Muvico Entertainment announced at ShoWest this week that it will build the world's first theatre complex equipped with Sony's 4K SXRD projectors in each theatre.

The projectors will be installed in Muvico's new Chicago area entertainment complex as the initial step in converting the chain's 12 US theatres - comprising 228 screens - to digital technology. Muvico plans to install SXRD projectors in three more of its sites by 2008.

The 18-screen Chicago facility, scheduled to open this August in the suburb of Rosemont, will comprise a combination of the 10,000-lumen SRX-R210 unit and the 18,000-lumen SRX-R220 model, as well as Sony's LMT-100 media block system.

The Rosemont complex will accommodate adults over 21 with reserved seating, oversized love seats, complimentary valet parking and popcorn, and access to a restaurant and bar. There will also be a playroom for children under the supervision of teachers.

'Not only is [the SXRD technology] the highest resolution available, but this type of technology opens up so many new opportunities for displaying alternative content in our theaters such as live concerts and sporting events,' Muvico president Mike Whalen said.

'It gives us a solid foundation in converting our chain to digital. We believe installing digital projectors with 4K resolution will redefine the movie going and live event experience by providing our guests with picture quality never seen before on the big screen.'

Digital and 3D cinema have been the dominant themes at this year's ShoWest, and DreamWorks Animation set the tone earlier this week when it announced that from 2009 it will release its entire slate in 3D.

Dolby staged demonstrations yesterday of its 3D digital cinema system that does not require a silver screen, uses a standard projector with a filter accessory, and will require exhibitors to pay a one-off fee of approximately $20,000.

Other technology leaders like Sony Electronics, Panasonic, DTS and AccessIT have presented product throughout the week, and REAL D will present its highly anticipated 3D demonstration on Thursday.

While the technology sector has been thriving, delegates have bemoaned a generally flat event where ShoWest's traditional flair for showmanship has been sorely lacking.

Gone are the splashy and star-studded studio summer preview presentations, a ShoWest staple that used to pack out the hangar-sized ballrooms of the Paris casino. Instead, the studio's top international executives presented clips in a relatively sober session in Paris' smaller Theatre Des Arts.

Attendees didn't even get to see footage from Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix after Warner Bros Pictures International cancelled its slot due to incomplete materials.

Lionsgate hosted the biggest luncheon of the show yesterday [March 14]. Studio top brass screened clips from the upcoming slate, Jigsaw actor Tobin Bell announced that production on Saw IV would begin on Apr 16, and comedian Larry The Cable Guy performed a stand-up routine before introducing a clip from his upcoming comedy Delta Farce.

New Line's much anticipated Hairspray event, featuring John Travolta and other cast members, was set to take place last night in what could be the biggest draw of the event ahead of Thursday night's closing ceremony and awards presentation.