Film has faded into memory at the Hollywood 3 cinema in Pitt Meadows.
The digital age at the Hollywood 3 officially began at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 21 with the showing of The Pirates! Band of Misfits at the local cinema that seats 400 patrons.
The animated flick is the first digital movie shown at one of the few remaining independent theatres in the Lower Mainland.
Rahim Manji, owner of the Pitt Meadows Hollywood 3 as well as the Hollywood 3 in Surrey and the Dolphin Cinema II in Burnaby, knew the switch from film to digital was inevitable.
The 37-year-old Manji, who has been in the theatre business for the past decade, greets the change with mixed emotions. While digital is convenient, it’s also very pricey.
Ultimately, it’s a paradigm shift in the way movies are being shown at the Pitt Meadows theatre, which has operated for 35 years but was closed for six years before being reopened in April 2011.
On Thursday, technologists from Cinematronix and Hank Rensmaag, an electrician from Mott Electric, dismantled and removed the 1970s era, 35-mm projectors, making way for the up-to-date computerized system.
“We didn’t really have a choice,” Manji said, when asked about the change. “The way of the land is, that [the distributors] are moving it all to digital. They’re not doing film anymore.”
Movies on film are getting increasingly difficult to acquire.
“Over the past six months, it was getting longer and longer for us to get movies,” Manji said. “Our whole idea with this theatre was getting movies as quickly as we could. Two or three weeks after it came out, it was going in our theatre.”
With what appears to be the inevitable demise of film, Manji couldn’t meet this objective.
“And it’s going to get worse,” Manji predicted.
There are plenty of advantages with going digital, Manji said: “The picture quality is amazing, we have exactly the same projectors as Cineplex does, we have Dolby digital sound, there’s not going to be any scratches on movies – it’s just going to be a beautiful picture every single time.”
But there’s a catch – the price.
“Unfortunately it’s quite expensive to change over to digital,” Manji said. “That’s why most independents are closing down.”
Asked just how expensive, Manji replied, “Very expensive. Very, very expensive.”
For Manji, saying goodbye to film is like leaving an old friend in the rearview. A projectionist, Manji said film is something tangible that he could touch. If something ever goes awry with the film projector, it can be repaired on site, more often than not by the projectionist.
With digital, a projectionist will need outside help.
“The good thing is, [the repair] can be done remotely, so rather than having to send somebody out here and have to wait and lose a show, through their Internet, they can dial right into our servers and fix it,” Manji said.
Digital allows operators to pause and rewind movies, similar to Blu-Ray or PVR technology.
This was never possible with film.
During the transition, Hollywood 3 projectionists are training for digital.
The projectionists include Manji, Hamid Albourzpours, Celia Pink, Jon Aaron, and Laura Fiddler.
“A couple people already know it,” Manji said. “They came from other theatres that have already switched over. They know it. They’re teaching me as well. It’s a learning process, but it’s great.”
The last movie played using 35-mm film at the Pitt Meadows Hollywood 3 theatre was Hunger Games, which was shown at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20.
“It’s bittersweet,” Manji summarized about the switch. “But the new technology is so simple. You can set it up and it will run the whole week without you having to do anything. It’s going to be very easy, but I think I will definitely miss film.”
The Hollywood 3 location in Pitt Meadows is located at 19190 Lougheed Hwy. Ticket prices range from $3.75 to $4.75. For complete listings of showtimes and movies, go to www.hollywood3.ca/listings/pitt-meadows/.