With the vast majority of film distribution now completely digital, theaters and studios are looking for ways to save money in distribution. After all, the ones and zeroes never change; it’s only the manner in which they arrive at their destination that does. We’ve all seen the ads for Fathom Events-type productions that arrive at your local theater via satellite, and now it looks like even extended-run movies will be taking the same route:
The Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition (DCDC) announced today that it has reached agreements with Lionsgate, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Paramount Pictures to provide each with theatrical digital delivery services across North America. DCDC, formed by AMC Theaters, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Theaters, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros., has created a network for next generation satellite and terrestrial digital distribution capable of supporting feature, promotional, pre-show and live content distribution into theaters using the latest in digital distribution technologies
Instead of shipping expensive hard drives, which can be damaged or lost in transit to the theaters, and must be copied and packed by lots of labor, presumably the system uses a digital multicast, a blast of data from a satellite that cinema owners tune in to at a set time. Then, shortly before the movie opens, the individual theaters are sent their digital keys to unlock it. Again, it’s not radically different from the way it’s done today, except for the delivery method. Broadcast services will be provided by EchoStar, the technology partner of Dish Network, and data services by Deluxe.
Hidden in the dark corner of the press release is the fact that the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition will also be handling the delightful pre-shows that everyone enjoys so much on top of the main attraction. It is possible in the future that such technologies might be used to deploy 4K movies to home users just like you pre-load a video game off of Steam. The gigantic 50GB+ file sizes are problematic for home internet connections, and if you could get them onto your home server as easily as you get your cable now, that’s certainly a major potential area of growth for the satellite companies.
Of course, given that independent theaters are still struggling to afford the installation of digital projectors, let alone complicated new satellite systems, moving movies out of the physical entirely is not quite within reach for every screen.
Initial roll-out of the system is expected by mid-summer.
Via: [Hollywood Reporter]