OCEAN CITY – The Sun and Surf 8 Cinema has stepped it up a notch by converting all eight screens to state-of-the-art digital cinema with a sound system to match.
The Sun and Surf 8 Cinema on 143rd Street in north Ocean City completed a $500,000 digital conversion of the theatre this week. The movie theatre is now 100 percent digital with six of its projectors being converted, replacing the 35mm film projectors. The other two systems made the switch to digital in 2010.
The 35mm film projectors use large reals of film to project a movie. The new digital system becomes a much easier automated process as the movie comes on a hard drive that is simply inserted into a computer. Once the hard drive is inserted, the feature is programmed into the server to be projected.
“Before, you needed someone up here to prepare it, get it ready and start the movie,” Sun and Surf Manager Andrew Seyler said. “Now it can start on its own, it is all automated now.”
Fox Theaters President Donald Fox furthered that the image is now perfect in every showing.
“The problem with film is it degrades each time you run it,” Fox said. “So when you see a movie in its second showing it isn’t as perfect as the first.”
The theater’s sound system has also received an upgrade in all of its auditoriums to state-of-the-art Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo sound.
“That is the latest theatre sound technology,” Fox said. “It introduces five channels of sound into the theatre and the .1 is a subwoofer … the whole experience is going to be dramatically different.”
Fox explained behind the screen is three channels of sound, the center, left, and right stereo, and the subwoofer are positioned. Plus, speakers are installed around the walls of the auditorium for surround sound.
“It is amazing, the sound is all around you,” Fox said. “We are putting in the best that is available today.”
Sun and Surf 8 Cinema is also receiving two additional 3-D systems, giving the theatre a total of four silver screens.
In addition to showing 3-D movies, the new digital cinema systems enable the theatre to show live HD broadcasts of opera, concerts and sporting events. Currently the Sun & Surf is showing the Metropolitan Opera Live broadcasts and other live events. For information, look online at foxshowtimes.com or fathomevents.com.
“This is the first phase of planned changes for the Sun & Surf, which include a refurbished lobby, box office and restrooms, new seating and auditorium finishes, and a renovated entrance,” Fox said. “Also under consideration are plans to convert the auditoriums to stadium seating and the possible addition of two to four more screens.”
Fox said despite the upgrades and renovations movie prices will remain the same.
“We are giving a better experience for the same price,” he said.
According to Fox, Taylor Bank of Berlin provided the financing for the project that was completed in only four days, with only two screens being down at a time. Fox’s Gold Coast Theatre went all digital at the end of last year.
It is expected that the Hollywood studios will cease making 35mm film prints of their movies by the end of 2013, according to Fox. The next expected step following the advance to hard drives is movies will be delivered via satellite dish and downloaded directly onto the theatre’s servers.
Sun and Surf 8 Cinema contains two large auditoriums seating 260 each and 6 smaller auditoriums seating 160 to 175. The total capacity of the cinema is about 1,500.
The cinema was first built in the early 1970’s with just the lobby, box office and the two large auditoriums, and two additional auditoriums were added to the back side of the building after some time. In 1980, Fox acquired the cinema and added the last four auditoriums.
Fox Theatres is based in Reading, Pa. and operates theatres there, in Ocean City and in Greenbelt, Md.
Fox concluded that with the recent Colorado movie theatre shooting there have been operational changes made to enhance security in Fox Theatres.
“We do want people to feel safe and comfortable to come to the movie theatres,” he said.
Conferences have been held with the Ocean City Police Department to coordinate security coverage of Sun and Surf 8 Cinema and Gold Coast. Fox said the police will be increasing their surveillance of the theatres and become more visible.