Hearne: Don’t Believe Everything You Read, Digital Movie Conversion Costs Plummet

About the effort to save the tiny town of Higginsville, Missouri‘s local movieplex…

"Digital update costs $70,000," shouts an incorrect headline atop a front page story today in the Star‘s FYI section.

With movie studios rapidly switching from 35 mm to digital projection, small theaters nationwide – like Higginsville’s Davis – have been scambling to convert.

With the days of film being numbered, the conventional wisdom has been that the cost of conversion to digital was $70,000 per screen. Or $300,000 for Higginsville’s four-holer.

Thus the $25,000 prize the Davis won from a Readers Digest contest would only cover a fraction of the switchover cost, the story states.

Au contraire, says KCC movie man Jack Poessiger.

"What I found out last week at CinemaCon in Las Vegas is you can buy a far cheaper system now," Poessiger reports. "I asked some manufacturers what the cheapest system you can convert to digital with costs and they told me you can do it now for about $25,000 a screen."

As opposed to the $70,000 figure reported in today’s Star.

"A year ago it was $70,000," Poessiger says. "And before that it was $100,000 a screen. It’s pretty obvious that there’s still a lot of theaters that have not converted yet and they’ll have to convert or get out of the business."

However there’s a big difference between a $300,000 conversion cost and a $100,000 one. Meaning that with $40,000-plus in the bank, Higginsville’s plight is a far less desperate one than reported today.

Raising the question, where’s Bob Butler when you need him?

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8 Responses to Hearne: Don’t Believe Everything You Read, Digital Movie Conversion Costs Plummet

  1. smartman says:

    You Get What You Pay For
    This may be a bigger boo-boo than the Glaze story about Missie B’s moving. Do all the homework and research like a real digital buyer would and you’ll discover that for $25K you get CRAP. Add in all the other key factors in the cost of ownership and maintenance of a less expensive system and you’ll see long term the $100K system is the better value. It’s like the difference between a Fiat and a Lotus. Jack should no better than to sling poo like this.

  2. jack p. says:

    Hey smartman….
    …of course you’re not getting a Lotus type unit for the $25K price. But I would think that a Fiat like system would do just fine for Higginsville. I also heard at CinemaCon that a good number of original digital conversions are now being updated to the next generation. And that some of that used equipment is now becoming available at very reasonable prices—just the way some exhibitors in the past purchased used 35mm projectors.

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    @Jack P – You’re making the huge assumption….
    …everyone attending the movies in Higgensville are GAY (Fiat version) as opposed to all the other ‘roided up (Lotus version) movie goers elsewhere. Thatts both hurtful and likely wrong.

  4. smartman says:

    A New Lease On Life
    Jack, I too was at Cinemacon. I tagged along with a very good friend who is a supplier to the industry. He has a friend who used to work at Lucasfilm THX who has started his own leasing company. He specializes in helping small mom and pop exhibitors survive the transition from film to digital. He’s run all the numbers every which way, out 13 decimal places on the optimum way to do a conversion based on initial cash outlay and cost of ownership over 5-7-10 years. He would like to know who the “they” were that told you a screen could be converted for $25K with either new, used, upgraded or modified equipment. Just provide the booth number from the trade show and he’ll do the whupass from there.

  5. Hearne says:

    Excuse me?
    The, uh, Fiat “system” is doing just fine, fellas. Thanks for asking.

    I get 37 MPGs and hardly ever get bullied by knuckle-dragging Mini Cooper or Lotus drivers. Plus I souped mine up a bit, so it’s a bit more manly now.

    And hey, everything starts out high-priced and then comes down. Don’t sell the $25,000 system short until you know more about it. Price doesn’t always tell you everything there is to know.

  6. paulwilsonkc says:

    10-4 on the knuckle dragging Lotus types!
    And I was actually standing up for you and your “Fiat system”. I defended you against your writer!! See?
    And its really NOT a gay car. Proof? Sunday at church…. what had to be an 86 year old lady with a handicapped tag hung from her mirror came wheeling in like she was in a rally and slid into handicapped parking!!

  7. tiad says:

    Like The Original Headline Says…
    “Don’t Believe Everything You Read…”

    That’s a good rule of thumb for all KCC stories.

    BTW, I think Hearne promised us a Jardine’s update awhile back.

  8. paulwilsonkc says:

    @Tiad – Jardines = Dead Issue…
    There’s your update. In my opinion, Colliers has achieved their goal of seeing it quietly go away with them having no blame. Last week, people who, without profiling, looked like construction workers, coming and going through the front door. I think its over. They act like the door is still open, the say they are willing to “enterian all commers”, but when you follow up, theres no return call. Its my contention thats been their “strategery” all along.

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