Movie theater says goodbye to film

Published 11:27 am Friday, October 19, 2012

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Austin’s CineMagic 7 now has digital projectors and digital surround sound

Starting tonight, Austin’s movie theater will say goodbye to film and leap into the digital age.

The movie "Pitch Perfect" was the last film movie Cinemagic 7 showed. From now on all movies will be digital.

The CineMagic 7 movie theater at Oak Park Mall converted this week from 35 millimeter analog film, and in some theaters mono sound, to five digital projections and two 3D capable digital projections, and digital surround sound. CineMagic 7 had five theaters running digital projectors Thursday, and the company expects all seven will have made the switch by tonight.

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Gary Westmark — vice president of operations for CineMagic’s owner, Odyssey Entertainment LLC — said the difference is clear.

“With film, no matter how careful you are, you’re going to get scratches the longer you play it, along with dust, which shows up on the screen,” he said. “With digital, there’s no scratches, there’s no dust. Whether it’s the first showing or the 100th showing, it’s always going to be perfect.”

Matt Olson levels off one of the new digital projectors at CineMagic 7 Theatres for 3D during installation for the projectors Thursday.

Thanks to a little push from the motion picture industry, all Odyssey theaters — including Hollywood 12 in Rochester, which switched two weeks ago — will make the switch in the next year.

According to the Associated Press, most major motion picture companies, including 20th Century Fox, will stop releasing movies in 35 mm film and switch entirely to digital releases by the end of 2013, making traditional film obsolete within the next two years. That means if a theater doesn’t have the funds to convert, it will be out of business.

Westmark said he’s excited for the better technology, but it marks an end to an era.

“It’s kind of sad,” he said. “Film has been around for a long time.”

Westmark said while the industry forced Odyssey’s hand, the company held out to get better digital projectors which can handle higher frame rates and can be upgraded when new technology comes out. He said the digital projectors in CineMagic 7 are capable of producing 35 trillion color variations.

“We wanted to make sure we were getting the best machines,” he said.

Westmark said digital also allows them to start movies automatically and on time. He said that means they don’t need anyone to run the projections anymore, which frees up the manager to help customers and perform other tasks.

“In a building like this, that really helps, because the manager was the projectionist,” he said. “It’s good for everybody, and it’s a huge upgrade for Austin.”

Westmark said staffing will remain the same, at between 15 and 20 employees, depending on the season.

Odyssey has owned CineMagic 7 since May 2011, when its previous owner, Midwest Theatres Corp., filed for bankruptcy. Odyssey owns nine theaters in five states.

Did you know?

—CineMagic 7 will have seven digital projectors, including two 3D digital projectors and digital surround sound

—Its projectors can handle higher frame rates and 35 trillion color variations

—Box office prices will stay unchanged, although concession prices may go up