Pressure to go digital stresses small town theaters such as the Ganado Cinema

posted by CSWalczak on February 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

GANADO, TX — Since 1941, the Ganado Cinema has been entertaining its local residents, and its owner has kept the projectors humming. But just recently the theater’s owner, seventy-three-year-old, Alvin Svoboda gave in to the digital revolution and invested in the new equipment. The problem is, the new projectors have cost him his life savings and there is no assurance that that the investment will pay off as small theaters such his his do not qualify for rebates from the major studios as they cannot show new films for the required length of time.

“A lot of the theaters will have to throw in the towel eventually because they won’t be able to make the change,” said Byron Berkley, chairman of the National Association of Theater Owners of Texas.

The digital switch has been talked about since 2005, but real moves began last year with most major theaters chains making the costly switch, Berkley said.

The full story is in theVictoria Advocate.

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Comments (13)

KenLayton on February 24, 2011 at 8:06 am

The studios no longer care about small town theaters. They just want the big money that the major theater companies like regal, Cinemark, and AMC will give them.

EvanJChase on February 24, 2011 at 8:38 am

There is a way for the small exhibitor to at least save on digital projection equipment. DON’T consider the high-priced commercial equipment if you have a screen under 25 feet wide. I use a commercial Panasonic 7000 lumen DLP for my classics at area theatres and get a gorgeous picture. The secret is to stick with DLP format and over 7000 lumens. I paid $5k for my unit so even with long throw lenses, for decent digital non-3D projection you shouldn’t have to invest over $12k and buy directly from good AV firms online and save the big commission and installation fees a middleman will charge.

PeterApruzzese on February 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm


You’re forgetting the cost of the Digital Cinema Server, which is required to run DCP. And I don’t think the studios will allow the server to run a DCP to a projector such as you described.

EvanJChase on February 25, 2011 at 4:02 am

I would think there would be some way around this—or at least an aftermarket adaptation. Ken’s comment above was right. If all else fails, a small town exhibitor can do like I did when I owned a theatre—play 2nd run and pop classics that are available on DVD or Blu-Ray.

CSWalczak on February 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

Yes, but that is probably not a solution if the owner wants the theater to remain a first run house as this owner apparently prefers.

blubscinema on February 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I am a firm believer in 35mm conemas reading this don’t convert everything can be on film get technicolor 3d instead of digital its to expensive.

CSWalczak on February 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I too prefer a well-projected 35mm print over digital, but the reality is that 35mm is either doomed or will soon be available to theaters in limited quantities and probably at a higher cost to theater operators simply because the manufacturing and distribution cost to studios of digital formats is so much cheaper (as the article points out), and the vast majority of moviegoers cannot see the difference or do not care. The Technicolor 3D option is not appealing to many theater operators because it is a film-based technology which many see as obsolete and/or because many high-profile 3D films are not made available in this format.

EvanJChase on February 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Over the years in the many theatres I’ve been in—I rarely see 35mm film projected properly—either out of focus, ghosting due to worn projector or other annoyances.

35mm’s apex was in the 1960s when all theatres still had professional projectionists in the booth, prints were well processed and presentation was king.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on February 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I have to agree with Evan Chase. Digital is here to stay and there’s no sense in complaining about it. If I had my way the industry would produce and distribute movies on 70mm film for projection onto giant curved screens. But that ain’t gonna happen. On the other hand, I have to agree that there are many relatively low cost digital projectors that can produce a quality image on a screen under 25 ft. in width. The industry should make provision for cinemas with small auditoriums. A digital projector selling for almost $100,000 is overkill, total unnecessary and will mean the end of many small town (and even medium town) cinemas. This means that millions of potential moviegoers will end up watching current movies at home. Doesn’t the industry realize that this kills off the idea of movies as something special? Skip the cinemas and these products morph into TV programs… nothing special. Just one of thousands of moving images flickering by on our flat screen TV’s while we wash the dishes and feed the cat.

vic1964 on February 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

It is far cheaper to fix the 35mm equipment and train people to run it properly! This is something that should have been done all along anyway!
This rush to overpriced digital is being pushed by studio suits who don’t care about the future of cinema but only savings on print costs and 3d upcharges! The big chains see digital conversion as a way to eliminate the small competition and don’t care about the quality of movies either or they would have kept 35mm standards up over the years instead of sinking it into the mud!
Oh look our new digital projection out performs our old mud machines!Whatever projectors

vic1964 on February 28, 2011 at 11:24 am

these chains use will also fall into dis repair because this business model that all the corporate suits are cashing in on is flawed! I believe a crash of this digital 3d model is coming and multiplexes are doomed!

markp on April 5, 2011 at 7:46 am

I just heard that the recent convention that once was showest in Las Vegas, that the statement was made that by next year, 2012, studio will no longer be making 35mm prints. You either spend the money for digital or….I guess close your doors. They are in bed with the AMC’s and Regal’s and could care less about anyone else. So very sad.

markp on April 5, 2011 at 7:47 am

And how I hope and pray vic1964 is correct. Oh how I hope.

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