From Reuters via Yahoo!: Coming to a Theater Near You: Digital Films [gotta make a PDF]
The biggest advantage for the moviegoer, says Peter Wester, project manager for Swedish cinema chain Folkets Hus och Parker, will be most visible not on the marquee — not necessarily the screen.
A cinema can download a digital version of the film on a computer hard drive and show it as long as the audience shows up. No longer are theaters bound to the major studios’ distribution schedule, he said.
“The average rise of income for us is 25 percent after one year,” he added.
It can cost thousands of dollars for a cinema to get a Hollywood blockbuster film at or near the release date. A theater operator, therefore, often has little choice but to show the movie as often as possible before returning it to the distributor.
A digital version, because it can be easily reproduced, shipped and stored, costs less than $20 per copy, according to cinema exhibitors. It also allows the cinema operator to free up their viewing schedule, perhaps opening up the odd week-night slot for an art-house title.
And, the build-out is expensive. It costs a cinema operator an estimated $125,000 for the equipment and installation of a digital projector and server. The costs are decreasing, with widespread roll-out expected to halve deployment cost.
The biggest obstacle though is Hollywood. The Walt Disney Co., through its partnership with Pixar Animation Studios Inc. (Nasdaq:PIXR - news), and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX - news), are the only studios producing blockbusters in digital film.