The movie Battleship was released to theaters today as I write this, on May 17th. I can tell you from experience that it’s a fun action movie. How? Because I watched a totally legal copy in our reference theater this afternoon, with incredible sound and a picture better than Blu-ray! Have I got your attention? Here’s a brief review about what I saw,¬†which when I think about it, made history today at Audio Advice!

My viewing was possible through the magic of a new company called Prima Cinema. We had a prototype version of their machine today at Audio Advice in Raleigh. It all started with an idea based on the Bel Air Circuit, an exclusive group of movie professionals and wealthy individuals in LA who paid to have projectionists show movies in their homes as soon as the films were released theatrically.

Prima Cinema’s concept is similar to joining a country club. There is an initiation fee which gives you the rights to own the box the movies play back from. In the first year, you have a minimum number of movies you need to purchase, after that it is pay as you go.

The user interface and technology are surprisingly simple. Prima Cinemas currently has deals with about 60% of the major studios. I suspect by the time the product is brought to market, they will have about all of them. The box is a military grade encrypted computer. About two weeks before a movie is due to be released in theaters, the digital bitstream starts to trickle into the machine.

The user interface shows three sections, coming soon, leaving soon, and now playing. ‘Coming soon’ are movies not yet released. ‘Now playing’ are movies loaded on to your machine available for viewing. ‘Leaving soon’ are movies on the machine for about 30 days that need to move out to make room for new ones. Each movie has a trailer you can play an unlimited number of times, and a full synopsis of the film. When you want to watch a movie, a family member swipes his or her fingerprint, the machine dials out to the main office, verifies the user, and the film begins to play. Video quality is better than Bluray, and the sound is fantastic with Dolby TruHD.

The idea of watching a new release in the privacy of your own theater is so cool. Scrolling though a list of movies that just came out and knowing that with the push of a button I can watch one of them is a very eerie, exciting feeling!

I suppose you want to know how much this experience costs? Well, as I said, it’s about like joining a country club. The one time investment is $35,000, then each movie is $500 per viewing. You have to purchase 10 in the first year. Is this expensive? Heck, yes. It is a whole lot cheaper than joining the Bel Air Circuit, though ,and I think this is our first glimpse at the future of movie viewing. Imagine being able to have a group of your friends over for opening night of a great new movie. Talk about cool factor- there’s nothing to beat that in the electronics world!

We’ll have the full production machine on display at our upcoming Digital Media Event on July 25th in Raleith and July 26th in Charlotte.

Gosh, I wish I could get one of these in my theater!