Donate for Digital
May 11, 2012
Soon we'll be welcoming a familiar face to our screens: our esteemed board member Sir Ben Kingsley!
He's helping us make an important announcement: the need to convert to digital cinema now! We have always honored the grand tradition of film exhibition by featuring 35 mm prints whenever possible. However, studios and distributors are phasing out 35 mm prints in favor of Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs), small hard drives that store complete films and must be shown using expensive new digital projectors.
This change is wonderful for the studios, major distributors, and viewers. Prints are more expensive to produce and ship, they degrade over time, and a single particle or scratch can damage the print's image quality forever. Viewers appreciate DCPs' pristine picture and sound quality. (Cinephiles can rest assured that BMFI will also maintain the ability to show 35 mm prints.)
The majority of cinemas will have converted to digital by the end of 2012. Prints of new releases may no longer be available as early as the end of 2013. Moreover, some specialty distributors have taken their 35 mm archival prints out of circulation already, and more are following suit.
What does this mean for BMFI?
It means that we must equip our theaters with digital projectors that use DCPs or risk going out of business, going DARK! We already show digital broadcasts of some programs using high-definition satellite or internet streaming technology. However, these projectors do not meet the new industry standards for DCPs.
What do we need?
We need new projectors for our two existing theaters as well as for the two additional theaters we are raising funds to build. Each conversion costs between $80,000 to $150,000. As you can imagine, this is difficult for BMFI and many art house cinemas; however, the alternative is not having access to content and then going out of business, as many theaters did at the end of the 1920s when they couldn't afford the technology to show talking pictures.
We are in the midst of a $5.5 million campaign which, among other things, will allow us to add two new screens. While the campaign is going well, these added conversion expenses were not part of the original budget. Now is the time to raise the remainingand urgently needed$500,000.