Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stuff I'd like to see the Bigwigs answer.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a fancy roundtable event about Digital Cinema. Here's the lineup:
Randal Kleiser, President, Randel Kleiser Productions, Inc.; Director, Grease, The Blue Lagoon, Honey I Blew Up the Kid, Lovewrecked
Bob Lambert, Sr. Vice President, Worldwide Technology Strategy The Walt Disney Company
Tim Partridge, Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Dolby Professional Division, Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
Jerry Pierce, Senior Vice President, Technology, Universal Pictures
Todd Wagner, CEO, 2929 Entertainment

Scott Kirsner, Editor, CinemaTech; Columnist and Contributing Writer, Fast Company, The Boston Globe, The Hollywood Reporter
Dinner is a $70.00 affair, so I figure to get my money's worth, I'd like to see if the architects of the digital age of cinema have answers for any of the following questions:

-What should we expect for the smaller theaters to do?
Are they expected to participate in the digitization of movie presentation. If they can't afford to buy new equipment, at what point will they no longer be able to use film reels. Will this not be an issue because of timing?

-Do you think the exclusivity deals for certain distributors will relax at all if the copies are no longer a commodity?
I have heard of a lot of vicious legal entanglements regarding large theater chains trying to flex their booking power and engage in anticompetitive measures to make sure that nearby theaters can't show other big draw films. I understand that physical availability of films is not always the issue, but will a spirit of free availability come along with digital film distribution?

-Will there be any assistance for smaller theaters that want to convert to digital, or is the focus with larger theaters?
Is there any information about how large a percentage of the exhibition industry is made up of indpendent 1 and 2 screen operators and how the digital transition will affect them?

-Is there any thought to making films available for "semi-theatrical" release?
Digital prints make the possibility of "in between" businesses a compelling reality if the licensing standards play along. Smaller, home theater type setups could be used to make small auditoriums and come up with local exhibition businesses, but I don't think they're feasible given the current costs, and state of technology. Digital distribution has the potential to alleviate this. Are Resolution standards the issue? What are the problems (such as piracy etc) , with such a model and what can distributors now enforce because of the digital nature of the prints?

On a totally unrelated note, today I learned what a political action committee was. An important part of the political machines that seems like the "enforcer" behind nudging congressmen into the "right" political decisions (where money equals muscle).

It seems like a rather blunt instrument for my specific concerns at this point. I may be more interested in the groups that are actually structuring legislation and studying the effects of copyright law, rather than the arm that actually earns votes for it. Maybe at a later stage in my career :)


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