Theater goes from part-time job to intense hobby for man

posted by Michael Zoldessy on September 30, 2009 at 7:58 am

WINNER, SD — This story from the Daily Republic discusses the memories of a lifelong theater fan turned operator at the local Pix Theatre.

But an upcoming switch to digital projection that most industry professionals believe to be inevitable is an uncomfortable thought for Meister, who isn’t sure if the transition — a digital projector currently costs approximately $70,000 — will be one he can afford to make.

“It’s really scary to me,” Meister said. “It makes me wonder if I want to go and do any repairs right now or if I want to wait and see what’s coming.”

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Comments (3)

markp on September 30, 2009 at 9:32 am

I can feel his pain. As a union projectionist for over 34 years, I have to wonder if I’ll still have a job in a few years. And even as I try to break into stagecraft, its mostly a waiting game right now because of the economy. Very scary indeed.

danpetitpas on September 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Well, this is the endless debate, isn’t it? 35mm or digital?

All movies will continue to be available on 35mm film for a long time to come. So having a nice 35mm projector or two in the projection booth is a good investment. And 35mm allows you to play any kind of film, from new releases to second-run, from revivals to old classics.

The studios are trying to use digital to save money because they’ve backed themselves into a corner with tent-pole releases going out to 4,000 screens. At $2,000 or more a print, you’re looking at an $8 million cost just for prints. If they can reduce that cost by half, they’ll be happy.

But about half of the theaters are probably not going to be able to afford going digital, so the studios will continue to make prints, probably for the next 10 years or more.

The key advantage to digital is that audiences think they give a better presentation. So if you can beat out your local competition and charge a little bit more by going digital, then use it as a marketing and promotion tool and go digital. And if you have a lot of opera lovers or teens who want to see concert videos of acts like Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Bros. then definitely do it to get those audiences.

But the consensus is that film will still be around for a long time.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

It always amazed me to hear projectionists cry about losing their jobs. Back, in 1976 when i saw my first platter; heck. i knew the writing was on the wall. HECK, who has to worry about a change over. What’s CARBON ARCS! I KNEW AUTOMATION would kill that profession.WHILE i was in management at ABC THEARES AND later Plitt i had no problem with operators.Let them worry about the booth. By the time i got to GCC I could see it really ending. IF YOU ARE STILL RUNNING A BOOTH YOU HAVE A STRONG LOCAL. The local here in Augusta Local 518 had to merge with the Stagehands Local 629 which i am now a member. I still can’t understand why Hollywood will use UNION people to make a film and then turn it over to some usher or concessionstand girl to run the booth. Might be me ,but i never could figure out why they would turn their product over to a seventeen year old kid at your local 30 Plex

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