This is worth reading….
There has been a long debate on the www.bigscreenbiz.com site’s LOBBY FORUM about what effect Digital Cinema will have on the independent exhibitor, which the CAMELOT will become. Even if they do install exclusively digital electronic projection, they may not have many years to enjoy any profit from it. The film makers now admit that they make more money via DVDs than film, so the handwriting may be on the wall as regards the eventual end of film and any independents that would show it. With digital having a high price tag for installation and the makers having the ability to determine just which cinemas will get a title, it may not be long before only their own multiplexes will get any title. I forsee Big Business doing away with the restrictions of the Sherman Anti-Trust act which originally separated the studios from the theatres they owned back in 1948, and going back to the profitable model of the studios controlling the exhibition and forcing out any independents. At least in those days, the theaters were better kept up and of higher quality since each studio’s chains were in competition for the movie goer’s money, but I don’t think that will happen again, since the ticket sale revenue is getting so much smaller than the DVD revenue. Like it or not, technology is creating a new marketplace.
There is not doubt about it, technology will create a new market place. However….this web site is loaded with page after page of theatres that long ago served their respective communities well, and are no longer viable enties and will not share the same luxury as the theatre in this article did.In many small towns across America, the mega plex in a distant town with its first run features and expenisve popcorn has closed the single screen on Main Street, because the owner, just can not come up with the resources to make it work. In todays world ones biggest competion is not the theatre at the mall, its the 64in television and the lazy boy recliner, you just can not make a living with a few high schoolers coming in on Friday night. I know what its like to make that decision, I had to close mine, and that is not an easy task to face.
Look, the reality is that projecting DVDs and digital projection are coming. I am a former staunch supporter of celluloid but realize now that the studios could care less. As long as they control the product and licenses, they don’t care. Why not line up the small independents to organize and get ready? It is so much easier to pay the royalties to show DVDs than to schlep cannisters of celluloid up and down stairs. Eventually a license can be obtained and download the film to hard drives. Security will be tight but it will come. How many readers on this site have had the unpleasant experience of taking cannisters of heavy film, loading a film, putting it together and for years at a time, FOR A LIVING AND NOT AS A HOBBY? We just showed a new film from a new director at large theatre in the Chicagoland area. It was wildly approved and few people knew that it was “digital” not film. We all know that the screens, lamps and projectors are getting better. This all reminds me of the advent of sound where the debate swirled for years. Then sound was here to stay. Let us look to 25 years from now where all thatres will be digital. We can watch “old movies” forever without burns, tears or rips at museums but does anyone still look at the “flickers” at nickelodeons?
My knowledge of the “digital experience” is limited to home DVDs and attending a showing of Terminator 3 at the Chinese. I do believe that digital is the future of theatrical exhibition and I see pros and cons but I believe the pros are in the studios' favor. First, it seems to me that the major expense of these presentations is bourne by the theater owners. Please correct me if I’m wrong about this. For the studios, it seems like a winning proposition. They have no costs for prints and shipping. The film is already in the digital realm which will make the transition to DVD much cheaper. A single copy can be downloaded from the internet into hundreds of theaters and all the while they still reap the 90/10 split at the box office. The film can be shown hundreds of times with no deterioration in quality. They run the risk, however, of bootleggers hacking in and grabbing a perfect copy of the film. The upside? Old films can be preserved in this format. I can actually forsee the day when most films are viewed at home with theaters only used as a social event. I already view most films that way and rarely venture to a theater anymore unless it’s something special I can’t get at home like a Cinerama screening. The muliplex experience is a turn off anyway. I love film and the classic venues but I am resigned to this eventuality.
By the way, a new startup independent getting “Sith” instead of the 2 megaplexes tells me they did it by installing digital projection which attracted the studio to higher profit and resulted in the film being denied to what are probably film only venues. Didn’t matter how much money these screens made for them in the past. The movies are a business and the bottom line is all that counts.
Jim, studios are already starting to run theaters again. Little by little, one at a time. I agree with you completely on this.
I would like to compliment “Manwithnoname” on his statement. It is very acurate and to the point. I found the statement about viewing movies at home to be specifically interesting and distrurbing. As a former exhbitor, it points out to the failure of todays theatre designers to create an atmosphere to lure the general public out of their houses. That is now the theatre owners greatest mission. I have long anticipated that the day will come that all we have to do is download the movie from either the internet or satalite and no longer have to lug those heavy cans up and down stairs and the dreaded freight bills will be a thing of the past.
This is why OLDER theatres should be used. The glorious experience of walking into an older theatre is exactly what early movie exhibitors (theatre owners) wanted to achieve. No one gets excited by the architecture when walking into the Cinema 32. So the best of technology should marry
Some of the above posts imply that today’s theatre designers are bent on creating only a cheap, boring experience, but to be fair, it must be remembered that designers are paid by the multiplex chains, and these are mostly conglomerates which exist by definition for, and only for, profit — as much profit as they can get, either legally or illegally (it doesn’t really matter as long as they can get away with it — and they now OWN the governments, so who is left to prosecute them?); whatever works. Governments and their corts no longer stand in their way, and exhibition is but one business that is now in the control of Big Money.
These types will always seek to eliminate anyone who stands in the way of maximum profit, and that includes the distributors and exhibitors. If they can sell directly to the public, the ‘studios’ get all the profit for themselves, hence my commet at the top. They are only biding their time until a sufficiently secure and reasonably inexpensive means arrives to get the product to the public at the highest profit by eliminating all middle men; when technology soon makes that possible, say goodbye to any theatres not owned by the ‘studios!’ Debating projection or media techniques as we do now, will then be as pointless as debating the preservation worthiness of a building as the bulldozers are rolling up to finish it off. Cinema as we know it will then be only a fond memory. As Aldous Huxley said: “It is a Brave New World.” But do we want to be there?!