Alamo Drafthouse is a company filled with pioneers, always working to improve your cinema-going experience. With this new idea, I think they might have finally cracked the code wide open:
Austin, TX --- April 1, 2019 --- Just in time for a summer packed with blockbusters that must be seen on the tallest screen imaginable, Alamo Drafthouse is proud to announce that their 38th location, set to open in downtown Los Angeles this summer, will be the very first of many markets to feature the company’s new Vertical Format standard, VerticalVision™.
“If you talk to any of the top directors in Hollywood, they’ll tell you that the format they’re most excited about is vertical,” says Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO. “For us, this is truly a matter of watching where the puck is going.”
Rather than the typical aspect ratios – 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 – used in theatrical exhibition today, VerticalVision™ literally flips the script and screens content vertically at 1:1.85 and 1:2.39. A typical Alamo Drafthouse screen is 50’ wide, but VerticalVision™ is 50’ tall.
Alamo Drafthouse is currently working with studio partners and filmmakers to produce artfully cropped versions of upcoming and classic films.
“What I love about VerticalVision is just how tight the frame is, allowing you to focus on just the one thing you want the audience to see,” says There Will be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson. “For too long filmmakers have been saddled with the constraints and extraneous details of widescreen – long live tall screen.”
Anderson is currently developing his first native VerticalVision feature, Long Tall Sally, starring Elizabeth Delbecki. The filmmaker says he’s also considering a host of other projects in the format, including Jumpin' Jacks, Longing to Fall, and How Hight the Sky.
"When CinemaScope was first developed in the ‘50s, critics claimed it would only be worthwhile for films about snake and trains," says Anderson. "I commend the vision of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in paving the way for the next cinematic frontier."
For films that can’t be reformatted in time for release, Alamo Drafthouse’s skilled projectionists will have the option of either manually panning during the film, or “shrink to fit” mode, which reduces the film size to fit the screen.
The idea for VerticalVision™ came from a media trend spotted by Alamo Drafthouse’s social media team. According to a 2018 blog post from Facebook Business, “79% of novice vertical video consumers agreed that the format is more engaging, and said they would choose the vertical format in most cases...Therefore, it's more important than ever to prioritize bringing creative ideas to life in the vertical space.“
“Facebook has a proven track record when it comes to video content and in knowing what people really want,” says Alamo Drafthouse’s social media manager, Megan Reardon. “And we’re proud to be the #influencers who’ll get this format trending.”
Los Angeles’ VerticalVision™ auditorium will have 205 recliner seats and 41 rows. It will utilize a state-of-the-art sideways-mounted Barco VTS-50L Laser projection system optimized for very tall screens, and the ability, via the Alamo Drafthouse app for iOS and Android, to dynamically add virtual stickers and GIFs to the screen on the fly.
“We’re considering adjusting our ‘no cell phone’ rule for certain VerticalVision™ screenings,” League says. “That way our guests can literally react to the movie in real-time using thumbs up, hearts, and, for documentaries and foreign-language films, even crying face emojis.”
In true Alamo Drafthouse fashion, VerticalVision™ auditoriums will all have an over the top look, referencing another famously tall structure. The exterior of Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles’ VerticalVision™ theater will be punctuated by an amazing entrance themed after the Jinping-I Dam in China, the world’s tallest arch dam.
“I’m so dam excited to be able to welcome people to VerticalVision™,” says League. “And thanks to an investment from Yúrén Jié International, I’m doubly honored to pay tribute to one of the great hydropower stations of the world.”
With a design patent in place, Alamo Drafthouse’s plans for VerticalVision™ aren’t limited to their own auditoriums. The company plans to make the format available for museums, theme parks, government institutions, and other exhibitors via a franchise model. For more information, visit the VerticalVision™ booth at the 2019 Cinemacon convention in Las Vegas, April 1-4, or visit drafthouse.com/verticalvision.