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TOPIC: Benefits to going digital?

Benefits to going digital? 10 Oct 2003 10:50 #6468

  • unastrike
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Hey, guys. I'm hoping that this hasn't been covered in another thread and I missed it... I've been having trouble finding good info on the internet as well.

My wife and I are looking into opening a movie grill and are currently exploring the digital alternative.

Obviously, the immediate benefit would be the variety that this medium can offer. Pay-per-view, sporting events, and the like. With a non-traditional theatre format, we feel that it may be in our best interest to diversify a little and offer more than just "dinner and a movie". We're only really looking at two screens accomodating 100 max per screen

But I'm afraid to jump into a format that isn't widely supported. As I understand it, getting first-runs would be next to impossible... although, I'm not entirely sure as to why. I imagine it has to do with the cost of coverting the film into a digital format and then distributing to a very small market... but that's just my speculation.

Now I'm rambling...

So yeah, here's my deal. I'm opening a small movie grill, there's one multi-plex 10 miles away, one small sub-run within 5, population of over 40K.

Would going digital be beneficial to me? Should I stick to trying to get first-run and competing against the multi-plex, or shake it up a bit, get what titles I can and also offer pay-per-view, etc.?

If someone could point me in the right direction or give me some information or advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 10 Oct 2003 11:04 #6469

  • John Pytlak
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As you note, getting material to show and licensing it is the biggest issue. Almost everything you might want to show publicly requires licensing (current feature films, classic films, television shows, sporting events, music videos, etc.). Definitely check out the Kodak Digital Cinema system:
http://www.kodak.com/go/dcinema

The surest way to get current feature films remains 35mm prints.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 10 Oct 2003 11:21 #6470

  • Ken Layton
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If you are showing stuff on video then you should also be sure to be upfront and tell your customers you're running a video. If I were a customer and you advertised a movie then I expect a motion picture film to be shown. If I got there and found out it was a video, I'd be pissed IMO.
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 10 Oct 2003 11:55 #6471

  • unastrike
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I'm not talking about showing my home DVD collection, if that's what you mean. I do belive that would be quite illegal. Convienant, but very, very illegal.
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 10 Oct 2003 14:30 #6472

"I'm not talking about showing my home DVD collection, if that's what you mean."

I'm sure what John means is that aside from feature films, which may indeed be available to you through distributors on DVD (but not very likely for films still in first run status), most or all the rest of the product you are thinking about running also requires licensing for exhibition. That includes television shows, sporting events and music videos.

The originators and owners of those types of entertainment all want compensated for their use in a public performance. If you do decide to run them, be sure to protect yourself by researching how to license and book them, just as you would feature films. There will likely be an expense involved but it is preferrable to losing in court if you are sued.




[This message has been edited by Starlite Cinema (edited October 10, 2003).]
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 10 Oct 2003 16:46 #6473

  • unastrike
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Actually, I was replying to Ken. I wasn't sure as to what exactly he was making reference to.

I'm aware that showing pay-per-views and the like would entail obtaining licensing and would certainly take all steps to make sure that everything was "by the book". Having a smaller theatre would make things like this a bit more cost effective to do as, from what I understand, the cost is largely based on the actual capacity of the venue.

I think I may just be outfitting each screen with it's own format. Standard 35mm projector to try and carry first-runs on screen one and some sort of DVP for the other types of showings on screen two.

Besides, I'd miss working with a projector terribly. I don't know that I could ever give it up.
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 12 Oct 2003 10:53 #6474

  • Mike
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Talking with Fox last week they said that classics will be increasingly reissued on dvd or other digi formats for theatrical use.

The difference we're talking about here is that there are all kinds of great and not incredibly expensive projectors that will project acceptable images of dvd and video as opposed to the full fledged digital projection systems which there is simply not enough product to make it worthwhile to buy and run.

Michael Hurley
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 12 Oct 2003 11:54 #6475

  • Large
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Classics are a risk. We all say we would love to run classic films, but the public isn't buying. We have a brand new, 35mm print of Errol Flynn's Adventures of Robin Hood in our theatre this week and nobody is buying tickets for it.

Now I think that some definitions of video projection in theatres are called for.

NTSC just like on your television at home. This includes over the air broadcasts, VHS, Betacam SP, Mini DV and DVD. Although Betacam, Mini DV and DVD can look acceptable on the big screen, these are not good enough for regular showings in a movie theatre.

HDTV or Digital Television There are 3 current standards in the United States. 520P, which is just a step up from NTSC. 720P, which is the most common HDTV format. And 1080i, which is also an HDTV format. The number represents the number of pixels available vertically and the letter indicates whether is interlaced or progressively (preferred) scanned.

Then there is Digital Cinema. The Digital Cinema Integrated (DCI) working group hasn't even set the technical standard for digital cinema yet. They will this year it is thought. But the two current working standards are 1K and 2k DLP chips. The video is fed to the projectors using a video server with proprietary data from the film companies. Although this is similar to HDTV, it is different enough that a Theatre cannot just go out and buy this technology off the street and expect to have content. It's best to wait till DCI has set the technical standards and set the business model. Most of the Digital Cinema installations are in large chain multiplexes and they are participating in the trials. This is not an area that a small independent cinema wants to experiment in.

The best we can do is have a nice video set up to run those occasional special programs or alternative content. It's a risky investment that has no guarantee of paying off.
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 12 Oct 2003 23:26 #6476

Haveing attended several screenings of classics on licensed DVD through very high end projectors w (100,000.00) with line quadupolers I still would not pay to watch it and in fact most of teh audience said the same thing
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Re: Benefits to going digital? 13 Oct 2003 07:45 #6477

  • John Pytlak
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Remember, anything shown off a SD video tape or DVD today is still only "television on a big screen", regardless of how good (or expensive) your digital projector is.

The few hundred Digital Cinema installations today (as compared to over 100,000 35mm screens) are still effectively "test sites" until the final SMPTE standards are in place and DCI has final technical specifications and a business case acceptable to all.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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