The always readable Andreas Fuchs has an excelent piece in the latest issue of Film Journal International on the difference that the UK Film Council‘s Digital Screen Network has made. It was never intended to help the Hollywood blockbusters, though arguably it got the ball rolling in UK for digital cinema, but the benefits have been tangible where they were intended. From the article:
Last year, “The Summer of British Film” used the Digital Screen Network to bring back classic British films. Seven films from Goldfinger to Withnail & I were shown digitally in 136 cinemas each Tuesday over a period of as many weeks. “We tied in with the BBC’s ‘British Film Forever’ series of documentaries, which looked at seven different film genres the preceding Saturday,” Stolz explains. “Each program genre under discussion was then illustrated [with] a classic British film in cinemas.” This initiative was “a great success and demonstrated the possibilities of digital programming, attracting cinema audiences of over 62,000. We received extremely enthusiastic responses from members of the public who were delighted to see these classic films back on the big screen. This summer we are supporting two distributors in releasing classics from the legendary British filmmaker David Lean.”
Although any one of Sir David’s films certainly more than matters, it was Warner Bros. which had already opened its vaults on that particular note. From mid-May onwards, the first “Movies That Matter” festival brought 15 marvelous titles for one-week engagements into 30 Vue Cinemas across the U.K. (www.warnermtm.co.uk). Starting in Casablanca and bloody well ending for Bonnie and Clyde, with highlights like The Wizard of Oz in between and East of Eden and North by Northwest further pointing in the right directions, the press notes promised them all to be “remastered to flawless, crystal-clear 2K-resolution digital cinema, the highest quality standard in cinemas today.”
Sadly the UKFC’s example has not been adopted very widely. With the exception of the anyways exceptional Norway, only Canada and Australia has adopted something similar, though these went arguably wrong by going for lower end e-cinema networks.