Film-Tech Cinema Systems
Film-Tech Forum


  
my profile | my password | search | faq & rules | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Really, did they just say that? What some theater owners/operators say

   
Author Topic: Really, did they just say that? What some theater owners/operators say
Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

Posts: 465
From: Holts Summit, MO
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 11-21-2012 08:36 AM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20121118/LOCAL/311189933/1002/LOCAL

Switch to digital projection endangering small theaters
Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette

Photos by Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
This 35-millimeter film projector is rapidly becoming antiquated in most theaters across the country. They might be phased out by the end of 2013.

Jim Boyd said that because of the prohibitive cost of new equipment, he had to buy this used digital projector for his Van Wert Cinemas.
VAN WERT, Ohio – A batch of teenagers are the first customers to begin trickling into Van Wert Cinemas a little before 6 p.m.

As they stand among the wafting aroma of popcorn and buy their tickets and soda, a weary Jim Boyd is in a room overlooking Screen 2 of his five-screen theater, punching buttons on a black machine with blinking lights.

This machine – a newly procured digital projector – cost Boyd a lot of money and took him across the country to find, but he knows it’s the way to keep his business open.

And whether they like it or not, many movie theater owners are following suit, or soon will be.

With the major movie studios phasing out traditional film – possibly completely by next year – the digital projector is quickly becoming the future of the cinema business.

And going digital is proving an expensive and taxing enterprise for small independent theater owners like Boyd, some of whom are struggling with the upgrade, which can cost upward of $85,000 a screen.

“It’s used,” says Boyd, pointing to the projector for Screen 2. “I’m making it with used equipment. That’s the only way financially I can make the conversion, and used equipment is hard to find.”

‘Do or die for us’

Pressure for theaters to convert to digital projectors began with the 1999 release of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” according to Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners.

Corcoran’s group, an advocate for theater owners, helped quell an immediate switch to digital projectors partly to give theater owners time to make the transition.

It also helped the industry to set agreed-upon technical standards and to create a business model for how digital movies would be shown, according to Corcoran.

So far, roughly 80 percent of the screens in 60 percent of theaters nationwide have been converted to digital projectors, Corcoran said.

“This has been sort of a decade-long process,” Corcoran said. “The issue that smaller theaters face is that basically they’re expected to convert. Whether they have the capital or not, that’s a business issue.”

But now the country’s major movie studios are on the cusp of abandoning 35-millimeter film – which has been used for roughly a century – by 2013, according to Corcoran and other reports.

And while many of the chain theaters – such as Rave Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas in Fort Wayne – have the resources to make the switch, other, smaller theaters are apparently in peril.

Historic and small theaters all across the country are asking residents for help or holding fundraisers to raise the money to make the switch.

The Fargo Theatre in Fargo, N.D., is asking its fans for $200,000 to stay open and has so far raised $125,900 toward that goal, according to its website.

The Historic Onarga Theater in Minnesota is selling T-shirts to save the cinema, having special showings of classic movies and urging people to advertise in order to raise money.

Other theaters are hosting an array of events, such as taco dinners, parties and galas in attempts to get needed cash.

And soon, the Cinema Center in downtown Fort Wayne may have to do the same.

“We’re in the beginning stages of planning a capital fund campaign,” said Jonah Crismore, the new executive director for the one-screen art-house theater. “We’re going to need the community support to make this happen.”

“It’ll be do or die for us,” he added.

The Cinema Center has existed since 1976 and has been at its current location, at the corner of East Berry and Clay streets, since 1991.

Crismore said that while the switch to digital is needed, he and other theater officials have concerns.

“Thirty-five millimeter has not changed a whole lot since its invention, really,” Crismore said. “With digital, they’re already making upgrades. So, is this something we’re going to have to do every five or 10 years?

“And where is the money going to come from for those upgrades?”

Studio control

Not every theater owner is on board with the switch to digital projectors.

Dana Thompson, the proprietor of The Strand in Angola, has been in the movie business since he started running projectors as a 10-year-old more than 50 years ago.

And he has no plans yet to convert his one-screen theater to digital.

“There are thousands of theater owners in the same boat that don’t like what’s going on, and we’ve been dragging our feet for 10 years,” he said.

For Thompson, it’s not only the equipment that’s a problem – along with a projector, an upgrade requires computer servers, a new sound system and in some cases a new screen – but the conversion also gives movie studios more power.

With film, Thompson said he can preview films he shows to give customers a better idea of its content. He said he could also cut out previews he finds inappropriate. Thompson also said he likes being able to check the film’s quality to make sure there were no problems with the print.

With digital, he cannot preview a movie without paying a movie studio for that particular showing. And if they include him 30 previews, he has to show them all.

“They’re controlling the message 100 percent,” he said.

Plus, the studios are expecting the conversion at a time when fewer people are going to movies, Thompson said, making it doubly hard for independent theaters to survive.

But, Thompson said, he doesn’t believe the conversion will be complete by 2013 as the movie studios believe.

As evidence, he said that he recently picked up a film from a large downtown Indianapolis theater that has 10 screens – of which only three or four have been converted.

“A lot of people are talking about the independents, asking them, ‘Are you ready?’ ” he said. “Well, the big guys, they aren’t ready, either.”

This weekend, Thompson was showing the much anticipated and heavily marketed “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,” on traditional 35-millimeter film – just as he’s shown every movie before.

“People can’t tell the darn difference anyway,” he said. “I think the quality is maybe 15 percent different (with digital).”

Movie history relics

In the lobby of Van Wert Cinemas sits an authentic Mitchell 35-millimeter camera, the type used to film the classic films of yesteryear.

The camera is Jim Boyd’s prized movie artifact. And now, roped off from the public, it is the last vestige of how movies were once made and shown.

Last Sunday, Boyd, who began operating movie projectors as a teen in Fayetteville, W.Va., 50-some years ago, played his final movie on film – “Paranormal Activity 4.”

A week before that showing, he had spent several days searching and scouring through Arizona looking for used digital projectors and servers.

He rolled back into town with a van full of equipment foreign to him, equipment he knew he needed if his cinema was to survive.

Two days before that final film showing, as the first batch of teenagers began coming into the theater on a Friday evening, he was upstairs fidgeting with one of his newly acquired digital projectors. A few feet away were the last two film projectors he had yet to replace, giant behemoths that, like his camera displayed in the lobby, were now relics of movie history.

“A few years ago, I could’ve probably gotten $1,000 or $2,000 out of them,” Boyd said. “Now, I’d be lucky if I get a couple meals out of them.” With digital, he cannot preview a movie without paying a movie studio for that particular showing. And if they include him 30 previews, he has to show them all. “They’re controlling the message 100 percent,” he said.

 |  IP: Logged

Dennis Benjamin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1445
From: Denton, MD
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 11-21-2012 10:32 AM      Profile for Dennis Benjamin   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Benjamin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
haha

 |  IP: Logged

Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-21-2012 10:56 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I guess that's the new candidate for the "dumbest thing a theater owner has said this year".

 |  IP: Logged

Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1078
From: Checotah, Oklahoma
Registered: Jul 2002


 - posted 11-21-2012 03:25 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with Mr. Boyd that the studios appear to be trying to take over the programming of theatres. Back in the day the federal court made the studios sell off all the theatres they owned. Perhaps this is their way of gaining control again. But I'm not sure his statement is entirely correct. Since I'm not familiar with a digital operation why don't you guys fill me in. Thanks.

 |  IP: Logged

Bajsic Bojan
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 190
From: Ljubljana, Si, Eu
Registered: Aug 2008


 - posted 11-21-2012 03:43 PM      Profile for Bajsic Bojan   Email Bajsic Bojan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
“I think the quality is maybe 15 percent different (with digital).”

quote of the century.

Whoever is making these stories up and publishing it, well, i guess media people need to get paid somehow too...

 |  IP: Logged

Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-21-2012 05:53 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Robert E. Allen
But I'm not sure his statement is entirely correct. Since I'm not familiar with a digital operation why don't you guys fill me in.
Robert, the guy is 100% incorrect. First, the studios have NO more control over what goes on the screen than they ever did. You can pick your own trailers to show or not show. There is no such thing as a "hard attached" trailer anymore. They usually only include one trailer that's marked as "attached" on the hard drive, and often one or two additional trailers (not 30!) but it's totally up to the exhibitor what actually plays.

You ARE allowed to preview a movie, the only cost is the cost of running your equipment, but that's always been the case.

As for his "15% better" comment that's highly dependent on the equipment being replaced and the quality of the film handling in that particular cinema. In our case here I would say 15% is probably about right, because we always had a pretty good picture. Our digital picture is brighter and steadier. Some places it will be 100% better.

If that guy's customers can't tell the difference, as he says, then that should be seen as a tribute to his good film presentation -- not a slam on digital equipment.

 |  IP: Logged

Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 11-21-2012 09:48 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Why do I have a feeling the KIND of customers that come to his theater can't tell a difference because they just don't care. Think about it.

 |  IP: Logged

Jarod Reddig
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 513
From: Hays, Ks
Registered: Jun 2011


 - posted 11-22-2012 12:31 AM      Profile for Jarod Reddig   Email Jarod Reddig   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow this guy is obviously way misinformed on how to run his equipment.

 |  IP: Logged

Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 11-27-2012 04:06 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So what if it's used equipment -- I have a hunch that his film equipment was probably bought used too -- digital conversion would probably bring in NEWER used gear.

And so what if they have to upgrade their sound system. Shouldn't this have happened DECADES ago???

I know this will make me seem like an insensitive prick, but...

Cry me a river!

 |  IP: Logged

Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-27-2012 04:31 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Robert E. Allen
I agree with Mr. Boyd that the studios appear to be trying to take over the programming of theatres.
How do they appear to be doing that?

Granted I'm in a small place here but I don't see any evidence of studios trying to take over the programming. Unless you're talking about deciding what movies get made, but they've always done that.

 |  IP: Logged

Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1078
From: Checotah, Oklahoma
Registered: Jul 2002


 - posted 11-27-2012 09:37 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Back in the day" when I owned and operated theatres I told the distributors what I wanted, when I would start it and how long I would play it. I also ran double features any time I wanted.

 |  IP: Logged



All times are Central (GMT -6:00)  
   Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:



Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.3.1.2

The Film-Tech Forums are designed for various members related to the cinema industry to express their opinions, viewpoints and testimonials on various products, services and events based upon speculation, personal knowledge and factual information through use, therefore all views represented here allow no liability upon the publishers of this web site and the owners of said views assume no liability for any ill will resulting from these postings. The posts made here are for educational as well as entertainment purposes and as such anyone viewing this portion of the website must accept these views as statements of the author of that opinion and agrees to release the authors from any and all liability.

© 1999-2020 Film-Tech Cinema Systems, LLC. All rights reserved.