Paramount Stops Shipping Film Prints to US Theaters - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 133 Old 01-20-2014, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
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For over 100 years, most movies have been shot and delivered to theaters on reels of film. It's an expensive proposition that originally led Hollywood to standardize a frame rate of 24 frames per second because it's the lowest speed at which motion looks smooth to the human eye—the lower the frame rate, the less film is consumed, which lowers the overall cost of making a movie.

 

But in the digital age, things are changing fast—more and more movies are being shot with digital cameras and distributed as digital files to theaters. On the distribution side, Paramount made history last week by announcing it will no longer ship film prints for commercial presentation in the US, becoming the first studio to do so. (Paramount will continue to distribute film to foreign markets, where digital projection is not yet widely adopted.) The Wolf of Wall Street is the studio's first wide-release movie to forego film distribution altogether.

 

The move affects very few of the roughly 40,000 commercial screens in the US—only about 8% have not yet made the switch to digital projection. But that transition was expensive for exhibitors, even with studio subsidies, and smaller independent theaters that haven't installed digital projectors could be pushed out of business as more studios follow Paramount's lead, as they surely will.

 

In fact, Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lions Gate have all indicated their intention to abandon film distribution within a year or two, which makes sense—the studios stand to save huge sums of money. A film print costs about $2000, while a digital file delivered on a hard-disk drive is about $100. Eventually, movies could be downloaded to theaters via satellite, saving even more.

 

This news has nothing to do with how movies are shot—many directors still use film to capture their images, though digital cinematography is gaining ground fast. But in this day and age, it makes no sense to ship physical reels of film around the country. Plus, digital presentation offers so many advantages beyond cost savings—no gate judder, no scratches and dust, no reel-change markers. On the flip side, no projectionists, either—another profession bites the digital dust.

 

So what's your take? Do you applaud or bemoan the death of film distribution?

 

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post #2 of 133 Old 01-20-2014, 10:28 PM
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I totally understand the move from a business point of view, but I miss the look of film in the theater. I now feel I am looking at TV, which really is the case. Except my plasma at home often has a better picture than what I see at the theater. My last trip in September was to see Rush at a mega-plex. The supposed 4k image was out of focus and full of digital artifacts. At least in the past, generally the scratches and splices didn't show up until the movie made it to the drive in.

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post #3 of 133 Old 01-20-2014, 10:59 PM
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Theaters nowadays are a joke. Almost every time the image is distorted (almost always trapezoid distortion). I have gone when there was hiss from one side of the screen. It is getting worse and worse and will continue now that there isn't really a professional like you used to have with projectionists.
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post #4 of 133 Old 01-20-2014, 11:38 PM
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When I moved in Canada from Eastern Europe in 2005, one of my biggest disappointments was the image quality in the theatres. Back in my country all cinemas still had good old film, but here is digital. The resolution is too low for theatre projection. This not evolution, this is an involution. Evolution in profits, not quality. End. Another sad example. Same for imax, moving to digital is a downgrade. The accountants won again!

 

Really sad.

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post #5 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 03:24 AM
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Movie Theater? What's That? Have been to the theater since 2007 can't even imagine how annoying it would be today with all the people with their phones texting and talking. I'll take my calibrated screen and A/V set up any day. Plus when I used to go the image was either out of focus, of there were stains n the screen or worse yet the sound system sucked.
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post #6 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 04:36 AM
 
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Movies are crazy expensive to even attend let alone if you want popcorn or anything which is 50$ for a small popcorn without butter, bottle of water, your ticket, and some candies. I could do all that for free at home
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post #7 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 05:06 AM
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Won't digital movies be easy for piarateers to get a copy and share it?
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post #8 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 05:47 AM
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Well I am going to upset people who love Film as a media I am sure but my preference is for Digital anyway. I have never been a fan of film grain and prefer the clean crisp digital images that a modern digital camera can capture, Skyfall being a very good example of just what decent digital equipment can do.

It also makes a lot of sense from a business perspective too. Its a lot cheaper distributing Digital media than rolls of film.

I will strap myself in now and wait for the purists to tear a strip off me for the blasphemy I suspect my opinion represents to them.
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post #9 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 06:27 AM
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Well I am going to upset people who love Film as a media I am sure but my preference is for Digital anyway. I have never been a fan of film grain and prefer the clean crisp digital images that a modern digital camera can capture, Skyfall being a very good example of just what decent digital equipment can do.

It also makes a lot of sense from a business perspective too. Its a lot cheaper distributing Digital media than rolls of film.

I will strap myself in now and wait for the purists to tear a strip off me for the blasphemy I suspect my opinion represents to them.

Nothing wrong with an opinion.

To me, digital looks too fake and clean. There's nothing realistic looking about it. Film has has that nice grain texture over the image giving it a beautiful organic look. The only digitally shot movie I like the look of is Skyfall because the picture looks a little like film. But that has to do with Roger Deakins making it look like that. It would look even better if it was 35mm.


With this Paramount news reality is starting to set in for film and I don't like it one bit. But at least there's still more movies to come shot with 35mm cameras or even 65mm like Interstellar. And the new Star Wars movies are being filmed in 35mm also.
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post #10 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 06:36 AM
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Sure, sure,

people will be upset and call it the end of the golden age. But was it really that golden? As some fellow posters mentioned above, the scratches and dirt and changing reels dots and the flutter are all things I can easily live without. That all been said. When I watched Jack Ryan the other week I was shocked, how bad the fast scenes looked. The motions were not fluent but looked like missing frames. I guess we are spoiled by 60 Hz picture nowadays. 24Hz doesn't do it for me anymore. Can't wait to see some 48 Hz movies in the future.
I am all for the digital progress.
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post #11 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 06:55 AM
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Plus, digital presentation offers so many advantages beyond cost savings—no gate judder, no scratches and dust, no reel-change markers. On the flip side, no projectionists, either—another profession bites the digital dust.

Sorry, Scott. Those "Advatages" don't make up for the lesser quality compared to film. There's not even a digital camera yet that has the resolution of 70mm for IMAX. Quality doesn't go up with this change, it goes down. This industry and market don't care about quality. Same for the display market. Which is why we're left with LCD's as the only display technology.


This change is only happening because it's cheaper and easier to produce. Not because digital is superior looking than film. Yeah I understand a business has to make money, but at the expense of PQ I don't agree with.
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post #12 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 07:04 AM
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I'm glad to see film go. I used to lug film canisters up to the projection booth when I worked at the Avon Cinema in Providence, RI 25 years ago. That was the only part of the job that I did not enjoy.

Digital projection already beats film in many categories and it will only get better as resolution, color gamut, and dynamic range increase. Film-based IMAX may look great, but it is far too cost-prohibitive for even the biggest productions to use for an entire movie, and the venues for viewing it on release are few and far between.

4K digital projection is truly a leap forward and I welcome the end of film as we know it.
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post #13 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 07:52 AM
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I also like the "look and feel" of celluloid, but I'm sure they'll improve digital over time like they improved the early video taped TV shows.
In some theaters the existing equipment is so aged it mutilates the film-stock after only a couple of showings. If you want to watch a "pristine" copy- you have to go to the first day showing.
Worst case scenario- digital can't look worse than what we get now in most movie houses.
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post #14 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 07:53 AM
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As someone who lost his projectionist job as a result of the digital crossover, I can say that I'm not sure I truly appreciate it. Doing film projection was just fun, ok?

Also, my (former) theater consistently has great picture and sound, but I've come to appreciate the modest investment in my home theater as a reason to not go out (especially since tickets aren't free anymore).

The question that remains for me is this: are distributors charging theaters less for digital delivery? It was very concerning to my managers when I one time accidentally dropped a HDD on the ground and we had to request another one, almost as concerned as they were about keeping the film clean and tidy.

Also, we should lament the loss of projectionists. That job made me care more about image quality and taught me how to spot things like focus issues and grain and scratches that most of the "normal" people I know don't notice (I'm sure none of you here at AVS would be in that "normal" category--but that's why we're here, right?).

It'll be interesting to see how the exhibition side of the industry deals with these changes.

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It was very concerning to my managers when I one time accidentally dropped a HDD on the ground and we had to request another one...
It would be reasonable to expect the delivery method to evolve away from shipped physical media to local on site storage via streaming.

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post #16 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 08:12 AM
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It would be reasonable to expect the delivery method to evolve away from shipped physical media to local on site storage via streaming.

That was offered by Technicolor, but for some reason our higher ups weren't that interested at the time (this was a couple years ago now). It also involved hooking up a satellite dish and another server tower.

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post #17 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 08:50 AM
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I hope this leads to standardizing 48fps (or higher) due to not having to have ridiculously expensive film reels. Nice smooth panning shots for every movie instead of how crappy panning shots look in stone age 24fps.
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post #18 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 08:51 AM
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Every action has a consequence...

To me, people will ( and are slowly ) be abandonning commercial theaters in favor of... Home theaters.

The asking price for movie tickets is now downright outrageous. To me, the industry should lower the ticket prices right away, since their costs will go down a lot.
They aren't likely to do so though, since it directly means a HUGE brute profit margin gain...

Personnally, If I subtract the amount of money I would normally spend on cinema tickets, my home theater has almost paid itself. Add the ridiculous price they are asking for popcorn and pops...
And forget about " the experience you can't have at home"... Right now, the only remaining experience is about listening a movie with people, and hearing them react to the movie at the same time than you do. Claps, laughs, ohhhsss, ahhhhhs generator, anyone?

I'm tired of getting robbed by corporations, and it's applicable on other fields. Add I must add that the only way to reverse that, is by having people stopping giving them their hard earned dollars without saying a word...

And in fact, I'm finding myself loving building up my personal theater even more than shelling out big cash for a single movie... The pleasure is way more long-lasting.
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post #19 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 08:52 AM
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I hope this leads to standardizing 48fps (or higher) due to not having to have ridiculously expensive film reels. Nice smooth panning shots for every movie instead of how crappy panning shots look in stone age 24fps.

That's a major benefit IMO.

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post #20 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 08:55 AM
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But on a constructive way, it means that the quality of movies will go up, that's a major benefit... IFFFFF the prices won't go up accordingly

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post #21 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:03 AM
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That's a major benefit IMO.

Is it hard for a film shot in 48fps to mimic the look of 24fps if that is the look the director wants? I would guess there are 24fps films that have portions mimicing even lower frame rare movies from the past. Regardless I would think a digital projector capable of 48fps is capable of 24fps as well.
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post #22 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:04 AM
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Sure, sure,

people will be upset and call it the end of the golden age. But was it really that golden? As some fellow posters mentioned above, the scratches and dirt and changing reels dots and the flutter are all things I can easily live without. That all been said. When I watched Jack Ryan the other week I was shocked, how bad the fast scenes looked. The motions were not fluent but looked like missing frames. I guess we are spoiled by 60 Hz picture nowadays. 24Hz doesn't do it for me anymore. Can't wait to see some 48 Hz movies in the future.
I am all for the digital progress.

 

well, you keep watching your Jack Ryan in glorious digital. Ill keep watching 2001 - a Space oddysey in 70 mm, or the Red Shoes in technicolor. Cinema is not reality. I prefer the dreamy look of the old films against the stark clarity of current generation cinema. It all looks too clear, its like watching TV.

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post #23 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:25 AM
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Is it hard for a film shot in 48fps to mimic the look of 24fps if that is the look the director wants? I would guess there are 24fps films that have portions mimicing even lower frame rare movies from the past. Regardless I would think a digital projector capable of 48fps is capable of 24fps as well.

It's not tough, all you have to do is repeat each frame in a 48p presentation and you've got 24p.
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post #24 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:28 AM
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Alright then, make it happen biggrin.gif
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post #25 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:37 AM
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I saw an article recently that the switch from Film to Digital is essentially the death nail for many of the old Drive Ins. The cost for a Digital system was just too high for many of the rural drive-ins. They are pretty much already gone in the cities and suburbs but apparently still a number of them are operating in Rural areas. Although I haven't been to a Drive-In Movie in decades, I do have fond memories of going there when I was younger.
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post #26 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:38 AM
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well, you keep watching your Jack Ryan in glorious digital. Ill keep watching 2001 - a Space oddysey in 70 mm, or the Red Shoes in technicolor. Cinema is not reality. I prefer the dreamy look of the old films against the stark clarity of current generation cinema. It all looks too clear, its like watching TV.

People made the similar arguments about Digital music, how it lacked something that Vinyl had but I honestly don't believe that people today would tolerate the random clicks and pops that those of us who are old enough to remember had to put up with when Vinyl was prevalent. We are in a transitional stage at the moment but 20 Years from now I think people will wonder what all the fuss was about. I want to see what the cinematographer created when he or she shot the movie too no matter how old the movie is, everything else I can do without and digital doesn't degrade like celluloid does which means modern movies will still look good years from now.
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post #27 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:40 AM
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well, you keep watching your Jack Ryan in glorious digital. Ill keep watching 2001 - a Space oddysey in 70 mm, or the Red Shoes in technicolor. Cinema is not reality. I prefer the dreamy look of the old films against the stark clarity of current generation cinema. It all looks too clear, its like watching TV.

Exactly. As Christopher Nolan said, digital movies is no different than what we see at home. I go to the movies for an experience, not made for TV movies. The movies you mentioned look better than every digital released movie to date.

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post #28 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:49 AM
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It also makes a lot of sense from a business perspective too. Its a lot cheaper distributing Digital media than rolls of film.

It's so satisfying seeing the studios and the theatres passing that savings on to the customer.


:: crickets ::




Oh yeah, $26.00 for a pair of tickets last time I went to see a film on the big screen. So the lesson here is:
+ a shift towards digital projection in theatres
+ which has lower image/audio quality than what I can achieve in my home
+ costs more for a pair of tickets than a new-release Blu-ray title
+ Blu-ray releases typically only lag behind cineplex showings by 3 months, max

= just wait for a film to come out on Blu-ray or stream it.

Well played theatres, well played. biggrin.gif

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post #29 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:50 AM
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Two things I want to say and the first is that "it's all an illusion anyway" alright. It is our eye perceiving motion when there is none, only a series of stills set together to create that illusion. So what looks good to one person may be unpleasant to another, based on the individual's perception. Myself I do like the smooth look of a high def picture, but I do not feel comfortable with it as I have been watching film for more than sixty years.
I would also like to mention my own experience working in a theater way back in the day. I helped carry "Ben Hur" up to the projection booth and back down more than once and it was quite a chore. That theater had a balcony and the booth was actually up four flights of stairs, that was a long film with many reels in those large metal cans. I'll never forget how humorously odd it seemed up there, sort of an odd little place with work spaces, a table, large chair, sink and a toilet sitting in plain view, unenclosed. The old projectionist came in early, said hello and walked up to his work station not to be seen again for hours. He checked and repaired the reels on equipment that was on a bench and ran the films, never leaving the booth till late at night when the last showing ended and the reels were rewound. Guess those days are ending as the theater business evolves. Myself I seldom get to go anymore and do enjoy my HDTV and Blu-ray player, but I haven't seen Ben Hur lately.
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post #30 of 133 Old 01-21-2014, 09:52 AM
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Exactly. As Christopher Nolan said, digital movies is no different than what we see at home. I go to the movies for an experience, not made for TV movies. The movies you mentioned look better than every digital released movie to date.

Once you scan film and project it digitally, there's scant difference between that and an all-digital production. There's no denying that film-based IMAX looks fantastic, but even that level of quality is achievable through digital capture. Motion pictures are going through a transition that occurred a decade ago in still photography. Soon enough the idea of shooting with film will be nothing but an anachronism, even for a director like Nolan. Anything film can do, digital capture can replicate.
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