La pagode cinema, paris

The changing ways we watch films.

The most natural way to engage with a film is at the cinema. That point of view has been challenged by television. After that anything with ‘home’ in the title; many of us remember home video. That gave way to to the DVD and in between we had the quirky laser disc. Culminating in what some saw as a contradiction; home cinema.

Through out this period, despite predictions of its demise, enough people have left the house and gone to the cinema. This is what I have done for more years than I care to remember. Over time the price has gone up, the tickets smaller and usherettes have all but disappeared. Then finally the light started to fade on the projector whose light was a reassuring presence. The era of the digital projector had begun.

Cinema exhibition in the digital era is in the midst of a disruption. The disruption is not affecting the medium to the extent that newspapers, books and shopping have undergone. But its happening, the film theatre is no longer the hallowed ground of cinema viewing. The availability of cheaper digital projection equipment allows films to be screened in all sorts of different environments from the community hall to a restaurant. On vacation in Washington an American diner proved to be an ideal venue for a screening of Blackboard Jungle.

Some cinema chains are pragmatic to the fate of cinema theatre by releasing films online and at the theatre. How long before the big blockbusters are released this way? What is without question, we will for many years continue to watch films. The only question is where?

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