
Therefore, the top tier of premium screens are likely to remain out in front, as the premium nature of a screen is more than just the light source, although of course it is a very important aspect of it.