Steamboat Springs Mark Green said he won’t miss the tightly wound rolls of 35 mm film stacked high in the projection booth at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
And he won’t miss spending two hours splicing previews onto the reels of feature films.
“A lot of the old-school projectionists don’t like the change,” said Green, Wildhorse’s theater manager. “They have reservations.”
“I’m not going to miss (35 mm film) at all. As the theater has changed, with stadium seating and everything, it’s time to change the projection systems, as well.”
Green spent the past two weeks installing two Christie digital projectors, which can show films in 2-D and 3-D. The new projectors are programmed by a touch screen, on which Green can set a film to run in as few as five minutes.
They’ve been installed in two of the theater’s six cinemas, along with Master Image 3-D polarizers, which spin a glass disk at high speeds in front of the projector to cast the 3-D effect onto the screen.
Films like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I” and “Unstoppable” already are showing in the new 2-D digital format, and Green said the clarity and quality is greatly improved.
The theater’s 3-D programming will begin Wednesday with Disney’s “Tangled,” a modern and quirky take on the “Rapunzel” fairytale.
“Tron: Legacy” will open in 3-D on Dec. 17.
Green said the theater plans to add a premium of $2.75 for 3-D movie tickets, which will help cover the costs of the 3-D glasses to be loaned out to moviegoers.
“It’s so much more practical and the presentation is so much better,” Green said about the switch. “It’s something that there’s just no way you can duplicate at home.”
The decision for the projector overhaul came from the Metropolitan Theatres headquarters in Los Angles.
David Corwin, president of Metropolitan Theatre Corporation, announced the switch to digital projection in a news release last week.
“We are thrilled to provide the moviegoers of Steamboat Springs an enhanced quality entertainment experience that cannot be replicated anywhere but the theater,” Corwin said. “More and more films are being released in engaging 3-D technology, which is much more compelling than what people are used to seeing in our theater.”
Green said he doesn’t know if or when the company plans to replace the theater’s remaining projectors, and he will continue to run strips of 35 mm film through intricate patterns around the projection room. That means he’ll still listen to the flickering hum as 24 frames-per-second flash over the projector.
But for Green, the digital projection “revolution” is all about creating a theater-going experience and enhancing it with whatever resources are available.
Friday morning, before the theater opened, Green set one of the new projectors to run “Toy Story 3,” which Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas will not be showing. He laughed and whooped as the animated toy characters jumped off the screen with vibrant colors and sharp definition.
“It’s really more like a ride,” he said.