Monday, October 13, 2008

Month Twenty-Nine

So, an interesting opportunity arose this past week: I will be working at the Hamptons Film Festival this upcoming Wednesday through Monday. Hopefully I'll run into a hot celebrity and we'll be re-enacting Notting Hill. I'm looking at you, Anne Hathaway.

This will be my first trip into Long Island, which is kind of strange considering I've been here for more than two years. I have considered going to an Islanders game but I just never got around to it.

The film festival circuit is representative, somewhat, of the ever-dwindling use of 35mm film that will become more of a reality in the next two years. I say "somewhat" because most of the reason stuff is digital at film festivals now is that there are so many "shorts" and budget flicks made that are not converted into prints, which are costly. There will be very few prints to build at this festival, enough that they need help, but most stuff is digital.

The studios and a conglomerate of theatre chains have reached an agreement as to who would pay for the digital projector rollout on half the screens in the US and Canada, which was the major sticking point for so many months.

Even the independents should be getting a deal soon as well, so everything you see in the next two years and beyond are going to be straight digital. A lot of this has to do with the fact that there are 20 or so 3D features coming out through 2010. With so few theatres being digital, those films don't have as much of a chance to make bank as their 35mm brethren. On a per-screen average basis, a digital "print" always beats its 35mm counterpart.

I also wouldn't underestimate the power of James Cameron's 3D technological extravaganza Avatar coming out in December of 2009, some 12 years after he made his last feature, Titanic. There is a good chance that Cameron's movie will be so amazing, so "new," that the theatres knew they had to get these projectors installed soon. It goes to show how the technology is advancing: even the Star Wars prequels couldn't get this ball rolling back in 1999, and George Lucas wanted the movies to be shown in digital. It would have required theatres to invest in a technology that was largely unproven, with no other movies on the horizon that could take advantage of a digital medium.

Since then, there have been a lot of Disney cartoons and such that showed the power of the medium, and the money they made, obviously, made 3D digital a viable option over the past 10 years.

I'd also like to pat myself on the back for being very prescient on this rollout. I was saying years ago that the rollout wouldn't occur until 2010 and it looks like I'm going to be correct for the most part. 2009 will be a huge advance, and 2010 should be the rest of it.

Of course, we have to hope the economy rebounds, because a lot of this contract has to do with insurance and banks, which you might have run across in the news lately.

So, that's the future I face in the next few months. More updates later.

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