With the 3D movies boom and the sink-back-in-your-chair surreal cinema experience we get to soak up, it’s easy to take for granted the excellent quality of digital 3D movies that we enjoy.
However, it’s not in every part of the world that 3D movies are easily available; in fact in India, even digital screenings of movies are hard to come by because of cost issues. A little bit on that is explained in the excerpt below from Variety:
“It’s not that India’s bizzers aren’t enthusiastic about digital conversion, it’s that they face, among other things, a dual digital standard driven by cost.
It costs approximately $80,000 to convert a theater to d-cinema (e-cinema conversion runs just $20,000), and the DCI-compliant projectors are more expensive to operate and maintain.
“Cost is a definite barrier in the growth of d-cinema,” says Anil Arjun, chief exec of Reliance MediaWorks, which operates Big Cinemas, India’s leading exhibitor. “Digital projectors use twice as much energy and require larger lamps for projection that burn out quicker.”
Of Big’s 260 screens, 117 are digital. Of these, just 47 are DCI-compliant. That’s in part a reflection of the success of Bollywood. Hollywood’s market share of India’s box office is only 10%. Much of the rest of the market is devoted to local product. And screens that show mostly Bollywood films can get by without projectors that conform to the pricier Hollywood standards.
Exhibitor Cinemax, which has 58 DCI-compliant screens, touts a dual strategy. “On all new projects, we are 100% DCI-complaint,” says Sunil Punjabi, the chain’s CEO. “On the existing Cinemax locations, we have converted some of the screens to DCI.”
Many cinemas, including the vast majority of single screens, are using lower-standard, e-cinema projection, which has long been prominent in India. Some, however, can’t afford even that.”
As you can see, India is falling behind on the quality wagon when it comes to cinemas, and the sad thing is the concrete thing holding them back is cost.
While the nation is slowly developing and will inevitably be using digital projectors for movies in the future, it is unknown as to when that is going to be.
It’s perhaps not just cost that affects the development of movie screening technology though; the ethnic diversity of India and the popularity of Bollywood movies (which do not require higher quality screenings) may also contribute to why cinema owners have not gone digital with their screenings.
So the next time you sit back to enjoy a good 3D movie in the cinema, consider yourself lucky for getting the privilege to do so. Let’s hope India catches up soon.