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TOPIC: I can't wait to go Digital

I can't wait to go Digital 29 May 2011 02:19 #36308

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Many of you know that I have been one that hasn’t been in any hurry to switch to Digital Projection. I like film. I’m very comfortable with it. I know that I can put on an excellent presentation with it, and can fix any failures whether it be from equipment breakdowns or human error very quickly.

As I have stated before, during the past 41 years that I have owned and operated my theatre, I have never lost a show. Even with film, I have refused to install a platter system due to the increased risk of loss with only one projector.

I have always been slow to adapt to new electronic technologies, and I have always needed the help of my younger staff members to help educate me on how to operate such equipment whether it be a new computer program, security system, HVAC controls or whatever. Once I fully understand them, I’m fine. It just takes me a little longer to get it all together. I find the new digital projection systems a bit scary, but I know I’ll get used to them eventually.

Now I can’t wait to make the switch. Why such a sudden change of heart you ask? Presentation of course! Recently something has happened that I have not had a problem with for many years… poor print quality. Go back 40 to 45 years when I was first in this business, it was not unusual for 2nd run theatres to get film prints in less than desirable condition. Think about it. There were about 13,000 theatres back then and everyone was a single screen. Most films were released with only 300 to 500 prints for the entire country. Movies didn’t open in every market on the same date. They started out in the largest cities, then medium size cities, small cities, then small towns and neighborhoods in the cities. The same prints were used over and over again. By the time they got to the end of the run they were pretty worn out.

Then came the multiplex, and everything changed. Instead of a film playing in only one theatre in a given market, it would play in several multiplexes surrounding any given area. As more and more plexes were built, the need for more and more prints arose until it was the norm to have anywhere from 2500 to 6000 prints in service. Back when those 13,000 theatres were all single screens, most were sub-run, but with the growth of the multiplex most are now first run. Now with 39,000 screens at a little over 6,000 sites probably not more than 500 sub-run theatres exist. So with so few sub-runs and thousands of prints available after the completion of the first run cycle, there have been plenty of prints available for 2nd run, many having only been run at one theatre and often for only 2 weeks. Due to this fact, most prints over the past several decades have been in excellent condition.

HOWEVER, recently, over the past several months I have received a number of badly scratched prints, damaged DTS discs, improperly torn apart prints stuffed into cans as though they were going to the dump rather than to another theatre.

Is this a coincidence, or are we purposely being given bad prints to encourage us to want to make the switch to digital? I find it difficult to believe that to be the case, but regardless it is making me rethink waiting much longer.

I’m lucky that I don’t need to seek financing, and can do it as soon as I want to and I have begun shopping around looking at what’s available. I still find it hard to accept that film will be gone by the end of 2013. As a booker and theatre owner I talk to the film sales people and branch managers all the time, and I can’t get any of them to confirm when film will cease to be available. They say: “film will still be around for a while yet” but won’t say what “a while” is. If it’s going away by a certain date, tell us so we can prepare. It’s almost like they want the small exhibitor to wait until it’s too late so that they will be forced out.

I know many small theaters that will not be able to make the switch, and I feel sorry for them. It will be a great loss for many small communities as well.
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 29 May 2011 02:36 #36309

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Very well said. This is part of the digital conversation that we all must face in the small town theatre world.
Elsewhere on this forum a poster has noted that it is an opinion that film is going away. I think the closing of film labs and film depots and the diminishing number of film houses operating makes the quick demise of film a pretty sure thing.

If I may make one other point, I'll look at this forum and see up to several hundred "guests" reading the posts. Some are film folk who haven't logged in or are simply reading but not joining the forum, others are film fans. How does our bickering about film and digital appear to the public? How uncertain do we make small town exhibition appear?

There are some exciting times ahead for all of us including small town theatres.

Good luck to all

AllenD
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 29 May 2011 06:36 #36313

  • rufusjack
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Roxy,

It is just not damaged prints after 6 weeks but as has been observed on the other forum we both participate on, the initial print quality can be poor as well. You can easily see that labs will put lesser care into a dying product.
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Cats going with dogs, tidal flow reverses 01 Jun 2011 14:33 #36366

  • Mike
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......did I hear the earth crack, the heavens split asunder, did birds speak and lions lay down with lambs?: Roxy goes digital. The projection transformation revolution will be projected...... or as Gill Scott Heron said: "The revolution will not be televised."
Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 01 Jun 2011 16:47 #36368

  • revrobor
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Love ya Roxie. You are one wise theatre operator. Wish I worked with you.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 02 Jun 2011 15:34 #36382

  • rodeojack
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Can sure relate. I doubt anyone will notice that I just put $$$,$$$.95 into my booth.

On the other hand, I'm sure getting tired of hauling those boxes upstairs.

We very rarely have problems with move-overs. Probably fortunate for me. The local depot people have known us for 26 years, & served the family I grew up working for before that. I think that's made a big difference in that we don't get prints from known problem theatres.

Locally, I've taken the time to talk with the managers of theatres that have damaged film & sent it to us. Once they know that we care... and notice... most problems have gone away.

We also have no independent theatres left in our market. They're all chain-ops & nobody wants word of problems to travel upstream.

Lucky me, I guess.
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 04 Jun 2011 21:01 #36392

  • tratcliff
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As a move-over theatre, I also have noticed a drastic degradation in film print quality,
both in condition (scratches, etc.) and in print manufacturing quality ( shaky image, etc.)

I am also still running analog sound, and the analog soundtrack on prints nowadays is horrible!!
My sound has never been worse - and no adjustments make up the difference.
And the volume is all over the board.

I also am looking at digital for the same reasons - I can't seem to put an acceptable presentation on the screen no matter what I do.
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 06 Jun 2011 16:11 #36400

  • rodeojack
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Good point.

I've been using the digital tracks at my drive-in for several years. We only revert to analog if something goes wrong with the digital, which isn't often.

-J
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Re: I can't wait to go Digital 13 Jun 2011 15:38 #36469

  • fesfilms
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I am mainly posting because you are Roxy Vaudeville and I am Café Roxy. (I also need to build up my karma as newbie poster.)

You can see the Café Roxy programs I have put together on DVD at: www.fesfilms.com/cafe-roxy/shows/ These were designed for theaters, have been shown in theaters and received high praise only today at the Saturday Public Domain Matinees thread in this forum.
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