After reporting last week about plans to soon equip one-third of American cinemas with digital projectors, I received a few comments telling of disappointing encounters with the new format. It got me wanting to do some more research on the technology and the experience, and hopefully soon take in a digital showing somewhere. I haven't yet become an expert on the subject, but I did come across an interesting set of articles in Sunday's Ventura County Star, both written by Allison Bruce, which give the pros and the cons of both digital and film projectors.

Aside from the obvious factors that make digital attractive -- clearer picture, cheaper distribution -- Bruce includes an amusing comment from director Barry Sonnenfeld in which he says studios could easily change a movie that has been badly received by critics or audiences, after it has opened in theaters. He cites King Kong as a good example of a movie that would have benefited had Universal been able to cut out 40 minutes of the film after hearing that viewers complained of it being too long. I highly doubt that any studios would actually take advantage of this, though. After all, isn't that why they have test screenings?

One thing I think that hurts digital, evident from Bruce's article supporting digital, is that most of the format's pros are beneficial to studios and theaters more than to audiences. The cheaper distribution, the ease of projector use, the issues with piracy and the scheduling ideas for exhibitors are all meant to save the businesses money. But will it trickle down the savings to the consumer? No way. In fact, I see digital being used as an excuse to raise prices for the ticket buyers. Consider that the big theater chains are about to borrow a collective billion dollars. It is obvious that we, the audience, will be depended upon to pay those loans back.
categories Movies, Cinematical