Fernbank Museum of Natural History will bring 4K digital projection to Atlanta with its all-new Rankin M. Smith, Sr. Giant Screen Theater, opening Feb. 4.

The theater re-launch kicks off the museum’s 25th year and will see the replacement of the original 15/70mm film projection system with a state-of-the-art digital laser projection, offering 2D and 3D capabilities. In addition to the cutting-edge digital technology, renovations to the theater will include comfortable new seating, updated flooring, a high-wattage sound system and brand-new five-story screen.

The ground-breaking laser-illuminated projection system, designed and installed by giant-screen industry leaders D3D Cinema, will offer ultra-high definition 4K resolution at double the resolution of standard Hollywood theaters.

“Fernbank has always sought to immerse viewers in the natural world through films, but the new top-of-the-line digital laser technology and 3D capabilities of the Giant Screen Theater will greatly enhance the experience. We hope moviegoers will continue to discover a deep connection to science, nature and human culture through the stunning image and sound quality of this highly advanced digital system,” said Jennifer Grant-Warner, Fernbank Executive Vice President & Chief Programming Officer.

To make way for the improved, 4K digital experience, the theater is closed until Feb. 3 for renovations. The grand opening of Fernbank’s Giant Screen Theater will feature “The Search for Life in Space” (presented in 2D) and “Extreme Weather 3D.” “The Search for Life in Space” takes viewers from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the ice moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and into the far reaches of space in search of planets like ours. Debuting as the first 3D film to ever show in Fernbank’s Giant Screen Theater, “Extreme Weather 3D” takes moviegoers on a dramatic journey with storm-chaser and filmmaker Sean Casey to destinations with extreme weather conditions, including wildfires in the Western United States and deadly, but mesmerizing, tornadoes in the plains.

Additionally, Fernbank will install a separate new theater to replace the projection system in the museum’s auditorium. This update will feature a cinema-standard projection along with a 6-channel digital sound system,  better acoustics, new seats and floors, and an open platform that allows all types of video to play through the system. The Francis Wood Wilson Theater will be available for special programs as part of the museum experience.

The all-new Giant Screen Theater and updated Francis Wood Wilson Theater were made possible by a generous gift from local entrepreneur and lifelong advocate of learning, travel and natural history, Dante Stephensen.

For more information, visit fernbankmuseum.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.