Digital format brings 'Mummy' to life

Film fans watched The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor screened for the first time at the new digital cinema in Dubai.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð Aug 6: Film projector and Cinema Digital Projector (red) at the Grand Cinema in Dubai Festival City, Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National)
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DUBAI // Fans of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, saw the film screened for the first time at the new digital cinema in Dubai this weekend. The adventure thriller starring Brendan Fraser was shown using the latest digital technology at the new Grand Cinemas Grand Festival complex in Dubai Festival City. Members of the audience said the picture quality and effects were something they had not experienced before.

"We are here because we heard about the digital cinemas and we are big fans of the Mummy series," said Amanda Cussak, 19, who was with her friends. "We are thrilled to be the first viewers." There was "a visible difference in the picture and even the sound effects," said Kareem Ali. "It's the kind of effect we see on computers." Instead of using the normal 35mm projectors, digital cinemas stream films onto the big screen direct from a hard drive.

"The difference of the digital images can be seen from the first shot of the film," said Jean Ramia of Gulf Films. "The Mummy is a great film to have a complete digital experience." All of Grand Cinemas' screens in the Middle East would be digital within two years, he said. Plans are under way for the next digital cinema, which will open on Palm Jumeirah within 18 months. However, some in the audience said they were just glad to have a multiplex closer to their homes.

"I did not find it any different from the normal theatres," said Alan Camelio. "But most cinemas are on the other side of the town in Jumeirah and Sheikh Zayed. It is just great to have a good multiplex in Dubai Festival City." Despite an installation cost of US$180,000 (Dh661,000), the ticket costs remain the same. The new Grand Festival Cinema Complex also boasts VIP seating: the Grand Class theatre has 44 reclining chairs and personalised butler service available during the film. To avoid queuing, tickets can be booked online.

The owners say they will soon be bringing many more Hollywood films to the digital cinemas.