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February 23, 2015
From the stage to the big screen: National Theatre Live, Sony and Vue Entertainment International raise curtain on new partnership

From the stage to the big screen: National Theatre Live, Sony and Vue Entertainment International raise curtain on new partnership

Landmark Event Cinema agreement brings four National Theatre Live productions to Vue audiences in detail-packed 4K Ultra HD

Basingstoke, 23rd February, 2015 - Sony Digital Cinema has confirmed a ground-breaking initiative with the National Theatre and Vue Entertainment International to screen four National Theatre Live stage productions in detail-packed 4K Ultra High Definition.

A landmark in ‘Event Cinema’, this unique three-way partnership represents the first agreement of its kind between a leading cultural brand, a cinema chain and an electronics manufacturer. Over the next year, audiences at Vue Cinemas across the country will be able to enjoy a world-class theatrical experience without travelling far from home. The four shows will be captured with Sony cameras at 4K resolution, with four times the detail of ordinary Full HD television broadcasts.

During the 12-month tie-up, Vue customers at its 83 sites across the country will exclusively be able to enjoy the productions projected in 4K – the highest quality currently possible with commercial digital cinema projection.

Beautiful forever: 4K shines over celluloid

First fruit of the new partnership is the NT’s acclaimed production of David Hare’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on the book by Katherine Boo, directed by Rufus Norris and starring Meera Syal.

Captured in 4K using Sony’s F55 cameras, the recorded performance will be distributed to Vue Cinemas as a 4K DCP (Digital Cinema Package). Stored on a hard drive or transmitted securely by satellite, this high-resolution ‘digital print’ replaces bulky reels of celluloid film that were formerly used for movie distribution to cinemas.

It’s anticipated that National Theatre Live, Sony and Vue Entertainment International will push the boundaries of event cinema even further with other technical innovations during the course of the 12-month agreement, including live 4K capture and transmission of future productions.

“National Theatre Live continually aims to push the boundaries and ensure we’re at the cutting edge” remarks Emma Keith, Producer of National Theatre Live. “By partnering with Sony and Vue Entertainment International and enabling our audiences to experience our broadcasts in 4K Ultra High Definition we’re ensuring the best quality experience.”

Fresh experiences: leading the way in Live Event Cinema

On February 27th 2014, National Theatre Live (NT Live) broadcast War Horse live from the New London Theatre to cinemas across the world. The performance was captured using Sony F55 cameras and projected using a Sony 4K projector, ensuring cinema-goers enjoyed the best possible 4K viewing experience. The recording was subsequently made available as a 4K DCP, allowing 4K enabled cinemas to also show encore screenings. 36 Vue Cinemas in the UK screened the theatrical production on Sony 4K projectors throughout March 2014. In total, the broadcast attracted an audience of almost 400,000 people watching War Horse from around the world.

In August 2014, Sony cameras were used to capture the summer’s footballing action in Brazil, with images from FIFA World CupTM Final beamed live in 4K to fans at Vue’s prestigious Westfield multiplex in London. Vue Entertainment International has been a trailblazer in the switch to digital projection, with all its 755 screens in the UK now converted to 4K digital projection with the help of Sony.

“At Vue we’re constantly innovating with new ways to bring customers experiences that stand out from the ordinary“, comments Kevin Styles, UK & Ireland MD, Vue Entertainment International. “Event Cinema is an incredibly important facet of our offering that’s attracting brand-new audiences to cinemas. Our auditoriums are the perfect environment to enjoy world-class artistic and cultural events in comfort – and naturally projected in Sony 4K for the finest picture quality.”

With a unique capability extending from live production to digital projection, Sony is a key player in the growing Event Cinema market. From sports, opera and music to alternative comedy and high-profile public events, Event Cinema lets exhibitors expand their offering beyond traditional feature films and represents an increasingly important slice of box office receipts.

“If there’s a medium that’s naturally suited to the immersive detail and realism of 4K, it’s got to be live theatre”, says David McIntosh, Vice President, Sony Digital Cinema 4K Solutions for Europe and the Americas.

“Cinema Projection in 4K, delivers the best possible image quality which enhances the event cinema experience so that the performance can be enjoyed whether you are in the live theatre or watching in a cinema. We’re hugely excited to be working with both the National Theatre and Vue Entertainment International on this project that promises to redefine the boundaries of event cinema with extraordinary new viewing experiences.”