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TOPIC: Digital v. Film

Digital v. Film 19 Jun 2003 21:45 #24001

I am planning to open a theatre. During another forum, somebody warned me against going digital because a lot of first run movies are not available in digital. Still, I would like to go digital so that I would not need to spend a lot of time and money on maintenance and repairs (not to mention the projectionist I would need to hire for an 8-plex). Despite this desire, I understand the necessity for running all the latest movies. Therefore, I was wondering if anybody knew approximately how many of the latest releases are not released in digital. Also, are the movies that are not released in digital generally blockbusters, or are they small, independant productions? Any input would go a long way in making my decision.
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Re: Digital v. Film 19 Jun 2003 23:30 #24002

  • Ken Layton
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For starters, 99.9% of movies today are NOT released in the digital video format. Motion picture film will be around for a long time to come and can be shown in ANY theater in the world. There are still no real standards in the digital video formats and the machines are VERY expensive ($100,000) to purchase and are very expensive to repair. Stick with film projectors as there are many excellent used projectors on the market. Many theater equipment dealers have an excellent stock of spare parts on hand at very reasonable prices. Many theater techs carry most of the commonly needed gears, shafts, bearings, etc. to get a broken machine up and running right away.

Film = good
video= evil
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Re: Digital v. Film 19 Jun 2003 23:50 #24003

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Don't even think about opening a theatre equipped only with digital. As Ken said, very few movies are currently released in digital format. An 8 plex would be lucky to have one picture available to show. If you didn't also have 35mm film projection, your other 7 screens would be sitting dark with nothing to play. Ken may have a better handle on the cost of digital then I do, but I have read where the cost per screen may be between $150,000 and $200,000.

And who says that there won't be repairs needed for digital equipment. It's not a proven technology. There are many techs available to repair 35mm equipment, and almost done for digital. The cost to repair digital may be many times higher then 35mm, we just don't know yet. It's too early as the results aren't in. Many things in 35mm can be repaired in house, while digital may very well always need a professional high priced technician.

Maybe if you wait to build your theatre five or ten years from now it will be different, but quite possibly it will be even longer then that.
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Re: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 07:39 #24004

Thanks, you two. I had no idea that things were that bad with digital. That salesman at Christie really snowed me. Thanks for this website, Mike. You just kept me from going bankrupt.
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Re: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 08:54 #24005

  • Ken Layton
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I would NEVER listen to anyone trying to sell me video equipment. The stuff Christie sells is indeed priced in the $150,000 to $200,000 range PER screen. It would take many years to pay for those video projectors!
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Re: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 09:18 #24006

  • John Pytlak
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A tale of woe from a theatre that decided to install only a digital system:
http://www.infocusmag.com/02september/digital.htm

Digital Cinema will evolve and co-exist with film projection for many years to come:
http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/digital/system.shtml
http://www.kodak.com/go/dcinema

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: 585-477-5325 Cell: 585-781-4036 Fax: 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: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 12:50 #24007

  • Large
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I beleive Mike and I met "Mr. Jones" at Show East.
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Re: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 12:59 #24008

  • John Pytlak
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I'd like to know who Mr. Siska's "salesman" was.


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: 585-477-5325 Cell: 585-781-4036 Fax: 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: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 20:17 #24009

Sorry, John. I know better than to tell tales out of school--especially since somebody directed me toward Christie in the first place because they liked the company so much. Let's just chalk it up to a salesman trying to make his impossible quota. I have a brother that is head of East Coast sales for a major systems providor, so I have developed an understanding of the stress incumbant in the work. I hold no ill feelings for a salesman that probably has a couple blleding ulsers.
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Re: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 20:25 #24010

Hey, John,
I appreciate the warning regarding the inclusion of digital projectors you offered (as well as the story about (Mr. Jones"), and I plan to heed your advise; I am only going to install 35mm in this theatre. Still, I find the idea of digital alluring and would like to consider it an option if I ever expand or open new theatres, which I would like to do eventually. Working for Kodak, do you have any inside, non-proprietary information regarding timelines that I could keep in mind?
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Re: Digital v. Film 20 Jun 2003 21:03 #24011

  • Big Guy
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We have 8 screens, and one is Digital. But we kept our 35mm in that booth, also. I love the digital format, and can't wait for it to catch on. Having said that, to go digital exclusively is suicide. We have had the digital projector since Star Wars Episode II, and have shown the following on it :

Star Wars, Episode II
The Banger Sisters
Daredevil
Finding Nemo

Not much considering the investment. But we like to stay as cutting edge as possible, and are happy with the investment. And I assure you, the digital house definitely packs the people in comparison to 35mm.
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Re: Digital v. Film 21 Jun 2003 10:09 #24012

  • John Pytlak
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Kodak has demonstrated its prototype projector (D-ILA technology) on the very large screen at the industry Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) in Los Angeles, and continues to optimize and commercialize the design. Additional information will be announced at CineExpo next week.

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: 585-477-5325 Cell: 585-781-4036 Fax: 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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