Hollywood Finally Going Digital--Is that Good News for Indies?

Engadget is reporting that a joint venture is underway to install a digital delivery system for movies in several theater chains covering 14,000 screens. It sounds like the technology will be hi-tech streaming, which differs from the current model which involves the delivery of films on large capacity hard drives instead of film reels. Anti-piracy methods are being put in place to thwart anyone who attempts to intercept the signal and use it for their own nefarious purposes. Good luck with that one.

I have long thought that once digital took over, anyone who could produce a high quality digital video would have a real chance on the silver screen. While this has happened in the past on current setups (The Blair Witch Project, Open Water), gone would be the costs of film prints and the crappy picture resulting from a video-to-film conversion. With HD gear coming down in price, you could get a good picture on a big screen for a low price. Just get a talented Cinematographer (don't forget a good script!) and you're money.

While indie theatrical runs are currently very possible now, the resultant eyeballs (usually around 20 venues) are still few in numbers. Just think what would happen if your film ended up on just 2,000 screens? Or 1,000? The exposure would be amazing and would catapult you to a new filmmaking level. Think of the numbers of people who would want to work on your next movie, based on exposure like that!

The trick, of course, is getting Hollywood to put you into their distro loop. This still involves pounding the pavement and getting someone's attention via some kind of marketing and/or pitching (festivals, the internet, etc.). While this is still a tough way to go, I think studio heads are going to be looking for more indie content that they can just plug into their model with comparatively little cost to them. Your movie still has to be good, but plan ahead and I think we all have a great chance when this new system is in place.