Nordisk Film Cinemas
Nordisk Film Cinemas was founded in 1915
as a subsidiary of Nordisk Film, the oldest movie production company still
in operation, with divisions spanning all the areas of the movie’s life
cycle: from production to post-production, from cinema and video distribution
to exhibition and cinema advertising.
Digital Cinema “History”
The “history” of digital cinema started in Nordisk Film in June 2004, with the decision to take on board this new technology to gain operational excellence and business experience.
We started installing the equipment in August 2004 with the first three screens, two in Copenhagen and one in Aarhus, which is the second largest city in Denmark. The three projectors were from Barco with EVS servers and the opening was with I, Robot followed by Shrek 2.
We created our own digital trailer on digital
cinema, combined with flyers just to make the audience aware that what
they were going to see actually was digital.
At the end of this year we therefore changed
our servers and went into partnership with the company called Éclair
Digital Cinema, which rented us the technical equipment.
What lessons have been learned?
With regards the economics of this, you shouldn’t expect a healthy financial return on investment: just taking into account the extra revenue (i.e. alternative content) you would not be able to pay for the equipment; it’s impossible, at least with the limited lifetime of the equipment. Our investment is an investment in education, getting knowledge about the technology, and hopefully this will make it easier, cheaper and faster to start the full roll-out.
Digital cinema is very time-consuming. You
have to talk to a lot of very different people: even though distributors
are part of the American majors, their knowledge of digital cinema is
not very profound. You have to build a network: you have to know who to
talk to in the European network and you have to know who to talk to in
the States. But if you really build up a network you can get the titles.
I went to ShoWest, I talked to some of these contacts while I was there..
The result was that we got Ice Age 2 in digital as the only place outside
the States because we talked to the right people, we have the right equipment
and we therefore got the movie.
Looking at the present state of affairs, first we have to keep as close to DCI compliance as possible: projectors, servers, the surrounding security systems, theatre management systems are ready, so they need to be implemented. Being DCI compliant as a theatre is not simple but not impossible either.
Business to business events, which are another
form of alternative content, like business conferences, dvd releases etc.,
are increasing. But it takes a long time to get the market to understand
that we do have the equipment and we are steadily improving to it and
we now have two full time people for business to business events.
Challenges for the future
When we look at the challenges for the future, I believe that a steady flow of content is coming. Not this year but some time next year I think all the majors will have a steady flow of content. I also believe that in 7 or 8 years we’ll have a steady flow of digital content from local productions. The post-production, the sources, the market are also ready for this because they are buying the equipment to do the mastering and so on. So local titles will come.
What we still need at least in Denmark is
digital advertising and digital trailers.
As to theatre-wide systems, as we can see, in the future we shall have what we can call a movie library in each theatre where films are kept after coming from distribution. Until now this has been extremely expensive, but within a few years it will be possible also from an economical point of view. We can also see that digital theatre systems will connect to the ticket systems so that the moment you put a show in the ticket system the projection system knows, and it goes further to the screen. The ticket system has a performance time of 15 minutes and then the projection system, after 15 minutes, automatically screens the film. In this way you will always play the content that the ticket system wants.
Upgrades: for the next few years there
will be a lot of upgrades. But we believe that in a few years the rate
of upgrades will decrease and then come to an end.