Friday, July 29, 2005

Digital Cinema

The technology is now available to essentially eliminate film reels as a medium of exhibition for Hollywood movies. A combination of digital projectors and high powered servers would allow studios to beam their movies to cinemas around the country. These cinemas could then show movies with just a push of a button - allowing for increased flexibility in terms of what movies they show when. If a certain showing sells out - they could add another one (something they can't currently do, because they have a limited number of hard copies of the film).

However, Hollywood has never been quick to change its ways. Even though studios stand to save considerable sums by not having to print copies of the film for 3,000 theaters anymore, arguments are still arising between theaters and studios about security concerns and who has to foot the bill for the new projectors, servers, etc. However, it seems that digital projection is on the horizon, with heavyweights like George Lucas, Robert Zemmeckis, and James Cameron all supporting the initiative.

Now, what's exciting about this technology for true film fans is that distribution of smaller, independent movies would potentially become much easier. A movie like March of the Penguins could easily be beamed to just as many theaters as Stealth because it wouldn't require any additional costs to distribute it wider. And if a movie like Stealth bombs, the theater has nothing invested in yanking it right away (something the studios probably aren't thrilled about) Also, a theater would be able to offer a better variety of films by easily switching which movie plays in a given theater - a 6:00 screening of one movie could be immediately followed with another without having to change reels. Also, other content could easily be shown in theaters - including sporting events or other live coverage.

Unfortunately, like most new technologies that offer the consumer more input and freedom of choice, most of this potential will likely never be realized. Too much is at risk for the studios and theaters to actually let the market dictate what they want to see. These companies will devise ways to keep the control of the financial futures of their products in their own hands. Still, a new Hollywood distribution model is long overdue - and digital projection may be the answer to some of Hollywood's present woes.

Via Wired.

1 comment(s):

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