Landmark Theatres and Microsoft: Windows Media 9 in Theaters!

Vince Maskeeper

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http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/030403/sfth027_1.html

Thursday April 3, 9:00 am ET

Landmark Theatres and Microsoft Create the Largest Digital Cinema Circuit In the United States

Windows Media 9 Series Expands Opportunity for Independent Distributors And Filmmakers With Tangible Cost Savings and Flexibility


LOS ANGELES and REDMOND, Wash., April 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today Landmark Theatres and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT - News) announced that they are equipping 177 screens in all 53 Landmark Theatres across the United States with digital cinema playback systems based on Microsoft® Windows Media® 9 Series. This unprecedented agreement represents the largest digital cinema theater circuit installation to date in the United States.
 

Jason Seaver

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I guess that test-run with Standing In The Shadows Of Motown this fall did pretty well.

On the one hand... ugh. I have yet to be impressed with digital exhibition, and that's with the (I believe) more-powerful DLP system. Still, given the types of movies that Landmark shows and how thin the margins can be, this may make distribution a lot more cost-effective (meaning I get to see that indie film I'd never heard of).
 

Shayne Lebrun

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The idea here is to lower the bar-to-entry for small, independant films; rather then spend 6 figures striking a film master and copies, bring along a .wmv file, and actually get it shown in theatres.
 

Lew Crippen

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I don't know much about the application software, but if it's dependent on any of Microsoft's usual panoply of feeble, bugridden operating systems, it will be a comedown ("lowering the bar"), indeed.
I think that Shayne’s point is well taken. Because of the lack of digital projection systems in commercial outlets, low-budget filmmakers have a Hobson’s choice: they can shoot reasonably cheaply in HD video, more expensively in 16mm or considerably more expensively in 35mm. Should they choose video, at the present time they must transfer their video to either 16mm, which is probably more than most of their budgets or to 35mm which as Shayne accurately points out is in the six-figure range.

Surely for these filmmakers another option is a good thing.
 

Lew Crippen

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On the one hand... ugh. I have yet to be impressed with digital exhibition,
I saw Attack of the Clones in the one theatre in the Dallas area that was equipped with the TI system necessary for digital projection and I was pretty impressed.

I noticed some problems at the edges on a few scenes (but I was sitting in the second row
), but overall it was pretty good.

I did not like the movie well enough to see it a second time. So I can’t compare to a film projection.
 

Shayne Lebrun

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Just as an addon, guys, this isn't meant to replace film, or even DLP. It's to allow Joe Average to make a nice film on his iMac or his XP box, the kind you'd find on ifilm.com or something, and actually have a reasonable hope in hell of getting it shown in something approaching a real theatre.

Kind of like when CD Burners became cheap, suddenly garage bands could crank out a few hundred actual music CDs and get them distributed somehow.

All of these cheap shots at Microsoft are kind of disturbing; folks, this is a *good idea* that may very well allow some very talented individuals to get some great starts that would otherwise be denied to them.
 

Chris Farmer

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Does that mean our screens are going to have a huge "Intel Inside" sticker on the bottom right corner?

"A fatal exception error has occurred. Please see manager for refund, because it ain't our fault."
 

Brian W.

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I saw Fellowship of the Ring EE in DLP at their special showings last year and thought it looked as good or better than any film print of it I'd seen. (Though I did notice a slight amount of ringing when they were walking up the side of the snowy mountain.)
 

Todd Hochard

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Well, these boxes running Windows Media 9 will likely not have been put together by a pimply-faced, technician wannabe, using parts from 18 different questionable vendors, and running 300+ pieces of software from all manner of hack coders.

So, I'm guessing that crashing won't be an issue.

I wonder what the picture quality will be.

Todd
 

Lewis Besze

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Yeah they are put togheter from only one questionable vendor:Microsoft!
I see the implication here for small time movie makers,but when I see that MS is involved,I'm suddenly less enthusiastic about it.
 

LennyP

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What happened to Texas Instruments' DLP? I like it, couple of theaters in LA have it, will this be a rival digital technology then? Either way it sucks.
 

Jason Seaver

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Different audiences. DLP is mostly being installed in mainstream theaters, and I imagine it's closer to acceptable quality than this new Microsoft system. However, it's still relatively expensive to install and maintain, whereas this system is designed for smaller venues and likely require less maintenance.
 

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