Small theaters’ fade-out?
The clock is ticking as the movie industry – filmmakers, studios and distributors – push to abandon 35-millimeter film and commit to the digital format, which is much cheaper to ship. (And easier to defend against piracy)
“We estimate the major studios will stop distributing film in the U.S. sometime in 2013,” said Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners in Washington, D.C.
…Virtual Print Fees, paid by movie studios to help defray the cost of digital projection, favors theaters that show the most first-run movies.
“I believe that many more small theaters will be forced to close their doors when film disappears,” Hardy said. “Our hope is that our clientele will support the theaters, realizing that if they don’t, our low-key neighborhood cinemas may not survive.”
AS a rule I don’t parrot the Occupy morons line that everything is the result of greed, but in this case I’m sorely tempted. How much can the costs be, to continue producing the same product that they have been manufacturing for over a century? The above article from the Quincy Patriot Ledger sets out a figure of $75,000 to $100,000 a screen for conversion to digital projection. Per Screen. (That cost seem a little high to you? You don’t suppose thats because there is perceived, mandated deadline that gives the makers of Digital Projectors little incentive to reduce costs or prices?)
This story in the Ledger only discusses the costs and effect on small, commercial theaters. Lets include high schools, colleges, churches, town halls, libraries, and that’s just off the top on my head. (Oh, look I found my hat) Many Hollywood films, some large, some small are shown in all those locales. Sometimes for charity, many times for educational purposes and often as fundraisers.
Next, lets consider the vast library of older films. A venue that converts to digital isn’t likely to have the money or space to support two delivery systems, so when the old film based projector goes, there goes the market for showing the classics where they can be enjoyed in the intimate atmosphere of a small audience that many people enjoy and churches and clubs profit from.
How about foreign films? Is the entire world going to go along with dictates of Hollywood cost accounting? No films from France, Poland, Germany, Iran, India, Turkey?
Then there is the issue of technology, I could make a fair case that Man has become the slave and servant of his technology rather that its master. Format changes, software conversions and upgrades are never ending. After a total loss in a house fire in 2004, I’ve already got a drawer here that has orphan remnants of at least two digital memory formats, I hope I copied the material on them before they went into the drawer because I certainly can’t read them now. (I‘m NOT including the 8″& 5.25″ floppies or 6250 tape cartridges that I had in the old house.) So in 2012, Hollywood has set a format that will last for the ages…have they? In ten years what physical platform, or data encryption scheme will be used? And ten years after that? How soon before the “new” digital film records of today are obsolete, and then how long before they become incompatible closely followed by unreadable? If civilization fell tomorrow and in a hundred years someone…
…dug up a film reel of “King Kong-1933” and data cartridge of “The Hunger Games-2012“, which film would be the first (and likely only) to be viewed again? Hold “King Kong” up to the light and you can see that there are images on it, the magnetic stripe on the side would take a little longer. But would anyone ever stubble upon the technology, encryption and language used to read “Hunger Games”?
All films should be archived in an film format, all films (well maybe not “Game Change“). Hollywood dictates, but they don’t rule the world, and are only known for making some really bad predictions about the future (Seen Soylant Green lately?).
Yeah, I’m going to say it. This is a stupid decision ruled by greed and a belief that everyone is trying to
screw cheat them. The hell with you, Jack Valenti!!!