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Movie Theaters “Going Digital”

Posted September. 26, 2005 06:15,   


Digital technology is changing the way we know theaters and movies-

Instead of movie trailers, we will soon be seeing “game trailers” in theaters.

Gamemaker Webzen will release the trailer for its new title, SUN, on September 26, renting the digital theater at Megabox.

The trailer is a less-than-two-minute computer graphic (CG) animated film, produced with high-definition (HD) technology used in recently released films such as “Shrek 2” and “Madagascar.” It will be run at the theater prior to the main film the way movie trailers are done.

All this has become possible thanks to digital projectors, which, unlike existing ones that hang films when running them, play streaming videos for PCs and digital broadcasts as well as films.

Movies themselves are changing.

CJ CGV recently released the digital version of “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” at its CGVs in Yongsan, Gangbyeon and Guro, where digital projectors are equipped. The movie theater chain read the whole analogue film of the movie into computer and reproduced it into a digital film.

Unlike its analogue version, the digital version of “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” goes through a gradual de-colorization starting from the middle part of the movie, and in the last part, it becomes a complete black-and-white movie.

Utilization of Vacant Theaters-

Running a variety of digital content, like Megabox, reduces the vacancy period for theaters by attracting audiences that do not usually visit movie theaters.

“With the success of the recent hookup on the World Youth Football Championships, we found out the possibility that we can still attract audiences even after 11:00 p.m.,” said Jang Young-wook, the projection team manager at Megabox. “The upcoming relay in the next year’s World Cup Games in Germany will serve as an opportunity to bring back the audience to the theaters that we had lost to television and display boards.”

CJ Entertainment, which operates the CGV movie theaters, learned how to produce digital films by running the digital version of “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.”

The whole process of digital film production is completed on the computer, as there is no need for chemical processing of film or editing film by scissoring. For film directors, this means that making films becomes much easier; for filmmakers, this translates into lower production costs, with less film used and less manual work being done.

In Hollywood, seven major filmmakers have already formed a conference and have been gradually transforming their movie production and distribution processes to digital ones. It might be fair to say that CJ Entertainment, a domestic major filmmaker, is actually responding to such moves.

The Future of Theaters Is up to Digital Technology-

Telecommunication technology is another pillar for change. For delivering movies and a variety of other digital content to movie theaters in a fast and convenient manner, cutting-edge telecommunication technology is a must.

In Korea, Korea Telecom (KT), which secures various infrastructures such as satellite and cable high-speed telecommunication networks, has already been making rapid moves.

KT is planning a project where it will be supplied digital data from film distribution companies and deliver these data through high-speed telecommunication networks to movie theaters nationwide.

The telecom company’s taking charge of film distribution is expected to generate some other effects than a mere reduction in movie distribution costs.

The most representative case is the farewell concert of “Fish,” an impromptu band, that were held in 50 movie theaters across the United States last year. The concert was broadcast “live” in 50 movie theaters through telecommunication networks. The band’s fans that failed to buy tickets or who were living far away from concert venues were also able to enjoy the concert, thanks to the big screens and lifelike sound equipment at the theaters.

Sang-Hoon Kim sanhkim@donga.com