For years there has been talk about how Hollywood would abandon celluloid once and for all, digitally transmitting films directly to movie theaters. While Hollywood shuffles its feet India, the country which showed the world how electronic voting should be done, is moving ahead.
In the United States, a digital roll-out has stalled while Hollywood studios and theater owners fight over who pays for top-quality computer-based projection systems that cost $80,000 to $100,000 per screen.
But in the Mumbai-based film industry known as Bollywood, entrepreneurs are willing to settle for a bit less quality at one-third the cost. They use cheap digital cinema in remote towns to cash in on blockbusters — and in the process, beat back video pirates, too.
I’m sure the pirates will find a way, but there are other economic incentives as well:
While it takes around 70,000 rupees to make a celluloid print, RealImage rents out digital copies to cinema owners at less than 400 rupees.
Using inexpensive digital copies, a theater can run a movie for four weeks at less than 10 percent of the cost of a print, taking the edge off cinematic flops.
Of course, they could just make better films … “only one in 12 movies has made a solid profit since 2001″!