Digital Rollout spells end of an era in NZ cinemas

Adapted from Unite News

With the announcement of Fox Studios that they will stop the distribution of 35mm films, the Digital Rollout in Aotearoa has speeded up in both Hoyts and Events cinemas. By the end of this year, the share of movies being distributed on 35mm film will decline to 37 per cent of global cinema screens, with digital copies of movies accounting for the remaining 63 per cent. This will accelerate, and as Universal and Warner Brothers wind down their 35mm operations, spells the end of an era in cinemas.

A meeting of projectionists who received word of the restructure at the Queen Street Reading Cinemas site. High up, through the roof in the Glass Elevator, lies a darkened flickering cavern, where projectionists have played their reels as projectionists have done around the world for over a hundred years. Increasingly though movies are huge digital files,-too mega for even Kim Dotcom to upload- which will be injected into an increasingly automated system, with the computerised TMS (Theatre Management System) replacing humans with an iTunes style playlist of films

Unite, who represent cinema workers is arguing for redeployment where possible, with former projectionists at least keeping the pay scale and hours that they had before. The working class principles of Last IN, First Out should apply to any remaining projectionist shifts. For those who do not want to move to Front of House and wish to move on, Unite has pledged to “fight hard for the best exit package possible” to fit the workers length of service to the company.

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