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21/10/2008

Last Picture Show For Many As Cinemas Go Digital

Modern digital technology may close around half of all Britain's cinemas in the next five years.
The cost of the switchover from celluloid film to digital technology will mean the survival of only the fittest, imperilling local cinemas that lack the financial muscle of the multiplexes.
A spokesman for the UK Film Council told the Sunday Times that he estimates it would cost more than £50 million for the vulnerable cinemas to convert to digital.
Hollywood is impatient for the transition because it will cut distribution costs and help to combat piracy.
At present, cannisters of 35mm film are delivered to projection rooms, and what can be screened is limited by how many physical copies of a film are in the country.
Digital 'prints' are easier to transport and will eventually be sent over the Internet and can also be encrypted easily.
Already, advocates of digital cinema maintain that consumers will benefit, citing 3D blockbusters that will only be viewable with digital technology, and that lower costs will allow cinemas to screen a wider range of films.
However, according to the Film Council, only big multiplexes and a few arthouse cinemas, mostly in London, are certain to buy the digital projectors and servers required.
These cinemas are responsible for three quarters of screens and 85% of the box office takings.
That leaves 400 cinemas, many of them small independents, arthouses, temporary town hall cinemas, and mobile cinemas in remote areas.
Some will find a way to finance the switch, but around "300 are in serious danger of closing because they won't be able to afford digital, and if they haven't got digital they aren't going to have anything to show in five year's time".
(BMcC)
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