The digital revolution has begun. Earlier this year AMC announced that they had signed a $315 million deal to install Sony 4K digital projectors in their entire 309 theater circuit and 4,628 screens. Now Sony has inked a deal with Regal Entertainment to convert a minimum of 5,000 of the exhibitor’s 6,700 screens in 550 theaters.
The two deals, which are set to be completed in the next three to five years, will comprise of over 11,000 screens with Sony 4K digital projectors. Holding out has paid off for the exhibitors, because 4K projectors are not “just marginally more expensive” than the couple year old 2K projectors.
The result will be a huge change in the way we experience movies theatrically. 3D movies will have more screens, allowing them more weeks in exhibition. Many of you might recall that Coraline got pushed out of Digital 3D theaters after only a couple weeks to make room for another 3D film.More 3D capable theaters will finally prove if the technology is a fad or the future.
Theatrical video on demand will become more of a possibility, with social networks and groups deciding what movie could play at any given time. Theaters wouldn’t be restricted to the same 10 film title line-up, and would be able to swap in smaller films, which normally wouldn’t be given any exhibition space at all, in possibly less desirable time slots (afternoons or weekdays, 1 screening a week…etc).
Right now independent films are limited by the amount of prints they can produce and full time slots they are able to book, usually only in art house screens. Digital distribution will hopefully change everything, giving people in smaller towns and markets a chance to experience movies that would probably only make it to the top 20 major cities. We live in very interesting times.