Massive Panoramic Screens Are the Movie Revolution 3D Never Could Be

TVs are getting bigger, their resolutions higher, and overall, home theater systems are giving people a reason to stay home. So to reel people back in to the box office, Hollywood is taking a cue from the 60s by installing even bigger screens in theaters.

The Hollywood Reporter says Belgian projector manufacturer has made a new panoramic movie theater setup called Escape. It's a 270-degree experience that features one main screen in the middle and two supplementary screens on either side, creating one giant, immersive, wraparound picture.

There are only five Escape theaters in the U.S. right now: Cinemark 18 & XD at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in L.A.; Cinemark Paradise 24 & XD in Davie, Florida; Cinemark Legacy Theater & XD in Plano, Texas; Cinemark @ Seven Bridges and IMAX in Woodridge, Illinois; and Cinemark's Redwood Downtown & XD in Redwood City, California. They'll all be hosting special screenings of Maze Runner, a new young adult thriller based on the book of the same name to show off the tech.

But it's worth noting that neither Maze nor any other movie has been filmed specifically for an Escape theater. Regardless, it drops you right inside the movie, which for these screenings, will be shown on the main screen, and extra visual effects, like a extension of the film's maze, shown on the side screens.

Getting people to film in way that works for three screens is the main challenge for a panoramic movies. If that sounds strangely familiar, it's because getting studios to film in the right format is a hurdle 3D movies have yet to clear too. But Escape is not the lone soldier in its mission for massive screens. There's a German company called Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits that's developing a 360-degree camera system—they filmed the World Cup, the footage from which will be shown in planned 360-degree theater in Munich's FIFA World Football Museum. Then there's a company called Jaunt working on 360-degree cinematic VR.

So, sure. Movies have been using gimmicks to sell tickets forever. Think Smell-O-Vision, IMAX, 3D, etc. The list goes on! But this is one that might actually work. [THR]