CinemaCon 2023: An Interview With Harkness Screens CEO Mark Ashcroft

With so many challenges facing exhibitors right now, CinemaCon 2023 looks set to address these issues head-on and provide valuable information on how cinemas can continue innovating for a better future.

We recently had a chance to sit down with Mark Ashcroft, CEO of Harkness Screens, for an exclusive interview about CinemaCon 2023. In this interview, he shared his thoughts on how cinemas can stay relevant in an ever-changing landscape and discussed Harkness’ commitment to quality and innovation, while constantly striving to provide the best solutions for its customers.

1. What are your plans for this year’s CinemaCon 2023?

MA: We have expanded the space we have on the show floor to allow guests to inspect our screen technology. It is important that we showcase our world leading optical surfaces allowing us to explain a screen’s importance in reducing energy usage and improving presentation. Increasingly laser projectors are being deployed and it’s essential that the role of the screen is fully analysed and optimized. In addition we are demonstrating the benefits of using the myHarkness suite of tools and how when used in conjunction with the Qalif screen monitoring devices, we can deliver an Iris optimized experience for the moviegoer.

2. A lot of tech companies are heavily investing in the Cinema Business and also many Studios are shifting back toward releasing their films to theaters first. How do you see this shift impacting the cinema theaters industry compared to what transpired after the COVID-19 pandemic?

MA: Movie goers want to experience the big screen and that is at the heart of what we do. Our screens look the best under house lights, no seams, no rough surface just a smooth, clean and bright surface. Then under presentation, our screens deliver a great viewing experience with rich colors and uniformity. The screen is quite simply the most affordable way to upgrade your theater. Using the Iris program our experienced dealer partners can help you achieve savings whilst giving the movie goers what they want.

3. How is Harkness Screens addressing the increasing demand for environmentally sustainable products within the cinema industry?

MA: Since 2015 we have led the industry in moving from solvent based optical coatings to water based. This move has allowed us to reduce VOC’s {volatile organic compounds} and HAP’s {hazardous air pollutants}. All 4 of our factories fully comply with local regulations and are regularly audited. Our packaging can be recycled with the exception of jiffy which is frequently re-used. In 2018, we started to investigate the up-cycling of old screens with good initial results.

4. Harkness Screens has consistently managed to stay ahead of their competitors in the industry, particularly in terms of technology and innovation. Can you discuss any new products or developments that Harkness Screens is launching or has planned next?

MA: The Covid 19 pandemic allowed us to look at our technology and the manner in which it was utilised in our 4 factories. In turn this has led to updated Quality Management Processes, inspection techniques and measurement capability. We have invested in a new Innovation Centre in the UK which will officially open on May 10th. Our innovation team has been working with various test sites around the world to study new optical surfaces for both 2D and 3D. Brightness and Uniformity have been key criteria and we are acutely aware that whilst Laser Phosphor and RB projectors can work with high gain screens without speckle, the RGB lasers are more likely to speckle with higher gain screens. We are working with industry partners to qualify our new optical surfaces and will launch these at the end of 2023.

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About Harkness Screens

Harkness Screens™ is the world’s leading screen technology company, specializing in the design and manufacture of projection screens and supporting technologies for cinema and live events. From single-screen independent theatres to large multiplexes and large format immersive theatre experiences or live events, Harkness supplies thousands of screens every year, helping provide outstanding presentation experiences to audiences around the world.

With global reach, Harkness is regarded as the world leader in cinema and has screens in more cinemas worldwide than any other manufacturer. With its industry leading 2D and 3D screen brands (Perlux HiWhite, Clarus XC, Precision White, Nova and Spectral) along with an innovative range of presentation monitoring tools (Qalif), digital surveying services and suite of cinema design and specification apps, Harkness continues to lead the way in screen technology for cinema. 

Founded in 1929, Harkness has manufacturing facilities in the USA, UK, France, India and China, and combines unrivaled experience with the latest technology and production methods to provide innovative solutions to the company’s key markets. For more information, visit the Harkness Screens web page at www.harkness-screens.com.

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