The Crandell Theatre is facing a direct challenge to its existence: the movie industry is converting from film to Digital Cinema. If we want to stay open and show new release movies after 2013, we will have to add Digital Cinema equipment, upgrade our sound system and other components of our presentation equipment which will also require an expansion of our projection booth.
Our plan is to install the required Digital Cinema projector and related equipment upgrades by the end of 2013.
The Crandell has shown movies on 35mm film projectors for over 85 years. But by the end of 2013, all main releases will be available only in the Digital Cinema format (and not on film). So, if we want to show future movies comparable to The Hunger Games and The Artist, we’ll have to show them on Digital Cinema projectors soon to be required by all of the major distribution companies. We must convert our main operations to Digital Cinema or limit our programming to older movies.
The main challenge of Digital Cinema is the expense. Installation of a Digital Cinema projector and the related upgrades to equipment and our projection booth will cost in the range of $200,000-$250,000.
Please contribute to our Digital Cinema Campaign and help us keep showing the latest great new movies at the Crandell. Your continued support will keep the theatre vibrant and the programming exciting for years to come. For more information contact our office at 518.392.3459 or email@example.com.
See “Digital Age Has Small Cinemas Reeling” Feb. 16th, 2013, The Albany Times Union
Why is Digital Cinema being forced on theaters?
The movie industry has been trying to facilitate this change for ten years. Their reason is economic. It is much cheaper to make digital prints of movies versus film prints. Of course, the cost of upgrading projectors to the required Digital Cinema falls on the theaters. Until recently, about half of the screens in the US had some form of Digital Cinema projectors. Distributors have decided that now is the time to force all theaters to convert.
What will happen if we don’t add Digital Cinema?
After 2013, we won’t be able to show new major movies releases like The King’s Speech or The Descendants unless we have the required Digital Cinema projector because that will be the only available format. New main stream movies are essential to our economic viability. They pay the bills that allow us to show the smaller independent and foreign films. Loss of this revenue would be a disaster to our business plan.
What is the time frame? Can’t we wait for a few more years and see what happens?
Putting off this challenge is not an option. We believe we have until the end of 2013 to make this happen before our access to first run films is cut off.
Haven’t we already purchased a new digital projector?
We did purchase a smaller, less expensive digital projector that can project digital content at lower resolution. This new required Digital Cinema projectors are bigger and brighter and are equipped with the necessary copy protection for first run films. We cannot use our current projector for the industry approved standard necessary for Digital Cinema. If we want to continue to show exciting new movies, we have to make the switch to the industry approved equipment.
How does Digital Cinema look?
The good news is that the new Digital Cinema offers an amazing sharp and bright picture. Much has been written about how impressive the new presentation will be with this new projection system. For the Crandell, this also means a new and much improved sound system that will be compatible with the new projector. Other improvements will include a new screen and expanded projection booth. We will contemplate the latest hearing and visual aid equipment if we can afford those improvements too. Digital Cinema is a step forward into the future of visual presentation. Plus, many older, classic films are gaining new life after being digitally restored. Some film lovers will always prefer 35mm film, but on balance, we think that the switch to Digital Cinema is good in terms of the visual aesthetic experience.
What are other theaters doing?
Movie theaters across the country are also faced with this same problem. We are a member of a group called The Art House Convergence which is a consortium of 100+ independent theaters. We’ve been talking with our peers for several months about how to address this challenge. Most small, independent theaters are approaching this problem the same way. We are fortunate to be financially healthy and pretty well positioned to make the change, assuming we can raise the extra funds.
Can we lease?
The only “leasing” available is really just “financing” by another name.
Thank you to the Ambler Theatre, Ambler, PA at www.amblertheatre.org for their help in organizing this presentation.