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Official Dolby Atmos Fans Thread

Dolby Atmos

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#41 of 124 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted November 25 2013 - 01:29 PM

I saw catching fire in Atmos this weekend. It was ok, with a few instances of 'wow' including the scene where the 'clock' rotates, but overall I was left wanting more. It was better than that surf movie tho!

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#42 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted November 26 2013 - 12:01 PM

That's disappointing to hear the Catching Fire sound mix (as heard in Atmos) is, for the most part, pretty conventional sounding. I hope the movie theater you visited at least bothered to play one of the Dolby Atmos sound format trailers. The Unfold and Amaze trailers are pretty cool and show off what Atmos can really do.

 

Dolby designed Atmos to be compatible with existing sound design work flows. For instance they provide an Atmos plug-in for Pro Tools setups. A sound designer can create a mix in Atmos and then automatically output 5.1 and 7.1 versions of it for use in other rooms not equipped for Atmos.

 

In addition to object-based audio, Atmos also supports channel-based sound "beds" where a down-mixed track can be played across any of the six surround speaker arrays in the room. This can speed up the creative process in sound design during post production. It also allows the Atmos processor to be backward compatible with existing 5.1 and 7.1 audio formats.

 

Atmos' capability of handling both individual sound objects and down-mixed beds sort of opens the door to let someone build a conventional 5.1 mix and then quickly export it in Atmos format just to use the new Dolby brand name without doing much to take advantage of the new format's capabilities.



#43 of 124 OFFLINE   Robert Smith1

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Posted November 27 2013 - 03:44 PM

The NY AMC Empire wasn't on the list of unique Atmos areas, but at this point it really is



#44 of 124 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted January 17 2014 - 12:03 PM

Here's a head scratcher (but old news by now):

 

Regal's booking policy for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was that any complex that had both IMAX and RPX screens, IMAX received the HFR 3D, while the RPX received 2D Dolby Atmos (if equipped).

 

I ended up seeing it in IMAX HFR 3D, but only for the first 20 minutes or so, because the right IMAX projector failed in the middle of the spider battle. Ended up seeing the rest of the movie in HFR 2D using only one projector. The following week, The Hobbit was removed from the RPX screen, so did not get to hear it in Atmos. And that is a shame, because I liked how the sound designers moved Gollum around the theater, even when he was off screen, during the first movie, which I did get to see/hear in Atmos.

 

BTW - Regal's excuse for the booking policy was because "there are not very many HFR projectors." Total BS, because last year, that same theater had The Hobbit in IMAX HFR 3D and at least 2 additional HFR 3D screens, including RPX (no Atmos at that time, though). This is after a press release indicating that Regal spent a ton of money doubling their number of HFR projectors chain-wide (apparently, very few have yet to see any actual use). I wonder how investors would feel if that got out?



#45 of 124 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted January 17 2014 - 12:11 PM

I'm wondering the same thing as they're building a new theater complex in my town this spring with the following screen for one particular theater.  Will they be able to play IMAX films on it?  Anyway, at least we're getting Dolby Atmos.

The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, reportedly the largest IMAX screen in the US, is capable of playing not only IMAX, but DCP's in Dolby Atmos as well (although that is mostly for special screenings, such as world premieres). IMAX films, though, won't be utilizing Atmos.



#46 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted January 17 2014 - 02:10 PM

Correct. The TCL Chinese Theater can only play movies in Atmos for special occasions, such as premieres. Same goes for the Dolby Theater nearby. Disney's El Capitan Theater is the only one in that neighborhood playing movies in Atmos for the general public.

 

IMAX Digital theaters get their own DCPs -which contain slightly modified 2K imagery and 5.1 24-bit 48kHz LPCM audio. You don't even get 7.1 LPCM surround in any IMAX-branded theaters.

 

Meanwhile, a growing number of competing premium priced big screen theater concepts are supporting 7.1 surround as a base format and installing more Dolby Atmos systems. AMC has the most IMAX-branded theaters. AMC also has a competing "ETX" premium big screen concept and a "Prime" luxury screening room concept. Dolby Atmos has gone into all of AMC's ETX and Prime theater screens. Regal has installed Dolby Atmos on at least 22 of its RPX screens. Cineplex has Dolby Atmos on most of its AVX MAX screens (which compete with its IMAX branded houses). The Santikos chain in Texas also has an "AVX" thing; a couple of its locations have Atmos on multiple screens.

 

Barco & Auro are pushing their competing Auro 3D 11.1 sound format. IMHO it's not nearly as good a sound format as Atmos, but it doesn't cost nearly as much either. Regal signed a deal to install Auro in 20 of its RPX theaters. Cinemark signed a deal to put Auro on its 90+ XD theaters, but there isn't much of a time frame on when all those systems will be installed. Cinemark has 3 XD theaters equipped with Atmos. The biggest challenge Auro is going to face is lack of movie titles mixed in that format. Dolby Atmos is getting significantly better support from major movie studios. That's going to make the biggest difference going forward. A cheaper immersive sound system is a waste of money if it doesn't have enough movies supporting its sound format.

 

The point with all this is IMAX has fallen way behind in terms of sound. I dislike 2K digital projection blown up on anything larger than a medium sized movie screen. The image just gets too blurry -or pixel jaggy if the projector has great lenses that are focused properly. As much as IMAX needs that new 4K laser-based digital projection system, they need an even better sound system just as badly. I don't like the 5.1 sound systems IMAX is currently using, which typically feature only two surround speakers stuffed up into the rear corners of the room. That's just lousy for surround imaging. That approach might work fine in a small living room, but it's terribly inadequate for a large commercial movie theater auditorium.

 

What IMAX really needs to do is sign a deal with Dolby and incorporate Atmos in all of its theaters. With as much as they're charging for tickets they ought to be able to afford Atmos.



#47 of 124 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted January 17 2014 - 04:04 PM

The point with all this is IMAX has fallen way behind in terms of sound. I dislike 2K digital projection blown up on anything larger than a medium sized movie screen. The image just gets too blurry -or pixel jaggy if the projector has great lenses that are focused properly. As much as IMAX needs that new 4K laser-based digital projection system, they need an even better sound system just as badly. I don't like the 5.1 sound systems IMAX is currently using, which typically feature only two surround speakers stuffed up into the rear corners of the room. That's just lousy for surround imaging. That approach might work fine in a small living room, but it's terribly inadequate for a large commercial movie theater auditorium.

 

What IMAX really needs to do is sign a deal with Dolby and incorporate Atmos in all of its theaters. With as much as they're charging for tickets they ought to be able to afford Atmos.

 

Which is exactly the point I was trying to make when speaking to Regal (both their customer support hotline and the theater manager). It was like speaking to Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap: But the IMAX sound system goes to 11!

 

I even sent a letter to Regal's CEO regarding this booking policy, and have yet to get an official response from her office. Excerpt from my letter:

I was really looking forward to seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in HFR 3D and Dolby Atmos at the Edwards Irvine Spectrum in their RPX auditorium. This is how the director, Peter Jackson, intended audiences to see this film. You can imagine how disappointed I was to learn that Regal booked The Hobbit in 2D with Dolby Atmos in this theatre, and the only way to see this film in HFR 3D was in the IMAX auditorium. The sound system that IMAX currently uses comes nowhere near the precise placement of sound that Dolby Atmos provides. In my opinion, the only difference in the sound quality between an IMAX presentation and a standard 5.1 or 7.1 presentation is the volume level, with IMAX typically at ear-ringing levels.

What surprised me even more was that this appeared to be a booking policy across all Regal locations in North America that had both IMAX and RPX under the same roof, with IMAX getting HFR 3D, and RPX getting 2D. By presenting The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in 2D in the RPX auditoriums, Regal is essentially diluting the RPX brand, which promises “Ultimate sight, Ultimate Sound” and guarantees “the best movie experience available.”


#48 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted January 19 2014 - 05:19 PM

Ultimately I think it's all about money. Obviously IMAX and RealD are both paying Hollywood studios a considerable amount of money to get IMAX and RealD branding so prominently displayed in movie advertising. The brands are displayed large on movie posters, trailers, TV commercials, web ads and more. So there must be some kind of big push coming from the movie studios to give IMAX some favorable treatment.

 

And then there's all the IMAX-branded 2K resolution dual projection digital theaters. Movie chains like Regal and AMC are locked into a revenue sharing agreement with IMAX. I'm sure the contracts they have with IMAX have all sorts of stipulations that demand theater circuits like Regal give IMAX any sort of favorable treatment possible.

 

At the same time IMAX really isn't in any position to take marketing pot shots against competing premium priced big screen theater concepts, be it the RPX screens from Regal, the ETX screens from AMC, Cinemark's rapidly growing number of XD screens, Carmike's Big D screens and on and on. IMAX's own customers (the theater chains) are pushing those big screen concepts. At the same time hardly any of the movie theater chains are taking any sort of aim at IMAX. Although there are theater chains who have no IMAX branded screens who could match or surpass what IMAX is doing and publicly tout their "better than IMAX" traits.

 

I'm pretty frustrated by how Dolby Atmos is kind of getting lost in all of this. Maybe Dolby should have developed a revenue sharing model like RealD or IMAX considering just how expensive it is to install a Dolby Atmos equipped sound system. The Dolby CP850 Atmos cinema processor alone has a list price of over $30,000. Atmos theaters often have to install entirely new surround speakers (ones powerful enough to pump out 105db at the reference point in the room). Add in all those extra amplifiers for as many as 64 speaker outputs. One could easily spend $50,000-$100,000 on an Atmos sound system. Unfortunately Atmos is not the kind of thing that can be thrown into hundreds of theaters at a time in rapid fashion. I don't know if Dolby's own technicians are still doing all of the Atmos installations, but they have been for quite a while. Dolby seems to be putting quality control well ahead of the need to boost screen count numbers.

 

I'm a little worried the pace of Atmos installations could slow down due to a couple factors. One: some theaters are opting for the cheaper Auro 11.1 system, even though it doesn't have nearly as many titles supporting it as Atmos and it's just not nearly as good a sound format. Two: Barco, DTS and others are pushing for a new "open source" object based surround format. It will be at least two years before anything solid can move into theaters from that effort. And there's no telling how compatible or not it will be with Atmos.

 

IMHO, the DCI people ought to just let Dolby do what it wants to do. They, IMAX and others were basically asleep while the whole concept of "immersive sound" was taking shape. Now they're just trying to prevent Dolby from having a virtual monopoly on the process years after the proverbial ship has sailed. They should have been thinking about open standards several years ago. Now they just want to hamstring Dolby. I smell political disruption coming from the likes of IMAX and other Dolby rivals.

 

Just a quick disclaimer note: people who know me know I'm not a huge Dolby fan boy. I've been tough on Dolby numerous times over the years. I really hammered them in the early 1990s over the use of their one size fits all triple format logo which seemed very misleading. I really didn't like the low bit rate used with lossy Dolby Digital audio and was a pretty big DTS fan. Dolby didn't invent object based audio either. Iosono was arguably the pioneer in that area, but couldn't get Hollywood studios to play ball with them. The same goes for IMM Sound, which Dolby acquired. Dolby does at least deserve credit for thinking outside of the box and the unresolved 16-channel audio assignments in DCI standards by pursuing object based audio.

 

If Dolby hadn't made its move with Atmos most theaters would still be stuck with conventional 5.1 or 7.1 audio. 



#49 of 124 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted January 19 2014 - 07:37 PM

I had my first experience with GDX auditorium (Giant Digital Experience) with a giant 70 foot wide screen almost 4 stories tall with floor to ceiling viewing with Dolby Atmos sound at the brand new theater complex in my city.  Unfortunately, that particular theater screened Ride Along, one of the worse movies I've seen in the last few years.  I did manage to see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at another Dolby Atmos theater in this new complex.  At least, that was a better movie, thus, I enjoyed the Dolby Atmos much more.


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#50 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted January 20 2014 - 12:52 PM

The movies Ride Along and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit weren't mixed in Dolby Atmos. AFAIK, both had standard 5.1 surround mixes. The sound system hardware in the GDX auditorium was just playing the movies in 5.1. I'm sure it probably sounded a good bit better than most 5.1 equipped theaters due to the more powerful surround speakers, more sub bass enclosures and the sound system likely being set up by Dolby's technicians.

 

According to Dolby's web site the next movie to be released with an Atmos mix is I: Frankenstein (opening this coming Friday).



#51 of 124 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted January 20 2014 - 01:50 PM

The movies Ride Along and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit weren't mixed in Dolby Atmos. AFAIK, both had standard 5.1 surround mixes. The sound system hardware in the GDX auditorium was just playing the movies in 5.1. I'm sure it probably sounded a good bit better than most 5.1 equipped theaters due to the more powerful surround speakers, more sub bass enclosures and the sound system likely being set up by Dolby's technicians.

 

According to Dolby's web site the next movie to be released with an Atmos mix is I: Frankenstein (opening this coming Friday).

What is the address for Dolby's web site?


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#52 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted January 20 2014 - 07:38 PM

For a current list of Dolby Atmos movies visit this link:

http://www.dolby.com...mos-movies.html

 

To see a map of Atmos equipped theaters visit this link:

http://www.dolby.com...?ct=Dolby-Atmos

 

So far not all that many Atmos mixed titles have been announced for 2014, but I expect that list to change pretty soon.



#53 of 124 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted January 21 2014 - 07:11 PM

Atmos has really proliferated over the last year or so, hasn't it?  I can remember when there were only something like 8 Atmos screens in North American - now it's everywhere!


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#54 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted January 23 2014 - 09:29 PM

The spread of Atmos would look even more impressive if Dolby would list how many Atmos-equipped screens were in each theater location on its Atmos theaters map. At first glance one would think only one theater in a multiplex would have an Atmos system -kind of like a multiplex having only one IMAX-branded digital theater. There is a growing number of multiplex sites in the US installing Atmos on 2 or more screens. Last May I visited a Santikos theater on the western outskirts of Houston that had 4 Atmos equipped auditoriums.



#55 of 124 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted January 25 2014 - 07:13 AM

The spread of Atmos would look even more impressive if Dolby would list how many Atmos-equipped screens were in each theater location on its Atmos theaters map. At first glance one would think only one theater in a multiplex would have an Atmos system -kind of like a multiplex having only one IMAX-branded digital theater. There is a growing number of multiplex sites in the US installing Atmos on 2 or more screens. Last May I visited a Santikos theater on the western outskirts of Houston that had 4 Atmos equipped auditoriums.

Thank you for those links.  The new movie complex in my city has three Atmos equipped theaters.


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#56 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted January 26 2014 - 09:44 AM

The competing Auro 11.1 format isn't installed in nearly as many movie theaters. And it doesn't have as much support from Hollywood movie studios.

 

Auro's web site: http://www.auro-3d.com/ now has a theater installations map (click the "Find Auro 11.1 Near You" tab on the front page). At this point there's maybe a couple dozen Auro 11.1 equipped theater screens in the United States, and apparently only 1 in canada. The biggest concentration of Auro 11.1 screens is in the Dallas-Fort Worth market at 5 Cinemark locations. Incidentally there are at least 5 theater locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that have Atmos-equipped screens. Cinemark is has made the biggest commitment to Auro; Cinemark intends to install Auro 11.1 in all of its premium priced "XD" theater screens (Cinemark now has around 100 of those XD screens). Regal committed to installing Auro 11.1 in 20 of its RPX theaters (Regal already has 22 RPX theaters equipped with Atmos).

 

The Atmos versus Auro duel is reminiscent of the Dolby versus DTS/Datasat contest with digital sound on 35mm film.

 

DTS, now known as DataSat, makes the Barco AP-243D sound processor used for Auro 11.1 sound playback. The cinema processor is a modified version of the Datasat AP-20 cinema processor. Confusing things further, Auro, Barco and DTS are promoting DTS' own object-based MDA (Multi-Dimensional Audio) format as an open source standard. They want SMPTE to sign off on it and have that used to create a "single delivery" audio format for immersive sound systems in digital cinema. Going from the time this news was announced it's estimated it would take a year of software development and another year to integrate it into hardware before it could go into movie theaters. So that could be near the end of 2015.

 

Atmos and Auro have very different speaker layouts. The audio formats are encoded very differently. Auro 11.1 is more channel-based, using a base of 16-bit 5.1 or 7.1 LCPM data for the primary audio channels, but in a 24-bit encoded data stream. The other 8-bits are used for the extra Auro data (height channels, voice of God channel). Atmos is very proprietary; the audio format isn't compatible with a standard LPCM-based d-cinema sound system.

 

There's no telling how DTS' MDA format would be compatible with both Auro and Atmos. My own cynical side wonders if promoting DTS MDA to SMPTE could be a tactic to get movie theaters and movie studios to delay adoption of Dolby Atmos. Atmos has a considerable lead on Auro. Any delays could help Auro to catch-up with Atmos. The Auro format isn't quite as expensive to install as Atmos, but I don't consider it to be nearly as good a sound format as Atmos either.



#57 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted February 06 2014 - 09:00 PM

Bump.

 

I don't know what's going on with movie releases featuring Dolby Atmos mixes so far this year. I kind of expected to see more title announcements by now.

 

One Wikipedia page regarding Dolby Atmos is claiming The Lego Movie and Robocop have Dolby Atmos mixes. But I don't think that's true.

 

I did see one news article that confirms The Amazing Spiderman 2 is being mixed in 7.1 surround, Auro 11.1 and Dolby Atmos.

 

Some other upcoming movies I think are possibilities (or even likely in some cases) to have Dolby Atmos audio:

Need for Speed, Paramount, 3-14-14
Divergent, Summit Entertainment, 3-21-14
Noah, Paramount, 3-28-14
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel, 4-4-14 (Atmos confirmed via new movie posters)
Godzilla, Warner Bros., 5-16-14
Malificent, Disney, 5-30-14
Edge of Tomorrow, Warner Bros., 6-6-14
How to Train Your Dragon 2, Dreamworks, 6-20-14 (will have Auro 11.1)
Transformers: Age of Extinction, Paramount, 6-27-2014
Planes: Fire & Rescue, Disney, 7-18-14
Jupiter Ascending, Warner Bros., 7-25-14
Exodus, Fox, 12-12-14

 

We'll have to see what happens. Hopefully Dolby will update the movie title information on their website sometime soon. More theaters are installing Dolby Atmos hardware. It's well ahead of the pace of Auro 11.1 installations. Dolby Atmos movie releases are a little behind the pace of Atmos releases at this time in 2013. I'm a little concerned movie studios might be taking a "wait and see" attitude regarding new immersive sound formats, in part to see what DTS comes up with regarding its object-based MDA (Multi-Dimensional Audio) format. 



#58 of 124 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted February 07 2014 - 11:30 AM

Yeah, I'm not seeing The Lego Movie listed as Atmos where it is confirmed to be playing in an Atmos-equipped auditorium.

 

But I think it's safe to assume that The Hobbit: There and Back Again will be an Atmos release (and I expect Regal to mess up their bookings again, giving priority to IMAX for the HFR 3D version, and putting 2D and Atmos in their RPX houses)..



#59 of 124 OFFLINE   Bobby Henderson

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Posted February 07 2014 - 11:44 AM

That would be unfortunate. However, I would not be surprised if IMAX had some contractual demands about how a multiplex could play a movie in one of their IMAX-branded auditoriums versus how the same movie would be presented in a competing premium house. In other words, IMAX could be telling Regal "if you have IMAX and RPX under the same roof the RPX house can only play the movie in 2D." I think it's also funny how the IMAX-branded houses typically get the best show time schedules while other auditoriums in the multiplex playing the same movie have their show times staggered at off peak times.

 

I'm not really all that big on 3D and will pick a 2D/Atmos show over something in 3D with mere 5.1 audio. 3D has a nasty side effect of taking away any sense of large scale from a big screen. If the 3D effect is exaggerated too much the stuff on screen looks miniature. It's just me, but I'd rather see a movie in 2D with a sharper 4K resolution image than something in 2K 3D. From my point of view it is very easy for IMAX to get upstaged by competing big screen concepts. With IMAX the viewer is stuck with 5.1 audio (or maybe really only 5.0 audio) featuring only 2 surround speaker enclosures stuck up in the rear corners of the room and the projection is only 2K resolution.



#60 of 124 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted February 23 2014 - 10:38 AM

 

IMHO, the DCI people ought to just let Dolby do what it wants to do. They, IMAX and others were basically asleep while the whole concept of "immersive sound" was taking shape. Now they're just trying to prevent Dolby from having a virtual monopoly on the process years after the proverbial ship has sailed. They should have been thinking about open standards several years ago. Now they just want to hamstring Dolby. I smell political disruption coming from the likes of IMAX and other Dolby rivals.

 

 

What? Dolbys competitors want to prevent Dolby from having a monopoly in the supply of "immersive sound" systems to theater chains? How uncouth of them. What is the world coming to when a company's competitors won't allow them to have a monopoly?

 

If Dolby hadn't made its move with Atmos most theaters would still be stuck with conventional 5.1 or 7.1 audio.

 

Here is some news. At 50 -100,000 dollars/install (your estimate) most theatres are going to be "stuck" with 5.1 or 7.1 (like that is a bad thing?) audio systems for a long time to come. I doubt small market theatres will ever have Dolby Atmos. In fact, thanks to the switch from film prints to digital prints only, a lot of theatres in very small towns are going to end up closing, because the cost of conversion from film projection to Digital projection is cost prohibitive for them.


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