Major studios plot to end use of film

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The major Hollywood studios want to put an end to film. Well, at least an end to distribution of movies on film to theaters. Recently, representatives of the major studios that had formed the Digital Cinema Initiatives, a group created in 2002 to unify studios, theater owners and tech manufacturers in planning the shift to digital, released their requirements and specifications for digital cinema.

One of the main motivations behind this collaboration is, of course, financial. Major studios spent more than $631 million in 2003 on film prints for North American alone. That's a lot of money to be saved if this system is adopted. Advocates of this digital distribution system say that there is also something in it for movie goers as well.

Digital delivery and projection means no more dust, scratches or out of focus movies. Studios and theater owners see this as a major plus. It won't, however, have any effect on the content and its relative quality. But that's a discussion for another time.

The other major hurdle facing this initiative is the cost. As in, who will pay for it? Studios don't want to pony up because they say that they don't own the theaters. Theater owners don't want to get the tab because they don't want to invest in digital systems that will be obsolete in a couple of years.

One plan that has had much debate would have studios divert funds they now spend on film prints to pay for equipment and installation costs for theaters. Those theaters would then promise to show digital features from the studios. If only it were that easy. In the end, the people that are going to really end up paying for the crystal clear digital picture and stunning digital quality will be us, the theater patrons.

You don't really think a large popcorn costs five dollars to make do you?