If you’ve watched a movie at a first-run cinema recently, chances are what you saw was a digital image rather than old-fashioned film.
Canadian chain Cineplex Entertainment, for instance, has installed digital projectors at its outlets across the country. But some cinemas are being left behind in the digital revolution, including drive-ins, small town theatres and summer movie houses.
The cost of transitioning to digital is just too expensive for some family-run businesses and, with an increasing number of films available only in a digital format, smaller cinemas could soon be shut out from carrying many blockbuster movies.
One of the casualties could be Keith Stata’s five-screen movie house in Kinmount, Ont., which has been a summer pleasure for holidaymakers in the Haliburton region since 1979.
Stata told CBC News some of his projectors are more than 50 years old, they're cheap to maintain and he’s reluctant to invest in a new technology that might not have the same longevity.
He’s not the only one who may be driven out of business. The Twilite Drive-in Theatre in Wolseley, Sask., is also wrestling with the decision of whether to go digital or to close.
The drive-in, one of few remaining in Saskatchewan, is open just five months a year. The owners are grappling with whether their cinema can recoup an investment in digital in their shortened operating time. They have also begun a fundraising campaign appealing to supporters.
As CBC’s Eli Glasner reports, these cinema-owners are facing an industry-set deadline: by 2013 the studios will simply stop shipping movies on film.