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2006: The Year of Digital Cinema?

Theater owners, who have long been depicted as the roadblock to digital exhibition, now appear ready to welcome it. Speaking Tuesday in Las Vegas during opening ceremonies of ShoWest, the annual exhibitors' gathering, National Association of Theatre Owners President and CEO John Fithian said, "We stand now at the dawn of the biggest technological revolution since the advent of sound. Digital cinema starts right now, in the year 2006, and it couldn't come at a more important time." Fithian also suggested that the failure of the Steven Soderbergh movie Bubble in January may have caused studios to reconsider plans to close the window between the time a movie is released in theaters and the time it is on DVD. Bubble bombed at the box office and drew relatively tiny sales on DVD. It was, said Fithian, a "radical, misguided" experiment, but, he added, it "caused studios and exhibitors to sit down and talk with the creative community about this issue. It got us all together." Later, he remarked, "The reality is the window is not changing. The vast majority of Hollywood knows this windows model works." ● Hollywood blockbusters are not likely ever to be released simultaneously in theaters and on DVD, leading filmmakers have told USA Today. In an interview with today's (Monday) edition, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) commented, "What some people don't get is that a movie makes a much stronger connection with audiences than DVDs. ... If someone really loves something they see in theaters, they champion it in a way they don't with DVDs. ... They work harder to get people to come to theaters. And that creates a demand when the DVD finally does come out. Financially, messing with that model is dumb." Twentieth Century Fox distribution chief Bruce Snyder observed that Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic, would have tanked if the window had been shut. "People didn't know the story, didn't know about the performances. It needed to be in theaters and get people talking before they were going to buy a copy to keep forever," he said. J.J. Abrams, who is director of Mission: Impossible III, remarked that he made the movie "for theaters ... not for DVD." Abrams, who also created Lost and Alias for TV, commented, "Story is important, but people also come to the theater for spectacle."
2006-04-09 02:59:57