Finnkino Oy, one of the largest cinema chain operator in the Nordic region, has given its steady conversion to DCI-compliant digital screening rooms new momentum, by investing in ten of Christie’s CP2000-XB split-body 2K DLP cinema projectors.
The order was placed by the company’s technical manager Ari ‘Jaska’ Saarinen shortly before last Christmas, following meetings and product evaluations with Christie’s market development manager, Richard Nye, which had begun at last year’s Cinema Expo in Amsterdam. Despite the company’s huge global market share in D-cinema projection, this order represents Christie’s entry into the Finnish market. “It’s great that we can now add Finland to the other Scandinavian markets that we have already penetrated,” stated Nye.
With 170 screens covering Finland and the three Baltic countries, the exhibitor began to look seriously at the digital market two years ago. “That was the beginning of our learning curve,” admits Saarinen. “In the early days everyone was thinking that so long as you had the TI chip in the digital head that was good enough, and that all projectors were of similar quality. But there’s more knowledge about it now — and what we have seen from Christie looks very impressive indeed,” said Saarinen.
Last year, at Cinema Expo, he had the opportunity to compare Christie’s full suite of premium CP2000 2K products. “There were several compelling reasons for adopting the Christie brand,” he said. “The first was that we could get 20-25% more light output from the projectors than their competitors and that is because of the superior light path.”
With the company moving increasingly to active 3D via an XpanD solution, the requirement for high output further became paramount. “You really need high brightness to satisfy the 3D experience; no matter which 3D system you use it will either eat or lose most of your light, and so you need all the available output,” he said. “The final issue is that the CP2000-XB enables 3D content to be projected in full 2K resolution which no-one else in the 2K market can do.”
The technology breakthrough which allows this to take place for digital cinema projectors utilising 1.2” DMD chips from Texas Instruments, is Christie Brilliant3D technology. A first for the industry, this feature is enabled on all Christie 2K DLP Cinema® projectors — including the Christie CP2000-XB.
Other factors that appealed to Saarinen’s team were ease of use and fast installation, and the fact that Finnkino only needed to modify the windows in two projection rooms to accommodate the compact, split body design. This ensured that the rig could be installed by their own technical crew in quick time. “On top of that Christie arranged a private training seminar, which was extremely useful, as it will enable us to support our own installations,” noted Jaska.
“In fact we have been able to convert two of the biggest flagship screens in Finland to digital only and we have moved 35mm out of those entirely,” he said. Finnkino presently has a portfolio of 16 cinemas in Finland, including four in Helsinki. The flagship is the 14-screen, 3000-seat multiplex in Tennispalatsi, developed in 1999 on a site that had originally been built for the cancelled 1940 Olympic Games.
The auditoriums vary in size from 92 to 703 seats, with the biggest housing a screen measuring 184.8 square metres — making it the largest screen in Northern Europe (and now converted for 3D use). It was also the world’s first movie theatre to implement THX tri-amplified sound system and SDDS in all 14 digital auditoriums.
In addition, Finnkino is also a major player in the Baltic countries as owner of Forum Cinemas AS (Estonia), Forum Cinemas SIA (Latvia) and Forum Cinemas UAB (Lithuania). It intends to invest in excess of 30 million euros within the next two to three years to expand its chain of movie theatres. With many screens already spread throughout the Baltic countries it has recently expanded further in Lithuania, opening in Siauliai, Klaipeda, Kaunas and a further unit in Vilnius … as well as the Latvian capital of Riga.
Expansion is matched by ongoing experimentation, and presently Finnkino are running a pilot project using digital projection for alternative content.
As for Ari Saarinen, he believes his relationship with Christie is just at the beginning.
“We are very happy with this initial purchase,” he confirmed. “We are able to use the CP2000-XB even in the smallest auditoriums which is important, as it means we can remain consistent with one model throughout. This avoids problems of needing different parts for different models, and allows cinema staff get used to it easier. ”In fact the projectionists love the CP2000-XB because it’s so easy to use.”