Guest post: Being a cinema means sometimes having to say you’re sorry
As guest contributor Tara Judah observes in the post below, the landscape of the cinema industry is rapidly changing. Exhibitors are currently in the foggy intersection between old and new, with cinemas across Australia — and indeed the world — in the process of replacing 35mm film prints with DCP (Digital Cinema Package) technology.
The issues and problems that arise from good ol’ fashioned film projection are well known, from delivery problems to missing sequences and prints too dirty to screen. Digital projection will remove many of these issues but, of course, will cause problems of its own. This illuminating post by Judah, a part time critic and the PA to the Proprietor at Melbourne’s iconic Astor Theatre, elaborates on one in particular after a screening last month — through no fault of the cinema — went badly wrong.
Tara Judah writes: We all have nights we’d rather forget. But, sometimes it’s better to talk about it the morning after. And given that we’re in a relationship here (we the cinema, you the audience), it’s probably for the best that we tell you what happened and, most importantly, why it happened the way it did.
Last month we had an unexpected, unwanted and unpleasant delay to our screening of Take Shelter – the first feature in our Wicked Wednesday double bill. I use the words unexpected, unwanted and unpleasant because we’d like you to know that it was for us very much as it was for you – and it was also something that arose out of our control.
As the cinema in this relationship there are many aspects of your experience that are within our control; the atmosphere you take in when you visit the Astor is something we work hard at crafting to provide to the best of our ability, given that it too falls within the confines of often extraneous factors. But sometimes those extraneous factors, that we do our very best to work within and to work with, present themselves in such a way that we can’t control the outcome and consequently all we can do is deal with the problem at hand as quickly – and hopefully – as best possible at the times when they occur.
The landscape of the industry is changing, rapidly. Most of you will already know this because we share with you the changes as they occur. Last year, we installed a new, state of the art, Barco 32B 4K digital projector. The reasons for doing so were varied and many. With so many wonderful classic film prints having been “junked” (destroyed) over the years and with the unavailability (certainly commercially) of so many film prints there has always been a huge void in what we were able to show in a theatrical environment (this is not even including the various issues surrounding the availability of valid film rights).
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