Back in the seventies, movies didn't open on 4,000 screens the first day of a film.
This made it possible for certain directors like William Friedkin and Stanley Kubrick to personally check theaters and see if they matched the film's requirements.
If a theater wasn't up to date with the latest projection and sound equipment, they wouldn't get the film. In the case of Star Wars, theaters actually had to convert their sound systems to Dolby Stereo, or they weren't allowed to play it.
You may even recall here on TG we wrote about Michael Bay demanding projectors have brand new bulbs in them for Transformers 3. There was also a story in Vincent Lobrutto's biography of Kubrick that at one theater playing A Clockwork Orange, the director ordered the ceiling repainted twice, because there was simply too much glare reflecting off the screen.
Yes, this may seem like crazy, obsessive compulsive behavior to many, but it does indeed make a big difference, because if you put that much time and effort into a movie, it would drive you crazy to see it playing in a badly equipped theater as well.
So right on the eve of the release of Brave, Deadline tells us the film is premiering with a fresh sound system by Dolby, Atmos. It's a "new immersive sound system" that will only be used in select screenings, and there was some anxiety as to whether the theaters could redo the sound systems before the film's release. According to the L.A. Times, it can cost a theater $30,000 to $100,000 to redo their soundsystems for Atmos.
Dolby told the Times that Atmos "is our most revolutionary innovation in years," and Mark Andrews, who directed Brave, also told the Times, "it is sound technology at its very best." Brave - the first film being released in Atmos - is reportedly pretty impressive, but it's obviously the paying audiences who will be the final judge of that.
What's also particularly fascinating to me about Brave is the attention to detail we see when looking at the heroine's hair. As Vulture tells us, Merida, the animated star of Brave, has 1,500 individually sculpted curls that are "programmed to bounce and interact in relation to one another via a new software system." A special algorithm was even created to help the hair react more realistically to the character's movements and surroundings. As the saying goes, the difference between good and excellent is detail.