I think we're at a real transitional point where it's time to start thinking about the possibilities of making a motion-picture experience that's totally different from television, and much more immersive, and maybe not even compatible with it. If you want to get people to pay extra to go out to a theater, it's got to be a spectacular experience they can't get at home.
CNN: What are your thoughts on the film format?
Trumbull: I think film is great. I think film is not dead at all. I agree with some of the criticisms that people like Steven Soderbergh have. It's probably true that the major studios have fallen into a blockbuster-tentpole syndrome. The problem is that has completely crushed out any innovation or any cinema opportunities for independent or inventive or unusual, nonblockbuster content. That's pretty much left for television now.
I think there's an incredible opportunity now to experiment with what I generally call "hypercinema."
I feel because of the technical limitations in the exhibition business, the production values that (the studios are) paying for are not arriving at the audience's eyes. It's dim, the screens are small, the brightness is only 1/10 of what they see on television. And people unconsciously know that.
You can look at your television or your computer and you'll see a really vivid, bright image, with tremendous color saturation, and it's always in focus and you can see it anywhere, anytime you want.
IMAX has proved conclusively that audiences will pay more for a superior and more spectacular theatrical presentation. The problem is that all they're doing is blowing up conventional movies on to a larger screen. No one's still thinking about it as a different medium. I think it's a completely new thing. And I think the audience that pays for movies is completely ready for a new thing.
When I was a kid, I used to see Cinerama movies and Todd-AO, and it was in the days we had what we used to call roadshows, when we'd have one spectacular Cinerama theater per town, not 50. At that time, even when "2001" first came out, there were only about 55 or 60 Cinerama theaters in the world. You'd have a period of time where a movie like "2001" would run for months or epic movies like "Sound of Music" would run for two years.
And I think there's no reason to believe why you can't do that again by providing a truly spectacular experience. What if you had a new kind of a movie experience unlike you've anything you've seen before, and it's only running in one theater in each town or each region?
I'm just interested in breaking the mold and doing something different, because I'm tired of the same old, same old.