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A Primo Movie Experience

November 24, 2014 | Comments

How cool would it be if you could watch first-run movies in the comfort of your home on the same day they're released to theaters? You'd be the talk of the neighborhood - unless of course that neighborhood was in Beverly Hills, which is just the sort of affluent locale where you are likely to find a new movie service called Prima Cinema.

Carlsbad, CA-based Prima Cinema calls itself "the first premium entertainment company that delivers Hollywood films directly to your private home theater." It's a sort of public version of the invitation-only Bel Air Digital Circuit movie-distribution service major studios provide to directors, producers, actors, and other Hollywood cognoscenti in the greater Los Angeles area.

As you might imagine, the price of admission is steep: $35,000 for the equipment, which must be installed by an authorized dealer - many of which are CEDIA members - plus a $500-per-viewing fee ($600 for 3D movies). And that's assuming you have a theater setup that meets Prima standards, which includes a video projection system with at least an 8-foot screen. We're talking serious Hollywood-caliber home theater here, and Prima would be a natural addition to the IMAX Private Theatre system we wrote about in "Imax 3D Comes Home."

Considering the paranoid nature of Hollywood, which loses billions a year to piracy, it should come as no surprise that Prima's hard-drive-based system is protected by a super high-tech encryption system that includes a biometric reader. That's right, before a movie can be started, the registered owner must scan his or her fingerprint.

The system is also equipped with an accelerometer that prevents movie playback if it detects movement - as in someone trying to relocate the server. These are just two of many security features.

Prima Cinema stores up to 50 movies, which are automatically updated over the Internet. In other words, movies are downloaded onto the system's 2-terabyte server, not streamed over the Internet, so you don't have to worry about buffering issues and other glitches.

When you fire up the system you're greeted by two options: A "Coming Soon" list of titles with release dates, and a "Now Showing" list of movies available for viewing. You only pay for movies you watch, but if you decide to watch a movie a second time, you have to shell out another 500 bucks.

Once the credits start rolling, you have a 24-hour viewing window, during which time you can only pause the movie - no rewinding or fast forwarding.

Image quality is hailed as "better than Blu-ray" because the system uses less compression and encodes more bits per color than Blu-ray. Of course, getting the best possible picture quality assumes your AV gear is equipped to handle the additional picture information - a reasonable assumption given the high-end clientele.

As of this writing, 17 movies were available for viewing, with another eight listed as coming soon. Prima has deals in place with Paramount, Universal, Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment, Millennium Entertainment, Focus Features, The Weinstein Company, Relativity Media, IFC Films, Image Entertainment, and Samuel Goldwyn Films, representing nearly 50 percent of box office titles.

To learn about the latest in home entertainment options - luxury or otherwise - consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.