Professional Sound - April 2023 | Page 38


By Matt Bauer
Photos by : Laura Steffan

In some ways , the Prytania Theatre in New Orleans harkens back to a bygone era . It has been in continuous operation as a neighborhood movie house since 1914 , and it is the last remaining single-screen commercial theatre in the South . But while the interior décor evokes the mid-20th century heyday of Hollywood , a recent technology upgrade has launched the Prytania Theatre into the future with 4K laser digital projection and Dolby Atmos immersive audio powered by Meyer Sound cinema series loudspeakers .

The Prytania Theatre was purchased in 1995 by Rene Brunet and is currently owned by his son , Robert Brunet . The Brunet family has operated theatres in the New Orleans area for more than 115 years , a tradition that now spans four generations and includes Robert ’ s 30-year-old daughter , and he hopes his grandson .
“[ The ] theatre still looks you ’ re stepping back in time 50 years when you actually enter the auditorium .” says Brunet of the 275-seat venue which has survived two fires , several ownership changes as well as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ida .
“ It ’ s funny because you go to a brand new AMC theatre , and you know they have Dolby Atmos and D-Box but you know we ’ re a literally 109 year old theatre that looks very much like it did in its early years ,” explains Brunet . Although the family ’ s deep roots in vintage cinema are reflected in the interior décor and twice-weekly showings of classic films , dedication to offering patrons the very best cinema experience prompted the upgrade to a Barco SP4K 15C 4K laser projector and the Dolby CP950A Dolby Atmos audio system comprising 51 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers . The entire technology renovation was entrusted to
Omaha-based Strong Technical Services .
“ We had put in a new Dolby CP650 7.1 system after hurricane Katrina in 2007 and it worked fine ,” reflects Robert Brunet , “ but after the pandemic faded , we really wanted to offer our patrons something special — the best of the best . We knew Atmos was the way to go , and we also wanted a speaker system with the power and punch to take full advantage of the format .
The first showing with the new system was Top Gun : Maverick . The sonic improvement was startling , according to Brunet .
“ Our post-Katrina system was quite good , but the new sound system just blew it away ,” he recalls . “ What I heard with that movie pushed every button . When the jets flew by , the building literally shook , yet you also heard every detail with clarity and pinpoint positioning . It was very impressive .”