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TOPIC: my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion"

my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion" 03 Jan 2014 12:44 #40527

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www.indiewire.com/article/as-studios-aba...ransition-to-digital here is a link to the article and here is the full text...

Paramount just announced that after Anchorman 2 they will no longer release pictures aka “films” on 35 MM film. Almost two years ago I penned “We're About to Lose 1,000 Small Theaters That Can't Convert to Digital. Does It Matter?” No one flat out accused me of being alarmist because it was just that serious. It still is. But in truth it was a bit hyper ventilated. Not too far from the truth but still; just a tad over the top. I was yelling “fire” in a theatre because that seemed to be the best way to get people to focus on the impact on smaller theatres of the switch from film to digital. Nearly two years later; what’s happened?
A “tipping point” is when things start to take on a momentum all their own. It starts slow and then; look out. That happened with the conversion from 35 mm to digital cinema and it is still happening at top speed but now the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. And that light will not be shining through 35 MM film.
Can we go down in the weeds just for a moment? It was said in The Devils Own on a different subject; “If you’re not confused you just don’t understand what’s going on.” Welcome to the VPF. Theatres large and small have converted with and without the “virtual print fee” assisting in their theatre’s new equipment purchase. The VPF was the studios kicking back a portion of the enormous savings they realize between the cost of providing a digital print on a reusable hard drive for +/- 100.00 compared to the immediately declining quality and value of a 35 mm print for +/- 1500.00. With all that money they saved they chipped in with a VPF to help pay a portion of the digital equipment costs for theatres. There are no new VPF agreements being made, the ones that were entered will run for 6-7 years, and each day that goes by gets us closer to the day there will be none.
The VPF created a support floor for higher priced equipment. Theatres were buying equipment with the studios money. When they stopped offering VPF’s: surprise!.... the prices dropped by 25%. That’s nearly the only good news for those who did not sign on for a VPF.
What’s going on today with print availability is that as the conversion continued each theatre that converted meant one less 35 mm print was needed. The conversion and corresponding lack of need for a 35 MM print happens and increases each and every week and the need for 35 MM film prints has declined to a point where manufacturing of film stock and the transportation of film prints have been knocked back to near novelty status.
The raw reality is that at this point the theatres that have not converted are more than likely the lowest grossing and usually small town theatres. The studios now make ever fewer and fewer 35 mm prints and a low grossing theatres ability to get a 35 mm print “coming off” another theatre becomes slimmer and slimmer. There just aren’t that many out there. The grosses go down and the spiral is downward.
Gravity opened with less than a few hundred 35 MM prints nationally. Some theatres that were unable to “open” Gravity still got a digital print on week two while the unconverted waited weeks hoping for a 35 MM print. Some films no longer have any 35 MM prints at all.
You might think the independent filmmakers and distributors were going to save these theatres by soldiering on and fighting the digital wave? The truth is that indies too love digital cinema. Maybe they do not like VPF’s so much but many of the very smallest distributors never made a VPF deal anyway. Digital technology has made it much cheaper to make great films and easier to distribute them as well.
There is a bright side to all this. It is now much easier it is for a theatre to get a digital print (vs. 35mm) from a film distributor. Especially if they do not have a VPF. There is nothing a distributor loves more than to hear a booker for a theatre say “They have no VPF and are self-financed.” You can feel them perk right up. It costs them next to nothing to send a print to a theatre. That isn’t exactly money for nothing but it is very new for now.
That’s all very interesting but how many theatres did we really lose? That snuffing out, the extermination of beloved theatres ala Cinema Paradiso, we can all understand. The truth may be out there but it is hard to find. Theatres have closed. But many have been reopened. Some have gone away forever. But some have been reborn with startling vitality. Old beat up theatres met sad ends as tired owners walked away. But doing so often cleared all the old debt and made it possible for a new owner to take over, convert, and light up the screens. While owners may have gone under or away the theatres are still there.
For new dreamers who have always wanted to open a movie theatre it’s actually easier and less expensive and less complicated today than it was in the past and new small theatres are popping up.
Yes… but how many have closed? If you Google movie theatre closes you’ll find far less news than at movie theatre reopens. No one is really keeping track of how many have closed for certain and forever because you just can’t tell. When one door closes another door opens. And “Theatre Re-opens” is a much happier story than when one closes.
In many cases theatres have found patrons and communities ready to help them pay for the conversion and stories abound of successful fund raising conversion drives. Considering how many of these theatres are “for profit” it is something heretofore unseen in the world of business. People do love their small town movie theatres.
While there is room for discussion on how many theatres have closed there is no such debate about digital cinema. Ask any theatre owner or operator “would they go back to 35 MM?” and no one raises their hand. Certainly there are the technophobe purists but just thinking about carrying the bulky film cans with their 50 pounds of film chewing into your hands is enough to make a projectionist shake his head. The picture is clearer and it’s ALWAYS perfect. The required sound upgrades means that movies sound better than they ever did as well. There’s never “ghosting” when images blur from frames dragging. And the dreaded “brain wrap” when film would wrap around the platter system? Those days are gone.
Theatre owners and projectionists (a distinct breed still very much in existence) all agree: as long as digital cinema works it works far better than 35 MM. There’s less opportunity for things to go wrong. But when digital cinema doesn’t work? It works far worse than 35 MM system. Back then you had a chance to fix the thing. Now it’s all about your tech people, service providers, and off site monitoring. When digital systems go down it’s a hard crash.
This has always been a small town story. Major market theatres never really had a problem. Your local twelve or eighteen plex makes more than enough and had the ability to jump on the VPF. The thousands of theatres in places that are the backbone of small town life we celebrate in Stand By Me, Super 8, Cinema Paradiso, the Majestic live for movies and there is where the problem for the last 35 mm conversions remain. The people in those small towns who line up as do we all, but in smaller numbers, are moved and inspired, entertained, blown away in a good way, movies really matter in small towns: they help make this fabric of our life a shared experience instead of something seen and heard from an isolated distance.
But wait! This movie isn’t over yet. People do love their small town movie theatres. Remaining still are the many hundreds of small theatres that are even now climbing to the rail like Jack and Rose in Titanic. They are running out of options and this winter will be the end or near end of 35 mm prints. There may be a few last prints around but not enough to endure missing big pictures and losing business. As the National Theatre Owners Assoc. said with a remarkable cold shrug of indifference, “Convert or die.” That time has now come. “Convert or Die!”. It sounds like a movie now playing at a small town theatre near you. We still don’t know how this movie ends. Let’s hope it’s a happy ending.
Michael Hurley
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my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion" 03 Jan 2014 18:08 #40529

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Good article Mike. Can you give me a link to the news release from Paramount? So far, I omly seen people here (and on the other site) saying their uncles brother dog owning Film booker was told from somebody by Paramount. Just would like to see it with my own eyes.
Thanks,
Jay
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my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion" 04 Jan 2014 20:32 #40531

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Keweler wrote:
Good article Mike. Can you give me a link to the news release from Paramount? So far, I omly seen people here (and on the other site) saying their uncles brother dog owning Film booker was told from somebody by Paramount. Just would like to see it with my own eyes.
Thanks,
Jay

Jay,

There has been no news release and there will not be. I have heard of a few people who have been told the same thing directly to them. So no Ferris Bueller crazy 8 degrees of separation thing going on.

But there is a booker out there that I understand is telling client(s) that they have another year before they have to worry about converting.
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my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion" 06 Jan 2014 10:31 #40534

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I book theatres in multiple districts and was personally told by three different Paramount sales people that "we are not making any more 35 MM prints after Anchorman 2." I have since heard of a theatre that got Wolf of Wall Street in 35 MM so... who knows?... but the notification and the quote above is straight from Paramount.
Michael Hurley
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my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion" 09 Jan 2014 13:00 #40536

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no 35 mm prints for Wolf or Shadow.
Michael Hurley
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my latest on Indiewire re the "conversion" 24 Feb 2014 02:52 #40686

We're About to Lose 1,000 Small Theaters That Can't Convert to Digital. Does It Matter?

www.indiewire.com/article/were-about-to-...r#.UwcPWiSdTew.gmail

Sir,

I have gone through your above article dated February 23, 2012, I understand the pain of small theatres. Looking at the cost involved in Digital Projection. We have develop a server for E Cinema for small centres. which can play the content in Full HD format @ superior quality. We can provide the solutions for such theatres at a very low cost.

If anyone interested please feel free to write me on my email id sanjeevkasliwal at yahoo dot com for any query

Regards
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