AMSTERDAM — Next to European Cup soccer (Amsterdam is the host city to the semi finals on Saturday), digital cinema is the hot topic du jour at exhib confab Cinema Expo 2000.
Wednesday night, Buena Vista Intl. unveiled a digitally projected version of “Dinosaur” to a packed room of delegates.
“We think it is the way of the future,” said BVI topper Mark Zoradi, who also showed a 35mm version of “Gone in 60 Seconds” and a product reel that included first footage of Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Pearl Harbor” and “Remember the Titans.”
European cinema operators have already gotten a taste of how animated, digitally generated pics are being received, and the reaction has been positive.
“There’s less flicker and the quality remains the same throughout every screening,” said Belgian’s Kinepolis megaplex operator Joost Bert, who has installed one digital projector in a Brussels theater and has one on the way in Spain with help from Texas Instruments, Technicolor and Disney, who are splitting the costs for these prototype runs three ways.
“The reason studios and exhibitors have come to the conclusion digital cinema is inevitable is that it is good for the patron — the picture doesn’ scratch, warp or fade,” said Disney’s Phil Barlow, who is part of a team heading the studio’s digital cinema incursion.
While he thinks the savings for the studios in terms of eliminating print costs won’t kick in for another eight to 10 years, Barlow predicts the technology will build attendance in the long run.
“The cinema of the future is a multi-purpose entertainment center,” he said, naming other uses such as educational or B-to-B screenings during daytime hours, as well as live concerts and interactive group games. “Yes, it puts more competitive pressure on Hollywood product, but in the end it is beneficial because the theater is seen as a destination center to which people will return to see movies.”