Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007 - Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

  International Edition No. 116 - year 10 - 25 March 2015
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Michael Karagosian,
Founder and President,
MKPE Consulting

Digitization: much more than a mere replacement technology for film projection

Film technology was over 100 years old when the motion picture industry began its shift to digital projection. In March 2015, as this piece is written, the conversion of cinemas worldwide is nearly complete.
More than a mere replacement technology for film projection, digital projection introduces new complexities as well as new efficiencies in cinema operations. But this new shift in technology also thrusts the cinema into the age of digital media, where no cinema has gone before.
Just as consumers are continually bombarded by new "must have" technologies, exhibitors also face pitches from manufacturers to upgrade and improve their cinemas.
More than ever, exhibitors need ongoing educational forums to best filter the value of new innovations as they consider new investments.


Isabelle Fauchet
Founder and CEO of Live Digital Cinema

I was born in France and at the age of 13 decided that I would move to the UK as soon as possible. I did so at 21 after graduating in International Trade in Paris. Initially, I studied at Guildhall University in London and got a degree in Film, Business and German. Whilst I am still a French national although I have been living in the UK for 24 years and my kids are British, my family is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic (I have Japanese, West Indian, French, Dutch, and Danish and Native Indian roots). I think this played a big part in my moving to the UK (I come from a long line of migrants!) and to work in the development, production and distribution of TV documentaries internationally as those encompass stories from around the world.

My career now spans some 23 years in the digital world. Some early highlights of my career include setting up the Documentary Development Funding Department for the European Commission MEDIA Programme II in the mid-90's and distributing and raising finance for documentaries for a number of UK and French based producers.
I also filmed and produced two documentaries, one of which, shown on French TV, was on my Japanese great-grandfather, a child acrobat performing in the Vaudeville circuit in the United States in the late 19th century. It's in the course of making this film (a labour of love over 10 years) that I discovered that many of my forbearers (including my grandfather) had been film projectionists in the early days of cinema. I even found a 3-minute film shot by Thomas Edison in 1901 at the Pan-American exhibition in Buffalo, NY, called "The Japanese Village" which features my great-grandfather, then 21, performing with his two brothers. This was truly a jaw-dropping moment in my life. It is one of the earliest films of cinema and part of the American heritage held at the Library of Congress and readily available to view on YouTube.

In my early 20s, I also had a strong desire to become an opera singer. However, having built a career in the media, I felt it would be hard to switch over. This is perhaps what led me to get my first job in the media selling ballet and opera programmes to airlines. Little did I know that 20 years later, in 2009, I would be heading the Cinema Department at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I found myself now working in film distribution and had to familiarise myself quickly with the specifications of this changing industry.

It was both a fantastically exciting and challenging time as the digital roll-out in cinemas across the world was still underway and few cinemas were showing what we call alternative content or event cinema at the time. The Met had only just started the live transmissions of its operas and I was to develop with a small team the full international cinema network for the ROH. Whilst it took a lot of convincing at the beginning, cinemas saw over time an incredible surge in the audiences for this particular content and in the years that ensued the number of cinemas showing this type of content grew exponentially.

Having established a full network of 1,000 cinemas in some 45 countries at the ROH in under 5 years, I left the ROH in late 2013 to set up a consultancy,, working specifically on cinema events. My main client is the distribution company More2Screen. Because of my experience with early cinema events, I was asked to join the board of directors of the Event Cinema Association when it was created in 2012. I am thoroughly dedicated to this area and feel that the possibilities of new cinema formats are endless. However, what makes me happiest of all is to know that through live screenings in cinemas that only this digital technology can provide, people are now able to experience and enjoy the same event simultaneously around the world. 


This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.

Světozor Kino
by Elisabetta Brunella

No. of screens
No. of digital screens
Czech Republic
Světozor Kino

Wenceslas Square is the live and pulsing heart of Prague and - in the words of Italian singer-songwriter Giorgio Gaber: “so full of window displays, shops, posters that get bigger and bigger,” that it may seem quite unlike Prague to the visitor in search of the Renaissance or signs of the troubled XXth century.

But only two steps away from the Square, at the Kino Světozor, our traveller seeking destinations off the beaten track will be able to find a place where history communicates with the present.  Founded in 1918, soon transformed into a cabaret, returned to its original use in 1957, it became internationally famous in 1968 when, for a year and a half, it was home to the Kino Automat, i.e. the experiment in interactive cinema exhibited in the Czech Pavilion, at the International and Universal Exhibition in Montreal, Expo 67.

Today the Světozor has evolved from the panoramic cinema it was in the '50s, to a city art-house miniplex that concentrates on the quality of its programming, avantgarde technology and customer services.

Indeed, since its reopening in 2004, the cinema has enjoyed the support of a loyal audience, which has gradually made it into the most widely attended non-multiplex cinema in the country. Besides screening quality, contemporary, art-house films, in its two digitally-equipped auditoriums, Světozor also hosts a wide range of festivals and offers live broadcasts of the worlds’ finest theatre and opera performances. An important part of Světozor’s identity is its film-shop “Terry Posters”, named after its godfather, Terry Gilliam. “Terry Posters” is not only the name of a shop offering all kinds of goods related to quality films (posters, books, dvds, clothes etc.), but also a giant archive of the unique history of Czechoslovakian art-film posters from the years 1960-1989, comprising over 90,000 posters of 15,000 kinds. The Světozor offers its audiences a variety of initiatives plus a bar and café with Wi-Fi Internet and their own brew of beer with the same name - the lager Světozor, brewed in the town of Nová Paka.

The Světozor is part of Aeropolis, a small but dynamic art-house cinema chain, which has also started up its own version of Secret Cinema.  But we shall deal with this in our next issue.


The process of digitalization in cinemas, albeit with considerable differences from territory to territory, is reaching its final phase and the so-called "switch-off" for traditional film is almost complete. But which cinemas have not yet converted to the new technology? And why? This column has been opened to find answers to these questions, presenting portraits of cinemas in Europe that have not yet digitalized or that are still looking for a way to deal with the shift.

by Elisabetta Galeffi

No. of screens
No. of digital screens
2 + 1 open air

The Eden Cinema tries again

The curtain rises once again for the Eden Cinema in Arezzo, which closed in May 2014, due to the lack of a digital projector and the impossibility of obtaining films for the previous generation of film projectors. The great event took place on 17 December 2014, surprising the Arezzo's inhabitants, who had already lost the municipal Petrarca Theatre over 10 years previously and had got used to the ineffective promises of politicians as to its re-opening.

Instead, the Eden, the Arena Eden, has managed it, thanks to private funding. The owner of the theatres contributed with half the sum necessary for buying two new projectors. The other half was provided by a courageous, local, cultural association, "Officine della Cultura", which succeeded in obtaining the funding allotted by the European Union for assisting digitisation in cinemas. The same association that also achieved to reopen the "Verdi" theatre of Monte San Savino.
The cost of the projector for the larger auditorium in the Eden, seating 166, was 55 thousand euros, whilst an outlay of 33 thousand euros ensured that the small auditorium, too, was fitted with modern equipment. The projectors are all supplied by Barco.

The second baptism of the only cinema in town was well publicized by fans of the Eden's Facebook page, to the extent that the news was sent to me by a friend from Atlanta in the USA, galvanized by the fact that when she comes back to Arezzo next summer, she will be able to spend a few pleasant evenings at the open-air cinema.
And this is how I, too, found myself at the packed re-opening party, culminating in the screening of "Modern Times", newly renovated and digitalized by the Cineteca di Bologna.
For now the ticket prices at the Eden have increased slightly and some evenings a film can be seen for only 5.50 euros, although the programming has become far more interesting, given the greater opportunity for choosing the films on the market.
To keep the multi-screen cinema open for more evenings a week and encourage the public to start going out to the cinema again, they have come up with the nice idea of the Wednesday film series, which offers films that could not be shown during the months when the Eden was closed, and is entitled "We apologize for the delay".

And more could be done to gain new audience, if the programming rules dictated by the distributors were not so inflexible, with constrictions that almost succeed in eliminating the advantage obtained thanks to the use of digital, i.e. the facility and speed of distribution. "At times, being obliged to keep a film running for two weeks is an enormous disadvantage in terms of audiences," confesses an employee, "we know that there are films that will not draw enough spectators to fill two weeks of programming, or a total of 20 screenings. More flexibility on the part of the distributors would help us to keep small theatres open, thanks to the wider range of titles that would be available. It would be nice to have the chance, as happens abroad, of choosing a children's film in the afternoon and one for adults in the early or late evening, or simply the possibility of changing the programme after only a few days of screening."

Constrictions such as these prevent theatres from looking to the future with greater optimism, so the Eden is certainly not planning to splash out on 3D or satellite connections: "At present we are improvising." explains the head of programming, "We are very happy to have opened again and if the public responds, we shall make further plans."

An article about the Cinema Eden's goodbye screening on 4 May 2014 was published in the DGT Online Informer no. 106.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)


Digital screens - Situation worldwide (as at 1st January)

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