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Observe a species on the brink of extinction: the movie theater projectionist.
It’s hard to believe, but Gainesville’s Hollywood 15 Stadium Cinemas will be going completely digital within a few weeks’ time, along with a few other theaters in the Georgia Theatre Company chain.
As a projectionist at Hollywood, this news is bittersweet. Don’t get me wrong, digital projection is outstanding at delivering superior picture quality, and the films are delivered on hard drives compared to several reels. But what about the last three years I spent working with 35 mm film? I’m sure there are numerous projectionists across the United States, and even the world, wondering the same thing right now.
With all the new technology and modern innovations being revealed every day, people begin to worry about their jobs and their futures.
I like to think of a quote from the film "Tropic Thunder" as an example. Studio Head Lex Grossman (Tom Cruise) is talking about a once great actor, Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), who in recent years has fallen from the spotlight because he is outdated. He says, "Speedman is a dying star. A white dwarf headed for a black hole. That’s physics. It’s inevitable."
Does this mean that all projectionists that have specialized working with celluloid film are headed for the same proverbial black hole? We won’t have to thread projectors anymore because we can just program movies to run at specific times and then watch them start on their own.
Hopefully movie theaters will still have a place for the projectionists, because being sucked away into outer space doesn’t sound like much fun.
David Frizzell III