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Cinema of the future: dry ice and popcorn sauces?

Jeremy Kay takes on the gigantic popcorn buckets and other treats on display at CinemaCon

It helps to peruse the trade floor at CinemaCon on an empty stomach. I didn’t, but as m’learned colleagues at Screen will attest, I am partial to a snack.

So imagine my delight when a cavernous hall tucked away in byzantine Caesars Palace opened up to reveal a smorgasbord of morsels from sour candies to hotdogs to the ubiquitous popcorn.

I can’t stand popcorn actually, but it was amusing to see vendors dress up this rubbery repast as an amuse bouche. Visitors to one particular stall were invited to drizzle it in ranch sauce or parmesan and garlic dressing, but we all know the stuff works best drenched in butter.

Size is everything in show business and so no surprise to report the biggest popcorn buckets on display accommodated 170oz, which for the uninitiated is about the size of an adolescent boy’s head. “But we can probably get you bigger – 190,” a stall holder whispered, leaning in as if we were discussing an arms sale.

I mulled over that incendiary tidbit as I watched a portly man from the beetroot family deploy a small tank to vacuum up an artificial spill in a carpet cleaning demonstration. The machine had teeth, but could it handle a quart of ranch that had been ground into the floor by a day of punter traffic?

Steve’s Frozen Chillers can make smoothies, slushies and frappuccinos – best to rinse thoroughly before changing the beverage profile, though – and Nathan’s slider dogs are to die for, apparently. I couldn’t try one because my jaws had temporarily been soldered together by the evil twin of a Gummi Bear.

“Maximise investment by resolving issues quickly!” urged tech specialists Cinevise, one of several companies that favoured strangely anodyne imperative over clear branding. Exclamation marks punctuated the landscape of the hall and fierce-eyed salespeople touting digital cinema servers, arc lamps, coaxial cables and projection systems preyed on customers who dared to engage for the briefest time.

MediaNation want to turn moviegoing into a “5D” experience by designing seats that rock and roll and blow dry ice into the air around you. But my favourite moment in the furniture section came courtesy of Mobiliano’s Roller Series of seats. “Go anywhere without standing up,” the sign screamed. You’ll need that after eating a 170oz tub of salty popcorn with white cheddar dressing on the side.

  • In an unrelated note, it needs to be recorded for the sake of posterity that Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer walked on to the stage at the Colosseum carrying a bear cub that promptly urinated on him as he introduced a preview of the Kevin James comedy Zookeeper.

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