Dole Cannery to get Hawaii’s first all-digital movie theater
The new system is scheduled to be ready for Friday's premiere of "Monster House"
Hawaii's first commercial digital movie projection system will be installed in one of the 18 theaters at Regal Entertainment Group's Dole Cannery complex next week.
The new digital cinema projector and silver screen -- made with actual silver -- is slated to be up and running for Friday's premiere of "Monster House."
Digital project systems are reputed to have better color and contrast, but they also offer a potential cost advantage for theater owners. The system will use movies delivered to the theater not in celluloid reel form, but on a hard drive.
Film projectors "are virtually the way Thomas Edison designed (them)," said Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for Tennessee-based Regal.
He called digital cinema "a quantum leap forward into the technology of computers and hard drives and digital systems."
Executives of Regal's local competition, California-based Consolidated Theatres and Washington-based Wallace Theatre Corp., did not respond to inquiries for this story.
The hard drive that holds the movies has a key that regulates when the films are shown to help prevent piracy, Nunley said. In the future, digital movies could be delivered to theaters in other ways, such as via satellite.
Installation of the new system will require a specialized crew from the mainland and local tradesmen, Nunley said.
The movie exhibition industry has been exploring digital projection of movies for more than a decade, he said.
However, exhibitors "wanted the equipment and technology to mature to the point where it would be a positive impact for our moviegoer," he said. "We believe we are at that threshold at this time."
The digital projectors cost between $100,000 and $250,000, but movie exhibitors aren't having to foot the entire cost for each unit.
"With all the exhibitors in the National Association of Theatre Owners, NATO, we have worked out agreements on how this could be funded for conversion to digital projection," he said.
"The studios are pitching in, based on (the fact) that they will save money on the celluloid."
Fewer than three dozen of Regal's 6,415 screens nationwide are digital right now, but expansion is planned throughout the company. "We have been testing digital projectors since at least 2000 ... but we want to know more about reliability and maintenance," Nunley said.
There will be a coordinated digital rollout by Regal and two other theater companies, AMC Entertainment Inc. and Cinemark USA Inc., in the next 18 months. A separate company formed by the three, called National CineMedia LLC, has been arranging for the rollout with manufacturers of digital projection equipment.
Regal Entertainment Group is the new kid in town among movie theater companies, but it bills itself as the largest movie exhibitor in the world, with 546 theaters in 40 states, operating under the names Regal Cinemas, United Artist Theatres and Edwards Theatres.
In Hawaii, Regal owns four theaters with 23 screens, purchased from California-based Signature Theatres in 2004. They are Dole Cannery Stadium 18, Pearl Highlands Stadium 12, Windward Stadium 10, and Keauhou Stadium 7 on the Big Island.
"Monster House," the animated movie selected for the new digital system's debut, will be shown in 3D, Nunley said, with theatergoers getting special polarized glasses.
Regular ticket prices will be in effect for "Monster House," but the Dole Cannery location on Friday will start a summer promotion, offering free popcorn with each ticket purchase and $1 hot dogs on Sundays and Tuesdays.