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Author Topic: Question on Digital Cinema
Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 814
From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 01-23-2008 06:26 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This may be the wrong place to ask this but I can't really see where it would be so if I'm wrong someone move me to right place or point me there and I will.

My employer called and asked me some questions about Digital Cinema and the cost factors and what the print purchase rebate was. He said it is what the film company pays you for setting up digital cinema or playing it he wants to know what that pay back is.

I haven't investigated Digital Cinema much in the last 2+ years so can someone enlighten me so I can enlighten him? And no he will never join a forum site!!!

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-23-2008 06:57 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There's no flat, reliable figures to report on what it costs to install a digital projection system onto a theater screen. If you're an independent theater operator you may be stuck paying list price for the equipment, the cost of which can easily exceed $100,000 per auditorium.

Large theater chains like Carmike Cinemas definitely negotiated a much better deal for the sheer volume of sales. I think Regal, Cinemark, AMC and perhaps some other exhibitors may still be shopping together as one giant sized group to eventually buy and deploy d-cinema systems at a fairly steep discount in return for installing many thousands of systems in short order.

I don't know if anyone is truly doing anything constructive to give small theater chains and independents an opportunity to install digital projection without the cost of the systems being a very serious hardship.

Nevertheless, this is an area where I think Hollywood's major distributors should make some extra strides. Some of the most respectable and unique theater locations in the country are independently operated. And the issues of unfair collusion and anti-trust can be raised if Hollywood's distributors give major exhibitors an unfair advantage on the cost of d-cinema systems and make indie theaters pay full price.

Obviously independent operators must be concerned about the eventual prospect that Hollywood distributors will stop producing 35mm film prints for the North American market. If an independent theater has no way to install digital projection equipment in a comparable level of cost as a major theater circuit that independent operator will have a legitimate gripe -especially if he no longer has any supply of 35mm prints.

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Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 814
From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 01-23-2008 07:30 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bobby NATO has the buying group and it looks to be a good deal it has a line in it (my boss thinks he can still get in on this initial deal I think it is too late we will see) anyway it has a line in it about a reimbursement for theaters for doing it. There are other groups that are forming of independents and smaller chains as well. He asking me for the specific on what the film companies pay him when he does it! I don't know and my original advice was call NATO ask for the CBG and see what they say! But then I said I would ask around!

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-23-2008 08:10 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I always love it when the experienced step in and try to answer....

quote: Bobby Henderson
There's no flat, reliable figures to report on what it costs to install a digital projection system onto a theater screen.
There very definately IS a price that can be set. We just installed three systems in Wyoming and we have quotes out for several other plex's and two Universities. Just contact your local theater supply dealer for the price. They can quote per single system or plex... Higher quantities used in a plex... generally over 10 systems net the dealer a much larger discount. Some dealers will pass this on and then some would rather fuel their private planes or pay for expensive cabins in the wilderness. If you don't feel comfortable with the price from the first source then get at least two more prices as you will probably find a pretty wide variance in what a dealer "thinks" he needs to net off the sale for his own pocket.

quote: Bobby Henderson
Large theater chains like Carmike Cinemas definitely negotiated a much better deal for the sheer volume of sales.

Actually Carmike didn't do the negotiating... That was done by AIX on Carmikes behalf. And indeed AIX owns all the equipment thats been installed in all those Carmike Theaters. Christie was contracted by AIX to maintain the equipment which is why no other entity other than Christie can touch the stuff.

quote: Bobby Henderson
I think Regal, Cinemark, AMC and perhaps some other exhibitors may still be shopping together as one giant sized group to eventually buy and deploy d-cinema systems at a fairly steep discount in return for installing many thousands of systems in short order.

Actually it is JUST... AMC, Cinemark and Regal. Regal is already in the midst of the conversion and theor own people have been trained by Christie to handle the job. AMC has also begun deploying Digital although not as fast as it appears Regal has. Cinemark has said they will deploy 50% of theor chain over 4 years and then the remainder will be converted at the end of those 4 years.

quote: Bobby Henderson
I don't know if anyone is truly doing anything constructive to give small theater chains and independents an opportunity to install digital projection without the cost of the systems being a very serious hardship.

CBG so far is the only group in the process fo such a deal. They have about 8,000 members so that really gives them some negotiating power. Also, CBG is offering the mid sized BARCO with a lens for $48,500.00 for theater owners wanting to purchase outright at a decent discount. That is certainly going to get the remainder of the BARCO dealers really pissed at BARCO in short order. BTW: Membership to CBG supposedlky closed some time just before last ShowEast so those that didn't join are SOL.

quote: Bobby Henderson
Nevertheless, this is an area where I think Hollywood's major distributors should make some extra strides. Some of the most respectable and unique theater locations in the country are independently operated. And the issues of unfair collusion and anti-trust can be raised if Hollywood's distributors give major exhibitors an unfair advantage on the cost of d-cinema systems and make indie theaters pay full price.

Actually I think their approach so far has been pretty good and very professional. Distribution support has been very good and seems to go way beyond today's film support. There is always someone there 24/7 to answer the phone to help solve problems... generate new KDM's or get a new copy of a digital print on the way to you.

quote: Bobby Henderson
Obviously independent operators must be concerned about the eventual prospect that Hollywood distributors will stop producing 35mm film prints for the North American market. If an independent theater has no way to install digital projection equipment in a comparable level of cost as a major theater circuit that independent operator will have a legitimate gripe -especially if he no longer has any supply of 35mm prints.

Boy howdy! Once Regal, AMC, and CInemark have converted those few prints that will be manufactured are going to cost alot more than they do now. This will ultimately hurt the small town locations that are today marginal. Distribution will think twice about striking a print that will end up costing 3 to 4 thousand dollars each for these markets. This and the accompaning rapid pace of lack of availablity of projector parts will bring widespread film to an end in about 7 years... possibly less.

Mark

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Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 814
From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 01-23-2008 08:38 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hum why am I unable to make this clear. I'm asking what this rebate, reimbursement, film print savings pay back or whatever it is that the film companies are paying to theaters that use Digital Prints. I mean the rest is interesting and I want the information but that is my primary question on this at this time.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

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From: Denver, Colorado
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 - posted 01-23-2008 08:45 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Teaser thread title!

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Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 814
From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 01-23-2008 08:49 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mark, I see you and I have the same feelings on Digital that it is about 5 to 7 years before you have digital or nothing. I have felt for a long time that it is very short amount of time before film will start to die.

Actually the parts issue isn't an issue, I mean seriously you pull out 30 thousand units from use there are plenty of parts for the 8 or 9 thousand still around!

For some reason on my computer your full answer didn't load before I posted the last post I made!

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-23-2008 09:03 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ron,

The studios paying for your equipment won't be happenning through Virtual Print Fees... The last chance you had for that was with CBG. Anyone that didn't join before the shut off date is on their own. Of course hopefully they will change that.

I guess you're right about the parts issue... just hit any one of the local junk yards and get an X-L projector for a nickle a pound. Its new parts that'll become really scarce. LaVezzi's projector end of things is but a tiny dot of their overall buisness.

Mark

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-23-2008 09:52 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ron - the Virtual Print Fee is somewhere around $1500. It is not paid to the theatre but to the company that financed the digital install.

You can still join the CBG but you can't participate in whatever digital deal they strike for the mass rollout in the indies. But, as Mark said that could always change.

Your big mistake (or your boss's) is not reading up on all this stuff in the last 2 years. Get to it.

[Edit: Fixed a typo]

[ 01-24-2008, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: Mike Blakesley ]

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Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 814
From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 01-23-2008 09:53 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the info. I'm not sure what we are going to do yet! I have a boss that can't believe he missed the sign up even though I warned him this time last year, in July last year and again in September!! Maybe they will have a phase II or something.

I did stay up with it when I owned theaters but not so much of late though for the year and half (well more than that) that I have been working for these guys I have been warning them.

Joe, my first wife always said I was a big tease. No wait she said big cheater and that was as she was shoving me out the door. I did hear that again for oh 3 maybe 5 years as my second wife was walking out the doors! I have at least learned my lesson I have kept wife number 3 for 10 years now and I stayed single for 13 years before I married her! [Smile]

Okay a new question from my employer and his point makes some sense. Why two format sizes for pictures? Why do we in digital have them both what is driving that?

I think it is because they both survived not much more of reason than that. If you look you had flat at around 1.85 to 1 and then VistaVision in some area of 1.85 to one up to to 2.0 to 1, Super 70 at 2.2 to 1, ultra 70 - Todd-A-O - Cinerama all at a bit 2.65 to 1 up to 2.75 to 1, original CinemaScope 2.5 to 1 (no optical sound track) CinemaScope with sound track 2.35 to 1 and now 2.39 to 1 and a few others as well. Scope and flat have survived but why both in the digital world? Why not one or the other? Concerns about DVD or Broadcast?

That was his question after we discussed the other formats that didn't survive. I can't tell him why both other than maybe George Lucas always works with Scope because it is more a movie (his words not mine) in that format. You have Steven Spielberg and his must work on TV vision, however, he isn't all that big on Digital Cinema.

Anyone else know the reason?

[ 01-23-2008, 11:20 PM: Message edited by: Ron Funderburg ]

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Frank Angel
Film God

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From: Brooklyn NY USA
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 - posted 01-24-2008 07:42 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There is no reason we need to keep dual aspect ratios other than since the introduction of anamorphic wide screen, there have been two aspect ratios. That's what we grew up with. The entire cinema world -- directors, cinematographers, producers, etc. and of course the general public as well, think in those terms. Wide is for certain "epic" films, not-so-wide is for not-so-epic films. That seems to be engrained in our brains now and forever....at least until we die off. A couple of generations from now and that may not be the case.

After all of us who gasped with delight when we saw the curtains opening wider and wider and wider on THIS IS CINERAMA and THE ROBE have gone off to that great movie palace in the sky, maybe the digital age youngsters will think they only need 16:9....you know...."what's all this fuss about wide screen? All our screens are wide-screen at 16:9" said the kid watching the latest movie on his cellphone. The need for wide screen in theatres was only to counter TV. Now that TV will have wide screen, it seems odd and a little quaint that theatres should need to widen their image that extra couple of feet to counter what exactly?

Dual aspect ratios may very well get lost in antiquity.

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Paul Gordon
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From: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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 - posted 01-24-2008 07:54 AM      Profile for Paul Gordon   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Gordon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So lets say as an independent cinema you buy a "Digital Cinema Projector" ... say its cost $80,000 with all the computer and any sound updates and changes. What is the virtual print fee for a film? is it still about $150.00 for a week play and 35% of box office (Second run, repertory rates in Canada). If its still the same what are you saving other then laying off the projectionist? Also will the catalog be as diverse as 35mm in getting older classics? I have a feeling most repertory single screen cinemas will wait till the bitter end of film...when 4k projectors are selling used for $25,000... 8 years from now [Smile]

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 01-24-2008 10:16 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Ron Funderburg
Okay a new question from my employer and his point makes some sense. Why two format sizes for pictures? Why do we in digital have them both what is driving that?
The driving factor is the way movies are produced. Most are still photographed on film.

The different aspect ratios, such as 2.39:1 are often defined within the camera -especially when a movie is filmed in anamorphic 'scope format.

Any d-cinema system will also support more than just 2 aspect ratios. The 2.39:1 and 1.85:1 formats are just the most commonly used ratios. They're just cropping inward to some degree on the 2048 X 1080 imaging chips (2048 X 852 for 'scope and 1998 X 1080 for flat). The 1.77:1 HDTV ratio (1920 X 1080) wouldn't use all the area of the imaging chips either.

I think differing aspect ratios will be supported in various digital video playback formats for quite a long time. For the past 50 years movies have been made in a variety of aspect ratios and current production trends show no change from that at all, even when some of the movies, such as Collateral are shot on video yet still cropped to 'scope.

A "one size fits all" approach just isn't going to work. Pan and scan was inspired by the lame goal of making all pictures fit the same shaped frame. I see no reason to bring back that garbage on the occasion of TVs going HD and theaters going digital. Original aspect ratios need to be preserved. IMHO, if some people don't see the aesthetic point in having different shaped frames for different kinds of stories then that's their own deal.

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Frank Angel
Film God

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 - posted 01-24-2008 10:56 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, that's exactly the deal. I am not convinced that future generations will feel the same impact as we do about those differences. The difference was significant when screens went from Academy to scope. If everyone grows up not knowing anything but 16:9 on everything the see other than in the theatres, I am not so sure they will have the aesthetic acuity to be concerned about that extra width. Consider, they watch movies on iPods and on computer screens -- they are perfectly comfortable about that.

In the old days when wide screen was introduced, it was a strong selling point to get people back into the theatres. It was touted by the industry as The Second Coming. Many early films had the word CinemaScope in the same point size as the film title. Now, scope pictures are played without so much as a reference to that fact anywhere, not in the ads, not at the theatre lobby, not on the 1 sheets. Wide screen has been so marginalized by the industry itself that it really isn't a significant marketing tool any more. What's the difference on the multitude of smaller multiplex screens between scope and 1.85? Not a lot to crow about, if it is even noticed by the majority of patrons. So if they can't sell it, how long do you think they will bother to produce it?

I don't put a lot of stock in the power of the aesthetics appreciation of Mr. & Mrs. Joe Public. Will they think something is missing from their local theatre if everything is 16:9? Someplace along the line someone decided that, yah, the aesthetics of a curtain in front of the movie screen was nice and all, but if it's eliminated most people wouldn't even notice. How many theatres today have curtains?

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Ron Funderburg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 814
From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 01-24-2008 01:02 PM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Cinerama aspect and other wide screens in excesses of 2.39 to one were developed to mimic the human filed of vision, as in take up all of it we see at about 2.9 to one with our peripheral vision counted in. the film maker wanted us to notice nothing but the movie during the movie (in addition to just competing with TV). I find wider aspects easer to watch with out distractions in a theater. For that matter in the home.

There is really not now nor has there ever been a need for multi formats (TV aside) other than companies sprang up with a “better” idea to capture the audience while in the theater. We have had the multiple formats for so long it is part of the movie experiences but you still have the home theater to contend with 4 x 3 is basically a dead format now other than the existing shows that were shot that way. While TV hasn't all gone wide it is probable only a matter of time. 16X9 is a compromise between 1.85 to one and 2.39 to one. You can letter box in the scope and pillar box in the 4 x 3, 1.66 to one and the 1.85 to one they crop the top and bottom a bit!

I think the dual formats will stay even though they aren't needed. But with that said I do like wider way better and I miss those big curved almost semicircular screens in Cooper Theaters!

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