by JEFF SPRY A&E Feature Writer
“Go digital or go home” has been the rallying cry in Hollywood for the last decade as film exhibitors nationwide are quickly coming to terms with the industry-wide conversion from physical 35mm film to all-digital.
Heeding that call, Sisters Movie Theater owner Lisa Clausen made the pricey leap to digital, becoming the first indie theater operator in Central Oregon to replace old-school celluloid film platters with hi-tech hard drives and fresh digital projectors.
Sisters Movie House, along with Regal’s Old Mill Stadium 16, is championing the way into the digital age, providing crystal-clear picture and glorious digital sound to movie-loving patrons.
“It’s a big change and we’re still learning all the idiosyncrasies of the new system,” said Clausen. “We need to quality control the downloads and make sure the hard drive transfers went smoothly. The quality of the picture and sound is just far superior. It doesn’t degrade and you’re never going to see emulsion scratches or frame wiggle or spot any film splices.”
Since 2005, the charming red barn building which has been home to Sisters Movie House has presented the finest in Tinseltown blockbusters, art-house treasures, festival screenings and indie-cool gems hand-picked by the theater’s personable local owner. Audiences can also enjoy a gourmet burger, mini-pizza, Italian soda and micro-brew beer in the comfort of their cinema seats.
Movie studios are swiftly replacing these reels of celluloid film with hard drives that are much cheaper for them to ship and compatible with lucrative 3-D technology, something Clausen opted not to include with the current conversion.
“Honestly, our best films are things like Argo, Skyfall, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook, solid dramas with real narratives,” she explained. “So to me 3-D is not who this community is, so I chose not to opt for that technology and save a lot of money too.”
Clausen believes these higher quality films always do well in Sisters and will look even better with the upgrade.
Many theaters and remaining drive-ins in small town America will go dark in this technological revolution hitting Hollywood, with conversion costs nearing $50,000 per auditorium for most venues.
Clausen was able to participate in the studios’ VPF (Virtual Print Fee) program that reimburses theater owners playing a certain number of new digital releases per year, thus defraying some costs.
“It really is amazing,” she admitted. “I’ve been blown away. It was a monumental investment but I really had no choice.”
Sisters Movie House is located at 720 Desperado Court in the FivePine Campus. www.sistersmoviehouse.com or 541-549-8800.