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Dolby 3D finds some cinema fans

Dolby signs up a list of theater companies to use its 3D movie technology--but it's still not saying how many screens will show the upcoming Beowulf.

Dolby has signed up a passel of cinemas to use its Dolby 3D movie technology, the company announced Monday.

At the ShowEast conference Monday, the company offered a list of independent and chain theater companies that will use Dolby 3D: Carousel Cinemas, Cinema City, Cinetopia, Cobb Theatres, Kerasotes Theatres, Malco Theatres, Marcus Theatres, Maya Cinemas, Megaplex Theatres, Starlight Cinemas, Sundance Cinemas, Warren Theatres, Kinepolis Group of Belgium and Supercines of Ecuador.

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But Dolby still isn't saying how many screens total are equipped with its technology, a key measurement of how the relative newcomer is faring against incumbent Real D. The finish line, or at least then end of this lap of the competition, is the November 16 debut of Beowulf, a Paramount Pictures film directed by Robert Zemeckis that will be available in a 3D version. Real D said it will have more than 1,000 screens equipped with its technology by the debut, but Dolby 3D is just getting started with its technology.

Theaters considering the options have to weigh several concerns, among them financial. Dolby 3D sells its equipment for about $18,500, whereas Real D rents it for about $20,000 a year. But Dolby 3D's complicated glasses cost about $50 each to 50 cents for Real D's disposable plastic ones. Dolby 3D can use ordinary white movie screens, but not necessarily the largest ones; Real D needs special $5,500 silver screens to be installed but can use larger ones, permitting more audience members to watch a single screening.

Already in on the 3D movie action, though on a smaller scale than Real D, is Imax, which boasts of a more immersive experience by virtue of curved screens designed to fill up more of a viewer's peripheral vision.