The movie capital of the world just got a bit bigger. In April, Regal L.A. Live became the first theater in the world to carry the Barco Innovation Center branding, as the Belgian cinema technology company continues its aggressive expansion into consumer-facing offerings in the post-digital conversion era. That means the 14-screen multiplex will feature all of the latest technology from Barco’s growing array of products—including an interactive lobby, laser projection, immersive sound, and Barco Escape, the company’s panoramic triple-screen format.
Although transformative, these changes are more of an upgrade than a renovation for a theater that hasn’t shown signs of aging in its seven-year history. Regal L.A. Live has been one of the most high-profile theaters in Los Angeles since opening in 2009 as part of real estate group AEG’s sprawling downtown Los Angeles entertainment hub, which includes the Staples Center and multiple dining and shopping destinations. Its primary auditorium, for example, known as The Premiere House at L.A. Live, is a breathtaking two-story hall that seats over 800 guests and hosts more than 20 red carpet movie premieres per year. The cinema also includes other innovations that aren’t tied to Barco’s branding, such as immersive 4DX seating and a recently installed expanded concessions menu. With this partnership, Barco and Regal L.A. Live have created a state-of-the-art premium movie experience in the heart of Los Angeles. “Regal L.A. Live: A Barco Innovation Center represents a new step in the movie theater industry for business and technology,” says Shelby Russell, vice president, AEG & L.A. Live marketing. “Together with Barco, we will be continually committed to bringing audiences at L.A. Live the best theater experience they can find anywhere.”
The Barco Lobby Experience is the first impression customers get of Regal L.A. Live’s recent changes, as digital displays and a lighting system welcome patrons inside the theater. All of the lobby’s lights and displays combine to deliver movie-specific marketing opportunities at different intervals, creating a sort of experiential movie trailer before customers even step inside an auditorium. “We have had a phenomenal response from our guests, who are truly amazed and awed by the Barco Lobby Experience,” says Russell. “We see tremendous potential for increasing ticket sales and engaging patrons while creating a new entertainment experience that they can’t get anywhere else.” The goal here is to drive advance ticket sales at decision-making points for consumers while maximizing in-theater marketing investment from studios inside the cinema.
Once seated, audiences are able to enjoy a film with state-of-the-art laser projection and immersive sound technology. Currently only two of the theater’s 14 screens feature Barco’s Flagship Laser projector, with the remaining halls scheduled to be equipped with the company’s Laser Phosphor projectors later this year.
Having seen customers identify and actively seek out IMAX screens around the world, cinema technology providers have made significant inroads in extending their brand identities outside the projection booth. Immersive seating companies such as D-Box, MediaMation, and 4DX are all exploring similar avenues to better highlight their respective cinema experiences, while Dolby has ingrained itself with AMC’s premium large format label, Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime, to drive consumer recognition and demand. The partnership between Regal L.A. Live and Barco, however, marks a new step in consumer-facing branding in the United States; we are no longer seeing premium technology touted in select auditoriums but throughout the entire location itself.