Why Most Movie Theaters Won't Be Able To Show Billy Lynn The Way It Should Be Screened

Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk

Movies are always looking for new and interesting ways to push the envelope of technology. However, doing so doesn't accomplish much if nobody can see the work you did. However, at this point, only two theaters in the United States, and only five in the world, are expected to have the facilities necessary to do all of that at once because the rest simply don't have all the equipment they need, and they likely won't be upgrading before the movie's release.

Ang Lee's new film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk has been produced in 4K 3D and is supposed to run at 120 frames per second. This combination of technology had to be specifically installed at the AMC Lincoln Square theater in order to hold the film's world premiere there last Friday as part of the New York Film Festival. The only other theater in the U.S. expected to be able to show Halftime Walk at full spec, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, which is believed to be going through upgrades now, though even that could not be confirmed. Outside of North America, there are three theaters, one each in Taipei, Beijing, and Shanghai, who will be able to show "the whole shebang."

In response, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is being produced in a number of different combinations, in order to show the film off in its best light under different circumstances. You'll be able to view the film at the full 120fps in 2D, or at 60fps in 3D, as well as the standard 24 fps. The major stumbling block appears to be the pair of Christie Mirage 4K laser projectors which have yet to actually be installed in any movie theaters so far. In order to produce a native 4K image in 3D you need two projectors, otherwise, the 4K resolution is split in half when it turns into a 3D image. How many theaters would be upgrading to these new projectors is unclear if they were actually available, but it appears the option isn't even really there yet.

For the most part, it appears that Ang Lee isn't too upset that the film's full specs won't be visible to most people. To some extent he considers his use of the technology to be a proof of concept, in an attempt to get Hollywood as a whole talking about the possibilities. Certainly, if more filmmakers pick up the baton and start to run with these sorts of specifications, theaters will have little choice but to respond by upgrading their facilities.

Will you be checking out Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk in one of its high spec forms? If you live in New York or Los Angeles, will you be making a trip to see the movie in its full glory? Let us know in the comments.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.