Is Film Obsolete

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Is Film Obsolete?
For over a century movies have been created and projected using film (Alimurung). With developments in technology over the past few decades, one wonders why Hollywood hasn’t advanced to a newer way of recording and displaying its movies in theaters. In this paper I will explain why film (from a technological perspective) is dying. Specifically I will be addressing why film will be replaced, the future of theaters known as the “digital cinema,” and how different people in the movie industry view the change.

Film has long been the precedent in movie making. This article from the LA times explains how important of a role film plays in the movie industry, “For more than 100 years film has been the dominant medium with which movies are shot, edited, and viewed” (Alimurung) This long lasting relationship with Hollywood has been hard to break up, but the transition is already underway and soon 35mm film will no longer be displayed in theaters. This passage from an article supports my claim, “The digital wave that has been looming over movie theaters for quite some time has finally broken, and the speed with which the transition is being enacted is remarkable—by the end of 2013, the major studios will have ceased creating film prints of new titles, and nearly all U.S. theaters are expected to have gone digital, most of them transitioning to the new projection format of Digital Cinema Package (DCP)” (Rapfogel). This leaves the question as to why the change is taking place. Why make a change when film has produced a quality and reliable picture for so many years? To put it quite simply, the answer is money. The movie studios will save endless amounts of money on the creation and distribution of movies if they move to a digital format. Some numbers suggest the cost can be reduced by up to ten times if it were created and distributed in digital format rather than 35 mm film. This passage further explains my point, “It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly. By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150” (Alimurung). With that kind of decrease in costs, it is obviously the right decision to make for the studios from an economic perspective. This is why the movie studios are forcing the theaters across the nation to move to the Digital Cinema Package. The transition will cost money to purchase and install the new digital projectors, but the studios are willing to help pay for these expenses (Rapfogel). The issue that this creates is that many of the theaters and movie directors are resistant to the change because they think the digital format is an inferior product in comparison to the 35 mm film. One cinema owner claims that by making a change to digital, he will lose many customers to home entertainment. “Why would I charge people for a format they could see at home?” (Alimurung) he argues. It really becomes an issue of is the cost worth the benefit. In other words, is the extra cost of creating and distributing a movie on film worth the better quality picture that it displays? Many of the smaller theaters say “yes.” The studios say “no,” and in this situation the studios hold the power because without them, there is no blockbuster movie to be made (Rapfogel). The decision is one motivated by money and it is forcing many cinemas to adapt or cease to exist. The president of the National Association of Theatre Owners explains, “If you don’t make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business” (Alimurung). Theater owners aren’t the only ones resisting the change to digital. Many movie directors aren’t in favor of the digital format due to the fact that they feel it removes the historical aspect of movies and diminishes the quality...
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