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Digital Projection Bandwagon Is Crowded During Star Wars Opening

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As Star Wars: Episode III packs theatres with obvious record breaking business, the power of the bandwagon shows greater than any other force in the galaxy.

Star Wars is such an overhyped event that many attendees of the movie are hardly familiar with the other episodes let alone fans of them. People may get dragged by their children, their dates or their friends, but the level of otherwise indifferent participants is uncommonly high. Few will accept the scorn of being the only outsider at the water cooler come monday morning.

Besides this unnecessary hastiness of impatient consumers with complaints of crowdedness that they help to create, though, is a more simple and seemingly more innocent example of a desired involvement with “buzz” and branded brainwashing. Here is a conversation frequently overheard at theatres this weekend:

Customer: This is in digital, right?
Employee: We have digital sound but not picture.
Customer: What is the difference?

Employee: One is sound and the other is picture.
Customer: But it’s digital.
Employee: We don’t have digital projectors, if that is
what you mean. We just have digital sound.
Customer: Hold on, let me call my (spouse or friend)

The fact that this customer does not know the difference makes it likely that he or she will not even notice a difference in picture quality (or sound quality). Obviously digital projection has become a trendy thing to know about without actually knowing anything about it. Theatres with digital projection sold out those showtimes much quicker than their non-digital showtimes. Theatres without digital projection were not left out in the cold, though. Just seeing the movie is good enough to participate in discussions. Even those who watch the worst quality pirated videos are able to be involved.

Ignorance and eventual apathy shown toward digital picture is a relief to film purists, but the fashion of its attention is unlikely to die this weekend. The success of Episode III has proven the demand for Lucas’ franchise. Already being rumored is that 20th Century Fox will argue for the production of more sequels with or without his help. More definite is the argument Lucas will have with theatre owners regarding their purchase of digital projectors in order to accomodate a proposed 3-D re-release of all six episodes in 2007. All he has to do is further the public awareness and convince moviegoers that the next time will not be about seeing or not seeing the movie. How the movie is seen will be the topic of conversation at the water cooler come two years from now. The bandwagon will be strong with this one.

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  • http://duckmafia.blogspot.com Quack Corleone

    Fascinating article.

    But how a film is seen is an issue now, too. There’s: in the theatre vs. in the home, on DVD vs. on VHS, TV vs. HDTV.

    “The fact that this customer does not know the difference makes it likely that he or she will not even notice a difference in picture quality (or sound quality).”

    That’s not true. A person can not know anything about digital projection and still realize that it looks better than a worn, scratched film copy of a movie.

    I agree that digital projection is partly a marketing gimmick and get-rich scheme for whoever makes the tech stuff, but so was sound and colour. Doesn’t mean it can’t be a worthwhile, and valid, innovation.

    However, a great aspect of Star Wars to bring up!

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    If you want to see Star Wars III in Digital, as I do, check the theaters using DLP (Digital Light Projection), a TI technology from dlp.com – I’m visiting Chicago from Milwaukee to see it in DLP next weekend.

    There is a discernible difference in DLP and regular projection.

  • TylerNewton

    Funny how many Star Wars geek know ABSOLUTELY jack about DLP and its connection to Eps I, II, and III.

    I was lucky enough to get tix for a midnight DLP showing, and at the theater I was at, we in the DLP line were able to look at everyone in the line for analog showings.

    Many people in line for the analog showing were dressed up and had plenty of toys, but NOT A SINGLE PERSON was dressed up for the DLP showing.

    I am shocked that people could live, breath, and eat Star Wars, but simply go for the analog showing when that theater has a DLP showing.

    Pathetic.