Shortly after midnight on May 19, 2005, Brooklyn’s Pavilion Theatre premiered Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. It was the first time that a digitally projected movie graced its screens.
Nearly a decade later small theaters around the country are being forced to go digital. Paramount Pictures recently released the Wolf of Wall Street only as a digital version only—no celluloid. It’s the first time a big studio has done this with a major release. It won’t be the last.
In addition to a new projector, small movie houses need networking capability to download 80-gigabyte movie files. Back in 2005, the Pavilion paid $80,000 for its digital set up.
Some small movie houses are turning to crowd-funding sites to pay for the conversion. Results are mixed. The single-screen Tampa Pitcher Show in Florida collected less than $8,000 of the $30,000 it tried to raise on Kickstarter. But San Francisco’s Roxie reached its $60,000 goal.
Either way, that familiar ticking that tells you a film is about to start will soon be just a memory. Or a digital copy.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]