There's currently a crisis in the theater industry and apparently it's all Steven Spielberg's fault. According to Variety coverage of Sunday's National Association of Broadcasters Show's Digitial Cinema Summit, the filmmaker was named as a constant obstacle in the transition to digital cinema.
Spielberg's insistence against releasing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull digitally was overruled last month when Paramount announced that it would indeed open the summer blockbuster on some digital screens, but the fact that it won't be a full digital release, coupled with the fact that Spielberg still doesn't "get" the fact that digital is superior to film, is a problematic issue for an industry having difficulties installing a necessary amount of digital projectors by 2009.John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners spoke at the summit, warning of a "potential train wreck" next year when all those monumental 3-D releases we've been hearing about (James Cameron's Avatar; DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens; Pixar's upgraded rereleases of Toy Story and Toy Story 2) are met with an inadequate amount of 3-D-equipped screens. For more than a year now, both Hollywood and NATO have been in agreement that by 2009 there will need to be anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 screens with 3-D capability in order to handle the full-digital-3-D releases, beginning with the March 27 opening of Monsters vs. Aliens. Unfortunately, since this time last year, the reality has been a mere doubling from around 500 screens to slightly more than 1,000.
The main issue is that while studios and theater owners are in agreement about the need for so many digital projectors (which then also need to be equipped with digital 3-D add-ons), the two parties still can't agree on the deals that will put such substantial upgrades in place. Fithian said that if these deals aren't finalized in the next month or two, there won't be enough time for the transition to occur before the 3-D movies start coming out (Fithian claims there are currently 10 3-D films scheduled for 2009).
Obviously the studios will be in as much trouble as the theater owners, so making quick arrangements would seem to be a major priority. Yet they still can't seem to agree on fair Virtual Print Fees, which have to do with how much studios will contribute to the theaters' costs in upgrading to the digital projectors. Fithian also noted the need for more of Hollywood's elite to be on board with the transition, which is where Spielberg's name came in, mainly because his DreamWorks partner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, is "one of the great priests of digital cinema."
So, what I'm wondering is, if Spielberg is directing the first Tintin movie, and the whole trilogy is expected to be shot digitally and shown in 3-D, shouldn't the man "get it" already?