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TOPIC: Digital Dream is over: now what?

Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 09:46 #16398

  • Mike
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Okay. We've all had our say re: digital future. Now: let me ask this and I first say: stay on topic please.

Assume that digital is in the offing within 4-6 years and that after that it will be come increasingly difficult to obtain 35MM prints. What is your plan for your theatre/s? How will you implement digital? Or how will you cope with the changes and challenges if you cannot or choose not to? Can you handle the expense +/- 60K per screen in 2007?

Michael Hurley
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Michael Hurley
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 10:27 #16399

  • slapintheface
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1. I will impliment digital either 1 screen at a time or all if the price is right.
2.my plan is in the next 18 to 24 months to change over ..not before..
3.I believe the cost will be about $45,000 in 18 months i will pay with it 1 of 2 ways ,bank loan or leasing company..The savings in managers should be about 30,000 per year wich should help offset some of the costs..
I THINK THAT COVERS IT!
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 10:31 #16400

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BY THE WAY I DONT BELIEVE THE DIGITAL DREAM IS OVER I THINK IT JUST STARTING!
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 11:01 #16401

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Could have signed an agreement with Digiserv prior to opening my new place. Decided against it. I will monitor things over the next 24-36 months. Have no plans to get into it before then as 35mm film will still be there IMHO.

Have a feeling lots of interesting things will occur in that timeframe and they may not be good for the very early adopters. Just a hunch.
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 11:26 #16402

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I agree reelman ...the early birds dont get the worm on this one!
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 11:38 #16403

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Well, to start, I guess I'd say that I've sat back and watched the other thread (with interest) because Rick and I have had this conversation... more than once... in other forums. He's passionate about what he thinks will happen and when, and I can respect that even if I don't think we're as close to "D-Day" as I think he believes. If anything, I'm a little put off by anyone announcing that something "will" happen, especially if that statement comes with a fairly specific timeline. I'm pretty sure that nobody has that firm a grasp on what's going on here. To say that someone "thinks" something will happen, or is "pretty sure" it's right around the corner is an outlook I can approach with a lot more respect. That is, unless, the statement comes with facts to back it up, rather than someone's personal opinion or spin from industry marketing people. We all have opinions, and I'm as comfortable with mine as most of you probably are with yours.

That being said, I'm good with the notion that we should all be watching this process very closely. Being unprepared to make a move if and when it might be your time makes no sense, even if you're among the most reluctant and skeptical. I think it's important we don't confuse the two, and I think it happens a lot when we get into these "digital debates".

Assuming for the moment that this might be an eventual "done deal", many of us might have to face the realities of conversion before we're ready to get out of the business. Film MIGHT not parallel digital as a dual-medium proposition for as long as we might like it to. Being prepared as the train gets closer is, in my opinion, an appropriate outlook. We can debate forever how fast the train might be moving, whether it's even heading in our diretion or whether it might derail before it gets here. In the end, we won't be any further than we are now... other than that we might learn a few new cuss words from our other friends in this forum!


OK... that being said, let's take a look at the price that's been floating around here over the past week or so.

The last time I heard someone from within the industry give us hard figures was, admittedly, some time ago. Matter of fact, it was at the demo that Rick had at his theatre. I don't remember exactly, but I think the larger projector was in the upper $60's or $70's, lenses were $15k+ (yikes!). Then cabinetry, power supplies and other miscellaneous items brought the price up to around $100k or so. In contrast, you can get a lot of 35mm booth for $50k, and the largest chains are still buying and installing the stuff. You and I might not spend anywhere near that figure for booth gear, but let's take this as a worst-case, to give digital a shot.

I don't recall what other needed equipment might have been part of the picture, but we'd need to consider it. IF a "projector", assuming that means a ready-to-go box for a particular screen, is down to around $50k or so... are we also talking about servers, processors, automation units, racks and wiring? If not, then we need to talk about what the average impact of that would mean to us. Site prep has never been part of those numbers. What would it cost to pull the power you'll need? Do you have 3 phase? Would you need it? If your theatre used to run dual-projector, you might be OK as far as your building's capacity, though you probably have some conduit and wire to pull, and a breaker or so to fit into your power box. If your plan would be to pull 35mm altogether, you might have that covered. Does your format require that you maintain film for longer than a first-run house might have to? Having the capacity to run both of your machines at the same time, plus switching your sound and lighting controls between the two become considerations.

Is your sound system ready? Are you looking at a total revamp or are you somewhere inbetween? Anything short of "plug and play" is cost that you need to add in.

What will you pay for "maintenance"? If you go with an Access iT program, you'll pay that figure PLUS Christie's price for bulbs. Other companies are more flexible on the maintenance. One, if not more by now, will let you get the required training and certify yourself... if you're inclined. In any case however, you might be adding a couple thousand or so to your annual per-screen cost. Regardless how anyone might try to spin it, I don't know anyone who spends anywhere near that amount. When you go digital you might not have a choice.

I think I'm already on record somewhere as saying if the cost of digital gets anywhere within shouting distance of a 35mm booth, then a major concern of mine would be satisfied. If the cost was relatively comparable... even a bit more expensive, I could probably look at this more seriously. Proven reliability of all related components, cost of operation, cost of maintenance and the ability to promptly deal with any potential downtime are critical items for me. Those are all roads that somebody else needs to travel first.

As I get older and more crabby, one thing becomes a given around here. Not having to haul those blasted film boxes up the stairs is an increasingly large point in the favor of digital cinema! On the other hand, I can build a darned nice elevator for $300,000!
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 13:09 #16404

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No plans whatsoever except to sit and watch the situation. I really doubt I will ever bother to change over. I will simply stop playing movies when the Brenkerts finally run out of gas, or I cant get prints (which I think is highly doubtful for the next 10 years).

Early bird money here is waste of money. I dont see how any of you can do the math and justify a 50-75K investment that will not last more than 5 years before it needs to be replaced or seriously upgraded. How many of you right now actually pay money every month to have your projectors be there? I doubt very many. I will sit and watch but I cant see getting into that viscious cycle.
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 13:41 #16405

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I think we all agree on waiting it out....when i give a time line i base it on the greed of the distributors.
THERE WAS NO OTHER TALK AT SHOW EAST OTHER THAN DIGITAL ...Only 1 company even brought a 35 mm projector to the trade show to sell.
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 30 Oct 2007 14:02 #16406

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Really well put reply Rodeojack!!!
Received a quote of 60 thousand per screen installed last night from American Cinema. The price continues to drop so I will contiue to wait. Will not use acessit or CBG-Nato. Another option may present itself as time goes on-I'll wait for that one or buy the equipment myself.
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 31 Oct 2007 10:49 #16407

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Having been in the planning stages of building a new theater for nearly 2 years now, and heavily weighing 35mm VS digital, it's an easy decision to pass on digital after looking at the financials. In 4-6 years? Possibly. Even after buying brand new 35mm projectors, the price doesn't come close to digital and the audience can't tell the difference anyway. Remember, your customers aren't pushing you to switch to digital, so your attendance won't increase when you install your shiny new $60k paperweight.

I honestly don't see what the big deal about switching to digital is. As old equipment goes obsolete, purchase and install the new equipment when it's cheap enough. Done. Happens all the time and always will. Anyone with lobby music on 8-track? Don't get too intimate with one type of technology and you won't mind switching to something else. It's as if some "seasoned" exhibitors think that if they lose their 35mm, they will go out of business. Geez. The only thing certain is that it will iron itself out over time. Don't panic, y'all! If we're talking 4-6 years here, that's a lifetime.

The smart business owner NEVER jumps on the bandwagon immediately. They wait until all the gotta-have-it-now techno-geeks shell out the dough for them first.

Sittin' back and watchin'.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 31 Oct 2007 12:57 #16408

  • Transit Drive in
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Some on here have been saying they want to wait and see (read: procrastinate) to see if or when 35mm really goes away, and then see if the price drops down to "pocket change". Used, servicable equipment might be out there for the cheap in 10 years, but I'm not sure I'd want some else's discarded equipment in my theatres. Especially without any warranty to cover failure.

My shiny new digital projectors (in 2-3 yrs, hopefully not too much sooner or too much later) will come fully warranteed, and mostly paid for through a third party D-Cinema Integrator with studio financed Virtual Print Fees.

Studios will only pay the VPF's through third party D-Cinema Integrators, so if you choose to pay for your own equipment, you will be paying 100% through your own wallet.

Due to my involvement with CBG-NATO, I am confident that my D-Cinema agreement will be both affordable and beneficial for my business; in that I will have a choice for which brand of digital projection equipment I wish to use, and a choice of service options ranging from full maintenance coverage to a do-it-yourself service plan which allows me to use my own vender qualified technician.

Those who choose not to use an Integrator will forfeit the opportunity to have the majority of the cost for their conversion paid for by studio funded VPF's.

It is my understanding that VPF's will not be available indefinitely, and that those theatre operators who choose to "wait and see" for another 5-7 years will be stuck paying for 100% of the cost of their digital equipment themselves.

Patience may be a virtue in some situations, but you may also procrastinate yourself out of business if you don't take advantage of the studio financed VPF's while they are still available.

I prefer showing first-run studio movies, and want to continue doing so well after the studios inevitably discontinue providing 35mm prints.

Rick

[This message has been edited by Transit Drive in (edited October 31, 2007).]
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 31 Oct 2007 13:29 #16409

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I have been staying out of this because I doubt I will be able to upgrade and may soon be retired for the second time.

A guestion I have about digital though is, what happens when it messes up like my Dish Network has been doing for two days. Picture is all jerky, while sound is fluid. Or when the pixels get all messed up in one spot. What then? What is to prevent that during your Digital Presentation?
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 31 Oct 2007 18:59 #16410

  • rodeojack
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Rick, did I miss something?

The information I have indicates that first-run, year-round operations would be the only theatres that would get first-tier, VPF-paid equipment. First-run seasonal and sub-run theatres would fall into subsequent levels, purchasing refurb gear that rotates out of the first-tier campaign as they upgrade. Either that, or we'd possibly be hoping for new equipment that we could afford to buy.

Maybe what I hear is outdated, but that's the latest to work its way up to this corner of the country.
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 31 Oct 2007 19:12 #16411

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A guestion I have about digital though is, what happens when it messes up like my Dish Network has been doing for two days.

It's common to hear about presentational bugs these days, though I wouldn't doubt that it's not as bad as you might think. In 24 hours there are probably enough auto accidents across the country to kill of a few dozen of us, and nobody hears much about it. Yet, a single airplane crash that takes out two or three might make the national networks on a slow news day. Everyone's watching digital cinema right now, and I think many are looking for the goofs.

Depending on where you look you'll find posts by real-life operators who will say that digital is nearly bulletproof. In the same forum, someone else has said that their equipment has been so unreliable they've turned it all off and gone back to film.

I wouldn't bet the farm on either opinion. The stuff is probably better than it was last year, or the year before. It'll get better as they continue to work on it. By the time you get ready to look at it, it might be pretty good stuff.

If you compare digital cinema gear to the computer market, you might think this stuff would be obsolete next year. On the other hand, I've managed voice messaging computers for over 15 years that ran on DOS and never lost a hard drive. And... don't forget that everyone who runs a DTS 6 or 6D playback unit has basically obsolete 486 computer boards in them. Mine haven't missed a beat.

BTW... my dish net has been pretty good lately... except when it's rained hard.

[This message has been edited by rodeojack (edited October 31, 2007).]
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Re: Digital Dream is over: now what? 31 Oct 2007 21:26 #16412

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Rick,

As Rodeojack mentioned; If you are a seasonal 1st-run, like I am right now (I hope not to be in a year) then with CBG-Nato I will get old equipment AND not receive any VPFs.

Unless someone can tell me how this is good for me, I will hold back my excitement for CBG-NATO. I would be excited if someone from CBG would return my phone call to answer the same question. but no one answered it on the other thread either.

Too many things can happen between 2 years form now when CBG-Nato installs may start and 8-10 years when I may get hand-me down equipment.

So to answer Mike's question: I will constantly re-evaluate my situation whenever it is warranted.

From CBG:

Seasonal First-Run / Move-over and Discount Theaters:
Since these theaters occasionally or rarely play a first-run title on the national release date, they will not qualify for a virtual print fee. So…how and when will they be converted?
Eventually, the digital equipment that is being installed today is going to become outdated as the technology will, of course, improve. (Think of the computer you had five years ago…and the one you have now). When the larger first-run markets start to upgrade that equipment, the digital suppliers will then be able to move those units to the move-over and discount theaters…thus continuing the digital transistion. This is, of course, IF they are a member of the CBG. So yes…you may be joining this group…but not be converted for another 8 to 10 years. But…this will be cheaper than trying to buy the used equipment yourself from one of the suppliers.
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