In a major commitment to digital film exhibition, Disney is rolling out the red carpet for the format, saying Thursday that it will digitally project “Toy Story 2,” “Bicentennial Man,” “Mission to Mars” and “Dinosaur” simultaneously with the regular theatrical runs of the pics.
After Disney and Fox tested next generation projectors from Texas Instruments and JVC/Hughes with digital presentations of “Tarzan,” “An Ideal Husband” and “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” this summer, the Mouse House is the first of the studios to take a major step toward showing a slate of pics using digital equipment.
By doing so, especially with high-profile pics, Disney hopes to entice exhibs to invest in the new projection systems for their theaters and get directors, as well as the public, to embrace the format.
Disney has set six play dates for the Nov. 24 release of “Toy Story 2,” a co-production with Pixar Animation Studios.
Screenings will be held at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater; the Edwards Irvine Spectrum; the AMC Burbank; AMC Van Ness in San Francisco; the Cinemark Legacy in Plano, Texas; and AMC Pleasure Island in Orlando, Fla. Pic will screen on Nov. 19 at the El Capitan.
The film becomes the first major studio release to bow day and date in both a digital and traditional format. It is also the first pic to be entirely created and mastered digitally, and then exhibited in the format.
John Lasseter, who helmed “Toy Story 2,” said digital projection adds detail and definition to the images on the screen. It’s “simply amazing and adds to the overall enjoyment of the presentation,” he said.
“Disney is stepping up its pursuit of digital exhibition, and ‘Toy Story 2’ is a great showcase for this state-of-the-art technology,” said Phil Barlow, exec veep of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. “We believe that the additional exposure of the public to digital cinema will increase demand for this technological breakthrough.”
“Bicentennial Man,” starring Robin Williams and helmed by Christopher Columbus, will bow on both film projection formats Dec. 17 at Famous Players in Toronto and Vancouver, AMC in Kansas City and Chicago, Cinemark in Cleveland, and Harkins Theaters in Phoenix.
“The digital presentation of a feature film gives us an opportunity to experience our cinematic future now,” Columbus said. “The image is crystal clear, with vibrant colors and exquisite detail. Seeing digital imagery for the first time was as exciting as seeing my first projected film.”
In March, 12 screens will screen Brian De Palma’s “Mission to Mars” in digital; Walt Disney Feature Animation’s computer animated “Dinosaur” will be exhibited in May.
All of the pics will be screened using Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema prototype projector.
“Digital exhibition continues to improve and offer tremendous possibilities for the distribution and exhibition communities,” said Bob Lambert, senior veep of new technology and new media for the Walt Disney Co. “We will continue working with Texas Instruments and other pioneers in digital exhibition to bring the best presentation to the moviegoing public.”