DEG, UHD Alliance Honor Nolan, Talk 4K (MESA)

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Christopher Nolan was presented with the DEG “Vanguard” award at the 4K UHD Summit in L.A. on Nov. 6. The event, held at the Skirball Cultural Center, was produced by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the UHD Alliance. Presenting the award to Nolan was Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros. worldwide theatrical distribution and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The DEG Vanguard Award is in recognition of Nolan’s place at the forefront of filmmakers using groundbreaking technology to deliver increased scale and resolution, enhanced color and immersive audio to film audiences both in cinemas and in the home theater environment.

Nolan has been a longtime advocate of the best home viewing experience available to consumers. With the December 2017 release of the seven-film “The Christopher Nolan Collection” on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray by Warner Bros., Nolan became the filmmaker with the largest number of films available in the most advanced home-based viewing format.

In presenting the award, Sanders praised the director’s commitment to preparing his own films, as well as Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” for 4K Ultra HD. (The Kubrick film will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Nov. 20.)

In his acceptance, Nolan addressed 4K Ultra HD’s ability to enable home viewers to experience filmmakers’ true creative intent. “It really puts us in a position where we can get closer and closer to a theatrical print in the home,” Nolan said of 4K UHD. He praised 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, saying: “It’s fantastic for the filmmaker to have a physical media that eliminates the variabilities, the compression and so forth,” he said. “That’s the gold standard that streaming is going to have to reach.”

Earlier in the day, Nolan was recognized in Fandango’s announcement of its most recent survey listing the movies fans most want to see in 4K Ultra HD. Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Dunkirk, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar are among the Top 10 movies that fans want to see at home in 4K, according to the results of a FandangoNow viewer survey, which asked a group of roughly 1,500 people which movies are best seen in the format.

Also at the event:

• Industry analyst John Buffone of The NPD Group reported, as retail heads into the holiday shopping season, 4K Ultra HD TVs have grown beyond early adopters and are now part of the mainstream. Well over half of millennials are interested in using 4K Ultra HD TV, NPD reported.

• In its fifth year on the market, nearly a third of US households own a 4K/UHD TV, reported analyst Ben Arnold of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). By 2020, 75% of retail TV shipments will be 4K Ultra HD, according to CTA. This season, 12% of holiday shoppers will be looking specifically for 4K Ultra HD TVs, according to CTA’s 25th Annual Holiday Shopping Research. 4K/UHD Blu-ray player demand also continues to grow and will account for nearly all Blu-ray players in the market by 2021, according to CTA.

Concurrently, content availability has grown: 576 titles are available for digital purchase in 4K Ultra HD, with 418 titles available for digital rental and 424 titles on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, according to NPD.

• Various Summit speakers also addressed increasing content availability, including Bob Buchi of Paramount Home Media Distribution, who said the studio is expanding the number of films from its library available on 4K UHD with HDR, including all six films in the blockbuster Mission: Impossible franchise and Frank Capra’s beloved masterpiece It’s A Wonderful Life, which will be released on Digital 4K this month, making it the first classic black-and-white film to be released on the format.

• Google Play’s Bill Kotzman discussed the digital retailer’s move to give customers in the U.S. and Canada who have purchased movies in SD or HD the 4K versions for free when they become available as a way of boosting consumer confidence that their libraries will be future-proofed.

• Keynote speaker Jonathan Smith of BBC Studio’s Natural History Unit awed with behind the scenes footage of ‘Blue Planet II’ as he spoke about his team’s use of 4K to capture footage under extreme conditions.