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 "Indie Theaters Face Digital Mayhem", article by Ira Deutchman...comments?
Brian Camp
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 01:30 PM

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This article appeared on the Thompson on Hollywood blog and it's by indie distribution pioneer Ira Deutchman. It basically outlines the problems indie theaters face from an agreement the studios have made for supplying digital projectors to theater chains (DCI, Digital Cinema Initiative). At least I think that's what it's about. unsure.gif
I have to confess I didn't understand the article. There are members here who understand this stuff and can explain it for us laymen. So I'm hoping one of you volunteers to do that.

How exactly does this DCI/VPF agreement affect an indie theater? Let's say, the Paris, a single screen here in Manhattan, or an indie multiplex like the Angelika. How are those theaters affected in terms of what they can and can't show? Is certain equipment being denied to them? Are they being asked to buy equipment they don't want at a price that's too high? If they stick to their current equipment will there be a whole class of films they can't book?

What does all this mean for us moviegoers?


Patrick Lefcourt
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 02:08 PM


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QUOTE (Brian Camp @ Mar 6 2012, 07:30 PM)
What does all this mean for us moviegoers?

It's the little folks getting screwed again. Wait'll you read what the drive-ins, which have been making something of a comeback lately with family-friendly programming, are going through. How many of these drive-ins and small-town theaters that have managed to hang on will be able to afford the steep conversion costs without this deal?

This post has been edited by Patrick Lefcourt on Mar 6 2012, 02:28 PM
Kenneth Warner
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 05:31 PM


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QUOTE (Brian Camp @ Mar 6 2012, 02:30 PM)
It basically outlines the problems indie theaters face

Actually, it's more about the problems indie distributors face, and is written from that perspective.

To make the newer equipment affordable for theaters, the studios/distributors are basically footing a large chunk of the cost of the equipment. To pay for this, the studios/distributors - not the theaters - pay a fee per film that gets shown on the new equipment. The fees get collected by the equipment manufacturers.

Studios are going all-digital and will soon stop shipping prints, so if you're a theater that wants to play studio product, you need the new equipment. But since everything showing on the new equipment - if subsidized - has to pay the fee (to support the equipment cost for the theaters), non-studio product has to pay, too.

This only applies to digital; anyone could still get around this by old-school 35mm prints. A theater could also pay for the equipment itself - the $70,000 cited in the article - and not take the subsidy, and then the fees don't apply.

The article about drive-ins is about drive-in owners wanting a loosening of the technical requirements needed to qualify for the equipment subsides - and from the article, it appears studios and drive-in owners are somewhat on the same page on many of the points.

This post has been edited by Kenneth Warner on Mar 6 2012, 05:43 PM
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