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July 23, 2014

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New film trends: A report from CinemaCon

Headed to a theater near you, automatic bartenders and higher frame rates?

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Smart Bar’s “automatic bartender”

CinemaCon, the annual trade show for the National Association of Theatre Owners, is full of companies ranging from big Hollywood studios to mom-and-pop concessionaires pitching their wares to movie-theater owners. Two trends that stood out this year:

Touch-screen concessions: The Coke Freestyle machine, which can dispense more than 100 different varieties of soft drinks, was introduced several years ago and still drew an impressive line of people. A company called Smart Bar was pitching an "automatic bartender" that can mix up hundreds of different cocktails from its touch-screen menu. It's already in some high-end suites in Vegas hotels, and now the company is looking to expand to movie theaters.

Higher frame rates: Since the advent of sound, movies have been projected at 24 frames per second, but now high-profile filmmakers and technology companies are touting higher frame rates as the next level in picture quality. Sony was pushing projector upgrades capable of delivering higher frame rates, and Warner Bros. screened footage from Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure at 48 frames per second. But the footage looked so sharp that it had the flatness of high-end video, rather than the warmth of film (or digital video that emulates film). Maybe 24 frames per second is plenty.

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