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TOPIC: Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm

Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 17 Jan 2009 15:04 #30721

  • jokesonme
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Hey everyone at bigscreenbiz. I am currently orchestration the restoration of the Fox Theater in Stevens Point, WI. It is a single screen theater house that seats 500, it has a stage that we will host local bands, and performances, and it will be a second run theater that will show old classics like "Star Wars", "Rocky Horror Picture Show", and "Ghostbusters".

Listing for it here: http://cinematreasures.org/theater/355

We also started a blog listed here: http://www.isolated-design.com/foxtheaterproject

On the blog there a number of pictures of the inside so before I ask any questions. I am in a bind between whether to go with digital, or try 35mm. I have been doing research on the topic but frankly it is not easy to find. This site has been the largest help in the process.

My question is if you go digital, and purchase a DP, and say high end blu-ray player, is that sufficient for the video portion of playing movies? This theater has been closed for 20 years so everything is being redone. I am looking to somewhat future proof the theater, and with the projection booth it already has, I figured digital projection would still work here.

Also I have been researching the process of buying the rights to films, and getting a booking agent, and I just wanted to ask on here if you decide to go digital and do dvds and blu-ray, am I correct to say that the process is buying or renting your videos yourself, and just purchasing the rights from the companies? To me this seems like for our small, one screen, second-run theater, this would be a lot easier then trying to order the huge bulky 355mm canisters and going through the process of loading and playing those. Thank you for your help on this question, I will be posting constantly on the forum from here on out!
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 18 Jan 2009 09:09 #30722

  • slapintheface
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You can not run a movie theater on dvd or a a home style Digital projector.Most film co even on old films do not allow dvd to be used ...............
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 18 Jan 2009 15:29 #30724

  • revrobor
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The jury is still out on whether digital is better than film. I would suggest you install 35mm (it's going to be with us for a long time) and work with the theatrical distributors of motion pictures. You will find a list of film and equipment distributors on this site. If your budget is limited I would suggest you purchase used/reconditioned equipment. Most 35mm projectors are very rugged and even used equipment will outlive us all. You seem to be talking about home video stuff. I would encourage you to become familiar with theatrical gear. Good luck. I envy you and hope one day to again operate my own place.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 18 Jan 2009 17:00 #30725

You will probably need both as a theatre that must do many things needs many means of doing it
Also a good 16mm is an asset as well
Also many archival prints can only be screened by venues doing changeovers meaning 2 35mm projectors
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 19 Jan 2009 10:24 #30730

  • Avco
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Even with a High-End Blu-ray player you are still subject to disc problems as films not playing and films stopping & freezing on screen.
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 20 Jan 2009 06:50 #30739

  • rodeojack
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You CAN use a consumer-based projector, IF you think you can sell admission to anything a consumer can watch with the same projector in his living room. Consumer machines are good for some advertising, gaming and business presentations, but generally not for feature films.

As noted previously, any mainstream feature, and most all independent shows that are intended for national release will be available on film. As you have the equipment, but an unproven theatre, why not start with what you've got? Get the machinery working correctly, have a good sound system, a fresh bulb and a clean (new?) screen. The money you don't now put into a digital projector can then be used on more visible things... like the condition of your seats, carpets and concessions areas.

If it's been closed for 20 years, as the listing suggests, you probably have your hands full as it is.

IF your theatre succeeds, it's highly unlikely it will be on the basis of whether you have digital or analog projection... assuming what you do have is working as it should. I'd worry about establishing a solid business, and look at digital down the road.

In any case, the economy, cost, maintenance and longevity issues of digital are likely to be different in 5 years, so I don't think there's any real harm in waiting for awhile.
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 22 Jan 2009 09:28 #30752

  • dsschoenborn
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First you need to think what you are going to show and why people will come and see it. I don't know that the movies you listed here anyone will come out and see except maybe Rocky Horror. The live angle could be your better for you. Survey people in the area and see what they will pay to go see.

You should look at the theatrical digital but for what you want you could go another route too. We should a travel and adventure series in a 500 seat theatre. I have around 100 foot throw to the screen. I use a commercial projector with a high end lens. The presenters use high end digital tape players or DVD's. The picture is fine for things like this. I would not put a Hollywood blockbuster on it even if it was 10 years old for a paying audience. (I would do it for myself)

Most film companies will allow you to show DVD and pay them the license fee. This info is from our booker and others on this form have also commented on this. It saves shipping costs and labor to put the film together. This can be done successfully for school outings who want to see a G film that came out last year. Also the kids only want to get out of school and have fun they don't care if they can walk up to the screen and not see any distortion.
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 22 Jan 2009 13:37 #30756

  • rodeojack
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Good points. I got so caught up in the technical stuff, I missed what he was planning to run.

Can't see how there would be any longevity in playing "classics". In addition, many of those titles are sitting in an archive somewhere... not taking up space in the depot. That'll cost extra for shipping, if they're available at all. At least the last time I checked, Rocky Horror was still commanding a 50% price tag. Everywhere I've seen it played, it taps out after a couple of months. What do you do then?

Seems like big challenges ahead, if you're starting that low on the totem pole.
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 29 Jan 2009 01:43 #30797

  • jokesonme
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Thanks for all of the comments already. We are nearing getting permission to restore the theater. Our project is going well and your comments are really helping me understand everything.

This theater is a historical landmark in our town (literally too). I have spoken to hundreds of people in the last month alone who want it opened. I am not worried about keeping business up, because the way our town is structured it will def support the theater.

So my question is, if we are showing all old "classic" movies" (like I said robocop, newsies, back to the future) is blu ray and dvd really out of the question? We will also be showing alot of independent films and Student movies from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, right down the street, which will all be on dvd also.

I know there is a deal that some people feel customers wont come because they can watch the "same movie at home", but either way they can watch the same movie at how whether we show dvd or 35mm film, because these are old movies. I think alot of people (myself included) just want to go for the experience, I mean... if your getting out of your house to see a movie thats been out 20 or 30 years, then I dont think you are that concerned with how it is shown.

I am just trying to get a sense of if we do try to go bluray player, and really high end digital projector, what are our options or chances, this is a small, close knit town, and will support the theater 100% either way. I just feel at this current time doing the digital and dvds might be our best bet, let me know what you guys think!!!
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 29 Jan 2009 09:20 #30799

  • Larry Thomas
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I book several theatres that run classics on DVD.

Sony is the only distrib that will 100% not allow theatrical showings from DVD. Disney, as a rule, does not, but in the event of a bad print, or shipping emergency, will not stand in the way of using a DVD (which really doesn't help you).

Everyone else will take DVD bookings for films that are already on DVD.
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Re:Restoration of Fox Theater: Digital or 35mm 29 Jan 2009 23:04 #30802

  • Ken Layton
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If you're showing something on DVD then make sure your advertising says that it's a video presentation.

Personally, I would never patronize a theater that shows videos.
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