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TOPIC: Digital for everyone?

Digital for everyone? 21 Jul 2008 23:21 #22788

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Ever since Digital Cinema was first proposed I have had my doubts that it would include everyone.

Nothing that has occurred over the past 43 years during which I have been in this business, nor what I have read during my studies of the history of this industry, has ever convinced me that the producer/distribution segment (the studios)have any real concern for the small exhibitor, and for that matter, could care less if they all went away.

NATO is in bed with the studios on this issue as well. I was at NATO meetings early on when they said that they would never endorse D Cinema unless 3 criteria were met.

1.Quality of presentation had to be superior to 35mm film.

2. Since the studios would save billions, they would have to pay for the conversion, not the exhibitors.

3. EVERYONE had to be included, small independents as well as the large chains.

Although some will always argue this point, I believe that #1 has been met. #2 is a different story, as the studios are already trying to downsize the VPF agreements.
#3 never really came fully into play either, as you have to be a NATO member and a member of the Cinema Buying Group. Well, NATO could say... we didn't mean EVERYONE, we meant everyone that is a member of NATO. But then we also know that even if you are a NATO member and a member of CBG, you still aren't included unless you're a fulltime first run theatre. Seasonal first runs and subruns just don't exist in the minds of NATO (whether members or not).

I have for the most part, conditioned myself to the reality that when I convert to D Cinema, I will be paying for it myself.

I have wondered over the past several years why the studios wouldn't offer the smaller situations a less expensive digital alternative, so that they could stay in business and create some extra revenue through continued film rentals for the studios. Many of you have preshow digital projectors that have the capability to do just that. Just by connecting a DVD player you can show any movie available on DVD on your screen with excellent results. I have used some of this equipment for special showings and can not tell the difference from 35mm except that the width is slightly narrower. The picture is bright and completely in focus with great depth and radiant color as well. And all this for about $10,000.

The problem of course is the non-availability of DVDs during the theatrical run. The studios are scared that they would easily be copied and increase pirating of films. I'm sure the technology
to combat that, if it doesn't already exst, can be created in short order and not at too much expense. Before they point fingers, the studios should do a better job of combating piracy at home, at the studio or labs in the first place... as every film can be downloaded on the internet the day it opens in theatres, and sometimes even before.

Earlier this year, in the first edition of the SCREENTRADE publication they ran an article about what happens to films after the theatrical run (as though we don't know), and in that article they mentioned that both the military and the airline industry were presenting movies just several weeks after their national release. Now we all know that they aren't showing them on airplanes nor in military facilities with 2k or 4k projectors. They are using DVDs. So much for not having DVDs available during the theatrical run.

In the new Box Office magazine that came this week, there is an interesting article by Nick Dager about Millard Ochs, president of Warner Bros International Cinemas, who is convinced that much of the worlds smaller cinemas, including in the USA, could very well be serviced by 1.3K projectors. To quote Mr. Dager: "But the case can be made that for much of the world - including many parts of the United States - 1.3K does an excellent job of presenting content. Of any kind." and to quote Mr. Ochs: "he is equally strong in his belief that, in select venues, 1.3K technology is not simply a solution that's "good enough," but rather the preferred solution.

This could be the savior for the little guys. So the question becomes... will they do it? Or maybe an even better question would be... why not?
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Re: Digital for everyone? 22 Jul 2008 00:35 #22789

  • slapintheface
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It seems the big Digital roll out is at a crawl.There seems to be no rush . we are yearsaway from an all digital cinema industry.
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Re: Digital for everyone? 22 Jul 2008 06:19 #22790

  • rodeojack
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1.3K technology is not simply a solution that's "good enough," but rather the preferred solution.

Preferred by whom? Most exhibitors... at least those who are able to be quality-critical, don't want the chains running off with the good stuff. To push 1.3k at the little guys is like saying I get 70mm but you get Super-8.

If the technology is to be reduced to DVD-level equipment, with DVD quality and DVD prices, then Mom and Pop can get a projector at Office Depot that'll play everything right along with us.

I wonder if that kind of downsizing might do the most harm to smaller exhibitors.

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